The Flooring Lady
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Saltillo Tile

Saltillo Mexican tile has been used in homes for hundreds of years. Though not durable enough to withstand harsh winters outside, they are lovely indoors anywhere. The challenges of this type of flooring include installing Saltillo tile, Saltillo tile restoration, and a reliable method to clean Saltillo tile. But the benefits -- rustic beauty, non-toxic materials used in its manufacture, and low cost -- may outweigh the drawbacks.

Bring the beauty and peace of Mexico to your home with Saltillo floor tiles. It can have a bit of an exotic feel when paired with the right decor. And it makes for great solar mass for homes using passive solar energy!

Saltillo tile is a type of terra-cotta tile made only in northern Mexico. Deciding to use Saltillo Mexican tile as a flooring option offers:
* natural beauty
* non-toxic materials
* a natural flooring alternative
* low-cost flooring solutions

But Saltillo tile has its challenges, which include:
* delicate or fragile tiles
* difficulty in cleaning

Saltillo tile is made of natural clay that is first shaped by hand and then dried in the sun. Saltillo tiles are then kiln fired to ensure hardness and durability. The tiles are carefully positioned in the kiln in order to create different colors. Depending on the tile position in the kiln, the resulting tiles can range in hue from pale amber to dark terra-cotta. Traditionally, Saltillo tiles are left unglazed, although some manufacturers sell them pre-treated or pre-sealed in order to increase their durability.

Saltillo tile is not terribly strong or hard. Although it is comparable to other stone tiles (such as slate) it can chip and crack. When used as exterior tiling, it can only be used in very mild climates, as harsh weather can damage the tile. This type of tile typically has a MOH (measure of hardness rating) between 3 and 4.

Saltillo tile was introduced to Mexico by Spaniards hundreds of years ago, and the process of making the tile has remained the same since. The tile is actually named after the Mexican town of Saltillo, which produces the right clay and weather for making this popular tile.

Saltillo tile has a few drawbacks. Unsealed and untreated tile needs to be laboriously cleaned with diluted ammonia and "elbow grease", and lots of rinsing. Existing Saltillo tile floors need stripping and resealing, before and after cleaning to do a proper job. Installing Saltillo tile also has to be done carefully, as the tiles are delicate. Any grout or chemicals spilled on the tiles can damage them, so it is crucial to keep the tiles covered with paper until the installation is complete. It is important to wipe up spills and dirt right away, as the tiles can stain. The floor cannot be flooded because it will weaken the delicate tiles. Only slightly damp mops can be used on the floors, and only the mildest cleansers (no harsh chemicals). A sealant will have to be reapplied to keep the floor in good condition.

Despite these disadvantages, there are many benefits to selecting Saltillo tile for your flooring needs. Satltillo Mexican tile is beautiful and offers design flexibility. Whether you have a modern home, a country French-style residence, or love the Mediterranean style, Saltillo tile can make your home look great. Although the tile is a little more effort, many homeowners and decorators feel that it is well worth it for the beauty it brings to any room. Today's sealants do make cleaning and caring for Saltillo tile easier than ever before. The tile is inexpensive and many homeowners like the all-natural products that go into the tile-making process. At a time when we are surrounded by chemicals, it is nice to bring a natural product into the home.

If you want a naturally beautiful and affordable flooring solution, consider installing Saltillo tile in your home. It has been trusted by savvy homeowners for hundreds of years. Is it time for you to trust it too?

Comments

Fantastic advice. I'm preparing a project and you've offered me lots of useful straight-forward info. Thanks for the effort. Just a little comment, if you have time, some photos would be good. Best of luck and thanks again

Sara Romera at July 18, 2007 4:59 PM

I'm glad you have found the information useful.

I do have pictures. I don't have time. Want to come help? ;~) I am clearing "my plate" as I type, so hope to make time for loading photos really soon.

Thanks for the suggestion, and nudge.

The Flooring Lady at July 18, 2007 5:21 PM

My home has sealed saltillo tiles outside. They are very slipery when wet. Do you recommend unsealed saltillo tiles for exterior use?

eve werner at July 25, 2007 12:50 PM

Let me start by saying Saltillo tile isn't ideal for exterior use in areas with extreme climates. It's extremely porous so hard to install and care for.

It's porosity makes it absorb any and all liquids readily, so even sealers are hard to apply and get a satisfactory result. A penetrating sealer or a film forming sealer, or coating is a pretty good solution though.

If you want an exterior tile, try a glazed, textured ceramic tile. The grout should still be sealed to keep it from absorbing water, oil, dirt, etc. The texture will help reduce the slippery-when-wet problem.

The Flooring Lady at July 26, 2007 10:12 AM

Hi...thanks for taking the time to put together the good info. I have quite a bit of saltillo in most of the home (albuquerque) and have been doing the vinegar/water and mop for years. about once a year i re-seal them. Behr wetlook does a good job. this time i want to do a better job on the cleaning. i have a small dual rotary scrubber that i have never used. any suggestions for scrubbing...soap? also, once it is re-sealed can i use the polisher part for maintenance. we would like a high gloss look this time. do you use some kind of paste or polish? i realize the saltillo is soft so would not put a lot of pressure while using the machine. hope you can give some advice. have someone coming in to help so time is of the essence thanks Ken

ken at August 4, 2007 1:10 PM

First a question back to you: Do you need better cleaning than the vinegar solution gives you, or you do you just want to try something different?

I hear you asking both how to clean better and how to reseal your floor. Am I hearing you correctly? If you are resealing, you want to remove the old sealer first, then clean well, and then after the tiles are completely and thoroughly dry you can put the new sealer on the tiles.

Use a chemical stripper and the rotary scrubber with a black or green pad to strip the old sealer and clean the tiles and grout. Rinse thoroughly and then let dry.

If you have the time, let the tiles dry over night. But if you want to get the job done fast, use fans to circulate the air and speed the drying; your dry climate there will increase the drying speed.

I hear good things about Aqua Mix products, and they do have a high sheen product. Glaze'n Seal and Charlotte Mexican Paver Sealer also get high marks from Saltillo tile installers and manufacturers.

Floor polish is the way to go with sealing the floor. Some manufacturers recommend using a penetrating sealer first and then the polish, others say the penetrating sealer is a waste of time and money because everything penetrates the tiles. 4-5 coats of the floor polish will do a good job of protecting your tiles.

As far as keeping your Saltillo tiles clean, I still recommend a mild solution of white vinegar and warm water, but borax and water or a microfiber mop and water work well too.

Given the wear-and-tear aspect of these tiles, you may want to think twice about using a high sheen finish because the difference between the worn and less-worn areas will be more pronounced.

The Flooring Lady at August 4, 2007 2:34 PM

FYI
Have had these Mexican tiles in my kitchen for twenty years and they have worn well. When we installed them I wanted them to be darker rather than orangy. I was told to apply transmission fluid on them several times before installation and it worked wonderfully!The oil helped keep the tiles from staining and I just use Murphy Oil soap to clean them.

Jan at August 4, 2007 6:32 PM

I'd have never thought of using transmission fluid on the tiles. I'm glad to hear it's working well for you!

Murphy Oil soap is a well-recognized cleaning and conditioning product. In addition to it being popular with many people, it also has a contingency of people who think it's not a good product.

I have used it for years on wood floors and think the world of it. My feeling is if it works for you, keep on using it.

The Flooring Lady at August 5, 2007 10:14 AM

help! I placed a rug in front of my kitchen sink -my entire home is Saltillo tile- the pad under the rug got wet and when I removed the rug the pad left stains on the saltillo. Any ideas as to what would remove this blackish "rubber" residue?
Also, I am still unclear...how do I proceed to reseal & polish my floors? Do I strip first (I believe the product we used to seal was an "aguaseal" product. We purchased it from the distributer in Murphys, CA. Please respond soon!!
Thank you so much! Barbara Parrott

Barbara Parrott at August 5, 2007 4:10 PM

Oops! Don't you hate it when things like that happen?! For others reading this thread: avoid rubber-backed rugs on natural material floors (and maybe avoid them all together) because they will mar your flooring.

I'm going to hope the residue is only surface deep and that scrubbing with a green pad will lift it from your tiles. If that doesn't work, or doesn't work well enough, since you are already using Aqua products, you might even try their cleaning product.

While you are scrubbing the rubber residue off your tiles, clean the entire surface of each tile that's damaged so you can try sealing only those tiles. The traditional approach is to reseal the entire floor, but I'd go for just that small area first. And then go out to eat so the floor can dry without you stepping on it or dropping food or water on it. :~)

If all else fails, ask your distributor for more guidance.

The Flooring Lady at August 5, 2007 4:33 PM

Thanks for the helpful comments on this page. I have a few questions please.

I live in a warm climate - Southern California.

I am tempted to this tile for an external use. There are two reasons that I'm attracted to this tile. But before making the choice - I want to make sure that I'm correct in what I'm assuming about the tile.

1) I love the look and color of the tiles. No questions about that!

2) I noticed when walking on a friend's tile floor (in an exterior setting) that the tile seemed cool to the touch - even when the sun was blazing down on the surface. This makes it potentially very appealing.

Am I correct in assuming that for some reason - this type of tile does not absorb the sun's heat - and will remain comparatively cool on the surface - irrespective of how hot the direct sunlight on it?

If this is the case - is that something to do with its porous make-up? I'm curious as to why this tile would have that property. I would assume that it would absorb the sun's heat. (But then I know nothing about physics!)

If it IS the case that the tile doesn't absorb heat - then the attraction is that one might be able to walk barefoot on the tile as the surface of a sun-deck.

Currently I have two different sun-deck surfaces. One is wood. The other is a man-made surface. Both of those surfaces get very hot under the direct sunlight - too hot for the bare foot.

So - if one of the properties of this tile is that it remains cool to the touch - that makes it very desirable.

3) If this IS one of the very desirable properties of this tile - are there factors that affect this? eg - does it depend upon what type of surface the tile is laid?

4) More importantly - I will naturally wish to have the tile be as easy to clean as possible - and protect what lies beneath the surface. So I would like to protect the surface with the optimum sealer.

If I do this - would this affect that property of not absorbing the sun's heat? Or does the tile being sealed have no bearing on the heat factor?

5) And what - if any - are the downsides of putting a good-quality weather-proof seal on this tile in an external setting?

6) Does that make it easy to clean? eg hosing and light mopping to keep the surface clean?

7) How slippery will the surface be when the rains come? (yes it does rain here occasionally!)

8) If the tile is sealed - does it fade or become otherwise damaged from constant direct sunlight?

Sorry for posing so many questions!

I look forward to your responses. I hope the respones are helpful to others too!

David Hendrix at August 10, 2007 8:35 AM

Help, I just bought a new home in Texas with Saltillo tile thru the whole home except bedrooms...I have 2 questions???

How do I know if these tile were sealed???

And if they aren't, how do I go about it???

Thanks...

David at August 18, 2007 8:27 PM

Sealed Saltillo tiles should resist water droplets which will bead-up on the tiles. If you need to seal the tiles, make sure they are clean of dust, dirt and stains, and thoroughly dry before applying a sealant made for Saltillo tiles.

Enjoy!

The Flooring Lady at August 19, 2007 10:05 AM

To David with a "few" questions:

There is nothing magical about Saltillo tile that I know of that keeps it cool despite direct sun contact. Your friend's tiles may be transferring the cooler soil temperatures to the surface, but that won't happen for long.

There are no down sides to protecting your external Saltillo tiles with a good sealant that I know of.

Tiles can be slick when wet, so consider a matte finish sealant to help reduce the slippery aspects of wet tile.

Direct sunlight fades that which it comes in contact with. Less intense sun will fade things more slowly, but fading is a natural part of living in sun-country. Enjoy the subtle changes.

The Flooring Lady at August 19, 2007 10:11 AM

Hello... I am so glad I found this site, and I hope you can help!

I moved into a Las Vegas home about three years ago which has Saltillo floors. I came from Maine, and had never even heard the word Saltillo before, but I love them. They're sealed, quite glossy, and quite smooth. The grout between them is pinkish in color, and quite rough. I noticed, when I moved in, that some of the grout in high-traffic areas was stained dark. These dark areas have grown over the years, and nothing gets them out. I haven't tried any harsh abrasives - just normal floor cleaners, as well as ammonia. Ugly dark black marks have also been appearing where chairs rub on the tiles, and nothing short of severe scrubbing gets rid of them either. I'm afraid to scrub strongly, because I assume this will damage the sealant, and perhaps the tile.

What should I do?

Thank you so much!

Dawn at September 2, 2007 9:44 PM

It sounds to me as if moisture and oils are getting into the grout. I trust the source is from the room, not the ground/foundation. There may be nothing you can do for the grout at this point. The ammonia could be part of the problem -- it can cause some minerals to turn dark.

Consider putting felt, cork or plastic "feet" on the bottom of your furniture legs so as they move across the floor the marks aren't left. I have done that for my various hard-surface floors through the years.

If you feel you have to get the dark grout lightened move forward with abrasive cleaners and brushes to see what happens. It seems the damage is done to the grout, so if you are careful to not scrub on the tiles in your effort to scrub on the grout, you won't do any more damage. If you can live with the darkened grout, but don't want more, apply sealant to the grout and keep it applied as a regular maintenance item.

If the stains keep appearing after you have sealed the grout, you have a problem from underneath.

And if you can't live with the dark stain, it's time to get a good tile person to come in and replace the grout -- making sure to match the color and texture you presently have.

Good luck!

The Flooring Lady at September 3, 2007 1:38 PM

Hello Flooring Lady,

Thank you for your quick response!

I honestly don't care too much about the stained grout - it certainly adds to the rustic quality of the place.

However, I'd really like to get rid of the black furniture marks on the tiles themselves. Do you have any further advice for them? Is there anything that would dissolve them? A quick dip with ammonia, or even bleach, does nothing. I even tried those wonderful white "magic erasers", which take off everything else, but not these marks (unless I scrub so hard, I feel like I'm going to remove the surface of the tile itself!).

Thanks again,
Dawn

Dawn at September 4, 2007 10:08 AM

Getting the marks off the floor may remove the finish, but here are a few things to try. My environmentally insensitive (read: not too good for the environment) is using WD40 on the marks. Spray a little bit on a paper towel and rub. It works well at removing label goo; maybe it will work here too. Be light handed though so you minimize your risk of staining the tile.

My environmentally friendly approach to cleaning that tile is to use StainSolver, an oxygen bleach to work on the stain. Make a loose paste, dab it onto the spots -- start with one -- and let it do its magic. I had a stain on my counter (linoleum) that I could only remove this way -- but it did remove the top surface so the sheen changed, but the stain was gone. You could have the same problem, though I'd like to think your floor surface is harder than my counter surface.

Let me know what works.

The Flooring Lady at September 4, 2007 11:43 AM

Hello Again, Flooring Lady!

I tried the WD40, since I have some sitting around. It works! It still takes a fair amount of rubbing, but the gunk definitely comes off. I'll also look for the StainSolver too, to see how it compares.

Thank you!
Dawn

Dawn at September 5, 2007 7:24 PM

Congratulations! I'm glad you found one solution to your black-mark situation.

If you want the StainSolver you can best get it from the link I provided. It's a great oxygen bleach you can use in your laundry and for your various stain removal needs.

Thanks for letting me know of your success.

The Flooring Lady at September 5, 2007 9:04 PM

A further comment about using WD40 for cleaning black marks off your Saltillo tile: because it's a solvent be sure to wash it off after it's done its magic or you could have the sealant dissolved too.

The Flooring Lady at September 10, 2007 9:58 AM

Thank you so much for all the wonderful advice! After reading through all the questions and your answers I may have the answer to my question but I thought I'd run it by you anyway. We recently purchased a 27 year old home with Saltillo tile that has a very dingy, grey haze all over it. The previous owner said that she "white-washed" it. I don't care for the finish at all and used a heavy-duty floor-stripper in the pantry (just in case!) to see if the haze would lift. Letting the solution sit for 20 minutes then scrubbing it will a stiff brush I was able to easily remove the grey haze. Unfortunatly, I believe in some areas I was also lifting/removing the surface of the tiles as small flecks of white material began coming up with the haze. Upon close inspection I could see the same flecks imbedded in the tile. Do you think the product I used may have been too harsh to strip the Saltillo? Or perhaps this is just the amount of friction needed to strip the white-wash? Perhaps less time would remove the finish without damaging the tiles? If I cannot find anyone to tell me that I'm doing something wrong, I'll proceed with the stripping, rinse, allow to air-dry for 24 hrs then apply a sealer and multiple coats of a floor wax. Do you have any more suggestions or opinions on the project? I'm very pleased with the original color of the 9 tiles I have stripped - they range from a deep orange to a maroonish-brown. They are unlike any Saltillo tile I have seen before! I look forward to your advice.

Thanks!

Julie Hopkins at September 17, 2007 12:59 AM

I have two thoughts about what the white flecks can be. One is that the "white wash" was absorbed into the tile itself and is now a part of the tile.

But a more likely situation is that the process you are using to remove the "white wash" is actually damaging the tile. What you are probably seeing is efflorescence, the crystallization of the salts within the tile material. The cleaning material probably has chlorides in it and they are effectively leaching the minerals from the tile.

Given the stripping agent you are using is causing the problem, switch to something else so you don't have that problem over the entire floor.

You can try to remove the efflorescence that's already there with diluted phosphoric acid (usually about 1 part acid to 10 parts water, but follow the directions on the bottle). Then be careful with the sealant you use so you don't recreate the problem in an effort to protect the tiles from wear and tear.

Let us know how it comes out.

The Flooring Lady at September 17, 2007 10:11 AM

Hi, I am so glad I found your site! I have a BIG problem that I hope you can help me with. We built our home 5 years ago and laid 2000 sf of Saltillo tiles. The problem is that we have cracks in every room of the house. They range from small hairline cracks to large cracks that run the length of the entire room ( and lots of them). We would have to pull up the entire floor to repair all the cracks. Do you have any ideas or know of any products that we could use to repair these cracks ourselves. HELP!!!

jolene at October 5, 2007 1:20 PM

Hi:I have @1500 sq ft of Saltillo tile that had all the usual problems with 20 year old sealer,ie scuff marks and black marks etc. I have already used chemical stripper and black pads on a floor polisher to remove the old sealer.The entire surface,even after removing the sealer, still beads up when water is poured on it. Should I reseal the tiles or should I just use a polish?If so what type or brand of polish? Thanks in advance

bob at October 6, 2007 1:48 PM

Regarding the cracks in the floor; are the cracks in the tiles themselves or in the grout? My hope is they are in the grout because there is a better chance of fixing that problem and reducing further such problems.

My guess is the subfloor isn't adequately supported, either with floor joists close enough together or with a too-thin plywood/OSB (yes, I'm assuming these tiles aren't on a concrete slab).
Tile and stone flooring needs a sturdier subfloor than carpet/linoleum/wood floors do. Your builder may not have taken that into account.

If the cracks are in the grout, you could try filling in/re-grouting with a sanded caulk. Sanded caulk flexes, unlike grout, so can move with the floor. Most floors flex, which isn't a problem with a flooring that flexes or is rigid but not heavy. Heavy, rigid flooring, like your Saltillo tiles, need a rigid floor.

If the cracks are in the tiles themselves, you could try the sanded caulk in the cracks, but it's a patch job and will look patched. If my tiles were cracked, and I couldn't live with that look, I'd remove them. Then before putting them back down, fix the problem that caused the cracks before laying new tiles.

Like I said, I hope the cracks are in the grout.

The Flooring Lady at October 6, 2007 2:53 PM

Regarding the tiles stripped of the surface coat of polish and sealant, and the black marks too; it sounds to me as if the sealer that was initially used did its job well -- it absorbed into the tiles. If that is indeed the case, they are still sealed, but I'd apply a polish; more sealant will just bead up and may even look bad.

I don't have any brand recommendations. Maybe another reader will have one for you. Don't hesitate to ask your floor installer about recommended brands.

The Flooring Lady at October 6, 2007 2:55 PM

What a wonderful site. I recently had a home built and had saltillo tile installed. I did not know about the care of the tile, and was surprised when I started getting black marks, scratches, etc. I love the tile (and especially the ones with the "chicken feet" prints), but have begun to worry about care. So far I have just used a damp mop, but was going to buy one of the hard floor cleaners (like the Hoover hard floor cleaner). I thought this would get into the grout better than just a mop, and I don't want to get on my hands and knees to do it. Do you think this is a good idea or do any of your followers have any experience with the cleaner? I have a friend who uses it on her ceramic floors and loves it. But saltillo tiles are a little different. My tiles came sealed. Thanks. I am going to try to use the WD40 & rinse method on the black marks.

Jan K of Pueblo, CO at October 11, 2007 3:32 PM

I'm skeptical of the Hoover cleaner, but only because that's my style. I haven't heard anything about it one way or another. I also tend to prefer cleaning products of natural ingredients over chemical-based ingredients.

Ceramic tiles are quite different from Saltillo tiles so I wouldn't use the product based on that recommendation. And though your tiles are sealed, the grout isn't, unless your installer sealed the floor after the installation was finished. Consider sealing the floor with a product formulated just for Saltillo tiles, and then using gentle cleaners to keep it clean.

