we are in the process of buying a new property. One thing we really don't like is the color of the floor tiles. They are suposed to look like wood flooring, but it's tiles. The color is too light, and also the design looks really messy.

As the house has underfloor heating we don't want to rip out the entire floor. It's also a lot of m2, so we don't want to think about installing a new floor on top.

My questions:

  1. Can you make these tiles much darker somehow? Like stain them somehow.
  2. Can you sand down these tiles to remove some of the "design" and give it a cleaner look.

It now looks like this:

enter image description here

Would it be possible somehow to stain tiles? So it gets this look?

enter image description here

Or sand it down, to remove the "design" so you end up with something like this?

enter image description here

  • No refinishing possible. If you would try to change the colour of this floor, you would ruin it and maybe make a toxic dust cloud. Use it as it is and see if your dissatisfaction diminishes with time. Commented Sep 16, 2023 at 0:12
  • 1
    If you haven't already, put some of your furniture in place in one area of the room, you may find that what looks 'messy' to you is not so annoying?
    – 7caifyi
    Commented Sep 16, 2023 at 11:36
  • 3
    You've called them "tiles" are they wood or ceramic ?
    – Criggie
    Commented Sep 16, 2023 at 21:56
  • 1
    @Criggie — The OP identifies the floor as as wood-look tiles, which are a commonly available product in the US, and is consistent with the photograph.
    – RLH
    Commented Sep 18, 2023 at 0:01
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    @RLH fair - jsut trying to clarify the vagueness inherent in language. I'm presuming they're ceramic all the way through with a painted+textured finish on top which is sealed in with a transparent sealant, or possibly fired in a kiln to bake in the look.
    – Criggie
    Commented Sep 18, 2023 at 3:10

3 Answers 3


Ceramic tile has none of the properties of wood. It cannot be sanded or stained.

Tile has a top layer that is very hard, the "glaze". It is the layer that has the pattern and color. Sanding will only scratch it and make it look ugly.

With a lot of effort you could sand through the top glaze, but then the body of the tile will be much softer and be something that will crumble with use. There are also tiles that have the color through the entire body of the tile. Obviously sanding or grinding will get you nowhere with those .

You can stain the grout between the tiles. Making the grout darker can alter the overall look of the floor.

The bottom line is there is no practical way to alter the color or look of ceramic tile other than paint. You can google "ceramic tile paint". However any product will not give the look of wood.

Opinions are discouraged here. However, my experiences have taught me that often an initial "shock" of disappointment in a color or feature will fade in time. I believe your desire for a darker floor can be somewhat achieved by staining the grout dark. Then adding the accents that fit your style will make for something you like.

  • 1
    I would also add that just putting a lot of furniture into the room can change the impression of the floor tiles somewhat. Changing the light in the room also has a big effect. In practical use it will never look like it does now with a completely empty room.
    – quarague
    Commented Sep 18, 2023 at 10:35

What you see as messy, I see as surprisingly realistic, just imitating a different species than your third picture.

If you really, really want the yellow tone of the second picture, as if the wood had been sealed with an oil based finish rather than a water based one, you might in fact be able to get away with doing exactly that, cleaning thoroughly for good adhesion and applying an unnecessary oil-based varnish as a topcoat. I strongly suggest investigating this first to see if other have tried it and had it work, then getting a matching tile and trying it to see if you like the result, then testing in an inconspicuous corner of possible before attempting the whole thing. If you don't like the test, it might be possible to fake the color with a suitable transparent tint to shift it a bit and test again.

But this would be hard to undo if you get it wrong.

I have both whitish and yellowish oak floors in my house, depending on who finished them when. I like both. But they are what you would call "messy"; real wood has variations from board to board. Admittedly, my floor uses longer and narrower pieces than your tiles, so there are fewer end-to-end transitions. Oak flooring with oil-based finish Oak flooring with water-based finish

Personally, I would bet that after a year in the house, with furniture over it, what you have now will look Just Fine. The yellowed color looks "historic", the whitish color looks "modern" (because oil-based finish yellows the wood and water-based poly doesn't) but both are legitimate. And as I say, variation in color and pattern across the floor makes it look more like traditional wood floors, not messy.

  • 1
    Am I understanding that you have varnished ceramic floor tile!? Does the varnish wear well and not peel where there is foot traffic?
    – RMDman
    Commented Sep 15, 2023 at 12:02
  • I have not done so; I am suggesting that it might work and would be the right kind of "paint" to get the desired effect. It might or might not help to put down shellac first as an interface layer. If* it doesn't peel it should wear as well as on a wood floor. Further research highly recommend before committing. And personally I think the floor is quite pretty as is.
    – keshlam
    Commented Sep 15, 2023 at 13:41
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    You could potentially tint an acrylic tile/floor sealer (sometimes called floor wax, but no actual wax in it) product that is removable/renewable (I think scrubbing with hot ammonia solution is typical for removal, but it's been some time since I looked at these products.)
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Sep 15, 2023 at 15:49
  • @Ecnerwal: True, though as it wears you may need to do that renewal cycle. But at least we know that this is supposed to stick to tile. Might need to remove it in any case before applying something else...
    – keshlam
    Commented Sep 15, 2023 at 16:56

I don't know about your flooring, but normally underfloor heating allows replacing tiles. Most of the times the tubes are embedded in an layer of screed, as the tiles demand an hard underlayment

  • True, you could redo the whole thing with a tile that matches your preference more closely. Heck, you could remove it all and put in hardwood floors. Or cork flooring, which seems to hold up better than it has any right to and is very nice underfoot. But those aren't "flood it and forget it" changes.
    – keshlam
    Commented Sep 15, 2023 at 17:19

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