Problems with concrete polishing

Understanding Tile Ghosting in Concrete Grinding and Polishing

Wide angle image of a polished floors with tile ghosting.
Written by
Bowie Houston
Published on
April 19, 2024
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Graphic design of a grid that resembles grids of polished concrete


When renovating or repurposing a space with a concrete floor that previously had tiles, you might encounter a phenomenon known as tile ghosting. This occurs when the outline or pattern of the previous tile installation remains visible on the concrete surface even after grinding and polishing. Understanding the causes and solutions to tile ghosting can help you achieve a seamless and professional-looking polished concrete floor.

Causes of Tile Ghosting

Tile ghosting can result from various factors, including the type of adhesive used to install the tiles, the duration the tiles were in place, and the condition of the concrete substrate. Other theories suggest that cleaning chemicals can leech through the soft grout, and even the sun's UV rays can penetrate the grout but not the tile itself. If the adhesive used was particularly strong or penetrated deeply into the concrete pores, it can leave behind residues that are difficult to remove during the grinding and polishing process. Similarly, if the tiles were in place for an extended period, they may have left behind a shadow or residue that affects the appearance of the polished concrete.

Addressing Tile Ghosting

To address tile ghosting, thorough surface preparation is crucial. Typically, ghosting becomes apparent after a few grinding passes and during the grouting process. Unfortunately, if tiles have been in place for over 5 years, there is around a 70% chance of encountering ghosting. At present, there is no definitive cure for ghosting. Excessive grinding or the use of harsh chemicals is not recommended and may not alleviate the issue.


While tile ghosting can present a challenge during concrete grinding and polishing, it can also create a unique and stylish look if embraced. Whether you love it or hate it, understanding tile ghosting and its causes can help you prepare for a renovation project involving concrete floors. Consider embracing the ghosting as part of the floor's character or have a backup plan ready in case the ghosting is too prominent for your liking.

Where the old tiles met the carpet you can visibly see where each of the 2 old floorings met.

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