The Flooring Lady at October 11, 2007 5:56 PM

Hello - lots of good advise but still a few questions.
We have installed a Mexican terracotta tile indoors and outdoors (patio). Indoors and outdoors - the contractor sealed it from the top with what seems to be a surface sealer but put paper and tape on it - the tape made marks by pulling up sealer and left marks and now it also flaking off and has gone opaque in some places and the floor should proably be stripped and refinished? We would like a penetrating sealer or a wax? for non-glossy finished look that allows for easy - non-professional- maintenance
Outdoor - the contractor put a sealer on it that bubbled up - it is removed now - how do we best clean and treat the tiles that have been out-doors for a couple of years by now. We don't mind the tile looking used - the house is old - but it should be preserved at least to some extent.
One more indoor/outdoor in entryway - we just installed that same tile and no treatment whatsoever has been applied yet. What do you recommend for a non-glossy look - seal and wax?

joan aebi at October 14, 2007 3:29 PM

For the interior sealer that's lifting and flaking off, and fogging -- try stripping just that section and then applying a now coat of the same material to that section. It may not look right, being hard to blend the two applications, so you may resort to stripping the entire floor and starting over.

As you can tell by reading all of the comments here, there are lots of ways of approaching your protection to Saltillo tile. Penetrating sealers may not be the best approach because the tiles are so porous. I totally understand the need to have a low-maintenance floor, especially one that doesn't require a professional.

Look for a sealer or a wax that are specially formulated for Saltillo tiles and use them when you decide to strip what you have and start fresh. That goes for your interior and exterior tiles.

The Flooring Lady at October 15, 2007 5:42 PM

Hello. We have existing Saltillo tiles installed in our kitchen and entry way that we need to match for a home remodeling project. They seem to be 8 12" x 8 1/2" (we have measured several of the tiles in different locations throughout the house). However, when we look for these tiles on the Internet, every site we come to seems to only have 8" x 8". Can you tell us where to get the 8 1/2" x 8 1/2" tiles?

Thank you,
Howard Mirowitz

Howard Mirowitz at October 19, 2007 6:15 PM

See if you can find a 9"x9" tile. Often tile measurements are nominal so not quite as big as the measurement indicates. You may have a hard time finding the same size tile though so plan your remodel around that issue.

The Flooring Lady at October 26, 2007 7:28 AM

Hi, thanks for all the great comments on this site! I had a quick question, our saltillo tile is about 8 years old and we had it installed prior to moving in our house. I have stripped and sealed it a few times but it still seems to have qualities of beading up etc, so for the most part I think it is still ok in that area. My question is, what kind of mop do you suggest to get the tiles clean? I do major mopping twice a week and spot clean inbetween.(I clean it w/ Bleach and water and sometimes amonia and water) We have about 800 sq ft of it in the kitchen and utility areas and I find that after using string mops, I can run a damp paper towel over the floor after it is dry and I get a ton of grey dirt. (makes the families feet and socks grey too!!)I find myself having to do all 800 feet on my hands and knees with rags to get it all up. Is there a better way to mop - could you give me a brand and description of a mop? Thanks a million!!

Chris Zenner

chris at November 3, 2007 8:52 PM

You didn't tell us what kind of mop you do use. Nor whether you wet or damp mop.

I use the micro-fiber and terry cloth heads that fit on a flat "board" for my mopping. I spray my cleaner onto the floor and mop it up. That approach works well with my bamboo floor. My housekeeper prefers spraying the mop head and running it over the floor. It's all what works better for you.

I personally wouldn't use either of the cleaners you use because they are toxic, hurting you and the environment. You want to find either a cleaner that's specially formulated for Saltillo tile or use a 1:10 distilled vinegar:water solution to clean your floors with.

The vinegar solution isn't appropriate for every floor, but it works well for Saltillo tile.

The Flooring Lady at November 4, 2007 11:16 AM

Bottom line: what is the best way to clean exterior saltillo tiles? Ours have been in place since 1979 in Scottsdale AZ(an antique by Phoenix area terms).

Robert Abidor at November 4, 2007 2:04 PM

How do you bring out the natural color of exterior Saltillo tiles? I heard Linseed oil. Any truth?

Robert Abidor at November 4, 2007 2:06 PM

I'm not sure there is a "bottom line" for the best way to clean tiles because there are too many variables of what you are cleaning off the tiles. Vinegar water works well for Saltillo tiles, so I don't see why that wouldn't be an overall good cleaner for you. But if you are getting marks or stains off, that's a different subject.

I also have heard linseed oil is good for bringing out the color of the tiles. I don't have any experience with it on tile so don't know if it's true or false. But I do know linseed oil encourages mold growth in wood so I personally would be cautious about using it on tiles.

The Flooring Lady at November 4, 2007 2:17 PM

i have saltillo installed 7 yeras ago. used high gloss sealer( jamo )after installed + yearly coating. right now a lot of sreaks on floor due to home visits. what can i do to repair streaks.

abe rais at November 6, 2007 2:33 PM

Are the streaks marks from wheels and shoes? Or are they the sealant breaking down and streaking in the process?

If the marks are from rubber and rubber-like contact (shoes, wheels, etc) you can use WD40 applied to a soft cloth that you dab at the marks with. Do be sure to rinse the areas you clean with the WD40 though because it's a solvent and will eat right through your sealant if not removed quickly.

If the marks are from something else, write back to be more specific about what has caused the streaks.

The Flooring Lady at November 7, 2007 4:55 PM

dear lady. thanx for your answer.is int wd40 a lubricant oil? how can it remove surface adhesives being an oil based product? my streak marks are from the sealant breaking as shoes and surface friction from visitors. best regards. abe rais

abe rais at November 13, 2007 2:10 PM

WD40 is a solvent that often is treated as a lubricant.It removes the marks you are suffering from by dissolving them. And that's why you must also wash the are immediately after cleaning the marks -- you don't want to remove your tile sealant.

The Flooring Lady at November 13, 2007 3:27 PM

We recently moved into a charming 60 year old mission style home in Northern California. We have what appears to be old hand painted light mexican tiles on the bathroom walls and floor they are very thick and appear to be porous.
They seem to have been stained or sealed with something brownish tan in color,the local town hardware thinks it is wood stain. It has permeated the grout also. In some areas it looks like it has dripped when it was applied, and in some areas it seems to have faded just above the sink where the water comes in contact with the tile and where the sun has shined on it over the years.
What can I use to remove the old stain or sealer and what should I use to restain or re seal?
The tiles have so much character I dont want to remove them. Can you help?

Greg Ebejer at November 15, 2007 7:49 AM

There are specially formulated strippers for Saltillo tiles that would work to remove the old sealant. That and a scrubbing pad will help you out. You aren't going to remove anything that has been absorbed into the tiles however.

If you are lucky and the "spills" didn't get absorbed, the stripper will remove them too. But to deal with the sun-lightened tiles I think you have to try to match the color with a stain and hope you can make them look on par with the other tiles. Or you have to appreciate the character of the light and dark together; I think that's probably part of the charm you are liking.

A few readers have reported the use of transmission oil to darken their tiles works well. There are lots of ways to change the color of the tiles.

And if you get the tiles stripped and don't like the uneven colors that are bound to be there, try restaining them with the color of your choice, figuring they will still be uneven in color, but more homogeneously so.

Report back and let us know what you did and how you like the results. It will help future homeowners.

The Flooring Lady at November 15, 2007 8:23 AM

Hi! I am a very large distributor for saltillo across North America and the Carribean. Your site is very helpful and I've referred several of my customers to your website! Thanks for the great info and accurate facts!

My company has just developed a new sealer - made by the folks who seal the Smithsonian, Grand Central Station, etc! We've developed 2 sealers that addresses concerning issues for saltillo floor lovers. Our sealers are anti-skid, UV protected, 10+ year life-span, multiple finishes, scratch and water resistant, etc. They are awesome sealers and we wholesale to the public. If you have questions or care to post this for your readers' benefit, please do so!

Our website is: www.saltillotileconnection.com or call 512.394.7281

Thanks! Melanie :)

Melanie at November 16, 2007 12:47 PM

just found the site. thanks for all of the info! I've just moved into a house with saltillo tile. The floor has major black skid marks all over it. And, seeing the previous owners lack of care for the home, I doubt there has been any maintenance done to the floor...ever. Do you know the best solution for dealing with these heavy duty skids (also some water stains)? Is there any way to 'resurrect' this floors previous beauty?

Eddie Gantry at November 24, 2007 9:28 PM

Read the thread on this topic. There are lots of comments about the black skid marks and getting rid of them.

Water stains are probably a permanent mark on your tiles, but you can do other things to restore the beauty of your Saltillo tile floors. Give them a good cleaning. Strip old sealant and reapply a sealant specially formulated for Saltillo tiles.

The Flooring Lady at November 24, 2007 9:38 PM

Hi Flooring Lady,

A few months ago I moved into a house with about 2000sqft of salillo tile inside. The tile looked like it had been freshly sealed or polished when we moved in, it was very glossy and perfect looking. But now it looks dull and unfinished. I figure that I cleaned them wrong and messed up the finish, or I'm just not cleaning them correctly. Is there an easy way to tell if I need to re-finish the tiles? Are there any cleaners I shouldn't use when cleaning the tile? Any other regular maintenance tips?

Thanks,
-Sam

Sam at November 28, 2007 3:25 PM

What are you using to clean your Saltillo tiles?

The best way to keep floors clean and looking good is regular cleaning, be that sweeping or vacuuming. Damp mopping is good for cleaning spills and grime.

The Flooring Lady at November 28, 2007 8:03 PM

I am having my entry door replaced, including the whole jamb. The saltillo tile will have to be cut out near the door so the installer can replace the threshold, etc. The edge near the door consists of small cut tiles (about 1.5" x 11.5") but he warns that sawing them out may crack the next row of tiles. I have plenty of extra tiles and can do this myself if those tiles do need to be replaced but I have questions about repairing the floor:

1- any special requirements to put new whole tiles in with older tiles surrounding them? I've seen instructions in books on replacing a broken ceramic tile so I'm assuming this would be similar.
2- do I use a mortar or cement? Can it be pre-mixed, like what I have to patch crack in the mortar of my adobe brick house? The grout is standard grey cement color but it won't matter if the new grout is a little different because I have a rug/mat near the door that would cover that spot.
3- do I need to soak the replacement tiles first? (I helped a friend do his whole house in saltillo 20 years ago and the tiles were soaked first so they wouldn't pull the moisture out of the fresh cement.)
Any suggestions would be appreciated, this page has already given me great information!

thanks,
m

marty at December 1, 2007 5:28 PM

I haven't attempted the task facing you, but try to match the grout to minimize the inevitable different look. The tiles will appear different anyway, from wear, tear and aging of the ones that have been down vs the newness of the ones about to to be installed.

Mortar is a good material to use here. I've seen people use both pre-mixed and ready-to-mix mortar. It seems to be a personal-style issue. And the question of pre-soaking the tiles is an interesting debate with installers and manufacturers alike. Pre-soaking them does keep them from absorbing moisture from the mortar, but it also prolongs the drying time before you can seal and grout, another process up for debate.

The Flooring Lady at December 1, 2007 11:25 PM

Thanks for all your info. on Saltillo tiles. I would just like to know what polish you would recommend after using DW40. My tiles were originally sealed with AGG oil based sealer. Thanks

Tanya Rovin at December 5, 2007 2:54 PM

Are you asking what to re-seal your Saltillo tiles with after you clean black marks off with WD40? First, if you are using WD40, be sure to clean the areas well with soap and water so the WD40 is completely removed.

I'm not sure about what sealer you should use. Do you know if it was a penetrating or surface sealer? If you had an oil-based sealer before that is of the penetrating style, it might make sense to stick with that since the oil that's now absorbed into the tiles would probably interfere with the effectiveness of water-based sealers now.

The Flooring Lady at December 5, 2007 3:17 PM

Greetings floor lady. Great site I have thought about doing this for years, it's just that I type too slow.

Just to let you know, Linseed oil has been used for years on Mex.tile. You must dilute it half and half with mineral spirits. then using white towels quickly apply it over the entire tile surface. The best way that I can explain how the finished appearance will be with the oil is that unsealed tiles have a pastel appearance. When you use oil on the tile it changes the color to more of an earth tone shade.

The most important thing about using the boiled linseed oil is to dispose of the rags by soaking them in a bucket of water and laundry detergent. They will self ignite if left laying around. I've seen it happen on a number of occasions.

About hairline cracks, it happens on concrete subfloors also. If you replace the tiles you will need to use a crack suppression kit and by all means don't soak the tiles in water. If you do you will be asking for an efflorence nightmare. Just wipe a few coats of Auqa Mix "Pro Solv" penatrating sealer on the tile, let it dry and then install it using thin set. On thin hairlile cracks I have had some luck using a wax pencil used for repairing scratches on wood. If you can match the color, it's an easy fix.

Also I would use a Neutral PH cleaner to maintain the tile instead of vinegar. Vinegar will not harm the tile but I have seen it leave a residue that attracts dirt after a while. One more thing, I used tranny fluid one time to match the color on some Italian terracotta. It smells and attracts dirt. There are sealers that are stone enhancers which deepen the color of the tile and seal it well without putting a shine on the tile. Aqua Mix sells that also.

Floor Lady I would like to email you. Do you have an email address posted anywhere? Anyway thanks again for your comments here. G'day

Mike S at December 7, 2007 9:06 PM

I have scratched my tiles and am wondering if you have any ideas of how to remove them?

Anonymous at December 12, 2007 3:44 PM

I need clarification: you want to remove the tiles or the scratches? I think you mean scratches and will answer accordingly; let me know if you were asking about removing the tiles.

You can't remove the scratches easily or well. I think at this point the best you can do is conceal the scratches. Find a stain or shoe polish that is about the color of your tile, apply it, let it dry and the seal the area with the sealant used on your floor.

The Flooring Lady at December 14, 2007 9:31 AM

We had saltillo tile installed 2 wks. before Christmas. Now, our holiday guests are gone and we see thin white scratches on the tiles where the chairs were pulled out from the table. The tiles were pre-sealed and we sealed the grout after it was installed. What can we do about the scratches? Should we have the floor finished with polyurethane? I had rather not have a shiney finish, but I don't want the scratches either!

Mary T at December 27, 2007 7:55 PM

Is it the tile or the sealant that's scratched -- in other words, how deep are the scratches?

What kind of sealant was used on the tiles initially -- penetrating or surface? Once you know that you can proceed with resealing the entire floor for better protection.

The Flooring Lady at December 28, 2007 10:20 AM

Flooring Lady
I installed pre sealealed saltillo tile and then sealed the grout with a "same day" sealer. The directions say spray on sealer and it will evaporate. No wiping or cleaning necessary. How ever, the sealer left an apperance of a wax residue around the edges of the tiles. How can I remove this without affecting the pre-sealed saltillo? Would sealing the entire tile with a gloss sealer be an option?
Please advise?

Thanks

brandon at December 28, 2007 12:53 PM

I've never used that product. Can't you just wipe the residue from the tiles?

If your tiles are sealed, why do you want to seal them again? If you are thinking that will cover the residue, all it will do is build up the sealers you have at the edges of the tiles, not blend them.

The Flooring Lady at December 28, 2007 1:14 PM

I didnt think it would blend the residue sealer either, but I thought I might ask. The residue can be removed with a nylon scrub brush and Tilelabs Everyday Stone Cleaner w/hot water only. However it is diffucult. I have used the same day sealer for 3 years now. It is by Gundlach Company. Extremely affective on ceramic tile and porcelain, but I am positive it is the last time I use it on saltillo. Thanks for your quick response. I will be sure to bookmark your page for future refrence.

Happy New Year!

brandon at December 28, 2007 1:24 PM

Thanks for your quick response. I don't know what kind of sealant was used on my saltillo tiles. We purchased them in Santa Fe and chose the super saltillo instead of the regular saltillo. The scratches aren't deep at all. They look like they could be wiped or mopped off, but can't. I guess I should contact the owner of the tile company where they were purchased about the sealant used and then get back to you. Thank you!
Mary T

Mary T at December 29, 2007 3:16 PM

We purchased a home with Mexican tile in it 3 1/2 years ago. I knew nothing about cleaning the tile so I just began using future to clean with which was what the previous owner used. I just moved a rug and you can see where the tile is really dark and dingy where the rug is not and really light where the rug is. I have no idea if the tiles were sealed or not. How should I proceed - should I just strip them and then seal them? Also should I not use the future and just stick with vinegar and water after that? Can you recomend products to use to strip and seal?

Sherri at January 1, 2008 8:43 PM

Too bad the previous owner used Future Floor Polish to clean the Saltillo tile. SC Johnson says it's not meant for Saltillo tiles. To remove it from your floor use a mixture of 1/4c all-purpose cleaner (make sure it doesn't have chlorine), 1c ammonia, and 1/2gal cool water. A good all-purpose cleaner to have around is StainSolver -- it's a great oxygen bleach cleaner that's great for all of your cleaning needs from floors to laundry.

Once you have cleaned them of the gunk that's on the floor, seal them -- read this thread for all the opinions about the best sealer -- and stick with vinegar water for cleaning. It's effective, cheap, and won't harm you.

The Flooring Lady at January 2, 2008 10:50 AM

Thank you so much for your help. I've asked several people how to clean these tiles and no one knew. I'm glad I found this site. Thanks again.

Sherri McGuire at January 2, 2008 2:39 PM

My entire downstairs floor is saltillo tile that was installed apprx 25 yrs ago. Unfortunately the previous owner did not keep up with the floor and it is extremely dirty and then my painter ended up getting oil based and latex paint all over my floor.

I went to a very well known home project store to get some assistance on cleaning the floors. Figured they always say "You can do it, we can help" so they would know what to do. They ended up giving me some solvent called TileLab to use with my buffing machine. The guy told me not to dilute it and to leave it on the floor for 30 to 45 minutes. Me not being saltillo savvy I followed the guys instructions. It ends up the two combined ate my floor down to the stone and has changed the color and left pockets in the tile.

I went to the stores competitor and they informed me my tile is ruined. I have had 2 bids from independant contractors and they have said my tile is ruined.

Is it true that once the stone/clay is exposed you aren't able to seal it or paint it or fix it some how? As you can tell I don't know much about this flooring and I am in dire need of some help and I don't know if everyone is jerking me around just so I will hire them to put new flooring in. Your advice would be greatly appreciated.

Alexis at January 3, 2008 2:25 PM

Well, ruined can mean so many things to so many people. In the traditional sense of what Saltillo tiles "should" look like, yes your tiles are ruined. But if the new rustic look is something you can enjoy, then I'd say they aren't ruined.

You could seal them now. You could paint them with paint or shoe polish or stain -- depending on the look you wanted. And then seal them.

I don't think anyone is jerking you around, though I sure know why you might feel that way. I think the answers you are getting are from people who think the Saltillo tile should "look like new", which yours don't now. Sure, they would love to sell you some tiles and do the work, but I bet they truly believe they are ruined.

So, what do you think of the floors in their present condition -- if they were sealed? Go with that gut answer.

And let us know what you did and how it turned out. Ok?

The Flooring Lady at January 3, 2008 3:22 PM

I live in central Texas I have just installed saltillo on my outside porches. I had it stained & sealed. The tile is now flaking off the stain in some areas. Is there any way to fix this problem without taking up the tiles? I was told by the supplier to sand each damaged tile and re-stain & seal. What do you think? Thanks for your help, Debbie

Debbie at January 3, 2008 4:13 PM

I'm not sure what's going on with your flaking tiles. I think you need to try to find out what's going on with the tiles before you go about restaining them. It would be a shame for you to go through the process of sanding, staining and sealing the tiles only to have them flake again.

I hope someone else reading this will chime in with an opinion.

The Flooring Lady at January 3, 2008 5:13 PM

We live in a house with about 2000 sq. feet of Saltillo tile. The tile was purchased in Saltillo, Mexico about 7 years ago. The previous owner sealed it with some kind of petroleum based sealer. The problem is now the tile is scratched and dull and we can’t find anyone who wants to tackle the job of stripping the old sealer off. We’ve been told we need to use a solvent based stripper. Do you know of a product we could use to strip the floors first before we seal them again?

Cindy Johnson at January 3, 2008 6:35 PM

I don't know of the product you are looking for. But Jan, who posted on August 4, 2007, has experience with transmission fluid as the sealant on their floors. I hope Jan or others with this experience will chime in.

The Flooring Lady at January 4, 2008 5:09 PM

Great site. We purchased a 19 year old home with satillo tiles throughout the home and radiant heat. There are stains in some areas of the grout and on some tiles. I can live with this. Some tiles have pockets where the tile is broken. Can this be repaired or would the tiles have to be replaced?

Kathy at January 10, 2008 2:51 PM

Are the tiles cracked or chipped? If they are chipped you could try staining the chipped area with something like shoe polish or wood stain -- something that matches the tile color as closely possible. That won't repair the tile but it will repair the look. You would want to decide if you then wanted to seal that spot or leave it for a day when the entire floor gets sealed.

If the tile is cracked there's nothing you can do about that, other than live with it (hide it with furniture or an area rug?) or replace it. If you choose to replace it you'll be in the best position of the person who had the floor installed also had left-over tiles. They'll be in the same color lot and manufacturing style as what you have, though they won't have aged so will still look a bit different. The tiles can be replaced by expert tilers and you'll hardly tell the difference. If there aren't extra tile you will have to buy something that's as close to the existing floor as possible, or consider buying something totally different and making a pattern of the differences (even if the pattern is random).

