Dyeing Marble Tile

by Douglas Taylor
(Garland, Texas)

QUESTION:

My wife would like a flower mosaic inserted into our marble floor design.


I'm looking for colored marble tiles, but also would like to know... can we dye our whitish marble after we cut the pieces of the mosaic puzzle?

Do you have any marble tile dyeing information as well as information on the care and feeding of dyed marble?

ANSWER:

Ha! Usually it's the other way around... get dye out of marble. Or simply darken the overall color a bit.

Yes, dyeing marble can be done. In fact, ancient Greek and Roman artisans dyed marble.

Finding the right dye and a competent person to do it may be difficult. I am not an ancient Greek or Roman artist, and this project is a bit outside our scope, however, I believe you'll want to use an oil-based dye.

I'd suggest seeking out a concrete staining specialist in your area. Concrete is often dyed and I'll bet a residential concrete flooring pro will be a good place to start.

I can tell you that the finished product will likely be a bit of a surprise because you can't completely or accurately control how the marble will absorb the dye and many dyes will fade and potentially discolor or yellow over time.

That's what often happens to concrete countertops (although new-generation dyes are now much more UV resistant and color-stable)... and quartz countertops can't be used outdoors for the same reasons... the coloring dye will yellow.

I'm sure with a bit more research you'll find more specific info regarding actual application technique for dyeing marble and/or any natural stone.

This is a pretty narrow niche these days, but I'd guess someone out there is doing it.

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Dyeing Marble
by: Doug

It sounds like dyeing marble is possible even if it will take some follow-up in the future. The marble will be in a bathroom with no direct sunlight so sunlight fading won't be an issue. The trick will be deciding on the tyes of dye or dyes to use. Unless you have a better idea, I think we'll continue with our project using hair dyes.

A new twist to the mosaic though: instead of piecing together several hundred pieces I intend to cut 1/8" vertical groves perhaps 1/2 way, using a dremmel tool or rounter, into the marble tiles to only simulate a mosaic. Then I'll carefully dye the design portions and then grout in the lines along with the rest of the grout lines. I'll need to create templets for each cut but the effect should work.

Let me know what you think. And I'll keep you posted on the progress along with a photo or three of the project once we finally get started (moving into the new place will slow us down a bit.)

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Dyeing Marble-Mosaic Idea
by: Ryan

One thing I forgot to mention... if the marble is polished, it's going to be difficult to stain since polished marble is not very absorbent.

If you can, test a sample and see how long it takes for the dye or any liquid to absorb.

Just another idea... you can order pre-made mosaics. Look online... you may find something you like. Otherwise, the router idea could work if you are a do-it-yourselfer wiz.

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marble tile - pre-made mosaics vs dyeing own design
by: Doug

I've not encountered any pre-made mosaics in marble. ceramics - yes, porcelain - yes, glass - yes, rough stone - yes . . . but no marble. I would be interested in finding a source if only to get sticker shock and then go about my merry way.

I would include a prelimary sketch of my own idea (modified from online sources) if I could figure out how to do so.


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The art of dyeing and staining marble
by: Anonymous

The art of dyeing and staining marble

http://www.archive.org/details/artdyeingandsta00arthgoog

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Thanks for the turn of the 19th to 20th century ideas
by: Anonymous

The digitized, out-of-print, public domain, turn-of-the-20th-century book that you referenced has some very interesting dyeing information. Some information that I've found from the same time period has heath-hazardous procedures. This book, however, seems to have non-threatening, straight forward and very doable procedures. The dyes it suggests are available online as natural fabric dyes and the delivery method is dissolved dye in ethanol and then brushed onto/into the pre-heated polished marble. And then more heat would be applied to help color absorption. I plan to experiment a bit with this procedure.

However, the procedure that turn-of-the-century book suggests for marble does not include the use of a mordant for color-fastness that is definitely needed by natural dyes used specifically for fabric. As instruction for using natural dyes for use in dyeing stone is not anywhere in the fabric dyeing instructions I am not sure if a mordant is needed for colorfastness or would actually be a hindrance for marble dyeing. Because I want to learn as much as possible by history instead of trial and error I still need a bit more information.

The folks that sell fabric dyeing products are not helpful. So, I'm one step closer but still not certain whether I have enough information to complete this marble dyeing task.

Has anyone living actually successfully dyed marble?

There is no real hurry on this project although I would like to start on it by spring of 2009 just to set an arbitrary deadline. So, if anonymous or anyone else has more information it is most welcome.

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it is possible--
by: Jason Wells

It is possible : I have been refinishing stone for 16 years and perfected the art but the pay isnt as good as it was so my motivation for natural stone has sloped, one day I saw a polished concrete floor and was impressed. Not with the job but with the idea of making something so ugly into a work of art,Just like the way I did when I was 15 when I first started. So I put numerous days into studying and doing samples ( I ran out of friends and familys garage floors. Ha Ha.) I took pieces of many different methods and combined them to stain, hone, high polish, and different techniques for stencil or cutout designs to a perfection which I have not seen yet.The majority of people put a topical sealer for the best look and you and I know what will happen later. Most people out there that do concrete there not a finish expert like a marble refinisher is and even then good ones are far and between now a days I laugh when I come behind a fly by nighters and it cost more to fix it, I feel very bad for the homeowners because they dont know any better and its killing are trade cause of these idiots.
One day one of my ditributors knew I have been dabbeling in the concrete polishing and asked me to try to help him match a tile that was a completely different color so I tried and failed, so I became obsessed and spent about a month 3 hours a day finally perfected it, I can take any stone except granite, thasos, or any high pressured stone and die it any!!! color and give it a scratch resistant super high polish.
A concrete polisher wouldnt know because you have to mix the two ( concrete and marble polishing) together and know the stones very good to know what steps to use. I will say its not as easy as 123 but the time it takes you to learn how to do it you will appreciate it, Ive given alot of secrets to people and it wasnt respected or appreciated (fly by nighters). marblemann01@aol.com

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staining marble
by: Anonymous

i have a 500 sq ft marble mosaic floor. it's actually incredible in its quality and workmanship. the problem is that its primarily pink and white tones. i've lived with it for 20 years and my wife hates it but i cant bring myself to tear it out. we're about to embark on a remodel and she wants it gone. if i could stain it brown/beige i can keep it. it's well polished to a point that even the grout can't be felt. if you have any ideas please email me to ira@imcproperty.com.
Thanks,
Ira

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