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retrohouse 08-08-2010 04:50 PM

Remove embossing leveler residue from unglazed tile?
Our house was built in 1957. We recently tore up the vinyl floor in the entryway to see what was underneath with the intention to either restore what was there if it was in good enough shape, or to have the floor re-tiled.

We found the original mosaic tile floor from when the house was built, hiding under a thick layer of embossing leveler. None of the tiles were cracked or broken, or even loose.

We managed to soften and scrape up the leveler but the floor still has an annoying white residue on it that I can't seem to get rid of no matter what I do.

Here is what I have tried so far:

Diluted white vinegar
Straight white vinegar
Goof off
Lacquer thinner
Denatured alcohol
Grout haze remover
Acidic tile cleaner (contains hydrochloric acid)
Magic eraser
Buffing with dry cloth
Polishing pad attached to power sander

So far the acidic tile cleaner has been the most effective but it requires multiple applications to even see a difference and the tiles and grout are still hazy. It looks great when it's wet but once it dries, the haze returns.

Does anyone have any advice on what else I can try? Should I throw in the towel and call in a professional? If so, what type of professional...a cleaner, or a tile laying expert? Can this floor be saved? I would really like to save it; my house has a lot of its original features and surfaces and I am a big fan of the era. I would really like to keep this floor.

Thank you in advance! :help:

haversack tile 08-08-2010 11:18 PM

you sat it looks good wet, try a sealer. test a small section and let it dry over night.

retrohouse 08-15-2010 10:32 AM


Originally Posted by haversack tile (Post 482723)
you sat it looks good wet, try a sealer. test a small section and let it dry over night.

Thank you for the suggestion; I tried it and it didn't work. :(

Bud Cline 08-15-2010 11:56 AM

Not a solution to your problem but an idea of what you may be dealing with.

Mosaic tiles of that vintage were likely made of porcelain ceramic. Porcelain ceramic develops microscopic pores in its surface during the firing (kiln) process. These pores then collect anything that is applied to the tile and can fit into the pores. It then becomes very difficult (maybe impossible) to remove whatever this substance is from the pores.

I would suggest trying to stain the white substance that is hanging in the pores. Can't guarantee this would work but worth a try. Select a desirable tile grout and vigorously spread it over an area. The hope is the color pigments will re-stain the white. Wipe it off with a sponge and see if the color has changed and is more desirable.

Just an idea that might work for you.:)

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