In some homes a matte finish on a terracotta floor blends with the decor, but if you want your terracotta floor to gleam, you will need to either wax it or varnish it. See below for how to wax a terracotta floor to a dazzling shine.
Step 1: Decide on the Level of Shine
If you would like your terracotta floor to have a warm, semi-reflective shine that brings out its color, choose a wax-based floor polish formulated for clay tiles. If you want your floor to gleam and reflect like polished wood or marble, go with a varnish emulsion.
Step 2: Clean and Prepare for Waxing
Sweep the entire floor surface with a stiff bristle broom to loosen dust and dirt, and remove any grout flakes. Vacuum the floor with a regular dry vacuum cleaner. Wash down the floor with a cleaner recommended for clay tiles, and brush the grout with a grout cleaner to remove spots and stains. Rinse the floor well with warm, then cold water, and dry it by lifting off the water with a shop vacuum.
Step 3: Apply a Tile Protector
Use one coat of a penetrating tile protector before applying either floor wax or a varnish emulsion. Mix the tile protector concentrate in a bucket with warm water according to the instructions on the bottle, and splash it onto the floor with a fiber mop. Spread out the sealant so it covers the floor evenly. Allow the sealant to dry for 2 hours before adding any other floor finish.
Step 4: Wax Your Terracotta Floor
Before waxing your terracotta floor, check that the floor surface is completely dry. Wear soft-soled slippers as you apply the wax, to prevent scratching the sealed surface. Scoop the wax from the container with a putty knife and spread it on the floor with the electric floor polisher. Evenly wax all areas of the floor, even those that will get no foot traffic, to ensure the floor finish is protected from abrasion by furniture and vacuum cleaning. Allow the wax to set for 1 hour after the initial coat. Apply a second coat of wax if you would like a more glowing finish.
Step 5: Apply Varnish Emulsion
Special varnish emulsions have been created for the two main types of terracotta floors. Use a neutral-colored varnish on brown and gold terracotta tiles, and red-tinted for a red-toned floor. Apply the varnish emulsion over the floor with a long-handled roller. Use a roller with a low pile to spread the varnish emulsion evenly and thinly. You need only apply one coat of this product to get a waxed finish on your tile floor. For a gleaming, hard finish, allow the first coat to dry for 1 hour, then buff with the floor polisher. Apply the second coat, let it dry for 2 hours, then buff again. To maintain this high-gloss surface, buff the floor weekly.