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How to Remove Sealers From Tile Floors

Kat Oakley

If your sealed tile floors are looking worn and dull, it may be time to remove the old sealer and apply a fresh new coat. Before deciding to strip the old and apply the new, make sure that removing the sealer is the best option. If there is only a little sealer buildup here and there, spot stripping will get the job done with a lot less work. On the other hand, if the whole floor is dull and never looks clean, stripping the entire floor will remove all the old sealers from tile floors.

Remove sealers from your tile floor.

Step 1

Determine what sealant is on the floor. Water-based sealants require water-based removers; petroleum-based sealants require petroleum-based removers. If the sealer is glossy, it is not water based. If you place a few drops of water on the tile and it absorbs into the tile, it is water based.

Step 2

Prepare the area by cleaning the surface of any dirt, taping off areas you will not strip. Cover any cupboards or other objects in the room you can't remove so they will not get sealant remover splashed on them. If spot stripping, tape off the area that will not need sealant remover.

Step 3

Pour sealant remover into the bucket or paint rolling tray. Work in small areas. Use a clean paintbrush to apply the stripper. Apply the stripper liberally, covering the entire area you will strip. Let stand for the time specified in the directions for the solvent.

Step 4

Remove the solvent after the specified time. Use a scraper and rags to remove all the solvent and sealer. Work quickly because if the solvent dries, you may have to reapply.

Step 5

Soak a clean, white terrycloth rag in some lacquer thinner, and wipe down the entire surface to remove any excess sealant remover. Scrub any areas in which the sealer did not come off with the stiff bristle brush. Repeat with remover solvent if the brush does not remove the small areas. Continue until you have removed all the sealer.

Step 6

Clean the floor thoroughly, and apply new sealant according to the sealant directions.