Sunday, March 8, 2015

Stripping and Sealing a Saltillo Tile Floor


I've lived on saltillo tile (terra-cotta tile) floors for over twenty years. I love it so much I just had it installed in our new house. It does take some extra care to keep it looking nice and I had a difficult time finding information about how to strip and seal it because there are companies that base their whole business on saltillo tile care, and they keep their secrets closely guarded. 

Saltillo tile is a type of terra-cotta that originates in Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico. They are made from quarried clay that is highly porous.
The most important thing to keeping your tiles looking great is: Keep them sealed!!! 
Second most important thing: Use a water based sealer, NOT EPOXY!!!The water based sealers don't hold up as well as epoxy and you'll be applying a new coat every year or so (depending on foot traffic), BUT when your seal coat is getting dirty and grimy the only way to really clean it is to strip it all off. The floor strippers that sell over the counter will only work on water based sealers. ALSO, water based sealers are so easy to apply and clean-up is a snap. *I've heard that sometimes the only way to remove an epoxy based sealer is to basically grind/sand it off. At that point it would be cheaper just to replace the entire floor.


I just recently stripped and re-sealed about 1,000sqft of  30 year old saltillo tile and I had a difficult time finding an over-the counter floor stripper that worked. Because of environmental standards and liability issues, the strippers keep getting weaker and weaker. So if you find a stripper that works, stock up!!
I did find a good floor stripper at Home Depot (after spending $100 on useless strippers and chemicals), but I had to use it at full strength (against the label's instructions) to get it to work.

Dirty saltillo floors that look hopeless, ruined, dark, and in need of  being replaced, can usually be brought back to life with a good stripping. Underneath that dirty sealant is a "like-new" saltillo tile.

Here's what I started with:


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This Zep Heavy Duty Floor Stripper is the only floor stripper ( Home Depot sells it for about $10 a gallon) that I found to work, but I had to use it full strength to get any results. The instructions say to dilute 32 ounces with 1 gallon of water for heavy duty stripping. That didn't put a dent in my sealer.

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** Products I tried so that you don't have to **

  Lacquer thinner- worked somewhat but was a sticky mess and I had to spend about 10 minutes per tile to totally strip it.

The three products below.....totally useless!!

 Other hazardous products I tried that did NOTHING to remove the sealer were: Liquid Plumr, extra strength engine degreaser, lye, bleach, several types of paint removers, deck wash, deck stripper, denatured alcohol, every Klean Strip product, and a few other very toxic and dangerous chemicals...

I did find that Easy-Off oven cleaner worked to take the sealant off and wasn't really messy or sticky. Totally NOT it's intended purpose!! Terrible toxic fumes, I'm sure. And it's probably illegal to use it in this manner for most parts of the U.S. I don't recommend it AT ALL, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures and I thought I'd share my findings. Use at your own risk.  :)


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I didn't rent or use any commercial types of floor polishers or sanders. No machines. This was good old fashioned- get down on your hands and knees and scrub.
I only worked on four tiles at a time. I put it generously on four tiles using a scrub brush and let it sit for about 30 seconds and then start scrubbing. You won't have to scrub very hard, you'll see the sealant start balling up.

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Above is the stripper (full strength) applied liberally to a tile. Let it sit for about 30 seconds.


Below: after 30 seconds start scrubbing with a scrub brush  (any kind of semi-firm scrub brush is good) and you'll see the sealant start to come up. All the white chunks below is the old sealant.
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Wipe it up with a wet rag. You may have to repeat these steps for tiles that have more layers of sealant or for stubborn areas.




Let it dry and see how it looks. Once all the stripper is removed you can scrub the tile and grout with some soapy water to clean it up a bit more. 


During stripping









After the sealant is removed the tiles should look dull, like below.

Above you can see there are still some shiny spots where the sealer didn't come off. There might be some areas where the sealer just doesn't want to come up. It's fine, just get most of it.

After you're done stripping the entire floor give it a good mop with water and let dry completely before sealing.

Congratulations!! The worst part is over!!

Now on to sealing......which is so much easier that stripping!

I have a post on sealing brand new saltillo tile here, but this is how I sealed these older tiles. Remember to use a water based sealer!!! Below is the sealer I used from Home Depot, but you can find a sealer at any home improvement store. This one has a wet-look, but there are also low gloss sealers. Choose whatever you like.




 I put in on using a mop and basically just apply it the same way you would if you were mopping your floor with water.


It will have dark patches and look streaky at first, but that will disappear as it dries.

 These streaks will not be noticeable when dry.

Dark patches will lighten when dry.