The Flooring Lady at January 11, 2008 9:07 AM

There are "holes" through the top of some of the tiles exposing the clay underneath the finish. There are some tiles that sound hollow when you walk across them leading us to think they are very fragile. The tiles are sort of pink/yellow in color. There are some spots where tiles might have been replaced because the color seems different from the rest of the room. I like a rustic look and don't mind things that don't match, as long as they complement each other. My concern was preventing further damage to the tiles that have these breaks in their tops.

Kathy at January 11, 2008 9:59 AM

I had it pegged pretty well then. So my suggestion, as we brainstorm here, is to find or make a color that will blend, match or compliment the color your tiles are and use it on the chips. Since you already have a rustic look going, and don't mind it, this will just add to the decor or style.

Then once you get the chips colored and to your liking, seal the entire floor. That may take care of your various problems. It's worth a try, anyway.

The hollow sound is something I associate with floor tiles (or any flooring material) that aren't attached to the subfloor. The tiles aren't particularly more fragile but be virtue of not being solidly attached to the subfloor they may have a tendency to break more easily than the tiles around them. You can take them up and re-install them now, or wait until they do break.

The Flooring Lady at January 11, 2008 12:26 PM

I need to replace several saltillo tiles on my floor. The problem is the tile measures 11 1/8X 11 1/8. can you supply me with tiles this size, unsealed. Steve Reiber

Steve Reiber at January 14, 2008 9:47 PM

Sorry, I can't help you out. This is an information site, not a vendor or supplier. Good luck in finding what you need.

The Flooring Lady at January 14, 2008 9:51 PM

I am installing 12 x 12 . The problem I am haveing is the tiles vary in size . From 11 1/2 to 11 3/4 . I tried to split the differece . I tried 1/2 spacers . Then tried to eyeball it . It just looks bad . Is the tile bad ? Whats my best soultion ? Thank you .

Abel at January 29, 2008 4:21 PM

Saltillo tiles are typically handmade. And because they are considered handmade and rustic, the variable sizes and grout sections is par for the course and expected. If you don't like the look you can try to hand select more precise sizes. Or, sort them by size and lay them together, making a kind of pattern -- say put the largest ones around the edge of the room, or in the middle of the room.

If you really dislike the look, consider returning them and using a similar tile.

The Flooring Lady at January 30, 2008 1:27 AM

I have approx 2000 sq' of saltillo tile in my home and have two issues, one major and one minor.

First the minor, the pad under an area rug has left an imprint. I have found a manufacturer who recommends a 'natural' rubber pad for use with saltillo tile floors. What do you recommend.

I recently contracted a stone restoration and maintenance company to reseal my floors. they applied a diluted stripping chemical and used a white pad brush on the rotary machine. They then brushed on Tesco Clear Seal on top of the existing seal. I wish I had left things alone. the floor has shiny blotches in places and streaky everywhere, some areas look as though I spilled red wine and never wiped up.

I am now working with a second company but they have yet to determine a solution. Will the tiles have to be stripped bare and resealed? What is your opinion?

thanks

Dave

Dave at January 30, 2008 9:08 AM

I'm guessing you need to strip the floors completely before resealing them. It sounds like you have quite a mess there. Sometimes going back to "basics" is the best way to sort out problems. If you try to repair the mess it may get worse.

And make a record of what you use to seal the floor so when you sell the new owners won't be in the dark as to how to maintain the Saltillo tiles.

The Flooring Lady at January 30, 2008 10:02 AM

Thank you for your prompt response. Please clarify something for me. I am finding people throwing out the term strip indescriminately. Are you suggesting that the tiles must be stripped of all coating down to the original bare clay?

Dave at January 30, 2008 11:12 AM

When I say "strip" a floor I mean to remove everything down to the original surface. Depending on what was originally used, getting all chemicals off the surface may be impossible -- penetrating vs surface sealant.

Now you asked if I meant going down to the bare clay -- I don't mean to take off any surface the manufacturer put down, only chemicals put on later.

The Flooring Lady at January 30, 2008 11:25 AM

Very clear. Thank you

Dave at January 30, 2008 11:34 AM

The contractor is here as we speak (or write) doing a test patch with a latex sealer. Yesterday he stripped a 3 X 4 foot section. What do you think of latex sealer on saltillo? I am not too crazy about the gloss but if this is what I need to fix the problem then so be it.

Dave at January 30, 2008 12:04 PM

I don't have experience with it but I tend to like water-based latex products because of their environmental benefits over oil-based products. It's unusual for a company to not offer various sheens; maybe you can find a matte finish. I too don't like gloss surfaces, for a variety of reasons.

The Flooring Lady at January 30, 2008 12:35 PM

I need advise on what to fill holes in saltillo tiles that were created from carpet tacks.

Fran at February 3, 2008 5:49 PM

I'm not sure you can successfully fill holes in Saltillo tile. You can disguise it with sealing the holes, or if the color is off by first fixing that. One suggestion I've seen in action that works for coloring chips and holes is to use a matching shoe polish color on the spot. The sheen will probably be different then so sealing the repaired spot is in order.

You now have a "patina-ed" floor. Maybe you can tell people Pancho Villa slept there. ;~)

The Flooring Lady at February 4, 2008 7:58 AM

I am very interested in hearing the answer to the carpet pad question on saltillo tile. What is the best option for area rug padding on radiantly heated saltillo tile floor? What is a "natural rubber pad?"

Cindy R. at February 6, 2008 5:58 PM

I guess I don't see a need for area rug padding, for padding. I've used "under liners" to keep area rugs from slipping and sliding but not for padding. So I guess "best" depends on your situation, needs and style.

Natural rubber is made of latex not from petroleum products.

The Flooring Lady at February 6, 2008 7:29 PM

We have saltillo tiles in our home and on our outside patios. It is a new home and we moved in October 2007. The tile inside has scuff marks that will not mop up. Is that normal? Outside I have hosed and brushed the tile and it does not come clean - still looks very dirty. Shoe prints, muddy dog prints and dirt are still there. So I have a new home and the floors look terrible.
I have a feeling that it is a problem with the sealer. Any advice would be appreciated.

Debra at February 7, 2008 9:47 AM

There are two possibilities, from where I sit anyway. The workers didn't take care during the sealing process and walked on it and let their dogs roam on it before it was dry -- supporting your theory of the problem being the sealer. If that's the case they can strip it and reseal it, keeping their feet and dogs away this time.

Or, it could be the tiles themselves. Saltillo tile is a rustic, handmade tile. It could be possible the batch you have had people and dogs walking on it before it was cured or ready. Not as likely as the first scenario, but a possibility just the same.

Go with the first notion, assuming you can get the contractor back to take care of it and see what happens. There are other things you can do if that solution doesn't work -- we'll talk about it then.

Good luck!

The Flooring Lady at February 7, 2008 9:53 AM

Hi! So glad to have found you! Our satillo tiles are 20 plus years old. Where our dog water bowls (and previous owners dog bowls) sat there are hard water (I'm assuming) stains and it has also seeped into cracks. My husband tried leaving CLR on areas that appear to have hard water build up. To no avail, looks the same. Previous owners used 'brite', 'armstrong' floor sealers/cleaners.
How do I get rid of hard water? Strip? What brand?
Aquamix Stripper? What kind of sealer for a matte finish? Our kitchen is 20X14 and thank goodness it's not all ruined, only in patches. I'm hoping I can simply strip certain areas.
Any advice will be so appreciated. I love the footprints (dog,baby...)

Tib at February 9, 2008 9:55 AM

Those stains may be efflorescence, which is like a hard water stain, but it comes from within instead of without. In either case, try cleaning the area with phosphoric acid, then neutralizing the acid with a mild detergent and washing the area carefully to remove all the chemicals.

There are lots of suggestions in this thread about what others have used and liked for stripping and sealing their Saltillo tiles. The challenge in spot stripping and sealing is you may get in inconsistent look. But if you don't like it you can then strip everything (losing those footprint-memories) and seal everything.

The Flooring Lady at February 9, 2008 12:19 PM


Thank you for your knowledge and immediate response! We'll try the phosphoric acid today. Actually the footprints are an impression 'in' the tile possibly when it was laid to dry before it was sealed. Because we have these tiles in from of every door in our home we have these sweet impressions everywhere.

Tib at February 9, 2008 2:30 PM

Please identify readily available brands of floor cleaners containing phosphoric acid that will clean /remove wax and dirt from satillo tiles.

Many thanks
Joan

Joan at February 12, 2008 10:39 AM

I don't think you'll find phosphoric acid in a floor cleaner. It's a chemical sold straight as itself for cleaning situations like this. Art supply and paint stores are likely candidates for a source.

Or you can buy a solution body shops use that contains phosphoric acid and alcohol. Sherwin Williams sells it as Metal prep and DuPont sells it as QuickPrep.

The Flooring Lady at February 12, 2008 10:55 AM

I am soooooo glad I have found you.
I really need your help. I am building a new house and I want it to have a european cottage feeling so it is my wish to use Saltillo tile for the floors. However, everybody is telling me that saltillo is very hard to take care of and blah blah blah.
I want to find out the real truth. Can you help me? It is going to be used only on the inside of the house. Should I buy the saltillo that is sealed already or the unsealed one and seal it. I thought I could be OK if I sealed the tiles every two or three years, but would I have to strip the saltillo and then reseal? Please let me know. I am getting ready to buy my floors but I don't know what to buy. Thank you advance for your help!

Ida Hudtwalcker at February 25, 2008 3:15 PM

Your post made me smile because I find it's so easy for others to rain on your parade. The challenge is knowing when their negative comments are worth listening to and when they are just negative.

You know, there really is no such thing as a totally care-free flooring. So pick and choose the elements of a flooring's strengths and weaknesses and enjoy the look you seek.

What I know of Saltillo and paver tiles comes from how others experience them and from how they are made, not from personal experience. There's more to taking care of these kinds of rustic tiles than just waking or sealing them. Considerations include how easily damaged they are when things are dropped on them, when stileto heels walk across them, or when a child rolls its toy across or an adult wheels their suitcase across them.

Are you prepared for the slightly uneven surface resulting from being hand made? They won't be perfectly square or exactly the same size; is that a problem? What about color variation, will that bother you if there is a lot?

I prefer unsealed tiles that are sealed in place because then the grout is also sealed. Make sure you have a sturdy enough subfloor so the tiles don't shift with the floor because of the weight.

Don't forget there are other ways of getting a cottage feel. But if handmade tiles is what you are after -- be they Saltillo or just generic pavers -- then go for it and enjoy them.

The Flooring Lady at February 25, 2008 3:27 PM

We recently purchased a home in Mexico with saltillo tiles and while most of them look fine, about 5% have grout impregnated into the tile. It looks to have been done by someone cleaning up, and left the grout streaked on apparently incompletely sealed tile. Is there any alternative other than removing the damaged ones?

Roberta at February 27, 2008 4:29 PM

Saltillo tile is porous so absorbs things we often don't want it to absorb. It seems your grout streaks may be an example. I don't know of any way of repairing that without damaging the tile. You could try "painting" over the streaks with something like a shoe polish that's of the same color as the tiles. But I think removing them is your only choice.

The Flooring Lady at February 27, 2008 5:08 PM

We are just moving into a new place and it has the Saltillo tiles, the previous owners had a couple of large dogs, and i believe the tiles were probably not sealed correctly to begin with. So, there is a lot of surface scratches, and stains. What if anything can we do?
thanks, Jole

Jole at February 28, 2008 8:37 AM

Before you move into the house have the floors stripped and resealed. That will remove the stains and the scratches, letting you control the quality of the finish from here on out.

The Flooring Lady at February 28, 2008 11:01 AM

I have 2 questions. 1st. We have Saltillo tile around our pool. there is alot of discoloration differance from the pool tile in comparison to our interior tile. The pool tile has a white calcium coming through and really ruins the look of the tile. When it rains it all goes away and the color comes out. Outside also around the pool the tiles are flaking off speraticaly, not just near the pool but everywhere!!!! What do i need to do? I have Saltillo in the front entrance and it is perfectly fine. The only differance is the front was purchased pre-sealed and the pool tiles unsealed but sealed before laying (3 coats) than after 3 coats. I used the bear product from Homedepot (Satin).

chad at March 1, 2008 12:23 PM

Where are you located? What kind of climate do you have? I'm guessing it's a warmer climate because of the pool, but you never know.

How much older are the pool tiles than the front tiles? It sounds as if they are essentially the same age, but I'm curious.

I don't know if you are seeing efflorescence, which is described in this thread, or if the chlorine salts that evaporate from pool water on the deck are what you are seeing.

I don't know the Bear sealant so don't know if it's the right one for you job. Read through all of the posts here so you can see the wide range of information we have discussed already. Yes, there are quite a few, but it's going to worth it to you to see others' experiences with their Saltillo tiles.

The Flooring Lady at March 1, 2008 2:04 PM

Hello,

I just bought a 1400sq ft house that has saltillo tiles on half of the flooring. It is the original tile when the house was built in 1977. It is not too shiny, so I cannot tell if it has been sealed or not, or it could just be dull from age.

Is it necessary to reseal it before moving in, in about a month when escrow closes? Would it be easy to reseal myself or get a professional?

My second question, I am concerned how to clean it? Did I read correctly you recommended phosphoric acid?? People have told me just to use water, but I don't see how that sterilizes anything.

I'm sure you can understand my concern of wanting to clean/sterilize everything in my new purchase before I move my own things in.

Thanks,

gen

gen at March 2, 2008 9:55 AM

The way to test if your tiles have any sealant is to drop some water onto the tiles -- just a few drops will do -- and see if they bead up or are absorbed. They could be dull from age or lack of recent sealing. If the tiles absorb the water droplets it's time to reseal. Or, if you would prefer a shinier finish it's time to reseal. And I'd hire a recommended professional to do the work.

Clean your tiles with 10:1 water:vinegar. That and airing the house out will go a long way to having it in good condition when you move in, and as you live there.

The Flooring Lady at March 2, 2008 10:34 AM

Hi all,

Just wanted to let you saltillo tile lovers and owners in on some secrets/experience advise. I have saltillo through my entire house 1650+/-sf. It has been the floor I wanted for 10 years. After 3 years of having it I noticed some similar issues as has been previously mentioned.
I use aqua mix low sheen sealer and finish. Its great stuff and it eliminates wax build up.

However,you will get spots of "sealer wear" and eventually noticable uneveness in high traffic areas in the finish. These areas are crying for sealer. Stop.... dont do it yet. I noticed this "flaw" about 2 months ago especially in the kitchen where lighter hues are laid. What is completely neccesary is that you completely clean this floor by renting or buying a floor scrubber (you'll never get it that clean by doing it yourself). Use a degreaser like "oil eater" or "simple green". The floor scrubbers work really fast. I put a lot of liquid cleaner (concentrate mixed with water) on the floor, the tiles are porus and will absorb liquid and use the stongest scrub pad available. The dirt will bubble, in the solution on the the floor. Start sponging it up and repeat this process until the bubbles are clear (also rinse the scrub pad in between). After this you must clear water mop until it comes clean, it is important to remove any product before sealing and the degreasers are designed to get the tile to "let go" of the dirt so the dirt will rise to the top of the tile.

You need to let this dry for 24 hours before sealing. Inspect. If there are still bad tiles use the a stripper for saltillo/terra cotta tile usually you leave on for an hour and use the floor scrubber on those particular tiles. (Again I use the aqua mix sealer remover)again saltillo has to dry 24 hours before applying sealer. You want to apply at least 2 coats. You want to get coat buildup and try to minimally do this at least once a year in high traffic areas. If you do this it will be an easy clean with the floor scrubber and put a coat of sealer down. In between just mop. Vinegar and water is great and so is simple green. Just remeber when you seal it must be as clean as possible.

HANNAH at March 3, 2008 7:02 PM

We installed glazed Saltillo tile 10 years ago and love it. However, we have 2 problems. (1) the glaze seems to have been scrapped off in high traffic areas and (2)holes have happened as though there were air pockets just under the surface of the tile. They are a 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep and vary in size from nickel size and smaller. How can we fill the holes and repair the loss of the glaze?

Paula at March 7, 2008 8:01 PM

Floors are so abused. :~) You have to protect them from the grit that comes in with traffic -- door mats are a good start. It happens even with the best of care so you generally need to anticipate resealing floors periodically.

The holes you have are probably just what you think they are -- air pockets that finally gave way. Patching them is going to be a bit tricky, I think. I wonder if sanded caulk that's close to your tile color would work to fill the holes adequately. And when it's dried seal those spots and the traffic area that's lost its glaze.

You may want to consider sealing the entire floor so your tiles last for years to come. And look good too.

The Flooring Lady at March 8, 2008 12:35 PM

Hi,
My house is only 2 years old. I had saltio unglazed tile put on my kitchen counter tops. Having been to Mexico I saw Saltio on many counter tops and loved the look. We purchased the 12x12 tile from Home Depot. The water base sealer we put on is peeling off. I am taking a razor knife and peeling the sealer off,with much satisfaction. Well needless to say, there's a lot of stains and uneven ares. Do they seal their tile in Mexico? How could I keep it clean without sealing it? Would steel wool every now and then bring it back to some sort of unifying look or should I find a better sealer and reapply? Then there's taking it out and going with Corian? I still love the color and the organic look, however I feel I never have a clean counter.
Thanks,
Deb

Debby at March 8, 2008 9:19 PM

Question what can I strip my saltillo floor with. Then what is the best sealer that I can use on it once stripped

Tere McCauley at March 9, 2008 5:38 AM

Debby, it's my feeling that if the sealant you put on just two years ago is peeling up (I think peeling things like that is satisfying too) there is an application problem. The problem could be a bad batch of sealant, an incorrect application process or the tiles weren't clean enough.

Strip (or continuing pealing if you are having a good time) the existing sealant, clean those tiles thoroughly to remove grease, dirt and food, and then use a sealant that's designed for Saltillo tiles.

I have just discovered that olive oil keeps my linoleum counters looking great. I believe the olive oil would change the color of your tiles (as might other sealants) but it would be a healthy approach to sealing your tiles and grout. It will take a bit more maintenance than a sealant, but it might be worth it.

The Flooring Lady at March 9, 2008 8:21 AM

Tere, your questions are discussed at length in this long thread on Saltillo tiles. I know there are lots of comments here, but it's a great discussion of various experiences with their tiles.

The Flooring Lady at March 9, 2008 8:26 AM

I love the idea of using olive oil! I'll try it and let you know how it goes. Thank You so much!
Debby

Anonymous at March 9, 2008 1:28 PM

I've have a problem I can't find the saltillo tile for my repair on my pool,patio step This tile is broken and i need to replace some pieces. Canyou help me find old saltillo tile that is likly discontinued?

mike at March 13, 2008 7:26 AM

We'll see if having your question posted here will bring out people who have leads for you. Good luck!

The Flooring Lady at March 13, 2008 7:43 AM

Hi. I'm planning on installing roughly 1000 sf of Saltillo Tile in my house. My question is about the advantages/disadvantages of the different sizes. I have always admired the larger 12x12 tiles, but my husband seems to think that 8x8 makes more sense.. in terms of the way the floor lies, etc. We currently have 12x12 ceramic that he hates (we both do).. but, he installed it himself and his issues are stemming from that. He has never seen saltillo in person. Is there any advantage to the 8x8 tiles over the 12x12s? Installation and general living? Thanks! Amy.

Amy at March 17, 2008 6:56 PM

Different applications have different needs for tile sizes. A place that has a floor drain -- shower, laundry room, etc -- benefits from small tiles, both for looks and function. But a hallway and room don't necessarily have that kind of demand, leaving the choice up to your preference.

I personally tend to think smaller rooms want smaller tiles and larger rooms want larger tiles, but that's not a hard-and-fast rule. If the room/hall you are flooring has lots of space intrusions where you'll have to cut a large tile when you wouldn't need to cut a smaller tile, I'd go with the smaller tile.

Why don't you get samples of both sizes and lay them out on the floor so you can decide for that particular space which is better? And then hire a professional installer so your husband won't dislike the new floor.

The Flooring Lady at March 18, 2008 9:48 AM

I have saltillo tiles on the entire bottom floor of my house. It was beautiful when we first put it down but we have had parties and my husband like to walk around with his black shoes on which has created a lot of black scuff marks. I have tried a lot of different products with no results. Do you have any suggestions on what I could do to get rid of the scuff marks on my floors. And also what it the proper way to clean the tiles and keep this floor up?

Ana at March 18, 2008 8:10 PM

I know there are lots of comments on this article, but there are various comments addressing these questions. We have covered how to remove black scuffs, how to clean the floor and how to maintain it. You may pick up other ideas on Saltillo tiles as you go through the comments.

The Flooring Lady at March 19, 2008 12:29 PM

Hi...hoping you can me out. I live in Jacksonville, Florida wher the winters are not too harsh here. I installed pre-sealed saltillo on my exterior, partially covered lanai. I then cleaned the tile, let it dry out and then applied a Stonetech solvent-based high gloss laquer for appearence. I tried following all the manufacture's instructions (allowing tile to dry, avaiding direct sunlight, temp. extremes, etc) and now less than 9 months later areas of the laquer sealant are chipping and a good portion of the tile has begun turning white. What did I do wrong here?

