1950s tile bathroom floor lost it's shine

+15
Answered
I have a 1956 ranch home. The bathroom wall and floor tiles in the house are original and in mint condition. My problem is the floor tiles. I cannot seem to bring any kind of a shine to them after I clean them. It's like they have a film on them. I realize they are not glossy like the wall tiles, but there must be some way to remove the dullness. Thanks!
  12 answers
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Feb 29, 2016
    There is a product called rejuvenate for tiling available at HomeDepot or they have there own website.
  • Karen Usoff Karen Usoff on Mar 02, 2016
    I used Once and Done along with their floor stripper on a trailer floor that was over 15 years old and it took it to brandnew and we all know those floors are cheap. It's a product by ARmstrong.
  • Linda Santo Linda Santo on Mar 02, 2016
    My vintage bathroom floor has no shine because it wasn't meant to HAVE shine. Wall tile had shine, ceramic floors did not. It was viewed as a safety hazard. There may not be anything you can do but leave it be. Please post pictures, I LOVE vintage bathrooms.
    • Judy H. Judy H. on Mar 03, 2016
      @Thank You Linda Santo I'm going to show this comment to my husband. I had wondered if there was a safety reason for them to be dull like they are.
  • Carolyn Beeman Graves Carolyn Beeman Graves on May 16, 2016
    I am struggling with this same issue. But my vintage tile floors look terrible. I fear that previous owners had used wax and so I have stripped with everything, including pure ammonia and steel wool. They still look like there is some sheen but very blotchy and ALWAYS looks dirty. Have considered waxes, polishes...even VARNISH of some sort!!! HELP!
  • Judy H. Judy H. on May 16, 2016
    Hi Carolyn, I had someone point out to me that the floors tiles in 1950s homes were supposed to be "flat", not shiny for safety purposes - not slippery like shiny tile. Mine were not pre-treated with another product. Please don't use any more steel wool on them, they can be permanently scratched. If I were you, I would go to Home Depot and find a wax stripping product for floors, (not wood floors) just floors. I have also found the help at Home Depot to have quite a few suggestions when I tell them my problem. Good Luck!
  • Cat Cat on Dec 03, 2019

    Judy, let me know what you used for your floor tiles, if it worked and how it turned out! i am strugglinnggggg with a project - i have 50's small square floor tiles that i am trying to even out, clean, save and make something for an xmas present of some sort! maybe a mirror or tray. I would like to know what you did to clean and if it worked Cat S.

  • Judy H. Judy H. on Dec 03, 2019

    Are you using your tiles on a surface other than the floor?

    • Cat Cat on Dec 04, 2019

      yes. i pulled them up from the bathroom floor, i soaked them in soap and water to clean as best as i can. They are flat matte not shiny and uneven just a little, so I'm wondering how to finish them and clean them up and make them as smooth shiny and even as possible to make either a tray or mirror. One thought was maybe polyurethane sealant

  • Isabel Tifft Isabel Tifft on Jul 27, 2020

    Floor tiles from the 1950s are most likely asbestos-containing tiles. They've got that rather dull surface, can get blotchy with age, are naturally antiskid and fire resistant, but for heaven's sake don't create dust with them (hard scrubbing, steel wool, sandpaper, etc) unless you're properly equipped and following the federal guidelines for that kind of work. The problem with jumping on it amateurishly won't even appear for 20 years, when it's far too late to learn better. So, please, follow the guidelines. They save a lot of lives.


    They should be waxed regularly with a buffer. A vinegar solution of 1 cup to 1 gallon of water with a few drops of dish soap, is ideal for cleaning them. If you dont like the blotching, the thing to do is put new flooring right over the top. It makes a great underlayment, and you really don't want the difficult and dangerous work of removing them; if you must, best hire a pro with the right gear and disposal equipment.


    I'm an old nurse and lifelong DIY nut. I won't do anything more with old tile than clean it and I hire someone properly equipped to do anything else.

  • Isabel Tifft Isabel Tifft on Jul 27, 2020

    Floor tiles from the 1950s are most likely asbestos-containing tiles. They've got that rather dull surface, can get blotchy with age, are naturally antiskid and fire resistant, but for heaven's sake don't create dust with them (hard scrubbing, steel wool, sandpaper, etc) unless you're properly equipped and following the federal guidelines for that kind of work. The problem with jumping on it amateurishly won't even appear for 20 years, when it's far too late to learn better. So, please, follow the guidelines. They save a lot of lives.


    They should be waxed regularly with a buffer. A vinegar solution of 1 cup to 1 gallon of water with a few drops of dish soap, is ideal for cleaning them. If you dont like the blotching, the thing to do is put new flooring right over the top. It makes a great underlayment, and you really don't want the difficult and dangerous work of removing them; if you must, best hire a pro with the right gear and disposal equipment.


    I'm an old nurse and lifelong DIY nut. I won't do anything more with old tile than clean it and I hire someone properly equipped to do anything else.

  • Judy H. Judy H. on Jul 28, 2020

    Isabel, you mentioned the tiles should be waxed and buffed regularly. Is there a particular wax you recommend? Thanks!

  • Deb K Deb K on Dec 18, 2020

    Hi Judy, Isabel is correct, most likely asbestos, no creating dust, take a look at this link for some wax recommendations! Good luck and take care.

    https://info.waxie.com/blog/bid/95034/cleaning-maintaining-and-encapsulating-asbestos-tile

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on May 14, 2021

    Hello Judy,

    Maybe the floor was never meant to be shiny in the first place. Why not consider tiling over them if you really want a shiny floor. You can buy a floor sine, but it wears away where the traffic is and you end up with a dirty looking floor, (I know because my Aunt used to put a liquid polish on here floor. After a while it never looks clean.

Your comment...