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Above are the tiles still wet with one coat of sealer. Below is two coats after they've dried (here in dry/warm Arizona it takes each coat about 4 hours to totally dry).




Finished floor with two coats of sealer. If you have brand new tiles I recommend three coats because most of the first coat will be totally absorbed by the tiles.

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Feel free to email me with any questions you may have!! My email address is in the comment section at the bottom of this post.

***

Here are a couple more pictures to show how the high gloss sealer, over time and with foot traffic, buffs out into a more eggshell gloss.


The tiles above have the "high gloss" sealer that is approximately 1 year old, but I find that they dull to the eggshell finish in a couple of weeks; less time even if it's a high traffic area. I really like this look, I'm just mentioning this in case you want high gloss and are expecting it to remain high gloss.



Picture above is "high gloss" just an hour after application.

**

72 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for posting your step by step guide on stripping saltillo tile. After you've stripped, and resealed your floors, how do you maintain your floors, any special products you use or don't use, and how long does the glossy sealed surface last? Definitely looks like a labor of love. Thanks again.

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    1. Thanks Eye! I have dogs, so I usually vacuum a few times a week and wet-mop (with just plain water) a few times a month. The high gloss is SUPER shiny for the first couple of weeks and then sort of smooths out to more of an eggshell finish after a month or so of heavy traffic. I usually add a new layer of the sealant every year and I only have to strip & seal every 8 years.

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    2. Dusty - I followed your instructions exactly including the products - ZEP and Behr sealer. Thanks for helping me do this project - your blog made the difference and the tiles look great! Very happy in Utah - best Suzanne

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  2. So helpful! What sponge did you use for the stripping process, and how long did it take you? Any advice on how to keep things less messy? Thanks!

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    1. I used a scrub brush (pictured in the red bucket in the second picture down on this post) to scrub up the sealant.Just a normal cleaning scrub brush is good. It wasn't messy at all, I limited my work area to about 4 tiles at a time and it took me about 3 days to strip the 1,000 sqft.

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    2. Thanks so much. I found so many online posts that say you basically can't DIY this but you've given me hope!

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  3. Thanks SO MUCH - that was amazing!

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  4. Thanks so much!
    I know there are a lot of ways to do this job but yours is not too costly and seems to make sense. I really appreciate the pictures of the products and the before/after results. I plan to replicate your process exactly in the next few weeks.
    -Jim in Tucson

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  5. Your tiles look great and indeed very shiny. Thank you so much for sharing this easy-to-follow DIY stripping and sealing method! I am really amazed at how these simple steps turned out. The floor totally looked good as new after the application. Keep on sharing your wonderful ideas with us! :-)

    Nathan Riley @ Steemer Atlanta

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  6. Wow, this is SO helpful. We will definitely follow your advice and hope that we have the same great outcome that you did! Thank you so much for sharing your tips and advice. We have been needing to do this for way too long but just really didn't know where to begin. I was wondering if you have any insight into whether it could be done in sections (a room/space at a time) rather than the entire first floor? We have three young kids, and we would likely have to do it over a couple of weekends between doing the work and juggling our littles. Thank you again!!!

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    1. I noticed your comment just after I published, 'Dupont Stonetech...' below. I'm retired and can handle a little less adventure than I used to, so I've discovered that the sections of floor can be any size, just as long as the overlap is on the grout line.

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    2. Hi Kim. I sent you an email, but I'll reply here too so others can see. Yes, it's absolutely fine to work in sections. I usually do. The high sheen tends to wear off to a lowish sheen pretty quickly so you'll be able to see a difference at first. But after a couple of weeks worth of foot traffic the sheen from the different sections will end up matching.

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  7. Dupont Stonetech Professional Heavy Duty Coating Stripper is another to add to the list of ***Products that I tried so that you don't have to***; it won't touch wax on Saltillo after an hour undiluted wet scrub & at $106/gallon!
    But, hurrah for Easy-off! We get it, brush in the bottle, from Mexico; virtually no odor. By the way, they do make a low odor, blue spray can on this side.
    Thank you for the great pics & info!

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    1. As a follow-up to the above, I was pleasantly surprised to receive the following this morning, "I have attached a claim form you can fill out and I can get a refund sent out to you for the cost of the Dupont Stonetech Professional HD Coating Stripper. I am sorry to hear the product is not working for you. The wax trying to be removed with the Heavy Duty coating stripper will most likely need to be removed with a more aggressive Coating Stripper. It needs to be possibly more industrial strength. This is definitely the reason we always reco to test first prior to use to you know if it removes it and if so how many applications you will need. A few Coating Strippers you can try are Klean Strip, Goof Off or Prosoco, (there are not exact recommendations just a few in the filed please feel free to utilize what you need to remove).. Please make sure to follow their directions and please make sure that you TEST TEST TEST in a small inconspicuous area first."
      Best,
      Jennifer A. Lopez
      LATICRETE International, Inc.



