Dyeing Marble Tile


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


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

Click here to add your own comments

Creating a consistent dye - lighten marble color
by: Marieke

We are renovating a home with at least 1,000 sq feet of uninterrupted yellow marble flooring. The marble tiles are beautiful, but the shade (Jerusalem Gold) does not flow with the space's color palette.

We would love to keep the tile but lighten it: closer to a white.

Is there any way to lighten the tile, and do this consistently over a large expanse of flooring?
Thank you so much.

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

The color of the marble is the color. There are ways to darken the color of natural stone. But it really isn't possible to lighten the color.

Polished marble will have a more saturated color due to the way light reflects off a shiny polished finish.

A honed finish will have a more muted color shade.

So, if your marble floor tile currently has a polished finish, then you could have the tiles resurfaced to a honed finish and this would make the tile color look lighter.

The color would still be yellow, but more washed out.

But if the finish is already honed, then there's nothing you can do to change a yellow marble to white marble.

A second option... is washing the floor with vinegar or bleach to etch the finish. Etching corrodes the marble and so will remove the finished layer.

This will expose the more raw marble under the finished layer which will still be yellowish, but again more washed out. Possibly more so than honing it.

You may be able to achieve a sort of chalky color by etching the entire floor.

You'd likely have to wash the entire floor with vinegar several times to get an evenly etched surface with a more or less even color.

The marble is yellow due to the particular concentration or type of minerals and crystals in the stone. You can't change the properties of those.

You can change the color with dyes, but only to a darker shade.

To make it lighter try honing (if the surface is now polished) or etching the entire floor.

Remove dye from marble floor
by: Jon

Hi, we are buying a house with a marble kitchen floor but the surface has been stained with a red dye making it look like streaky bacon!

We just can't persuade ourselves we like it.

I have seen an identical floor without stain which looks lovely so before we rip it up I just wondered if there is a method of removing the stain or seriously toning it down?

Many thanks.

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

A single stain in the marble from dye can be removed using the Marble & Granite Stain Remover Poultice.

Or if you have 2 or 3 stains here and there poulticing works best. And then only if the stains are rather recent... not old or deep.

Old, deep stains may be lightened in some cases, but usually, cannot be removed completely.

However, for streaks of dye covering the entire floor, then poulticing doesn't make any sense.

If the previous owner purposely dyed the marble floor like this, then probably the dye stain is old and deep and could not be removed anyway.

Refinishing the floor is probably the one method that could remedy this situation.

Refinishing the marble floor would involve grinding away the top layer and then creating a honed or polished finish.

For a floor, a honed finish is best. A polished finish on marble will wear away with foot traffic, it's slippery when wet, shows all dust and dirt readily, and is much more work to keep it looking good.

The problem with refinishing, in this case, is that there is no way to know how deep the dye goes into the marble.

The idea is to grind away all the marble that has dye in it. But we are talking about millimeters here.

So, there's no guarantee that refinishing would be able to remove all the dye and yield a clean, new marble floor.

A second option is a bit radical but may tone down the streaky bacon look is to bleach the entire floor.

Typically, you do NOT want to use bleach on marble because it will etch the marble eating away the finish causing it to look dull.

However, if you apply a bleach solution (4 parts water to 1 part bleach) as evenly as possible over the entire floor, what you'll get is a honed floor.

It won't look as smooth and nice as professional honing, but it will give it a matte look that is more or less even.

And the bleach will bleach out or lighten the dye. At least that is the hope and intent of this somewhat unorthodox approach.

This is how you cheaply create a honed finish on polished marble. Although, using vinegar (acid) is the better choice just for that.

In this case, you need the bleach to work on the dye.

The best option is probably to rip it out and install a new flooring material.

Or learn to live with it for a while. Maybe it will grow on you!

Perlato Tile Black Patches
by: Surbhi

Hey, I have perlato (beige marble) flooring recently installed and I discovered a few dark blackish patches in the marble. Can they be lightened if add light cream dyes through the process you mentioned?

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

Perlato is more of a limestone than marble. Practically speaking, the difference doesn't matter too much.

All marble comes from limestone.

But limestone will usually have fossils embedded in the stone which always adds an interesting design element.

Anyway, Perlato will often have darkish spots (possibly fossils) that dot the pattern.

So, it depends on the size of the spots. If small and randomly scattered I'd say they are part of the pattern.

If larger areas, or just one or two spots, then you may have stains. Stains in natural stone cannot be removed by simple cleaning and dyeing those areas likely would not work either. A lot of trouble too.

If a stain, you need to remove it using a poultice like the Marble & Granite Stain Remover Poultice.

Change color of marble shower surround
by: Anonymous


I have a marble tile shower surround that is an unappealing beige/brown color.

I'd love to change this color.

Will this marble dyeing process work on an existing surface like this or does it apply only to a raw piece of marble?

Also, Is there a way to remove sealant from marble to refresh it?


==== Countertop Specialty comment:

Well, dyeing existing marble could be done but dyeing marble is not really a simple or predictable process, so I really wouldn't recommend it.

Also, your tile is already a dark color, so you can only go darker.

You can't really remove a properly applied sealer since sealers absorb into the stone. Stone sealers will wear away or become ineffective over time though (except for the couple permanent bond sealers on the market).

You can wash the tile with acetone or mineral spirits to remove and sealer residue on the surface or any other type of coating on the surface.

This may or may not change the look of the tile. It just depends if a topical coating of some type was applied (not at all common) then it could change the look.

The best option in this situation is to just tear it out and replace the tile with something you like.

Of course, this costs money, but trying to dye the marble is likely an exercise in frustration and probably there isn't anything to remove from the tile that would change how it currently looks.

So, at least if you spend the cash to replace it you can get exactly what you want.

dye for marble
by: Anonymous

I have Carrara marble backsplash that I need to dye the "cold white" to cream/brown tones to match the countertop and cabinets.

Can anyone recommend a dye that can be used with good results and which will not significantly change color in time?

Thank you very much!
Wonderfull article!

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 [email protected].

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). [email protected]

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


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.)

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Cleaning Marble Questions & Answers.

Protected by Copyscape

CountertopSpecialty.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate we may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases made through links on our site.