The laquer was supposed to be usable for porous surfaces including saltillo. Do I need to strip the tile, if so, is there a stipper that you recomend? Will it strip the "pre-sealed" component of my tile? Do you recommend a different product other than the Stonetech Laquer? I really like the glossy look but dont want to go through this every 9 months.

Please help...thanks.

Edmundo Gonzalez at March 22, 2008 4:47 PM

You may have a high water table where you are and the moisture is leaching mineral from your tiles. If that's the case there's not much you can do by protecting them from the top. You need to find a way to get the water away from your tiles.

Your various questions about what to use to strip and what to use to seal the tiles are covered in the long thread of comments.

The Flooring Lady at March 22, 2008 5:01 PM

Hello, I am in Melbourne, FLorida. I have a shower floor, walls, sealing coverd in Saltillo 9" tiles, counter tops too, they have been in place 20 years. Originallly sealed with Aqua Mix Gold at $100+ per gallon, just strippes with Simple green, 40% muriatic and reapplied Aqua Mix 3 weeks ago, Efflorvescensce ( spelled wrong) is still issue, what can I do now? THNAK YOUHello, I am in Melbourne, FLorida. I have a shower floor, walls, sealing coverd in Saltillo 9" tiles, counter tops too, they have been in place 20 years. Originallly sealed with Aqua Mix Gold at $100+ per gallon, just strippes with Simple green, 40% muriatic and reapplied Aqua Mix 3 weeks ago, Efflorvescensce ( spelled wrong) is still issue, what can I do now? THNAK YOU

al at March 23, 2008 7:10 AM

I'm guessing you have water getting under the tiles which is wicking the minerals to the top surface of your tiles. If my guess is correct you need to find the source of the leak and fix that.

On the other hand, perhaps your didn't put enough sealant on and water is seeping into the tiles from the surface.

Efflorescence is a great indicator of water, so don't ignore its presence.

The Flooring Lady at March 23, 2008 10:50 AM

What is the best method for installation of Sautillo tile? Do you use sanded grout? Do you seal it?

Susan at April 16, 2008 2:56 PM

You should get directions from the manufacturer on the best way to install their tiles. You need to have sealed tiles, but it's up to you as to whether you buy them sealed or seal them after they are installed. The grout needs to be sealed regardless, so some amount of sealing will take place after the fact.

The Flooring Lady at April 22, 2008 1:19 PM

Our saltillo was just cleaned by a professional tile cleaner and it looks horrible. The tile was in bad shape to begin with, with several layers of dirt and sealant but now many of the tiles are dull and very worn looking and colorless. What can be done to bring back the look and beauty of these worn out tiles?

Cindy at April 29, 2008 7:27 PM

Hi Cindy! Hopefully the tiles just look worn out and colorless because they've been and haven't been re-sealed yet. Keeping my fingers crossed! I would first recommend that you call the cleaner and ask what was used to clean your tile, and express your concern with how some of them look as a result of their cleaning. What you could be seeing is efflorescence, the crystallization of the salts within the tile material (and gosh! I certainly hope I'm WRONG and this isn't the case!). If so, then the cleaning material probably has chlorides in it and they are effectively leaching the minerals from the tile.
If this is the case, you can try to remove the efflorescence that's already there with diluted phosphoric acid (usually about 1 part acid to 10 parts water, but follow the directions on the bottle). Then be careful with the sealant you use so you don't recreate the problem in an effort to protect the tiles from wear and tear.

What do you use when you clean your tiles? I recommend a mild solution of white vinegar and warm water, but borax and water or a microfiber mop and water work well too. Afte you discover what is making some of the tiles appear as they do and cleaning or stripping, seal the floor with a product formulated just for Saltillo tiles. Watch out for the sealers that are for ceramic tile - they won't have the desired results as the ones made just for Saltillo tiles.
If you have time, I'd really be interested in hearing what you find out from the person who cleaned your floor, and what you've done afterwards and the results. Of course, if you have any more questions, please let me know. ;~)

The Flooring Lady at May 1, 2008 7:24 AM

Hello. I am in a panic. I went to move a rug today and the pad beneath is stuck to my saltillo tile! The pad covers a 5 x 8 area and has left sticky white dots all over the area. Is there anything I can do to get it clean?

Mary at May 3, 2008 7:37 PM

Ooh, Mary!!! You know, this isn't going to be easy. I think it's going to be almost impossible to get the rubber off without stripping the finish. That being said, I have a couple of ideas, all of which is going to be time consuming - I don't think there's going to be anyway around that.

Are you handy with xacto knives? I use the wide flat edged ones for cleaning gunk off of off things I don't want to scratch. This might work. It's going to involve a lot of time sitting on your butt and carefully lifting/scraping the rubber off. After that's done, you could use rubbing alcohol to wipe up the residue with, but be alert as the alcohol can strip the finish if left on too long, and no, I don't know how long is too long -- just work in small areas.

My next thought is that acetone would take it off (you know, nail polish remover), but I KNOW that's going to take the finish off and then you're going to be looking at applying the finish to your 5x8 area.

Let me know what you do and how it turns out, and of course, wishing you the best of luck with your sticky situation!

The Flooring Lady at May 6, 2008 12:33 PM

I just had saltillo flooring installed a few months ago. It appears that the floor was not cleaned well before the sealer was put on. Therefore, the floor looks dirty all of the time. When I try to scrub the area, it lifts up the dirt but leaves scratches as well. Should I strip the floor, clean and reseal? If so, what products should I use and do you know of a reputable company in Dallas, TX that could do that for me?
Thanks.

Jackie Ewing at May 12, 2008 10:03 AM

Jackie,
My first thoughts are to see if you can find out the brand, manufacturer, etc. of the tile that you just had installed to see what they recommend for your situation if you have to go thru stripping and resealing. You'll also need to find out what was put on top of your tile - did you do it yourself or an installer? What kind of finish was put on after sealing? (If any?!) All of these are going to make a difference.

I'm sure there's several reputable companies in Dallas that can do this for you, but they're also going to need to know what has been put on the tiles. I'm not familiar with contractors in your area, so I couldn't make any recommendations. :~(

Your various questions about what to use to strip and what to use to seal the tiles are covered in the long thread of comments. Best of luck! I think you'll be able to figure out what to do once you know what has already been put on your floor!

The Flooring Lady at May 12, 2008 1:44 PM

Just had Saltillo installed, and I think the installer used a home depot concrete sealer on the tile. It is peeling around the edges, and some have scratches in the sealer. Other tiles appear to have not been properly cleaned. What brands/products do you recommend to fix this?

Mike at May 13, 2008 4:15 PM

Thanks for the comments. My floor issues seem to be very similar to Mike's of May 13th. I used a handy man that has done several of these installations. We used Home Depot's saltillo tile but I am not sure what sealer was used. It did say for saltillo tile. There was no finish put on after it was sealed.

Jackie Ewing at May 13, 2008 5:09 PM

Hi Mike & Jackie - I have the same answer for both of you - insist that the installer strip and re-do at their expense. They should if they care about their reputation. I would put a finish on it afterwards though, what kind is up to you (both!), just make sure that it's also for saltillo and will meet your expectations for what you are using it for (high traffic, low traffic, glossy, satin, etc.....)

Good luck to you both!

The Flooring Lady at May 14, 2008 8:07 PM

Hi Flooring Lady,

Unfortunately, having the installer do it is a foregone conclusion (they've flown the coup). That's why I'm looking for a specific brand recommendation. I'm hesitant to buy again at the big box retailers. I've gotten estimates of $1200 to strip, apply 3 coats of sealer and 2 coats of polish. I'm not sure if it's a job I'm up to (seems like a LOT of work), but what brands do you recommend? I've seen the Aldon Website, which seems like they know their stuff. Any recommendations?

Mike at May 15, 2008 9:25 AM

Hi Mike!

With any luck it may just be the polish that's flaking - the only way you'll know is after it's stripped. If water beads up on the floor after stripping, then the sealer is still good and shouldn't need to be resealed, especially if the tile looks good after drying. There's no reason you should have to reseal the tile if it's not needed. Remember, that's just an "if" situation.

Look for a sealers and waxes that are specially formulated for Saltillo tiles and use them when you decide to strip what you have and if start fresh.

I hear good things about Aqua Mix products, and they do have a high sheen product if that's what you're looking for. Glaze'n Seal and Charlotte Mexican Paver Sealer also get high marks from Saltillo tile installers and manufacturers.

Floor polish is the way to go with sealing the floor. Some manufacturers recommend using a penetrating sealer first and then the polish, others say the penetrating sealer is a waste of time and money because everything penetrates the tiles. 4-5 coats of the floor polish will do a good job of protecting your tiles.

I couldn't tell you if $1200 is a good price or not - you didn't mention how many square feet we're talking about. ;~)

Hope that helps!

The Flooring Lady at May 15, 2008 7:16 PM

Do you have any experience/advice for installing Saltillo tiles over suspended floors (plywood decking)? Radiant floor heat? On stairs?

Thanks in advance, and for all the good Saltillo information here. We had Saltillos in our Tucson house for almost 30 years, and they still looked great when we sold it. Your comments on cleaning, fragility etc. are spot on with our experience.

I might add, for others, you need floor protection under furniture legs and such, as for a softwood floor. Our bed-frame rollers had worn quite a groove over the years....

Cheers -- Pete Tillman

Peter D. Tillman at May 18, 2008 8:53 AM

Hi Peter!

Use the search function on the top right-hand corner of the page and you'll find answers to your questions, if not, let me know. I'm fairly certain all these subjects have been addressed.

Thank you for your kind comments, saltillo tiles are wonderfully special!

The Flooring Lady at May 18, 2008 12:10 PM

Is there a way to deep clean unsealed Saltillos? The house I'm renting has them in the kitchen and breakfast room and they are pretty gross looking, having sucked up everything that drops on the floor.

HELP!!!

Alice at May 21, 2008 3:02 PM

My house was flooded from Katrina and affected Mexican tile floor. I had used good products fromMediterranean Exports in Miami about 12 years ago, but they don't carry this stuff anymore. What specific products should I use to strip, reseal and resurface Mex. tile; can they be obtained in New Orleans or where? Some info re:steps & process in using said products would be greatly appreciated.

ray manning at May 21, 2008 3:36 PM

Hi Ray,

Sorry to hear your house was a victim to Katrina.

Flooding can seriously damage/weaken saltillo tiles, are you positive that they're still ok?

As far as what to use to strip, reseal & finish the tiles (and how to do all of the above!) are discussed in earlier posts. You can use the search function in the upper right-hand corner. I would suggest talking to contractors, knowledgeable staff at home improvement centers, etc. to get their views since they would be more used to the effects that Katrina had on many homes. I can't really recommend anybody since I'm nowhere near New Orleans. Good luck with your floor and please feel free to drop back by and let us know what you've found out.

The Flooring Lady at May 21, 2008 9:26 PM

Hi Alice,
Could you give me some specifics as to what sort of stains you have on your floor? It could make a difference with how to try to remove them. It sounds like they weren't sealed or the sealer is worn off - in some areas at least.

You can use the search function located on the upper right-hand corner of the page - might give you some good tips to try in the meanwhile.

Looking forward to hearing back from you!

The Flooring Lady at May 21, 2008 9:45 PM

Ray - the thought struck me that if your tile was damaged from Katrina, then can't they be replaced thru some sort of government funding?

The Flooring Lady at May 22, 2008 9:52 PM

Hi Flooring Lady,

I am in the process of renovating a mud room, hallway and 1/2 bath and want to use Saltillo tile. My problem is the conflicting info that I am being given. I have one tile co. trying to sell me sealed tile and claiming that it does not have to be sealed again. I have another that is telling me that even sealed tiles have to be sealed several more times. I also want to have the tiles laid on the diagonal but am concerned with the fragility of the tiles. I also have small children and dogs and am concerned with upkeep and slippage on wet tiles. We live in New England where the winters are snowy and sometimes muddy! Is there actually an anti slippage sealant that works? Lots of questions! Thanks for your time.

Bonnie at June 4, 2008 2:06 PM

Hi Bonnie!

Yes, the tile should be sealed again because it is so very porous. This can be done after it's grouted since you're going to want the grouting to be sealed, right? ;~) A couple of things to remember though - try to use a grout that will allow for some expansion/contraction due to the huge hot/cold temp difference up where you are so the tiles won't crack. Also be sure that you have the tiles sealed underneath, or a good moisture barrier under them as saltillo tiles will wick up moisture from underneath that will wind up coming through to the top of the tile and it looks horrible, not to mention that too much moisture will ruin the tiles.

There are floor poishes that are supposed to be less or not slippery when wet - be sure to call the manufacturer and see what they suggest or at the very least, make sure that what you use is specifically recommended for saltillo tile. A good hard polish (and at least a few coats of it!) will help the tiles fragility.

Just remember, the big thing is to make sure that you have done a really good job sealing the tiles, and a really good job of applying enough coats of polish.

I'd be rather concerned too with using this in a real mud room. Alot of homes have mud rooms, though the owners don't necessarily use them for that purpose (as in a room that's really going to get some very dirty traffic on the floor!). Personally, I think I'd choose a different type of tile although it should still work nicely for what you want if the proper precautions are taken.

The Flooring Lady at June 5, 2008 11:55 AM

Hello Flooring Lady,

My floors are comprised of "super saltillo" tiles. They are pre-sealed and were then sealed again following installation. My problem is that I would like the tiles to look less dull. Water still beads on them, and I therefore assume the sealant is still sound, but I would like a glossier floor. Can I simply apply a polish (if so, what do you recommend), or do I have to remove the pre-existing sealant and start over?

Thanks for your time, Laura

laura at June 5, 2008 2:35 PM

Hi Flooring Lady,

Thank you for your recent information regarding Saltillo tile for my mud room. In answer to your question, yes, it is truly a mud room in that we come into this area from outside every day and remove or put on boots, shoes, etc. Also, this is where our dog bowls are and where we dry off the dogs from rain, etc. You indicated that you might not choose Satillo for this area of the house. Is there another type of tile that you think would be a better alternative? I love the natural material of Saltillo as well as the look but now you have me rethinking my choice. Please advise other options that you have had experience with. Thank you again for your help and advice!

Bonnie

Bonnie at June 5, 2008 3:46 PM

Hi Laura,
Yes, you can use a polish on you saltillo floor. Call the manufacturer and see what they recommend for this. I say this simply because I don't know what they were sealed with. Just make sure that the polish is one that's recommended for saltillo tile.

The Flooring Lady at June 6, 2008 10:25 AM

Wecome back Bonnie!

What kind of floor is already in the mud room?

There are so many different tiling options on the market today. I would suggest reading on this site further to get some ideas. You might want to start by clicking on the link at the very top of the page "Tile Flooring Options", if you haven't already. After that, you can go to other pages and read up on the specific types of tile that you think may work thru either links or by using the search engine located in the upper right-hand corner. Remember too, there's even tiles made to look like their natural counterparts!

The Flooring Lady at June 6, 2008 10:37 AM

Should we use water based or solvent based sealer for older Saltillo tile. Are there any products you recommend?

bev at June 9, 2008 11:49 PM

Hi Bev!

It depends on where your tile is (inside, outside, what room(s) if inside) for starters. This will help figure out what to put on it.

Have you stripped the old sealer (if any) yet?

If I can get some more info from you I'll be glad to help! ;~)

The Flooring Lady at June 10, 2008 1:56 PM

Hello Flooring Lady
We had some saltillo installed on our house and the contractors did not allow enough time for it to dry up before sealing it for the first time. (They got it wet when removing the grout) We think that the lime looking white powder came up to the surface and did not get wiped off. It is traped under the sealant and looks ugly. What do we use to strip, to remove the white powder and then reseal afterwards?

Gami at June 10, 2008 11:02 PM

Hi Gami,
I would contact the installers and tell them of your concerns and how unhappy you are with how the floor turned out. They should have to strip and re-do the finish at their expense - you shouldn't have to pay more money to do it yourself when you already paid for it to be done correctly. If they care at all about their reputation, they'll come back out and do it again.

If you really want to do it yourself, you'll need to find out what was used to finish the floor in order to determine what to use to take it back off.

The Flooring Lady at June 11, 2008 11:01 AM

Do you know anyone knowledgable to install saltillo in Tennessee? I have deciede to do about 500 ft inside my house. Thanks

Ted S at June 14, 2008 8:59 PM

I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with the Tennessee area.

The Flooring Lady at June 15, 2008 9:49 AM

My daughter spilled fingernail polish remover on my mexican tile. I tried to wipe it up with soap and water as soon as possible but it appears to have taken the polish completely off. Any suggestions or is the tile ruined? Please help!!

Sherri at June 22, 2008 10:35 PM

Hi Sherri,
You can try to repolish the area and hope it turns out ok (meets your expectations!). Hopefully the tile won't need resealed too. If water will bead up on it then you're ok there - just polish. If you try this and you don't like how it looks then you'll probably have to wind up stripping and repolishing. :~( Good luck!

The Flooring Lady at June 22, 2008 10:44 PM

We are preparing to redo our saltillo tile kitchen floor, but we are unsure as to the best way to strip off the old sealant. We attempted to use a hand sander, but it did very little. Is there a product you would recommend or would it make more sense to use a heavier duty sander?

Thanks,

Doug at June 23, 2008 5:00 PM

Hi Doug -

Does it really need to be stripped? You really shouldn't go there unless absolutely necessary.

As far as what to use to strip the floor, it's also going to depend on what products were used to seal/finish it, depends on if it's water based or not. Sanding is usually your best option so as you don't get the tile wet with chemicals. I suppose if you have to though, then I'd recommend a product line called Stonetech which you can find on the internet at www.stonetech.com or through a tile retailer. With their Klenzall product, you could at least test the floor to see how difficult an enterprise it would be.

It's rather easy if the flooring is a couple of years old or less. Put a spot of it on the floor and let it sit 5-6 min, scrub, let it sit again and then rinse. If it changes the floor surface at all, you should be able to use it to strip the floor. If it doesn't change the floor at all, then solvent based coatings were used on it, and you are getting into nasty chemicals to strip it. You can try to do it yourself using a solvent, but they can be somewhat dangerous to use and you might even want to have a professional do it.

So.......... yeah, try real hard to just sand it if you can, clean up the dust with a shop vac, maybe go over that with a damp mop (micro fiber is really good) and then reseal with an oil based sealer. Don't be stingy either - use at least a couple coats, let dry thoroughly, then buff it and wax it with a product made for saltillo tile. I do know that you can find these kinds of products easily at stores like Home Depot.

You might want to take a look at my anser to Ken at http://www.theflooringlady.com/comments_000045.php

The Flooring Lady at June 24, 2008 12:55 PM

We are building a log home and intend to install Saltillo tiles in most of the home except the bedroom areas. In the dining room of a previous house we installed Saltillo tiles upside down and loved the look and texture after they were stained. We only lived in the house a couple of years so we don't know if they evenually came loose. Will applying unstained tiles upside down create problems in the future? Since I plan to install them myself, would there be a different installation technique to use?

Jim Clarke at June 29, 2008 7:28 AM

I have a new Saltillo Tile patio, near the pool, My granddaughter applying Sunscreen dropped some on the tile, I tried scrubbing it out, but I think the contractor may not applied as many coats of sealer as he said. The sunscreen appears like a water repellant surface now, with a differnt shade. How can I remove the sunscreen and return the tile to original look. Thank you

Carlos at June 29, 2008 3:03 PM

Hi Carlos,
That's a bit of a problem!
Generally, I like products such as StainSolver - it works on oils as well as stains. Hopefully, it'll do the trick, and it's environmentally friendly, so it won't harm people or pets.

Better get that floor sealed better. ;~)

The Flooring Lady at June 30, 2008 2:17 AM

Hello-
We are installing some Saltillo tile on an upstairs balcony. I have been reading conflicitng information as to which sealer we should use; water based or oil based sealer. Which would you recommend for an outdoor installation? Thank you.

Theresa at July 1, 2008 9:34 PM

Just in case this makes a difference to you:
the "natural" color is going to be altered to one degree or another depending on the type of sealer used. An oil base sealer tends to darken the tiles quite a bit whereas the water base sealers will darken the tiles just a little.

It helps enormously to preseal the tiles before installation. After you grout them, seal the grout, then a coat or more of the sealer you choose over everything.

I've heard good things about Aqua Mix products, which is a water based sealer. It can also be used before grouting to keep the grout from seeping into the tile, making the excess grouting much easier to clean up from the tiles. (Nobody's perfect!) They have several different products to choose from, you can read up on them here.

The Flooring Lady at July 2, 2008 12:18 AM

Thanks for the great advice! I've just finished reading all 17 pages of posts and still have a couple of questions I'd love to ask you.
I have about 1200 sq ft of interior saltillo tiles in okay shape and probably another 1200 sq ft or so of ext. tiles in terrible shape (they seem not to have any sealant left and have been bleached and pocketed by the intense So. California sun).


1. Is there a particular product or method you'd recommend for deep-cleaning grout before resealing the (interior) tiles?

2. Due to an air conditioner leak last year, I believe there is a mold or (hopefully) a calcification of sorts that has formed on top of several tiles. It's grey, splotchy, has texture to it and is on both the tile and the surrounding grout. Is there a way to diagnose for myself if this is mold (and if so, what are my options)?