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  8. Hi there,

    Thanks so much for providing this information! It has been very helpful for my wife (Kim, who commented above!) and I in refinishing the Saltillo tile in our home. We just completed our kitchen and I have a couple of questions:

    1. We used two coats of the Behr wet look sealer (the one you used in the article). It seems like water beads up much more than before, but there is still a wet spot on the tile when we wipe up the drip, indicating it's still at least a little porous. Does water totally bead up on your tiles, so if you wipe it there is no residue? Would you suggest more coats?

    2. On our tiles, areas with excess sealer dried white. Did that happen to you at all? In a couple of areas I used the stripper again to smooth out the dried, raised up sealer, then put another coat of the sealer on it.

    3. Our floors still feel a little tacky (you can walk on them, but they just don't feel very smooth). It has been very humid here in Austin lately, so maybe they just need some time to dry out more. How long did it take your floors before they didn't feel tacky at all?

    Thanks,

    Tomas

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    1. Hi Tomas!

      My tiles are "mostly" waterproof, but not 100%. Even within one single tile there are areas that are 100% water proof and more porous areas that aren't. If I cook something greasy on the stove, I'll get some grease splatter dots on the tiles in front of the stove that don't wipe up--but they do eventually get absorbed by the tile and fade away. The epoxy based sealers are better for waterproofing, but they'll never strip off...

      I have had areas in the grout where the sealer pooled and it looked milky, but it eventually cleared up- or maybe it got worn away?? I'm not sure if yours would have eventually cleared.

      The newly sealed floor is a bit tacky, but in a dry way; if that makes sense?? The best thing for that is to walk on it. The foot traffic will buff it out. I don't think you should put any more sealer on for now. Wait a month and see. You can always do another coat then. I've never done more than two coats at a time.

      Kim sent me a pictures. It looks fantastic!!!!!!!! :)

      Xx tina

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  9. Hi Tina,

    Thanks again for your helpful tips and clear instructions. That Zep floor stripper is a great find. I thought it might be helpful to others to post the rest of our experience.

    We ended up switching to AquaMix Seal and Finish Low Sheen. We applied 4 coats and the tiles have a nice, subtle gloss, and more importantly, are now totally impervious. They feel nice on bare feet, too. We used a lambswool applicator (like a paint pad) mounted to a broomstick to apply the sealer. It was much easier to put on than the Behr wet look sealer, and dried and was ready for recoat in less than 30 minutes (so we didn't have to rope off that part of the house for nearly as long). It is ready for traffic in just a couple of hours and cures fully in a day or two. We had also tried the TileLab Gloss Sealer in the past, but it didn't work as well for us.

    The AquaMix is a little tough to find--we had to go to a specialty tile store, because it is not available at the local big box home improvement store.

    Anyways, thanks again!

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    1. Tomas,
      Please, what did you NOT like about the Tile Lab Gloss sealer? I have two full gallons and would like to use it, but......thought I would check with you first.
      Thanks,
      CJ

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  10. I am so glad I found this. We have brand new Saltillo tile in our house and an old nearly blind 16 year old dog. he has accidents and the urine penetrates the seal and discolors it.. It's driving me crazy so I finally decided to sand down the old seal and get rid of any stains and then reseal. I'm doing a trial on one tile to see how it works, but the one problem I am having is how to get the seal to finally seal the tile. It just soaks in.

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    1. Try putting penetrating sealer then put the water based finish.

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  11. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! I have been experimenting lately. The floor is overall good condition, I think mostly just needs to be resealed. The kitchen area is making me crazy though. Finally I realized the discoloration is under the sealer. It's like dirt made it's way through the sealer onto the tile. I put a stripper down (Tile lab water based) used full strength and put saran wrap over it(one tile) left on for 30 minutes and scrubbed....much to my surprise the grime came up and off. Other areas in the kitchen no so easy. So I was looking for a stripper that may work better...thank you for that I will have to try the one you used. What about the grout? I bought a grout scrub brush which works well, however still only using the tile lab stuff. Did you find your grout came cleaner with the stripper you used? Thank again so much for this info! Sincerely, CJ

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    1. Hi CJ! Yes the grout gets pretty clean with the zep stripper, but there were some greasy spots in front of the stove where I used zep industrial degreaser.

      I'm impressed you had success with the tile lab product. That's great!

