Dyeing Marble Tile

QUESTION:

I'm looking for colored marble tiles to create a flower mosaic for our marble floor design, but 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 cleaning of dyed marble?


dyed marble tile with red dye that made marble pink


ANSWER:

Ha! Usually it's the other way around... people want to 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 for marble 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.

Also, it is important to heat the marble prior to applying the stain or dye. A heat gun will work best.

Heating the marble is done to open the pores of the marble so the dye more easily absorbs and seeps deeper into the stone.

Here are the basic steps to dyeing marble:

1. Prepare the dye. This will vary depending on the exact dye used. You may have to mix the dye with wax or alcohol to get the proper consistency. Or follow directions on any product you purchase.

2. Heat the marble tile with a heat gun. You want to the tile to be as warm as possible. This will take several minutes and you'll need to work with small tile or small areas on larger tiles.

3. Apply the marble dye in smooth even strokes with a brush or sponge. A brush may allow for more controlled quantity with each stroke. You want to apply a similar amount of dye across the face of the tile for the most even coloration.

4. Repeat the process until the desired color is achieved, but allow the tile to cool completely between each coat of dye.

5. Apply a sealer. Use a marble & natural stone sealer to
protect your new dyed marble tile from accidental stains.

Again, finding the right dye to use may be challenging, but I'd consider using a Tenax dye for natural stone.

And this old book about the art of dyeing marble may provide some insights and helpful tips.

A Second Option

For a larger or important project I'd consider seeking out a concrete staining specialist in your area. Concrete is often dyed and I'll bet a residential concrete countertop or flooring pro will be a good place to start for your marble floor project.

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 outdoors (although new-generation dyes are now much more UV resistant and color-stable when used outside).

And quartz countertops can't be used outdoors either for basically the same reasons... the coloring dye will yellow.

Actually, it's the resin used when making a quartz countertop that yellows in the sun, but dyes are added to this resin so the overall effect is that the quartz surface turns yellow when used outdoors.

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.

Cleaning Dyed Marble Tile

Once you've successfully dyed your marble countertop or tiles and have applied a marble sealer as recommended, then cleaning marble isn't really any different than with normal marble that has not been dyed.

Just follow the Do's & Don'ts of Cleaning Marble and you'll maintain your dyed marble in superb condition.

The main thing is to avoid using common household cleaners (both brand-name and generic types like vinegar, bleach, ammonia) as most will damage and etch marble.

Use a quality marble & granite cleaning spray to avoid damage to the marble and sealer and get that streak-free shine.

Comments for Dyeing Marble Tile

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Actually...
by: James

The reason quartz cannot be used outside is not because of the dye turning yellow but rather the resin which makes the majority of the mass turning yellow.

Concrete countertops have no issue with yellowing either except when coated with an improper epoxy coating.

Any professional who makes concrete countertops uses inorganic dyes and not organic dyes so their color remains true. Only amateurs use organic dyes or untested sealers on their tops. :-)

===== Countertop Specialty comment:

Thanks for your input. Yes, it is the resin itself in quartz countertops that is affected by UV rays. However, coloring dyes are added to the resin and the net affect is that the color of quartz countertops will change and yellow outside.

Just trying to relate it to the "dye" theme of the post.

You are also correct about concrete countertops can be installed outdoors without any issues IF the proper inorganic dyes are used.

But that is not always the case so we make the point here as a tip to homeowners that they need to make sure the proper dyes are used so their concrete outdoor countertop will not yellow.

As I'm sure you know... there are plenty of amateurs in the countertop business.

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 can't 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

it is possible--
by: Jason Wells

It is possible : I have been refinishing stone for 16 years and perfected the art but the pay isn't 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 family's 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 out there are 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 don't know any better and it's killing our trade cause of these idiots.

One day one of my distributors knew I had been dabbling 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 wouldn't 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.

I've given a lot of secrets to people and it wasn't respected or appreciated (fly by nighters). marblemann01@aol.com

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 information about dyeing marble.

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 stone and marble 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 marble 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.

The art of dyeing and staining marble
by: Anonymous

The art of dyeing and staining marble

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

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

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.

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 types 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 marble 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 router, 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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