3. My gardener hoses down the exterior tile twice a week. Someone recently told me that this is extremely damaging to the tile if it's too hot or cold outside. Is this true and, if so, how would you recommend keeping the exterior clean in the winter and summer months (again, it was way past 100 degrees here last week, so my climate is pretty extreme.)

Which leads me to my last question...

4. The grout has cracked around some of the exterior tiles. Is there a feasible do-it-yourself fix for this?

Thanks so much for your help!

Kelley at July 2, 2008 10:44 AM

I just had saltillo tile installed in five rooms in my house. There's a high traffic area that got pretty dirty during the job -- and apparently didn't get cleaned well before it was sealed. I can even see bootprints. I need to strip these tiles, clean them, and reseal. They used the products from Home Depot. What's my best option... sanding or stripping?

Erin at July 2, 2008 8:19 PM

Hi Kelley,
Reading is the best way to learn! :~) Now for some answers to all those questions:

#1. Aqua Mix has products that would be good for this, so does StainSolver, which I like because it's got more bleaching action than OxyClean. Enviro-One has worked well for
stain removal in general.

#2. It's most likely efflorescence - with all the reading you've done you've probably run across that term and know what it is. The Aqua Mix products designed for saltillo has a product to help with this.

#3. The heat isn't so bad on the saltillo as the water is. Saltillo is very, very porous and this damages the tiles, not mention is the biggest cause of efflorescence, which is what causes pitting & holes in the tiles.

#4. Yes, there are products for this - it's a powdered grout. Ask at your local home improvement store, they'll know what it is. Search this site and even your favorite search engine to learn how to do this. Just remember that before doing any grouting to make sure that those tiles have been sealed, then seal again after you repair your grout. Seal over the grout and tiles is what I'm trying to say clearly.

The Flooring Lady at July 2, 2008 10:15 PM

Hi Erin,
Stripping is your best option, but you need to be sure that the stripper you choose will take care of what was applied to the floor. The tiles may need cleaned too if the dirt is has literally seeped into the stone. You can sand them, but you'll wind up sanding into the stone itself as well, which is not a good thing.

You didn't mention if your floors were installed professionally (though you did type "they" at one point) or if you installed it yourself, but if they were professionally done then I'd contact the installer and tell them what you're unhappy about and what you see - they should be the ones to do all the work at no additional cost to you.

The Flooring Lady at July 2, 2008 10:34 PM

Hi Flooring Lady,

So how would you recommend keeping the exterior tiles clean? Can we still hose them down, but just make sure to sweep away the excess water afterwards?

Thanks!

Kelley at July 3, 2008 1:09 PM

That should be ok so long as you make sure the tiles are sealed really, really well. Water damages the tiles, as I'm sure you know. Might want to go over it with a microfiber mop after you sweep away the excess water to get the patio to dry even faster.

The Flooring Lady at July 4, 2008 12:49 AM

We have just moved into an older home and have remodeled a lot of it. The master bath had saltillo tile that was very dry and dull looking. We paid a professional to strip, acid wash and seal (oil based) the floor. We love it. One week ago after buying some bath rugs with no backing, I cut to size a piece of the rubbery rug guard stuff and placed under the bath rugs under the shower door and in front of the toilet. This week I pick up the rugs and went to pick up the rug guard and it had stuck to the sealed tile as if it were melted on. What do I do to get the partial rubber residue of the floor?

Thanks,

Cami

Cami McCurdy at July 5, 2008 2:56 PM

Ewwww........poor Cami! This is so NOT going to be fun......

If you look at my answer to Mary at
here.
Hopefully that'll help you. Good luck!

The Flooring Lady at July 6, 2008 5:36 PM

I have a condo with saltillo tile in the kitchen halls and baths. It was apparently sealed over many times by the previous owner. I had a renter in the property who neglected the floors and they are now dirty and the sealant is peeling in many places. I have been scrapping the tiles for days. On some tiles the sealant easily peeled off but on about half it does not come off. Is there a product that you would recommend to strip all the old sealant off so I can trefinish the floors?
MarkD

markd at July 7, 2008 10:45 AM

Hi Mark,

There are strippers made especially for saltillo, but you're going to need to know what type of sealer was applied to the floor, if it is water based or not. You'll probably have to get one type of stripper, try it out in an inconspicuous area. If it doesn't work then you'll have to try the other kind of stripper. Aqua Mix has very good products for Saltillo, strippers, sealers, etc.

The Flooring Lady at July 7, 2008 11:04 AM

We are having saltillo tiles installed in our house. They were sealed twice - before installation and then before the grout was installed. This weekend, prior to the tiles being varnished, some powdered laundry detergent was tracked over them and they now seem to have grease spots. Is there anyway to clean off the spots before they are varnished without replacing the individual tiles?

Suzanne at July 13, 2008 9:38 PM

I would think that simply rinsing with water would work - might take several times though. I would rinse, soak up the water with a microfiber cloth, rinse & repeat. If it still seams greasy, perhaps some mild dish soap or StainSolver should work.

The Flooring Lady at July 14, 2008 12:24 PM

We are trying to achieve a very dark, rich finish on our newly installed partially encolosed saltillo patio. Also hoping to have a good bit of color variation - some more red, some darker brown. We can't find a dark enough color with products specifically designed for saltillo. What are our other options? I've heard wood stain can be used but we tried that and had problems b/c minwax wood stain contains some kind of wax. Thanks!

Tanya at July 15, 2008 1:25 PM

We love our Saltillo tile but have not found a sealer that we love. Please explain why some folks use wax on these floors. Do they apply some sort of mexican tile sealer under the wax after each cleaning? It seems that the wax would be far less durable???
what in your opinion in the idea stategy for cleaning these tile and keeping they beautiful. I have been to some public places that routinly buff thier Saltillo tiles and they look fantastic, but I dont know what products they use.
thanks

Sandi at July 15, 2008 8:27 PM

Hi Tanya,

There are stains that are made specifically for saltillo tile. AquaMix has stains and if you follow the link it'll take you right to the page of their website that deals with stains for Saltillo. There's a color chart to view supposedly, but unfortunately it mistakenly shows the colors for grout coloring. *sigh* There is also a link to find a distributor (hopefully!) near you.

The Flooring Lady at July 15, 2008 9:12 PM

Hi Sandi,

If you like the results at some of these public places then you should ask them what they use. Wax can be very durable as well as beautiful. Buffing it brings up a gorgeous shine and helps to create a hard protective surface which greatly helps to protect the fragile tiles. In between waxing and buffing the floors can be easily cleaned with a damp microfiber mop with a mild vinegar & water solution (one part vinegar to 10 or even 15 parts water). You won't always need to wax & buff either if your floor starts to lose it's shine in higher traffic areas. Usually all that's needed is to buff (polish). Hope that helps some!

The Flooring Lady at July 15, 2008 9:20 PM

Hello:
My sweetheart and I are considering installing saltillo tiles on our kitchen counter tops. The man at the saltillo tile store says the tiles are pre-sealed and seems to think they will work fine in the kitchen. I am concerned that I may have problems with stains and such. Any advice? Thanks.
Megan

Megan at July 15, 2008 10:06 PM

Hi Megan!

The biggest thing is to just make sure they're sealed very, very well and to make sure it stays that way. Wipe up messes as quickly as possible and don't slam anything down hard on them. Saltillo is beautiful, but somewhat fragile. Try to find a good polish that's food safe too - that may (or may not!) be an ever bigger challenge. Sounds like you're going to have gorgeous countertops!

The Flooring Lady at July 16, 2008 9:58 PM

After careful consideration, we decided to sand the tiles instead of using a chemical stripper as you advised in your June 24th response. What has happened is that, with about a third of the tiles, the original sealer we used has penetrated far enough into the tile that we are not able to sand it out, even after numerous attempts. We tried the stripper (Heavy-Duty Cleaner and Stripper from TileLab purchased at Home Depot)/sander combo as well, but no dice. Is there any way to get the sealer out? Any advice would be helpful as we are beginning to lose our minds.

Thanks,

Doug at July 19, 2008 4:23 PM

Dear Lady,
Iam in real trouble. I have what myself and guests say a most beautiful Saltillo floor. I have never touched most of the house floor with anything but a dry dust mop. However, my kitchen floor had accumulated dirt and oils etc. I wash it with a mild soap and grease lightning where needed. I decided to strip it clean today while my husband is out of the country. I purchased the Aqua mix strip cleaner and by myself and a good Mex helper started the job. I could see all the sealer or layers curling etc. I did not wait more than 30' to try getting it up with a hand floor scrubbing brush and water. It has been a nightmare!! After 7 hrs of down to our knees scrubbing we have ended with a very sticky floor (gummy) and the tiles look Terrible. I try in some parts to use more of a diluted solution, but the whole floor was like a skating ring.
What can I do next if possible at all to restore it. Can this be fix by a professional or have I lost my floor and senses?
Thanks for your help,
marian

marian at July 19, 2008 5:23 PM

Hi Doug,

It sounds like you're going to have to resort to using some sort of chemical product to try to remove the rest of the sealer. Durn, too bad some of the old sealer had penetrated so deeply.

The Flooring Lady at July 19, 2008 11:38 PM

Hi Marian,
It sounds like you didn't leave the stripper on long enough to complete it's job, and it sounds like you had quite a build-up on the saltillo. Did you test it on a small area first?

I'm presuming you used their Sealer & Coating Remover, here's some of the directions I've copied/pasted from their website:

3. Apply a liberal amount of undiluted Sealer & Coating Remover to a small, manageable area of up to 25 sq. ft. (2.5 m2).
4. Allow to dwell up to 2 hours without drying or until coating or residue softens. Reapply if necessary until sealer softens and can be removed.
5. If necessary, apply additional remover or sprinkle with hot water and agitate with a scrub brush.
6. If scrub machine is used, apply hot water to surface immediately prior to scrubbing.
7. Wipe up residue with absorbent white cotton towels or sponge.
8. Rinse thoroughly with clean water.

Note A: For difficult to remove sealers, a solution of Heavy-Duty Tile & Grout Cleaner or Stone Deep Clean mixed 1 part to 2 parts water may be applied directly to surface immediately before scrubbing with machine.

Note B: Do not use on synthetic agglomerate or other resinous surfaces.

Note C: It is important to note that the actual process of stripping may alter the appearance and texture of some soft-bodied tiles such as Tecate, Saltillo and some Terra Cotta tiles.

The Flooring Lady at July 20, 2008 10:05 AM

Dear Flooring Lady,

My husband and I have recently bought a house that had this beautiful "mexican tile" already installed. The previous owners couldn't tell us much about how to care for it or maintain it. After a recent vacation we returned to find that our inside A/C unit has begun to leak and now has dampened our tile surrounding the unit. It has begun to form a white gritty substance as it dries. Obviously we cannot keep the tile dry until our unit is replaced, but after that how do I clean the tile? Is there a simple cleanser that will remove the musty smell that accompanies the dampness of the leak?

Thanks for any information you can give me.

Jennifer

Jennifer at July 22, 2008 9:12 AM

It sounds like efflorescence. Efflorescence is a white crystalline deposit that is composed of salts, lime and/or other minerals migrating to the surface as a result of moisture. AquaMix has a couple of products to use for efflorescence on Saltillo, you may be able to find their products or other products locally.

Moisture does damage Saltillo tiles, if nothing else, try to find a way to re-route the water leakage from your AC - even if it's just re-routed to a bucket. You really should try to get your tiles dried out, treat for the efflorenscence and resealed really well.

The Flooring Lady at July 22, 2008 10:51 AM

can saltillo tile be used on a pool deck? do the anti skid products work? thanks

eileen at July 31, 2008 7:58 PM

Hi Eileen,

Yes, Saltillo can be used on a pool deck. I'm presuming an inground pool, right? The biggest concern, obviously, is moisture. It would be best to completely seal the tiles before they're laid and then sealing after installation. Don't be stingy with that sealer if you want your Saltillo to stay dry!

The anti-skid products work pretty well, but as with any tile when it's wet, a little caution goes a long way.

The Flooring Lady at July 31, 2008 9:25 PM

Dear Flooring Lady

Saltillo tiles were installed in our home 20 years ago. They were sealed multiple times and never resealed again. I don't know what sealer was used. Some places, under plants have very light colored stains.

My questions: 1) How can I take the remaining sealant out so I can restained them? What product can I use? 2) How can we restain the light areas damage by moisture? Do you know of any good product?

Thanks and congratulation for the site.

Alex

alex at August 2, 2008 12:31 PM

Like Alex, I must remove the previous sealer (don't know what it is) and have to do it myself, especially below the kitchen sink where the sealer has started to turn white and flake off in some areas. I've completely removed the sealer from a few tiles by wetting and both scraping with a 4" joint compound knife and rubbing with steel wool - too labor intensive. I had seen a recipe for removing the sealer but it contained acetone (the base of nail polish remover/paint thinner). We live in a hot, humid climate and down here people paint their window shut to keep out the heat, thus no real ventilation. Are there water-base strippers that can be used?

Stuart at August 2, 2008 8:54 PM

Hi Alex & Stuart,

Never fear, AquaMix has a very good range of products for Saltillo. Sounds like the white stains are efflorescence, which is caused by moisture. Alex - after you strip & reseal your Saltillo, put a plate or something similar under your potted plants, should help.

If you can't find AquaMix products in your area, you'll probably still be able to find something similar - at least you'll be able to determine what kind of products you need and look at the MSDS sheets to see what the products contain (MSDS link at the bottom of every page at their site). AquaMix has products that have no VOC, meaning that there won't be dangerous fumes and are environmentally friendly. Best of luck to both of you!

The Flooring Lady at August 3, 2008 10:37 AM

We've lived in a home for 7 years with Saltillo tile covering about 800 sq ft of the downstairs including the kitchen. The tile now has ground in dirt, especially in high traffic areas and around the kitchen table. I have tried to clean it on my hands and knees and have given up-exhausted and frustrated. According to your site I need to strip the sealant first but I don't know where to begin. I'm considering calling a professional. What questions are important to ask
to insure the professional I choose is familiar with stripping, cleaning, and resealing satillo tile?

Jody at August 5, 2008 5:54 PM

Hi Jody,

See that link in the post above yours (to Alex & Stuart)? Click on it - it will take you to a website that makes really good products for Saltillo.

It's possible that your floor isn't sealed anymore - at least in the high traffic areas. You can tell by putting a drop of water on it - if it beads up, it's still sealed, if the water is absorbed by the floor, then it's not.

AquaMix has products that will deep clean the Saltillo as well as remove the sealers, and sealers too. I've heard nothing but good things about this product line.

The most important thing, if you're going to hire a professional, is to make sure that he's familiar with Saltillo and get references to check out. If he/she can't provide you with references then you don't want to use that 'professional'.

The Flooring Lady at August 6, 2008 11:03 AM

Dear Flooring Lady,

I've recently purchased a coffee house with saltillo floors. I was hoping to strip, stain (dark brown) and apply a coat of acrylic polyurethane. I performed a spot test and it appears that this option will be too pricey and too time consuming.

I'd like to paint and seal my floors instead. Can you make any recommendations?

Thanks,

Harlan

Harlan Howard at August 21, 2008 11:18 AM

Hi Harlan,

Saltillo tile is a beautiful flooring choice, one that I'm sure radiates a certain ambiance at your coffee house.

Please don't be offended, but I think you'll be disappointed if you cover the saltillo with paint. If you don't like it, you won't be able to 'go back' as saltillo is porous and paint will soak in it - unless it's well sealed already, which also means that paint may not adhere to it very well. You'd have to totally strip it first to paint it anyway.

Once you do the inital work on the floor, it will be very easy to take care of - just don't be skimpy when sealing it. The saltillo will radiate a coziness & warmth in your coffee house that you just won't be able to match with paint. Consider it an investment, and a business deduction.

Perhaps I'm way off base since I don't know if you want your establishment to have a sleek, modern atmosphere or one that imparts closeness, coziness, warm, friendly...... a bit more intimate.

The Flooring Lady at August 21, 2008 7:39 PM

can you grout saltillo with regular cement based grout

jamie at August 25, 2008 5:12 PM

I'm not sure what you mean by 'regular' cement grout....... are you planning for the tile to be inside or outside? There are actually grouts made just for Saltillo, which is recommended as you'll get better results.

The biggie with Saltillo is keeping water from coming into direct contact, thus the need to seal very well. I recommend sealing it before it's laid too - makes it easier to get grout haze off - Saltillo is porous - the grout will soak into it, making it a real pain in the butt to remove, sometimes it's NOT possible. If laying on ground or cement, you'll need a moisture barrier of some sort (plastic, sometimes the sealer can be a moisture barrier).

The Flooring Lady at August 25, 2008 10:03 PM

We just installed a Saltillo floor that has some imprints of animal feet (chicken, dog, turkey). We have sealed the tile. we started grouting last night and the grout got into the animal imprints and we are having a heck of a time getting it out. Any ideas?
Thanks, Rudy

Rudy Marchesi at August 26, 2008 12:01 PM

There are products specially formulated for Saltillo that are made for grout clean-up. AquaMix is a very good product line - I don't know if their available in your area, but hopefully something similar is. Click on the link to read up on their products, there's also a link at the bottom of their page for the MSDS sheets - at least you'd know what kind of chemicals are used so you can find something similar.

The Flooring Lady at August 27, 2008 5:55 PM

Can steam floor mops be used on saltillo tile?

Renee at August 30, 2008 5:11 PM

I have a real mess and I hope you can help. I had beautiful Saltillos that were whitewashed with some type of penetrating stain, and sealed with a gloss lacquer finish. The colors were in the pinks and mauves and purples, with some light yellows. Over the years the tiles had badly scratched from furniture being moved and aggregate stones dragged in from tennis shoes. I hired a "professional" who didn't know what he was doing, and luckily I got rid of him before he made the mess even worse. He had stripped the floor with Jasco epoxy remover and used a machine, which unevenly removed some of the sealant and some of the whitewash. I had loose sealant all over the floor, and he was going to pour GlazeNSeal water based whitewash all over the floor and grout, and then just slop sealer on top. I knew that he couldn't create a good bond like that, as water would not be absorbed even on the "stripped" parts of the tiles, and not at all on the parts that still had lacquer and stain on them, which was on every single tile. I had already paid him a lot of money, and he walked off the job when I asked him to please prepare the floor properly. I had read Aldon's website, and I knew you had to know what kind of material was used by the factory before you tried to apply any new product. I have tried to hand strip some of the tiles, and have even sanded them, and they still won't absorb water in places like a raw Saltillo, so I don't think a water based whitewash will work. I did get them to look like raw pavers, but they no longer have the same properties. Lacquer thinner has no effect on them at all. Short of demolishing my once beautiful floor and installing a new one, what products should I apply to restore the colors and get rid of the "orange" look? Or am I out of luck? Also, could you recommend a better stripper? I don't think Jasco is what I should be using.

Christine at August 30, 2008 5:26 PM

Hi Renee,
I really wouldn't recommend it just in case whatever your saltillo is finished with might react with the heat and either damage the finish or turn it milky. Ugh! As always, I recommend a vinegar/water mixture and a microfiber mop, followed with a dry microfiber mop or cloth to 'polish' it.

The Flooring Lady at August 31, 2008 12:08 PM

Hi Christine,
Geez, sounds like a real mess was made.......I really, really feel for you! The best products I can recommend are those made by AquaMix - the link will take you to their page of products that are formulated just for Saltillo. I'm positive you'll find what you need there, just read the product descriptions. If you need further help deciding what to choose, give them a call at (800) 272-8786 or (800) 366-6877. I have a feeling you'll be looking at quite a bit of work ahead of you, but at least you'll have a decent floor again!

The Flooring Lady at August 31, 2008 12:14 PM

So happy to have found this sight. I had a floor company also try and restore my 30 year old saltillo tile entry hall. They only managed to remove the original poly seal and then specked the tiles. They were orignally all stained a very dark brown and over the years some tiles had worn back down to the original peach color. I bought a gel stripper and have used a wire brush, followed by mineral spirits, and finally washed with warm water and sponges. The original colors have all come back (am so pleased). Now I want to restain them. I've located Aquamix stains and will use those. (several tile people have said to use any wood stain .. but, I don't feel comfortable with that). Are there any tricks I should know about before I begin the restaining process? And do you feel the Aquamix sealer will be good to use? Thanks.

Linda at August 31, 2008 9:07 PM

Hi Linda,
It sounds like you've done your homework. I've heard of lots of folks who have used wood stains and even transmission fluid with success for coloring Saltillo. There are quite a few colors in the AquaMix line that you won't be able to get with wood stains though.

Yes, AquaMix's sealer would be good to use afterwards. As far as helpful tips, just follow the directions and you'll be fine.

The Flooring Lady at September 1, 2008 8:51 PM

Thanks for trying to help, but I called Aqua Mix before I wrote to you. Their representative told me that they would not recommend trying to put their stain on top of a suface that had a sealant applied, as the stain could not bond to it. I didn't realize there is a penetrating solvent based whitewash sealer that goes deep into the pavers, and a top sealer that just helps keep the floor looking pretty. The top one comes off with any stripper if you kill yourself doing it, but the undersealer never completely does. Aqua Mix did not know of any chemical that could do this. Any stain I put on top of even stripped and sanded floors would penetrate unevenly and look pretty bad. I really appreciate their honesty though. I'm still looking for an answer, and I'll write you if I find one. Wish me luck and thanks again.

christine at September 2, 2008 12:43 AM

Thanks Christine,
Glad you called them, sorry I couldn't help you, but that's why I posted the AquaMix phone numbers (not knowing you'd called). I wonder if the penetrating stains were AquaMix products to begin with. I know if you go to their site and look at the Saltillo products and click on the stain link, a pdf file downloads to your computer to see the stain colors. If they look like they might be the same shades, it might be worth a shot? It's either that, or it sounds like your Saltillo is ruined, which would be such a waste.......