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  12. Looked at your blog and I was very impressed. My husband and I are big into home repairs and are trying to figure out what to do with our Satillo Tile Floor as well. Have you looked at PowerBoss.Com? I took a look at it, and it was very helpful in this regard, just a thought….

    Alison Norman @ Power Boss

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  13. Could I use the Zep stripper with a floor machine if wanted to strip larger areas of Saltillo more quickly?

    Thanks.

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  14. Ive never tried. Probably though. As long as the Zep stripper isn't allowed to dry up on the tile. If it dries the seal hardens back up.

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  15. Dusty, thanks for such great info for each of us here. I am trying to figure out the overall cost for my project (much larger area) and I wonder if you could tell me what coverage you got from the Zep (which seems by far the best stripper). i can get it in 5 gallon continers so that will cut the price but what coverage did you find since you used it full strength?


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    1. I can't remember how much I used and the bottle doesn't say anything about coverage area. If I had to guess, I'd stay that I used 4 gallons of undiluted Zep for the 1000 sq ft.

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  17. I wanted to add some information from a reader. Candace rented a floor maintainer from Home Depot and had great results! Here's what she said: "The floor maintainer is the bomb!!! We're using it with the brushes. Both the white and red pads were not powerful enough. The brushes are not too gentle as long as you keep the machine flat on the floor. It's the way to go." She also said that she did't have any problems with the brushes scratching the saltillo.

    Thanks so much Candace!!
    xx Tina

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  18. Hello,
    My Indoor Saltillo tile floors are abt 10 years old and have not been re-sealed for 4 yrs. Must I strip before I reseal?
    Thanks,
    Gaild202@yahoo.com

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  19. Hi Gail! No, you don't have to strip before you re-seal. The stripping is for tiles in which the seal has become dirty and discolored.

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  20. Hello,
    I have a different situation, but wondered if you could recommend anything since you are so familiar with Saltillo tiles. We purchased a home that has these tiles on the shower walls. Very high gloss. The lower tiles, where water and soap spray hit, have lost the sealer in spots and have a white soap or mineral haze on them. I want to scrub them clean, remove the sealer and put new high gloss water proof sealant on the lower tiles. Suggestions on product or process? Thank you!

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  21. Hi Terri! I know exactly what you are talking about. Because the tiles are so pourous it can be really difficult to remove hard water stains. I have had success with a few different products.

    1. You can start with the least dangerous which is just straight white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray it on and let it sit on the tiles for about 10 minutes and come back and spray some more on. Don't let it dry. Just keep spraying for a couple of hours and see if it's working. If that works, just keep on doing that. It might take a few days to really get all of it.

    2. Apply lime-a-way. Works faster but is thick and doesn't always go very deep into tile pores. Follow directions on bottle.

    3. Bar Keepers Friend works a bit better than lime-a-way I've found. I use the powder and make a paste. Follow directions on bottle. I usually keep the paste wet and let it sit and work its magic for 30 minutes. Rinse and reapply if you see that it's working.

    4. Last resort: muriatic acid, can be found with pool cleaning chemicals. Super toxic fumes and will melt your skin off!! But I've used it and it's worked... �� I used it the same as the vinegar except I applied it using a rag and just kept the tiles wet with it until I saw the lime dissolving. I've never had the acid damage a tile or grout, but I imagine it could happen. So if you try this, do a test in an inconspicuous spot if you can.

    Hope this helps!! Good luck!!

    One more thing! Maybe, hopefully, the calcium buildup is all on the sealer and didn't get into the tile's pores!! In that case they should look like new after you strip them!!!

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  22. Thank You so much for the advice on how to clean this tile. I have tried everything. It looks wonderful when cleaned not so great dirty. I will attempt this in a couple of weeks when my winter tenants vacate. Will let you know of my progress.

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  24. I do tile and grout cleaning and sealing in the Nashville,TN area but there is not much Saltillo tile here. I am in the process of doing 500 sqft for a customer now and your information has been spot on!
    I have just applied a 1st fiat of the Behr sealer in the laundry room as a test. I'm waiting now to see if the dark streaks/spots do go away as the floor dries like you say. You have been right about the rest. I don't expect this to be different.
    With your help, these floors will look awesome!
    Thanks for posting this.

