How to Polish Slate and Stone by Hand

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If you have scratched your slate (or other stone) house sign, memorial, worktop or cheeseboard, fear no more. Read on for a step by step guide on how to repolish that damaged surface and make it as good as new or better.

Illustration of scratched slate: Image 1

badly scratched slate sign

Illustration of scratched slate: Image 2

scuffed slate sign

A customer of ours recently asked me to replace a slate plaque that he had accidentally scratched when opening the package. He was very upset as it was a plaque commemorating both of his parents. It was a pretty deep scratch caused by a craft knife when cutting the packaging. Rather than charge him for a new plaque or get him to send it back for me to re polish, this is the advice I gave him.

The following pictures are of a slate sign sample that I inadvertently scratched myself by placing other stone up against it. I will show you in the rest of the page how to remove scratches and scuffs. This will work on most stone including marble and sandstone and granite. Though with granite you may have to continue right up to 1200 grit and maybe beyond to get the high sheen that it has.

scratched and scuffed stone full picture


*Note that I am using diamond pads and finishing with wet and dry paper. You can use wet and dry paper for all three. Wet and dry is very cheap and available in all car repair shops and hardware shops.

polishing pads and wet and dry

Step 1: Wash the slate or stone

Spray water from the hosepipe to firstly remove any grit or dust from the surface, edges and within the text itself. This prevents further scratches from the dirt getting under the wet and dry!

washing the surface of the stone

Step 2: Wash off the tools

Wash off the wet and dry that you are using as these can pick up grit as well. Best to do this after every time you put it down.

Step 3: Use 200 grit diamond pad or wet and dry

Making sure the stone is still wet, start to rub with the 200 grit diamond pad or wet and dry paper. In this case, I re-polished the whole plaque but you may just want to concentrate on the scratched area. Wash off the stone and the abrasive when you are done. If you can still see the scratched area, do it again until you can’t.

using the 200 grit pad

Step 4: Use 400 grit diamond pad or wet and dry

Repeat step 3 with the 400 grit diamond pad or wet and dry. Wash off both afterwards.

using the 400 grit diamond pad

Step 5: Use 600 grit wet and dry paper

Repeat step 3 and 4 with 600 grit wet and dry paper. At this stage you will want to go over the whole plaque so that the finish is uniform and you don’t get different levels of polished stone. Wash off the plaque and the wet and dry.

using the wet and dry 600 grit paper

Step 6: Let the plaque dry

Let the plaque dry and inspect it closely. Not all scratches are visible when it’s wet. This is especially true of slate. Repeat step 5 if you are unhappy when it’s dry.

closeup of polished out scratches

Step 7: Slate only this step

THIS IS JUST FOR SLATE. With a clean sponge, apply a very small amount of linseed oil to the face of the slate (make sure the slate is dry at this point) and the visible edges. Once done, polish with a soft polishing cloth, removing any streaks left by the linseed oil. This finishes the slate nicely and gives it a sheen.

Step 8: Enjoy your once again shiny stone

Admire your handy work! You have just polished your first piece of stone or slate. The whole of the above process took me 10 minutes.

the repolished slate sign

7 Responses to “How to Polish Slate and Stone by Hand”

  1. Hi Jez, we have an old pool table and were wondering if we could use your hand polishing method to polish the slate from this to create a suitable surface for an outdoor table? Or is there a less labour intensive method for this larger area?? Cheers Di

  2. Hi,

    We have been working at a clients house and one of my guys have dropped a hammer on the slate hearth can you recommend a product that we can use on this

  3. Thank you for your advice on polishing slate to remove scratches. It is so easy to follow and well written. I’m off to buy wet and dry right now! Regards – Kay

  4. Charlie Cannon

    Hi Jez,
    Thanks so much for this, I had a similar experience to your customer and needed to repair a memorial stone. This worked perfectly and you’d never tell the slate had been damaged. Thank you

  5. Nury Perez

    Thank you for your advice. Just moved to my new home with a massive area of the slate floor. There are scratches here and there that I can fix following your instructions, though there are way too many uneven tiles and I am affray that at 83 I am going to end up with few broken bones. I am walking around, forcing my toes up. Can I use the same material you used to remove scratches to smoothing out the edges of the uneven slate tiles?

  6. Hi Jez

    I have just bought a slate house sign and I wondered if it is best to varnish it, oil it or leave it alone (I have a new can of spray varnish/lacquer) and I have some teak oil but not sure if that can be used or does it have to be linseed oil.

    Kind regards.

  7. Hi Luice,

    That’s a great question. We do not recommend using any type of vanish or lacquer as these are generally best reserved for wood and metals. We highly recommend the use of Linseed Oil for all our House Sign Products. This oil also is known as Flax Seed Oil. If you’re going to carry out some sign maintenance then please follow these simple steps:

    1. Check the weather forecast in advance and wait for a sunny / dry day.
    2. Give the sign a good wash with warm soapy water and then rinse. Ensure that you rinse of all traces of the soap.
    3. Wait for the stone to completely dry.
    4. Then gently and very sparingly rub in the linseed oil evenly across the sign being as careful as possible not to get any in the engraved text.
    5. Buff off any excess with a soft dry cloth.

    Kind Regards
    The Rustic Stone Team

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