Looking forward to hearing if you come up with something!

The Flooring Lady at September 2, 2008 7:24 AM

Hi Dear Flooring Lady,
Well, I finally figured out what needs to be done with my Saltillos. I was lucky enough to reach an "old timer" at the store where I originally purchased the whitewashed tiles. He stained the tiles himself! He said most true Saltillos made in Mexico before and up to 1992 that were stained with whitewashed used wood stains or other oil based stains diluted with lacquer. This penetrated deeply into the tiles (hence my nightmare). They were then sealed with 3 to 4 coats of clear lacquer. That is why my "professional" gave up and walked off the job!

The new, more environmentally friendly water based proucts did not become more common until the late 80's. So if you have some damaged whitewashed Older Saltillos, use the gentlest stripper by hand only on those tiles and do not remove all the whitewash layer. Just experiment with some lacquer thinned oil-based stains and try to touch up those areas.

If you want to change the color or the scarring is extensive on an older floor, your only choice is to strip, strip, strip with a harsh chemical product, and sand, sand, and cleanse. If the water still beads up on the tile, your floor was sealed with an oil based whitewash or color. You will need to restain with the same typle of whitewash sealer as the original,as the new water based stains will not penetrate the old oil based stains completely on all areas of the tiles. It will look great for a while, but will start to peel as early as 6 months later.

There is no good bond between the whitewash sealer and the actual tile. The oil base in the tiles will eventually repel the newer water based stains, and the top sealer along with it. Or better yet, follow your advice and leave your beautiful pavers in their natural state to begin with and care for them as you have so often told your readers.

And to all your readers who have purchased a pre wned house and the pretty floors started to peel not long after, this is because some unknowledgable person tried to redo their older floors without knowing what type of tile they were dealing with. I am continuing the stripping and sanding, and have whitewashed some test areas that were under the refrigerator. They look great, but I am going to deliberately "abuse" them to see how they hold up before I proceed any further. The old timer swears by this method, so I am hopeful.

I just wanted to help others who may have older tiles, and save them the headaches. If they can, they should always ask the previous owner the age of the tiles and where they got them. Also ask the name of the company that "restored" them. My next project is to install new flooring in our retirement home, and I will never install anything unless I check with your website first!

Thank you for all your advice; I have read every post!

christine at September 3, 2008 3:17 AM

Christine - all I can say is wow, Wow, and WOW! You sure are one gal that does her homework! Of course running across the man who originally stained those tiles was an incredible stroke of luck! I'm still shaking my head in wonder at your good fortune.

While you still have a mess on your hands (or in actuality, your floor!) at least now you know what was originally used and can use that information to figure out what to do to solve your problem. Kudos to you for the having the gumption for vigorously pursuing answers and having the kindness to share them here!

Thank you too for your nice comments about the site - it's deeply appreciated.

The Flooring Lady at September 3, 2008 12:57 PM

Hello, I have experience in laying tile I did so in my younger years but never saltillo tile everything I've read so far has scared me. Bottom line is I can't afford to pay a contractor to do it but I'm getting mixed information a floor specialist at home depot says i need to soak them in water for a day then let them dry out a bit seal them then lay them is this correct?

Capt. Michael Allen at September 6, 2008 10:15 PM

Hi Michael,

Why on earth would the 'flooring specialist' at HD tell you to soak them? Water is one of the worst things that you can put on Saltillo!

Saltillo isn't that bad to put down, the key is taking the crucial steps before you lay them to make sure that any moisture doesn't get to them.

You didn't mention what you're laying them on - concrete, an old wood floor, etc.

It's important that they be protected from moisture before you lay them down, which is why they are usually sealed all over before they're ever laid. AquaMix has great products for Saltillo, from sealers to grout removers, strippers, finishes, etc. Just sealing the tiles may not be enough, depending upon what they're being laid on. If they're being laid on cement, you'll need a moisture barrier there too - whether it's a plastic or something that's applied with a brush or roller. By sealing the Saltillo first, you'll also be making sure that grout/haze can't get into the tiles, and it makes the grout/haze easier to remove before you seal the whole floor.

Read up on the products over at AquaMix - it'll help you a lot. Remember, Saltillo is porous, hence the need to seal, both to keep the grout from penetrating as well as to keep moisture away from the Saltillo to prevent it from becoming weakened and to prevent efflorescence (which I'm guessing you've read about).

Remember, the biggest reason why people have problems with their Saltillo is from not taking preventive measures, both before and after laying the floor.

The Flooring Lady at September 7, 2008 12:34 PM

I have just discovered that under my carpet in my living room and dinning room is SALTILLO tile. However, after removing a 8' x 4' section of carpet and mat, it appears as if the floor mat over the years, (floor was installed in 1978) has or is sticking to the tile? I would appreciate any info on the proper liquids or cleaning material to use as not to damage the tile. In addition to the living room and dinning room, the tile is also in the kitchen, entrance hall way and the 2nd bath room. Had I of know this before, I would have removed the carpet a long time ago.

Gloria Smith at September 10, 2008 5:56 PM

Wow Gloria! Lucky YOU! Check out AquaMix - they have a whole line of products for Saltillo. If in doubt as to what you will need, you can call them at 800-366-6877 6am – 5pm M-F PST or Technical Services at 877-278-2311 6am – 5pm M-F, 7am-12pm Saturday PST.

I highly recommend AquaMix, their products really work the way they're supposed to!

The Flooring Lady at September 10, 2008 10:02 PM

We are thinking of taking up our 12 year old carpet and ceramic tile and changing to Saltillo for most of the house and some new carpeting. How would I go about finding a reliable source to do all of this? Our house is about 3000 square feet. How would I know I'm getting someone who knows how to install the tile correctly?
I live in Tucson, AZ.
Thanks for your help.
Carolyn Cortez

Anonymous at September 12, 2008 4:22 PM

Hello Carolyn,
I don't personally have any recommendations, I'm not in your area. I would suggest that when looking for somebody that does Saltillo that you look at photos from previous jobs that they've done, ask for references and follow up by asking the owners if you can look at their floors and asking them about the installer.

Are you aware of any homes or businesses that have a beautiful Saltillo floor? Ask who did it.

The Flooring Lady at September 16, 2008 8:12 PM

I have Saltillo tile all over my back yard patio, it was sealed with a water based sealer several years ago, you can see the sealer is starting to flake off and we have tried powerwashing it to clean it up, it worked so, so. Also, the edges of the tile near the sprinklers is starting to look bad, little pits in it. Can you recommend how to clean it better before resealing it and reseal it with what. Something better then last time. thanks

Margret

margret at September 17, 2008 1:42 PM

Hi Margret,
As usual, I recommend AquaMix products. They also have a toll-free number to call them with any questions you may have. They have products to remove the old sealer too.

The pitting is most likely caused by water, Saltillo is very porous. When re-sealing, make sure to put some extra there, or better yet, just make sure to seal really, really well everywhere.

The Flooring Lady at September 18, 2008 7:34 AM

I have an outdoor saltillo patio that looked pretty bad. I tried AquaMix with mild success.I then sanded the entire patio and it looked like new.I then washed the patio with mild soap and water to remove the dust before sealing.It now has dark stains and white deposits all over it.The white seams to come off fairly easy however the dark stains still remain.Any advice?

bill at September 24, 2008 3:23 PM

Hi Bill,
The white deposits, efflorescence, is caused by the water. I haven't a clue what the dark spots are - could be dirt that settled into the pores when you cleaned it? AquaMix has products for removing dirt and the efflorescence. Look at their Poultice Stain Remover and Eff-Ex. Not knowing what the dark stains are, the Poultice Stain Remover may not be the best product to use; read over the descriptions of their products to choose the correct ones.

You really need to get the Saltillo sealed. Saltillo is very porous and water damages it. I'd be willing to bet you'll have even more efflorescence come up from the tile with the next rain.

The Flooring Lady at September 25, 2008 6:01 AM

We are laying saltillo tiles in my very small studio. We live in a 100 year old adobe and the room has very old wooden floors. Would you recommend covering the floor with cement board prior to laying down the tiles.. The tiles have already been sealed. We have an abundant supply of painted talavera tiles and would like to lay a design in the center. These tiles are one half the thickness of the saltillo and was wondering if you have any ideas on how to raise them up to the level of the saltillo.. Thanks for your help . God bless, Debra

Debra at October 1, 2008 1:20 PM

Hi Debra!

Any idea about how much difference in height the two floors are? Is it a small enough difference that another layer of cement board in the area will take care of it, or would that make the tiles too tall?

Kudos for the sealing the tile before laying it - you'd be suprised how many people don't and then wonder why they have problems with efflourescence........ ;~)

The Flooring Lady at October 2, 2008 5:48 AM

I'm buying a home with Saltillo tile throughout. It's probably about 12 years old. The sealer seems in good condition but there are many scuffs and scratches on the tiles, possibly from dragging furniture. It doesn't look like the marks have penetrated the ceramic part of the tiles.
What is the best way to restore these floors? It doesn't look like an easy job. Can you also recommend anyone in the Ft. Lauderdale area?

George at October 2, 2008 10:57 PM

Hi George,
I can't recommend anybody in your area, I'm not even close to where you are. :~(

I can recommend AquaMix products though - they're wonderful and the link will take you directly to their page of products made just for Saltillo. You can also call them to advise you just what products you'll need and where to buy them. I'm sure they'll have these products in FL. Good luck!

The Flooring Lady at October 3, 2008 6:43 AM

We need ideas on where to find matching Saltillo tiles for our home. The tiles uniformly measure 11 inches or slightly less. The 12 inch tiles currently available measure 11-1/2 inches or more and are too large. There are some 10 inch tiles available, but they are too small. The floor was installed in 1992 by the original owner. We have just over 700 s.f. of Saltillo, so replacing the entire floor is the last option. We have checked with a number of suppliers in our area and around on the internet. No one seems to have heard of this issue. Any ideas would be appreciated.

Steff at October 9, 2008 9:46 AM

Hi Steff,

I personally don't know of any in my area and I don't know where you are. Best thing I can suggest is searching for an actual manufacturer and see if they can't make some 11" tiles.

I found some 11-3/8" tiles here.

The Flooring Lady at October 9, 2008 2:00 PM

We have saltillo tile on our front patio, and the kids have trashed it some areas!! Fried rice has been dropped on it, and surfboard wax has been drawn on it! In those areas the oils have just soaked it up. We don't know how to get it clean!! Any suggestions??

Heidi at October 9, 2008 2:53 PM

Thanks,

We are in San Antonio, Texas, so we have plenty of Saltillo tile distributors here. I think the 11-3/8 is probably the 12" we have seen that usually measures smaller than 12", but not small enough. We will ask around for a custom size order.

Steff

Steff at October 9, 2008 8:50 PM

Hello Heidi,

It sounds like your Saltillo needs sealed - if it were sealed, the tiles wouldn't be able to absorb the oil. Something that might work is something along the lines of a poultice stain remover - AquaMix. After you get it cleaned up, be sure to seal it well!

The Flooring Lady at October 10, 2008 5:45 AM

TFL:
I have a contractor laying 900 sq.ft. of Saltillo tiles on my outdoor patio. Still a little unsure of exactly when it should be sealed (I purchased unsealed tile). I did buy the ultra flex 2 thin set as I was told it would be more durable for outdoor use but it was twice as expensive than regular thin set. I bought 4 gallons of Behr low lustre sealer. When should I have it sealed? Please advise and thanks for the help in advance. Rene

Rene at October 17, 2008 9:28 AM

Hi Rene - you should seal your tile before and after it is laid. If you use the search engine (upper right-hand corner of the page) and type in saltillo seal before - you'll find different entries that will explain why, as this subject has been covered extensively on the site. Be sure too, that the sealer you're planning to use is made to be used on Saltillo.

The Flooring Lady at October 17, 2008 9:37 PM

Hi we are laying a new cement patio. I want to just stamp it to look like saltillo tile, my husband wants to just have the cement poured and he will later put in the saltillo tiles. what is the difference (not price we probably can calculate that) but mostly in wear and tear etc. we live in san francisco bay area near the water and dont really have any freezing days.

tamara at October 19, 2008 12:43 PM

Hi Tamara,
There probably isn't a whole lot of difference in wear and tear depending on how the cement is done, but in the long run the saltillo will look better. Will the cement be poured? I presume so. If so, there will most likely be cracking eventually - sometimes it doesn't take long either!

Most important thing regardless of which method you two decide upon is to make sure to lay a vapor barrier (plastic sheet) down before pouring the concrete. This will prevent moisture from the ground seeping through your concret and/or saltillo. Even in areas that don't get much precipitation, there is still moisture in the ground itself. When/if your husband puts down saltillo, be sure to seal it before laying it - acts as a moisture barrier (again!) and also makes it much easier to remove excess grout. You put a final sealer on after grouting, and make sure that excess grout has been removed well or else you'll have a whitish haze (or other color - depending on the color of the grout).

The Flooring Lady at October 20, 2008 8:03 AM

Heidi:

You may be able to make a paste of baking soda and water and let it set over the stains.

Also, ask about the stain remover products used for stain removal in driveways before refinishing.

larry Murray at October 22, 2008 9:45 AM

Hi Larry,
You could, but then particles can seep into the Saltillo (it's very porous remember!), it's not good to have water sit on Saltillo, even as a paste. The water will just seep in the tile and probably some of the dissolved baking soda as well. A poultice is a clay type product and draws impurities out of Saltillo's pores.

The Flooring Lady at October 23, 2008 6:24 AM

We have the tile and we sealed them after we stained them with the grout over the top. What can we use to get through the sealant and clean the grout residue from them?
Thanks Ryan

Ryan Murry at October 24, 2008 8:48 PM

Hi Ryan,

You can't. You'll have to strip them and then clean the grout. I hope you sealed them before you grouted as well, makes the grout easier to clean off. The proper procedure for installing Saltillo has been discussed many times in this section if you'd like to read further.

The Flooring Lady at October 25, 2008 9:22 PM

My husband and I purchased a new home in 2002 with concrete patio in front and back. We added to both w/ new concrete. However, we aren't happy with the look of old vs new and would like your suggestion as to what to use to give them a uniform appearance. In fact, the old concrete looks like it has mud stains in it which my husband tried to remove using acid-concrete cleaner to no avail.

We talked to a friend about putting down Saltillo tiles, but in reading your advice, I believe we should use something else. But what? FYI: Our home is a ranch-style one with old brick facia on the bottom third of the walls with Hardy Plank Boards above. It looks like a cottage style home with drought-tolerant plantings (not cacti and succulents).

Mo at October 26, 2008 2:05 PM

I have a big room full of saltillo tile that am either needing to remove or strip/refinish. Do you know of someone in the Houston area who removes tile? I removed about 50% with a demo hammer, but am too busy to finish the job. I need help...can you help me?

Gordon Tayloe at October 29, 2008 9:38 PM

Hi Gordon,
I'm sorry, I don't know of anybody in the Houston area. You might try looking in your local newspaper for a handyman or a contractor who does remodeling.

The Flooring Lady at October 30, 2008 6:57 AM

Hi Mo,

Your concrete may never match due to the fact that you have old & new concrete. Batches of concrete are mixed individually and in your case, there wouldn't be a 100% in materials used for the concrete (sand, small gravel), these could cause the colors to be different. The only way to have them look the same is to quite literally apply a new layer of concrete over both. I know, not something you wanted to hear.

If you'd like to try cleaning your old concrete in hopes of it being a closer match, you can always try cleaning it with a product like StainSolver -- it's a product similar to OxyClean, but better because it's got more bleaching action. It's also environmentally friendly, meaning it's not going to harm your plants (or pets).

The Flooring Lady at October 30, 2008 7:03 AM

Hi there. I have saltillo tile throughout my home. We moved in 3 years ago and they were in impeccable shape. They are looking a little worse for wear these days. They seem to be stained (regular mop cleaning isn't doing the trick) and dull. What do I need to do to maintain them?

Also, I have a 6 month old who is just about to crawl. The floors are really hard and chilly and I'm looking for something to cover them in the living room, dining room areas them that. Something we could put our area rugs on top of that will also protect our baby from potentially disasterous falls. Is there anything you suggest? We have 2 dogs as well so cleaning needs to be simple.

Thanks so much!

Myndy

Myndy at November 2, 2008 12:34 PM

Hi Myndy,
For getting your saltillo back in shape, I'd suggest products made by AquaMix. After that, cleaning is simple - a weak solution of water/vinegar (15 or 20 parts water to 1 part vinegar). Use a microfiber mop and make sure rinse water stays pretty clean so that you don't deposit dirt back on your floor. You can even use a dry microfiber mop afterwards to kinda buff it.

You can use pretty much any kind of area rug, the big thing is to only use a backing or pad that won't stick to the saltillo, otherwise your going to have to remove what gets stuck and probably strip the floor. Ugh! I can understand your worry about the floor being chilly for your baby, as far as falls go, kids don't seem to get hurt by falling down on a floor much - it's objects on the floor that usually injur them (including furniture). Also bear in mind that you should keep your area rugs very clean as they harbor various allergens.

Good luck!

The Flooring Lady at November 2, 2008 2:17 PM

Are there detailed instructions on how to install saltillo? I live in Phoenix, Arizona(Very hot Summers)- when is the best time of year to install this type of tile?

Mike at November 3, 2008 5:38 PM

Hi Mike,
There aren't 'detailed' instructions per se on this site, but there may be another site that does have such instructions. If you read over all the comments (yes, there's many here!) you'll learn what to do, what not to do and why. Installation, problems, etc. have been discussed many times here.

The Flooring Lady at November 4, 2008 4:33 PM

Our foyer, kitchen and dining room are all done in saltillo and I really love it. However the living room and hallways that come off of those areas are carpeted with an awful baby blue colored carpet that needs replacing. What type of flooring goes well with saltillo? We would like to try and stay away from carpet and are a little unsure about being able to match the existing saltillo. Any other options you would look into that would accent the saltillo?

Lindy at November 12, 2008 11:07 AM

Hi Lindy,
Wood flooring (whether solid or laminate) would look nice. Ceramic tile would be another good option, there are wonderful Mexican tiles with bright designs that are just gorgeous.

The Flooring Lady at November 13, 2008 7:50 AM

We need to learn about saltillo restoration. We're a professional carpet & tile cleaning co. & we have 5 properties that have saltillo around all the swimming pools I can practice on. I know it was a bad move on thier part to install it there. can you help? Stu.

Stuart at November 13, 2008 9:41 PM

Hi Stu,
Not necessarily a "bad" move, but does require that they keep up regularly with maintaining it. There's tons of info on this site, there's lots of posts if you follow the link here. Happy reading!

The Flooring Lady at November 14, 2008 7:31 AM

I laid saltillo in a sun room. It looked very nice until I went to apply a grey grout (cement colored). When I went to remove the excess grout it had stained all of the tile surfaces. The saltillo went from it's beautiful peach tones, to something that looked like it was smoked stained after a fire! Noting I did would restore the color. What did I do wrong? The tile was not pre-sealed. Was I supposed to apply sealer to everything before applying grout. Can my floor be saved, without having to take up all of the tile. Thanks for any help!

Daniel at November 24, 2008 11:51 AM

Happy Thanksgiving to all:
I sealed new saltillo tile with 50/50 mix of linseed oil and paint thinner, turned out great. I then coated the tiles with a wax high gloss product, that on all the other floor areas work great. The new tile area is not glossy and gray/ whitesh. What do I strip this with, I have used pool acid and not coming up. I want to startover (only 12 tiles). What do I do?

shaughn at November 27, 2008 10:06 AM

my home had a flood our saltillo tile floor is currently being resurfaced. The contractor that our insurance company chose to restore our floors have stripped and stained our floors with a water based stain which was horrible. After they stripped it again they will use an oil based stain. What is they exact process they should follow to insure a beautiful finish. After stripping do they clean the floor? Do they seal before staining or stain before sealing it. Also how may coats of each is reccommended. THANKS, MARY

mary at November 28, 2008 12:22 AM

Hi Daniel,

Unfortunately, yes, you should have sealed the saltillo before you grouted, then sealed again afterwards. I don't know how successful you'll be in removing the grout that has gotten into the pores of your saltillo. AquaMix has products to do the job so all might not be lost.

The Flooring Lady at November 28, 2008 1:00 PM

Hi Mary,
Pretty much, it's the manufacturer's directions that should be followed to help insure that they get the results that are desired. If there's any cleaning to be done (I really don't know what kind of cleaning you're talking about) it should be done beforehand. If you're referring to deep-cleaning (like with AquaMix's deep cleaner) then the instructions should be followed. The sealer should be applied after staining and it should be compatible with the stain. As to how many coats of each product, again -- follow the manufacturer's instructions. If you think another coat of two of sealer should be applied though, don't be afraid to do it.

