Tips for Sanding Ceramic Tiles

A patterned, ceramic tile floor.
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • $0-60
What You'll Need
Safety glasses
Face mask
Power sanders or handle-mounted files

One of the best and most beautiful ways to decorate your kitchen or bathroom is definitely installing ceramic tiles. However, you may need to sand the ceramic tiles if they are getting old to give them a newer and brighter look. Follow these tips for doing it the right way.

Wearing Eye and Face Protection

Before you start your sanding project, make sure that you are wearing protective eyewear and a face mask as a precaution for your health and safety. This should be done in order to avoid sanded ceramic tile pieces from entering your eyes or lunge.

Sanding the Tiles Manually

If you decide to sand your ceramic tiles manually, keep in mind that the rougher the surface of the tile, the lower the grit of your sandpaper should be. Remember that your goal is to sand away the superficial glaze, but let the tile retain the smoothness of its surface.

If you find a chipped tile, it is a much better idea if you utilize 60-grit or 80-grit sandpaper to smooth the sharp edges before anything else. After you have sanded the edges, you can refine them a bit more with 400-grit sandpaper; make sure that you go up the grit scale slowly. Do not use 400-grit sandpaper immediately after you have used 80-grit sandpaper.

Keep in mind that sandpaper should be used to sand the surfaces of ceramic tiles, as well as to smooth any sharp edges that the tiles may have. However, if you need to change the size and shape of a ceramic tile, you are advised to make use of a diamond wheel or a tile saw because they are more appropriate tools than sandpaper.

Using Power Sanding Tools

If you do not want to sand your ceramic tiles manually, you can still obtain excellent results if you use power tools. Remember that the type of sanding tool you should use depends on the type of edge that the ceramic tiles have. If the edges are curved, use a rotary sander; a belt sander should be used if the edges are flat.

You need to be much more careful when you sand ceramic tiles with power tools because the tools will sand the tiles at a greater speed than when you do it by hand. Hold the tools with gentle hands and inspect the edges regularly. After you see that the edge of the tile has been smoothed completely, you can finish with 200-grit and 400-grit sandpaper, manually or on a power sander.

Using Handle-mounted Files

If you choose to use a handle-mounted file, you can put your mind to rest because these files give you more control over the job than if you are using a power sanding tool. It's best to use a handle-mounted file if your ceramic tiles have curved edges.