The Flooring Lady at November 28, 2008 1:18 PM

Hi Shaughn,
Look for BioShield. I have recently discovered this sealer and think it's a superior product for sealing stone, Saltillo tiles, and wood floors. I like it because it's made of natural ingredients and doesn't harm your air quality.

The Flooring Lady at November 28, 2008 1:22 PM

Help! I live outside of Galveston and Hurricane Ike set saltwater on my outdoor patio with Saltilo. The top coat is peeling, looks white in some places. Do I scrub first with the Amonia mixture and then come back with the sealant? What is the best way to remove the peeling top coat? Thanks Pam

Pam at November 29, 2008 10:01 AM

I would use a products from AquaMix. I'd normally recommend BioShield for Saltillo because they're so green (environmentally friendly), but what they carry is for interior only.

Read up on AquaMix's products and if you have questions their toll-free numbers are clearly displayed on the right side of the webpages. Good luck!

The Flooring Lady at November 29, 2008 1:01 PM

I have a large portion of saltillo tile thougout my entire home. Although, I too love the natural stone, it always looks dirty. Dark with a burned look and a dirty look. I have scrubbed and scrubbed but it still looks dirty with dark grout. Can I stain the saltillo tile a red color? How do I stip the tiles and make them brighter or a red color?

Sedona at November 30, 2008 5:28 PM

Hi Sedona,
Look at the comment above yours and follow the link. You'll find everything you need. Good luck!

The Flooring Lady at November 30, 2008 6:17 PM

I'm looking to install super saltillo tile on my outdoor patio in Los Angeles & the contractor says I should use spec mix (type s) mixed with an acrylic latex additive instead of thinset to install. It's being laid on a combination of old & new concrete, some of it is slightly uneven & this is why he says it is better to go with mortar mix, so he can 'float' the tile where necessary.

I see most people recommending thin-set for this type of job & wonder if it will be ok to use mortar mix/acrylic latex additive instead.

Any insight/advice would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance,
Mark

Mark at December 8, 2008 1:01 PM

Hi Mark,
Should be ok and makes sense considering that the concrete that the saltillo is being laid on is uneven.

The Flooring Lady at December 9, 2008 5:46 AM

I also have a large area in my home of saltillo tile. We have lived in this home for 8 years and the tile has become very dull and is very difficult to clean. Is resealing a job we can do ourselves or should we hire it out? Also, do you strip before you clean or clean, strip, and then reseal? Also, do you have to stain?

Randa at January 10, 2009 1:47 PM

I have terracotta tile that has been stained by the white grout (apparently it was pre-sealed before grouting). I stripped the seal, but no cleaners have successfully removed the grout. As an act of desperation, I was planning to apply a dark stain to the tiles in hopes that it will cover the grout stains. Will this work?...where can I find such a stain? I appreciate the help. Thanks, Aaron

Aaron at January 12, 2009 8:39 AM

Hi Randa,
It probably isn't necessary to clean before you strip. You can reseal yourself, but if you feel it's going to be too big of job, then you should consider hiring a professional. You don't have to stain - people just do that to change the color of the tile. Head over to http://www.aquamix.com to get an idea of what kind of products you'll be wanting to use - very educational! Not saying you have to use their products, just that it will give you a very good idea of what products you'll want to use.

The Flooring Lady at January 12, 2009 8:43 AM

Hi Aaron,
Are you sure it's grout? It could be efflorescence. Either way, head on over to http://www.aquamix.com to get an idea of what kind of products you'll need. If it is grout it can be removed. If it's efflorescence, that can be removed too and sealing it helps protect the floor. There aren't any moisture issues under the floor, right?

The Flooring Lady at January 12, 2009 9:21 AM

We are in Nassau Bay (home of NASA) and we really want to refurb our den saltillo after flooding during hurricane Ike. Is it possible to refinish and stain? It is laid on a mud bed but we have dried well.
Thanks for any suggestions.

Margaret-Mary Hunter at January 12, 2009 4:48 PM

Hi Margaret-Mary,
This has been discussed many times in this thread. Go to http://www.aquamix.com and look over the product choices they have for saltillo. This will give you a very good idea of the kinds of products you'll need to shop for.

The Flooring Lady at January 16, 2009 7:25 AM

Hi

I have several saltillo tiles that are damaged. They almost look like the tops of them have been skined off down to a powdery rough flat finish. Can those tiles be sanded somewhat smooth and then sealed to bring back a shine. If not can a individual tiles be removed and replaced and if so what's the best way to extract them.

Thanks

Ron at January 20, 2009 11:43 AM

Help! I have saltillo on my outdoor patio (10 yrs. old) and it is looking old, tired and needs a lift. I am wondering how to make the grout look new/newer, make it pop and fresh looking? It is very ashy and dull looking -along with the tile. I will reseal once I get the grout to look a bit better!

Letty O at January 21, 2009 5:29 AM

Hi Ron,
Yes, I would think that the damaged tiles can be sanded some and then sealed/polished. If you wind up needing to replace them, then you'll probably just have to chisel them out. I would try to not do this, as you'll have to do some re-grouting and chances are the grouting won't match. In reality though, it all depends on what you can happily live with. ;~)

The Flooring Lady at January 24, 2009 11:46 AM

Hi Letty,
Is the grout just dirty? If so, I would recommend StainSolver - it's an oxy type product, but would
be better than OxyClean because it's got more bleaching action. It should help with the saltillo too, though you may want to try something like Enviro-One. It's been good for
stain removal in general and would probably even work on the grout too.

The Flooring Lady at January 24, 2009 11:50 AM

Thanks, I'll get busy trying StainSolver and/or Enviro-One. If that does not give me the look I want I'm tempted to try to restain the grout with additional grout, would you recommend I pain stakingly try to stain/restain with grout a shade or two darker?

Letty O at January 24, 2009 1:01 PM

I HAD a very lovely, aged saltillo floor in my home here in Kona. We clean and seal(aside from daily cleaning) every 6 mos. Somehow my husband must have mixed the cleaner and sealer and we are stuck (literally) with a sticky, oilyish mess. He used an entire quart of stripper on just a small portion of the floor and after 2 applications/removal of the stripper, we still have lots of gunk left. The condo is only 460sq. ft. and he just worked on 1/5th of the floor. How can we get the gunk off? It was so beautiful and aged and now it has to be stripped to "new" tile look. HELP!!!
Mahalo,
Janet

Janet Bixler at January 27, 2009 7:00 PM

Hi Letty,
Of course that'd be entirely up to you, but I'm betting you won't have to. ;~)

The Flooring Lady at January 29, 2009 11:30 AM

Hi Janet,
It could be you're not letting the stripper stay on the floor long enough to do it's job. What product are you using? I like Aqua Mix products myself.

The Flooring Lady at January 29, 2009 11:32 AM

After Hurricane Katrina our house had extensive repair work. I kept the saltillo tiles we have had over 20 yrs on our kitchen floor and countertop. I had a professional from Texas do the work and asked that he reseal my kitchen counter tiles.

His work has not held up too well and I have a real dilemma with the countertops. Food, paper, etc sticks to the counter and I have to scrub it with a brush. I worry about food contamination. I have contacted the professional and he suggested purple power to get it off and another sealer. It is not coming off and it badly needs stripping. No one in the New Orleans area really want to fool with it.

The man who did the work said he sealed the counter tile and floor tile with Mexiglaze. What can I use to strip this stuff off.

lois at February 28, 2009 11:07 AM

Hi Lois,

Their website is http://www.aldonchem.com/pr-mexiglaze.htm - they should be able to assist you.

The Flooring Lady at March 1, 2009 12:27 PM

Hi Flooring Lady......I have been trying to find out how to stain saltillo tiles forever. I am interested in the spanish mission red color, & the tile I have seen is usually lighter terra cotta. Is there a stain that you would recommend? Thanks, Janet

Janet at March 2, 2009 5:53 PM

Hi Janet,
There are several things to try, which have been covered in the comments. Please read or do a search (upper right hand corner) for saltillo stain.

The Flooring Lady at March 5, 2009 11:44 AM

Dear Flooring lady,

I have a hair line crack across 2 of my kitchen saltillo tiles. This happened when I pulled out an appliance for cleaning. How can I repair this crack so it does not get worse since it is in a main traffic area? The tiles are sealed.

Thank you...

cindy c. at March 15, 2009 1:15 PM

I have a saltillo tile floor that was previously sealed, but has not been resealed in several years, and also needs to be cleaned. What should I use to clean the tiles prior to resealing? And will any saltillo tile sealing product do after I've cleaned them?

lee at March 16, 2009 3:31 PM

We have installed saltillo tile on exterior decks and stair at a country club here in South Florida. On the stairs the building inspector made the contractor grind down some of the tile in order the meet code (regarding stair treads and risers). Since that time, the tile was resealed and now has splatched discolored look. Could grinding or removing the fired surface of the tile permanately ruin it's appearance?

Craig at March 16, 2009 4:21 PM

Hi lee,
There really isn't much you can do aside from making sure to keep the tiles sealed well or replace those two tiles. You could also try using a sanded caulk that is close in color if the cracks are wide enough (which I doubt).

You can use any brand of sealer that is made for saltillo, but it has to be the same type of sealer (as in water based or not). If you use different types, then it's just going to turn into a gooey, sticky mess.

The Flooring Lady at March 16, 2009 7:14 PM

Hi Craig,
Yes, it can. :o(

The Flooring Lady at March 16, 2009 7:22 PM

Hello Flooring Lady.
Our saltillo floor has been down for 17 years and is lovely, but does now have many cracks,mostly hairline, but some large. Is there a product that we can buy from you to fill or seal them in. We would rather not take out any tiles.Thank you. Louise

louise bennet at March 25, 2009 10:50 AM

Hi Flooring Lady,

We have a 20 year old saltillo floor that recently the plumber had to cut into. The tile guy I hired repaired the hole and laid 8 new tiles. He used the same oil as the original floor but it has dried much darker. Is there a way to lighten the tile or do we need to pull them and re-lay tiles that are a lighter color to start with.

thanks

Debbie

Debbie at March 25, 2009 1:46 PM

Hi Louise,
I did a quick google search using the words repair cracks saltillo
and came up with lots of hits. I'll leave it to you to investigate them. ;~)

The Flooring Lady at March 27, 2009 6:12 PM

Hi Debbie -
Good question! Actually, it's going to be a pain in the rear to try to use a product that will remove the stain and then try again. (See www.aquamix.com for products.) You may very well prefer to start over using either a lighter stain or lighter colored tiles. I cannot really advise you as I don't know which you'd rather do.

The Flooring Lady at March 27, 2009 6:23 PM

Hi,The saltillo tile in our d.r. and kit. have been treated differently by past owners... Most recently [5 yrs ago] we used butcher wax and then buffed. Without stripping can we use another product to spruce up these tiles? Thanks, Lynn

lynn at March 28, 2009 8:05 PM

Hi Lynn,
You need to use the same type of product if you're not going to strip the floor. If you try using a different type of product, they might chemically react in an undesired way.

The Flooring Lady at March 31, 2009 4:55 PM

I have Saltillo tile that was resealed by a "professional". Now, a week later, the acrylic sealant is turning white and is coming up. Do you know what causes this and what can be done to fix the problem?

Katina at April 10, 2009 2:12 PM

Hi,
We have a Saltillo floor in our kitchen which was installed unfinished, then waxed. We have kept it cleaned and waxed for the past 15 years, but now we're wondering if it's possible to strip the wax and apply a sealant. If so, what kind of stripper should we use, and is there a recommended sealer/finisher?
thanks!

alan at April 13, 2009 11:49 AM

Hi Katina,

Oh, gosh - I'm so sorry you're having such a horrible experience!

I personally wouldn't use an acrylic sealer on Saltillo. I don't know why it's turning white - does it go away again over a few days? It could be efflorescence too.

If I just paid a "professional" to take care of my floor and had this problem so quickly, I know I'd be throwing one major hissy fit (but in a nice way unless that got me nowhere!). I would recommend that this professional strip the floor. If it has eff problems, that needs to be addressed. Have you ever had problems with this 'white' thing before? Don't let him seal the floor again without the product being approved by you.

I would recommend a product from www.aquamix.com - many stores carry their products. Check out their line for Saltillo.

The Flooring Lady at April 14, 2009 2:02 AM

Hi Alan,

Check out the products for Saltillo at www.aquamix.com (gosh, I sound like a broken record!). I'm not saying that you have to use their products. They're great products though, and their website does an excellent job of explaining the uses of each product.

The Flooring Lady at April 14, 2009 2:04 AM

Dear Flooring Lady,
I installed Saltillio tiles about a year ago. I had a couple problems in installing and I have a couple tiles that are a little uneven. Is there anything I can do to 'sand down the edges that are a little out of whack? It's just a couple of spots.

Also, I sealed the tiles, but the grout looks terribly dirty at the front door because of the traffic pattern. I've tried nearly everything. HELP... What can I clean them with to pull the grime particularly out of the grouted areas...?

Lori Blaylock at April 15, 2009 12:01 AM

The company came out and said that it was due to moisture in the floor. The acrylic is cracking and coming up like dust......
The company has given us back some of our money but has now refused to do anything further to fix our floor situation.
If we do not use another acrylic, what should we use to give the floor a shine?

Thanks for the help!

Katina at April 16, 2009 9:59 AM

Hi Katina,
The thing you need to figure out is where the moisture is coming from. Were the tiles laid on top of concrete without a moisture barrier being applied first? If so, then you have a much bigger problem. Since you didn't mention that these tiles were recently installed, I'm going to presume that they'd been down for quite some time, sealed, and you've never had this problem before. I would recommend a sealer that is formulated for using on saltillo - head over to www.aquamix.com and look at their products for saltillo.

The Flooring Lady at April 20, 2009 11:08 AM

Flooring Lady:

Where/can I obtain an 8" Saltillo tile in a matte, or flat finish?

Thanks!

chuck at April 29, 2009 6:46 AM

Hi Chuck,
Have you tried doing a google search? You'll be able to find Saltillo manufacturers that way. Their websites will show the products they make and often have links for their retailers.

The Flooring Lady at April 30, 2009 11:38 AM

I installed Satillo tile on a covered porch three years ago. It still looks fine except for 2 places where oil leaked onto the floor. What would be the best way to clean the stains? I can tell the oil soaked into the tile. Is there a product that works best? Thanks in advance.

blake at May 2, 2009 7:28 PM

Go to www.aquamix.com and look in their Saltillo section. There are a couple different products/methods you can try. I'm not saying that you have to use their products. They're great products though, and their website does an excellent job of explaining the uses of each product.

After getting the oil up, make sure your tile is sealed - and sealed well. Sounds like it isn't if oil penetrated the tile.

The Flooring Lady at May 3, 2009 12:46 AM

I live in the northeast and stored my cartons of newly purchased saltillo tiles on my porch through cold weather. I am finally ready to have them installed but now am concerned that they may have been damaged by the cold. What kind of damage should I be looking for? How can I tell if they are ok?
thanks

Arlene at May 3, 2009 12:02 PM

Hi Arlene,
They should be fine - they're pretty tough! So long as they aren't cracking, chipping, or flaking you should be fine. Don't forget to read about how to install and seal them properly - that's one of the biggest mistakes people make!

The Flooring Lady at May 4, 2009 1:16 PM

Hello! Am considering placing saltillo tile in a small, front entry/patio area. Is it realistic to set the square saltillo floor tiles like pavers? Can they be placed on a barrier sheet without adhesive and then just sand-filled instead of grouted? What type of sealer should be used? Other than a natural arbor growing on lattice, this is an outdoor, non-covered area.

Victoria at May 7, 2009 10:37 AM

Hi Victoria,
Will saltillo is beautiful, it really needs to be grouted in. Be sure to seal the tiles first, then seal again after grouting 9cleaning up the excess grout obviously). Water will seep into saltillo and ruin it. Sealer will only last so long, I doubt you'd want to mess with taking it all up every 2 or 3 years and starting over. I can recommend AquaMix products for Saltillo - I've been very pleased with them. (www.aquamix.com)

The Flooring Lady at May 7, 2009 9:01 PM

hi,
2 years ago we moved into a home in texas, with an outdoor patio floored with saltillo tile. back then we cleaned it with deluted bleach and the power washer like the people that lived there before us told us they had done. everything was fine it looked as good as new. after the last 6 months of bad weather and 2 floods later, we had someone else clean the tile the same way we had done before but this time all the tile turned white and crystals formed on top of it. is there anything we can do to save our patio and restore the color to the saltillo tile?

michelle at May 8, 2009 7:23 PM

I don't understand all the warnings regarding problems with satillo. I knew nothing about these problems or special installation instructions twenty years ago when I installed about 850 sq. ft. of 10X10 saltillo floor tile. It looks just as it did after installation except for a couple scratches near my fridge. I sealed the tile before installation and waxed them afterward. I've waxed them twice since. Nothing else.

My question is, where can I find about 80 pc. to fill in areas after my kitchen remodel? That's right, this floor is outlasting my kitchen! It's the main reason I love this floor. It wears like iron. I've found 12X12 and 8X8 but not 10X10. Actual size is 10 3/16" square, on back, 10"square between visible grout on floor. I have two original boxes left. Printed on the boxes is the city name Guadalajara Jalisco. Any help is greatly appreciated, thank you.

Scott

Scott Legendre at May 8, 2009 8:58 PM

Hi Flooring Lady, Am I glad we found you. We bought a house that has saltillo tiles (I think they are called) in the kitchen. We found extra tiles in the garage and they are unglazed so we are assuming these in the kitchen were unglazed when installed. Previous owners left "P26 Preserving Fluid for Terra Cotta" and "Terra Cotta Wax." We also bought a contains of HMK R80 Stripper/stain remover but haven't used it yet as we are concerned about doing anything to damage the tiles. The floors desperately need thorough cleaning. We've used vinegar solution to scrub them and they still look dirty. What should be do?

Annette at May 10, 2009 12:08 PM

Hi Annette,
It sounds like much of the sealer (preserving fluid) is worn away and probably needs stripped and resealed. Be sure to look through the other comments associated with this article here. You'll find everything you ever wanted to know about Saltillo floor care...... and then some. ;o)

The Flooring Lady at May 11, 2009 10:43 AM

Hi Scott -
It sounds like you were very lucky -- apparently the installer knew how to lay these tiles and some good products to use. Saltillo is wonderfully durable and will look great for a long time (even centuries!!) if done right. Unfortunately, it often isn't installed right and even more often, the correct products aren't used on it (or enough of the correct product!).

I did find some good links for buying Mexican tile and Saltillo tile. Maybe one of these can help:

http://www.artesanos.com/tile_saltillo.html (they do carry 10x10)

http://terracottacorp.com/terra-mexican-tiles.asp?gclid=CNSgjqzetJoCFSMgDQodm11vbw

http://www.mexitraditions.com/

http://www.saltillotileconnection.com/

http://www.saltillotileconnection.com/saltillo/

http://www.mexicantiles.com/talavera-ceramic-tile.html?gclid=CO3G3r_etJoCFR7yDAodIFPCdQ

I found them doing a google search

The Flooring Lady at May 11, 2009 11:12 AM

we moved to a home with saltillo tile floors. they have either faded or something else discolored them. they were sealed, but..... . can they be removed to replace? or can they be sanded and restored? any information will be helpful. thanks.

pat at May 18, 2009 1:22 PM

I have installed Saltillo tiles on my back patio floor. My grandkids have spilled oily sunscreen on a few tiles and have stained them,, how can I remove the sunscreen from the tile and bring the beauty of the tile back? it just looks dirty all the time.. Thank you for whatever advise you can give. Tile is only 2 years old,, disgusted in los angeles

Carlos Vargas at May 19, 2009 2:46 PM

Hi Pat,
Yes, they can be removed and replaced with new tiles. I wouldn't recommend sanding, but you can of course try it - it's no big loss if it doesn't work out since you'll then be replacing it. Remember though, Saltillo comes in many colors, are you sure that they're discolored?

The Flooring Lady at May 20, 2009 10:57 PM

Hi Carlos,
Go to www.aquamix.com and look at their products for Saltillo. There are actually a couple different ones that should work to get the sunscreen out of the tiles. It doesn't sound like the tiles were sealed well, if at all. Sealing them is so very important in order to protect the tiles from accidents such as this.

The Flooring Lady at May 20, 2009 11:13 PM

When the tile guys installed our saltillo tile they didn't clean up the glue from some of the tiles. They used Goo-Gone but it didn't get up all the sticky stuff. We've worked on it with Goo-Gone too but can't get up the last bit of glue. What can we do about it?

Gayle at May 24, 2009 8:39 AM

Hi Gayle,
Were the floors sealed afterward? If so, then the last bit of glue is actually under the sealer and cannot be removed without stripping. I would suggest giving the installers a call and insisting that this mess be cleaned up properly - even if it means stripping the floor and resealing to do so. If they don't want to do this to make their customer happy, then take lots of pics, get estimates from other tilers/contractors and take the installers to small claims court.

If you decide you want to do this yourself, look at the saltillo floor care products at aquamix.com so you can see what you will be needing to buy. Strippers and sealers are not cheap and if you go this route, please educate yourself before you tackle the job so that you can do a better job than these 'pros'.

The Flooring Lady at May 25, 2009 1:06 PM

Thanks for your answer and advice. Yes, they had sealed it. I will call the contractor and talk to him about it. I appreciate your answer.
Gayle

Gayle Kasper at May 25, 2009 8:41 PM

I recently installed some saltillo tile that had stoutside under a tarp for a year. Manu are exhibiting a white powdery film. I've read about acit washing to get rid of this film before sealing but can't find out what type of acid and where to get it. Can you help?
Thanks, Doc

Doc at May 26, 2009 2:10 AM

Hi Doc,
What you're probably thinking of is a sulphuric acid wash. AquaMix has a very good line of products for Saltillo, including some formulated to remove efflorescence - which is that white powdery film that your tiles now have. AquaMix also has products to remove efflorescence that don't contain sulphuric acid.

The Flooring Lady at May 27, 2009 8:11 PM

Thanks very much for the advice. I'll look up a dealer in my area.
Doc

Doc at May 27, 2009 8:21 PM

Hi Doc,
It's carried at some of the big box stores (HD, Lowe's and such). They also have an off-branded line (same stuff, different label), but I can't think of what it's called at the moment. If you go to their website, you'll find their Customer Care number, they're great about answering questions and I know that they'll be able to tell you about what the alternative name is of their products.

The Flooring Lady at May 27, 2009 8:26 PM

I purchased a home with more than 1000 sq ft of saltillo tile. Several of the tiles are broken. Rather than trying to find matching tiles to replace the broken ones is there a way that they can be repaired, with epoxy or something else?

dan scrivener at May 30, 2009 5:52 PM

Hi Dan,
Yes, you can try repairing them and then maybe staining the epoxy to help disguise the fix. Be sure to keep those tiles sealed.

The Flooring Lady at June 1, 2009 9:14 AM

I am considering having 1400 sq ft of Saltillo tile put in a Florida condo? For resale purposes , would this be considered a negative to potential buyers? I love the look but do not want to put in something that will severly limit potential buyers in the future (5-10 years). Thanks for any input.

Joy at June 23, 2009 11:30 AM

Hi Joy,

I think it might be better for you to consult a real estate professional in your area. They would be better suited to tell you what is attractive to buyers.

The Flooring Lady at June 23, 2009 12:16 PM

We just had an installer place saltillo mexican tile in our den. They used 4 coats or Dura Seal 500 to seal the tile. I noticed my dogs nails as well as chairs tend to scratch the surface. Is there another product we can use on top of the tile for protection of our floor.

Thanks,

Ric

rick Delgado at June 28, 2009 10:12 AM

We have a porch with Saltillo tiles that was professionally installed. My wife now wants me to add a walkway in the yard of Saltillos, it will be on a 3-4" thick concrete base with the tiles set on top. I want to know if I can add a sealer coat on top of the tiles before I set them, adding the second coat after they have set but before I grout them in place, is this doable, or will I get into trouble when I soak them prior to placement? Any other things to be forewarned about? Thanks Vic

Vic S at June 29, 2009 2:31 PM

Hi Vic, Please see my reply to Eve in regards to using Satillo outside: http://www.theflooringlady.com/comments_000045.php

The Flooring Lady at June 29, 2009 5:35 PM

Hi Ric, Dogs' nails are hard on any flooring surface. The Dura Seal is intended,I think, to seal the tiles from dirt and stains, not from scratches introduced by nails and rocks, or furniture being moved across the floor. The Dura Seal website suggests three products to use for your finish. You should explore that site to see what's going to work for your floor and life.


I noted the polyurethane is an oil-based product (and for wood floors), and that means it's going to have high VOCs. I can't recommend anyone
use a product with high VOCs because of the damage it causes to air quality and your health. Shop with caution.

The Flooring Lady at June 30, 2009 12:30 PM

Hi,
I recently purchased a home with saltillo tile and I think my cat is leaving little surface scratches on the tile. I don't think the scratches are actually into the tile, maybe just in the sealant. Can I remove/cover up these scratches?

Matt at June 30, 2009 6:09 PM

We just purchased a home with Saltillo tile. there are some tiles in the kitchen that are much lighter than the rest. Is there a way to darken those OR or lighten the rest?

Maria at July 12, 2009 8:17 AM

I have 550 feet of saltillo tile in my house. Over the years some of these tiles have become worn and pitted. What can I do to restore these tiles?

doug at July 13, 2009 1:23 AM

Hi Maria, Saltillo tile is supposed to have variation in the color. There really is nothing that can be done about the shade of color.

The Flooring Lady at July 14, 2009 8:53 AM

Hi Doug, I would recommend consulting a professional and having them examine the damage to see what they suggest.

The Flooring Lady at July 14, 2009 9:12 AM

Hi Matt, A sealant's job is to protect from stains and dirt - not scratches. You might check with the manufacturer of the sealant to see if they have any recommendations.

The Flooring Lady at July 15, 2009 1:02 PM

I have saltillo tile in a garage room, Galveston Texas, it was flooded with 3 ft of water during Hurricane IKE for about 6 hours. Any recommendations for cleaning and resealing?

Rose at July 20, 2009 1:12 PM

Hi Rose, I would imagine your tile is going to need to be resurfaced but you need to have a professional come and assess the condition of the tile.

The Flooring Lady at July 21, 2009 11:56 AM

The grout on my Saltillo tile floor is about an inch thick. Probably due to the last water based sealant a milky substance has penetrated the grout. Elbow grease is not working. Any recommendations as to how I can get rid ot the milky substance? Thanks, David.

David at August 14, 2009 12:06 PM

Flooring lady:

I'm upgrading a late 60's traditional style / desert colored brick home. What is your opinion of how a (shades of) blue, glass mosaic wall tile (1x1) will work with Saltillo floor tile tile in a bathroom? Also how do you feel about a glass enclosure shower for this bathroom. I'm afraid of too much European style shower and glass wall tile with the Saltillo (??).

Thanks!
CFM

Chuck at August 16, 2009 8:58 PM

David,

Not knowing the type of grout used, I suggest you contact the manufacturer of the grout to inquire if you can use Stain Solver .

The Flooring Lady at August 17, 2009 10:05 AM

CFM,
I would suggest finding a style you want to emulate by searching Google Images or hire a professional in your area to consult with.

The Flooring Lady at August 17, 2009 2:48 PM

My wife and I are purchasing a home in south Florida that was built in 1994. I has Mexican tile (12" squares) throughout the entire first floor. It looks dated and we are thinking about ripping it out and installing hardwood. But in second guessing ourselves, we are wondering if the Saltillo look will be coming back into style soon and we should save our money. What do you think?

Mark at August 18, 2009 11:27 AM

Mark,

That would be a personal preference for you and your wife to make. You can use google to find fabulous sites on decorating.

The Flooring Lady at August 18, 2009 4:42 PM

What do you use to remove old sealer from super saltillo tile? Used Tile Lab Finishing Sealer.
Thanks!

cassie at August 24, 2009 10:06 PM

I have a Saltillo tile porch (1,000 sq. ft.) around my entire house. It is about 10 years old and appears never to have been sealed. Please advise the brand name of a penetrating sealant product that you deem the best to use to seal my tile.
Thank you.

Fred Hunter at September 5, 2009 8:59 AM

Saltillo tiles were installed over an expansion joint on our concrete patio and have cracked. Can you recommend a repair, such as a colored caulk, to disguise the cracks?

Kelly at September 5, 2009 2:25 PM

Hi Fred,

You can go through the comments here on this article and round up several names that I suggest.

I would also verify that no sealing was done as there is a process to strip the old sealant if it still exists.

I hear good things about Aqua Mix products, and they do have a high sheen product. Glaze'n Seal and Charlotte Mexican Paver Sealer also get high marks from Saltillo tile installers and manufacturers.

Again I recommend you look through the comments section for more information. Thanks!

The Flooring Lady at September 7, 2009 11:28 AM

Yes Kelly, you could try using a sanded caulk to help with the repairs. Keep in mindi t is a patch job and will look patched. If my tiles were cracked, and I couldn't live with that look, I'd remove them. Then before putting them back down, fix the problem that caused the cracks before laying new tiles.

The Flooring Lady at September 7, 2009 11:46 AM

Hello,
My outdoor mexican pavers are extremely slippery. Is there something I can do to rough them up?
I don't know if they are sealed or not.
Thanks,
Sussi

sussi at September 13, 2009 12:11 PM

We have saltillo tile on our stairway which has black heel marks on it. It is sealed, but I can't find anything to remove the black marks, suggestions, please.

Alicia at September 15, 2009 11:34 AM

Sussi,

Yes your pavers would become slick when wet. You could try a matte finish sealant to help reduce the slippery aspects of the wet tile. I recommend using AquaMixsealers, I've had great results with them.

The Flooring Lady at September 15, 2009 8:22 PM

Alicia,

You can use WD40 for cleaning black marks off your Saltillo tile: remember it is a solvent so be sure to wash it off after it's done its magic or you could have the sealant dissolved too.

The Flooring Lady at September 15, 2009 9:23 PM

Dear Flooring Lady,
Please tell me what product will remove grease
spots from my unsealed saltillo tile.
Thank you so much

Maria C Iovine at September 16, 2009 9:17 AM

Thank you, I will try this.

Alicia at September 16, 2009 11:49 AM

Thank you kindly for your response!
Sussi

sussi at September 16, 2009 12:29 PM

My kitchen floor is a pinkish stained (I think antique birch) Saltillo tile floor. My contractors have broken about 15 of the tiles. Do you know where I can find replacement tiles or can I restain the standard reddish Saltillo tiles to match?
Thanks for your help,
Heather

Heather Herman at September 17, 2009 6:21 AM

Maria,

Unsealed and untreated tile needs to be laboriously cleaned with diluted ammonia and "elbow grease", and lots of rinsing. However, this may not be possilbe since the grease has already soaked into the tile. You may be better off at this point greasing the entire tile so that it's uniformly stained.

The Flooring Lady at September 17, 2009 9:29 AM

Hi Heather.

For the replacement tiles, there are a couple options. One would be to look for replacement tiles that are as close to your original color as you can find. Second, you could order custom made tiles that are color matched to your existing tile.

A google search turned up these two businesses for those options http://www.MexicanTiles.com and http://www.customsaltillo.com/a/customsaltillo.tpl?cart=3461355965791824 .

It is possible to apply a stain made for Saltillo tiles, but it still may be difficult to match a different tile color to the existing tile, even doing the entire floor.

The Flooring Lady at September 18, 2009 12:00 PM

I purchased Sparks Stone Glamor and sealed new saltillo tiles (HomeDepot) already layed, but not grouted. I have put four coats on per the instruction - THIN layers and overlapped as little as possible with a foam brush. The results are disappointing. The tiles look striped and a few show where I tilted the foam brush and dripped sealer on them. It is nearly impossible to coat completely without any overlap. Will I have to strip the 160 sq ft and start over or can I just strip the tiles that will show (not be covered by furniture and rug)?

If I do need to strip, how do I avoid the same results?

Melissa Woehle at September 22, 2009 7:00 AM

It's time to reseal/refinish my satillo tile...it looked great when I moved in 4 years ago, now I have the hard water spots, etc. that I have been reading about.

Please instruct me on the sequence of the process..strip with machine and stripper chemical, then clean with phosphoric acid, then reseal?

Mary Jo at September 22, 2009 3:29 PM

Hi Melissa,

I'm not sure about what sealer you should use. Do you know if it was a penetrating or surface sealer? If you had an oil-based sealer before that is of the penetrating style, it might make sense to stick with that since the oil that's now absorbed into the tiles would probably interfere with the effectiveness of water-based sealers now. And be sure to let it completely dry in between layers.

I'd recommend you contact first the store and then the manufacturer to find out their suggestions.

The Flooring Lady at September 23, 2009 2:15 PM

Hi Mary Jo,

Use a chemical stripper and the rotary scrubber with a black or green pad to strip the old sealer and clean the tiles and grout. Rinse thoroughly and then let dry.

If you have the time, let the tiles dry over night. But if you want to get the job done fast, use fans to circulate the air and speed the drying; your dry climate there will increase the drying speed.

I hear good things about Aqua Mix products, and they do have a high sheen product. Glaze'n Seal and Charlotte Mexican Paver Sealer also get high marks from Saltillo tile installers and manufacturers.

Floor polish is the way to go with sealing the floor. Some manufacturers recommend using a penetrating sealer first and then the polish, others say the penetrating sealer is a waste of time and money because everything penetrates the tiles. 4-5 coats of the floor polish will do a good job of protecting your tiles.

There are a lot of helpful comments through this thread that you may want to read through for more advice and hints.

The Flooring Lady at September 24, 2009 1:57 PM

I live in Central Florida and I am thinking about putting in a Saltillo floor on the first floor of a slab house. I keep hearing you have to seal the tile before you install it. What does that mean exactly? Do you seal all sides of the tile? Also the floor doesn't show signs of water seeping through but should I install a water barrier on the concrete before installing the tile?

Also has anyone heard of using Tung Oil as a sealer? I guess it's similar to linseed without the mold or discoloration.

If I put wax on top of the oil sealer what type of buffer/ pad would you use on the wax?

Thanks

John

John T at September 27, 2009 12:07 PM

Help!
The new home I am movng into has Saltillo tile throughout, and I am sure at one time is was lovely. Unfortunately it was not maintained and to make matters worse, they had a rug in the living room with one of thoses plastic/rubber slip guards under it, They removed the slip guard and carpet when they left, but there are residue of the slip guard everywhere, and where there is no slip guard left you can still see the outline of dots.

I am sure I will need a pro, but have no idea where to really start.
Also would love to know how often to seal the flooring once I have fixed the problem.

Nicole at September 27, 2009 3:40 PM

John,

Although the concrete isn't having water seeping through now, it would be a good idea to apply a sealer to prevent any moisture damage in the future. To seal the tiles, the tops should definitely be done, the sides would be a good idea, but the bottoms would a choice. Sealing the tiles make them stronger and easier to clean.

I have not heard of using Tung Oil, and would recommend that you follow the manufacturer's directions in sealing and waxing.

The Flooring Lady at September 29, 2009 9:55 AM

Nicole,

You may be better to start with the professional. If they are going to strip the floor and reseal, you may be wasting your time to start scrubbing it. But, if the sealer is worn, you may need to scrub the damaged areas with with diluted ammonia and "elbow grease", and lots of rinsing.

The time between applications would vary on the type of sealer used and the traffic. I would be sure to ask the professional you contact what they would recommend on the type they use. It would easier to reseal with the same type next time, than stripping and resealing.

The Flooring Lady at September 29, 2009 10:05 AM

My floor's grout is turning white and looks awful. The more I clean the worse it gets. Help! What do I need to do to return the grout to its original gray color?

Amber at October 2, 2009 6:36 PM

Thanks for the great info, it is most appreciated

Nicole at October 3, 2009 4:33 PM

I wanted to strip the wax buildup on my saltillo flooring. The stripper I used was too strong and I ended up stripping the sealer. Now my floors have a white film and the grout is even worse. What can I do to get rid of the film and should I just seal on top of it? Help! The product I used is called "Sparks". Also, what is the best cleaner to use after the tile is sealed to keep the shine?

Sandra at October 5, 2009 7:14 PM

Amber,

You should be able to stain the grout to the color you desire, but I would be careful to not get the stain on your tiles.

If you would like to protect the color in the grout, it will need to be sealed afterwards.

The Flooring Lady at October 6, 2009 10:35 AM

Sandra,

Does the white film wash off, or are the tiles damaged? The middle paragraph in the article above describes just how to clean the tiles. And, after they are resealed, I would check the directions on the sealer, but any neutral cleaner should be good for general cleaning.

The Flooring Lady at October 7, 2009 1:53 PM

2 questions:
#1 - We've lived here for 6 years and the previous owners used mop n glo for years. when we had some construction done to the house, they put blue painters tape on the tiles and it lifted off the finish so now parts of the floor look like a crime scene with tape lines in various directions! How best to remove years of wear and tear and all this product and basically start from scratch?
#2 - just laid a few new pieces [sadly read this AFTER i did so] and did not seal any parts of the new tiles, so it was applied 'raw' directly onto concrete slab with mastic. I will seal the tops but what about the sides? Also, should i look to use the glaze n seal or charlotte products you mentioned to mary jo above?

David at October 9, 2009 10:58 AM

i recently came across a picture of a beautiful floor in a decor magazinew, and it seemed to be black saltillo tile with very dark grout...my ? is, can you stain this pourous type of tile to the color you want? i would love to install this black tile, but ive only seen it in its natural terra-cotta color state.

annie at October 13, 2009 9:57 AM

David,

It's really hard to recommend what to use on the floor with out knowing the type of floor. What kind of tiles? Depending on the type, I would find a compatible stripper and would strip the floor and then apply a sealer and wax.

For the tiles that were already laid, I would leave them and just seal the tops well. Sealing the sides before they are laid just adds more protection, and pulling them up may damage them. Either the glaze n seal or the charlotte products should work fine.

The Flooring Lady at October 13, 2009 10:07 AM

thank u so much for your response! by the way, it is saltillo tile that im wanting to lay, and i believe it comes unsealed...so im going to look for an ebony/black sealer to seal the tiles, then wax. ur information is greatly appreciated! ive heard saltillo tiles can crumble and break easily when u r in the process of cutting and laying the tile. would u recomend a wet/saw?

annie at October 13, 2009 10:19 AM

Annie,

I don't know that I recommend either a wet or dry saw. I would be sure that whatever saw you use, that you choose a blade that is designed for cutting stone, and you should not have a problem.

The Flooring Lady at October 14, 2009 8:59 AM

Annie,

You should be able to stain the saltillo in colors. I would just look for a stain that is made for stone flooring, and maybe test a hidden area to be sure it has the results you want.

The Flooring Lady at October 14, 2009 9:00 AM

Sandra
You say that satillo is very design compatable. We just bought a place that has satillo bordering vinyle in the kitchen and grey carpet in the hallway. I think it looks awful! Any suggestions?

randy cote at October 31, 2009 7:39 AM

Randy,

Decorating is really a personal choice. I would get some samples from a local supplier and try to decide what looks best to you.

The Flooring Lady at November 2, 2009 4:19 PM

I moved in to my boyfriend's house which has Mexican saltillo tiles throughout the downstairs. It is in terrible shape - no amount of "elbow grease" will take out the grime. I have even tried SOS pads in hidden areas. There is ground in dirt, hair from the dog, and other grime imbedded in to the tile. I have called professionals and seem to get a wide range of pricing to clean from $500 - $3000. We don't have the money to have it done right. Any suggestions on what I can use myself. I am very capable.

Susan Dickey at November 5, 2009 11:33 AM

Moved into a house with great saltillo flooring, but there are some sections of grout that have nasty yellow thick wax build-up that will not clean or strip - I'm thinking about taking an abrasive wheel to it - any thoughts on that?
Also, had to have a few tiles replaced and a larger section where a built in planter was removed and a new foundation poured (area 4x8'), and within two weeks of the replacement, one tile cracked (hairline from opposite edges across face of tile). The installer came back and said he did not use a flexible tape underlay and after removing the tile noticed that the original foundation was cracked there. He replaced the broken tile, and now a week later a second tile has broken. What do you recommend - should I be arguing with the installer to replace all the new sections and use the correct underlay?

tico at November 8, 2009 6:48 AM

Susan,

A vinegar and water solution of 1:15 parts is a great cleaning solution to try. You can also add some baking soda as a cleanser to scrub with.

Once the floor is cleaned, you may want to look into sealing it to help make the cleaner easier.

The Flooring Lady at November 10, 2009 11:43 AM

I have saltillo tiles downstairs and would like to add them up my staircase and onto the landing. I have never seen a picture of saltillo tiles on the top and facing of stairs indoors. Is there a problem having them installed on stairs?

Maureen at November 11, 2009 5:21 PM

Tico,

I would certainly ask the installer why an underlayment was not used to prevent the tiles from tile from cracking.

The abrasive wheel on the grout would probably remove the build up, if you have already tried to stip it, then there probably isn't any sealer left to worry about. However, you may want to seal the grout, the same as your tiles when you are finished.

The Flooring Lady at November 12, 2009 12:32 PM

I have 3,000s.f.of saltillo tiles that I have no idea what the previous owners used to clean and seal. I tried a stripper from a tile company and came up with white,sticky,boogers which were a nightmare to scrub off. It also didn't even touch the stuff that has "pooled" and yellowed in the grout lines. This is a living nightmare. I got an estimate from a tile company, $18,000! Say what!!!
So Madame Tile Lady....please let me in on ANY tricks to get this gluey stuff off my floors.
Thanks
Leslie

Leslie at November 14, 2009 11:09 AM

Maureen,

That does sound like a nice idea. I would suggest that you speak to a professional installer and ask them about it.

There may be no reason at all why they could not be installed on the stairs, other than difficulty in laying them there. Though I would think it would be very hard (if not impossible) to get the ones on the facing to remain in place while drying.

The Flooring Lady at November 17, 2009 8:48 AM

Hi Leslie.

The "white, sticky, boogers" were probably the old sealer coming off the tile. I would suggest trying the stripper a second time, and see if more begins to come off. It possible that the flooring has had multiple applications of sealer, and it is going to take a while to get it all removed.

Another suggestion would be to contact a manufacturer of the tiles, and ask for their suggestions.

The Flooring Lady at November 20, 2009 9:40 AM


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