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  25. thank you so much, I got 18x18 hand made satillo tiles for my new kitchen, against the man who was remodeling my kitchens advice, he wanted me to get a nice large marble tile, yet my home is shabby chic cottage style, so i went with the satillo, and some have coyote prints in them, My only problem is, mine all seem very orangy, and appear to be all the same color, a slight difference in colors I have noticed, I was hoping for some being more red or darker than others, I see yours have different colors through out, when we first got them, the tile man layed them, I put an enhancer over them and then sealed them, I kind of wish they were not so peachy orange, and all same color, any suggestions? thank you

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    1. Sorry Anonymous, none of mine are stained or colored- but I know it's possible. I have seen newer saltillo tiles where the yellowish color is more of a paint on the top vs. the color going all the way through into the tile.
      Good Luck

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  26. Hi, we have just bought a midcentury home that has saltillo tile throughout many rooms in the home. The kitchen saltillo is a darker shade and stands out. Is there a way to strip the color back to look more like the rest of the tile?
    Thank You!

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    1. Hi Deborah! I'm wondering if the kitchen isn't darker because it's such a heavily used room??? My kitchen and entry ways over time get darker because they're the most used and have the most dirt and grime. But when I strip them they return to their original light color. Maybe try stripping one of the darker tiles and see if it lightens. I wonder if your kitchen tile sealer just needs to be stripped. But maybe they were tiled at different times and a different batch was used in the kitchen? There are light Saltillo stains out there, but I've never tried them.

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  29. Thanks Dusty Coyote you saved me money and more importantly time. The results on my slate counter tops were fantastic!!!!

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  30. Instead of going to all this work every year or so, why aren't you maintaining the seal by using a neutral floor cleaner and wet look polish every month or so? Zep makes some, but I haven't tried theirs. I have used RoVal Tile and Stone Cleaner and RoVal Reflecta Polish for Saltillo tiles for 20 years, and it works great (unless you get negligent and start letting it go for a year or two at a time and now need to strip and reseal as I do).

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  31. Hi there, trying to strip my tiles now and just came across your post! I hate a love hate relationship with saltillo. In some spots there is peeling and bubbling. Any advice on what to do for these areas? It does peel when I use the striper, so that worries me some.

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  32. What kind/brand of floor polish can I use on my Saltillo floor tile?

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  33. I also have Saltillo tile and have found this product that I love, it's Pro Shot Industrial Re-Newing Floor Restorer & you can buy it on Amazon.

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  34. Thanks for your great information, I followed all of your instructions and it worked. however it is tedious work. My self and my husband are older, we got some one in with a floor stripper, but we still had to hand do the grout lines and missed places. Go to say it is statring to look great , put first coat on in kitchen and bath, our entire house is saltillo. We have never stripped it,in 25 years ,it seemed overwhelming, And we like the Behr sealant, thicker product that what we have used in the past. So thanks for your detailed instructions. Hard work but worth it!

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  35. Hi! I have an entire home of 30-50 year old Saltillo tile that is in sad shape. It has likely been more than 10 years since they've had any attention. I'm just starting and trying to sort out most efficient way to approach this project. My first test area 4x4 had mixed results. The tiles cleaned up reasonably well using a liquid stripper (I'm willing to give Zep a try to see if that is easier), but the pooled "tree sap" spots in the grout lines didn't strip clean. When elected to ignore the residue on the grout and I used a sealer, the gross grout lines only seem to be more noticable. I need a way to re-strip and clean the cement grout lines and wondering what others have found to be the best strategy -- I have a lot of square footage to cover so please consider that with your answers!!

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  36. hi Dusty Coyote (love that name!) First of all thank you so much for your very informative and fun to read blog on these wonderful tiles! Question: after applying a first coat of Desert Penetrating Sealer (water based) to plain old Tecate tile, I waited a couple days and applied a 2nd coat (advised b/c so porous). Immediately, half the tiles have the white splotches--and this seems to be from the Sealer! What did I do wrong? I guess I should try your vinegar spray for starters to fix this mess. (You're really generous to respond to all these comments and inquiries!)

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  37. That is really a good remedy for stripping and sealing saltillo tiles. The end result was so amazing. Now, the floor looks beautiful after the application. I will use this one in my Pavé Tiles as well.

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  38. Thanks for sharing! I have a question- I have a few areas where the Saltillo has been scraped up by the fridge and some very heavy worn tiles that have heavy scratches. Any advice?

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  39. Thank for the the leg work( actually knee work) for me
    Had tiles installed originally in hallways kitchen, 1 bath and dining room. and were well maintained for 20 years. Then only 1 person in the house so only mopped and cleaned for 10 years. Thanks for the product info.

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  40. Thank you so much for this post. I hate our saltillo tiles but now that I can restore them, I might just like it again. Can't wait to try this.

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  41. Thanks for the info. I was considering ripping them out. I have about 1000 sq ft. I also might learn to love them. Any suggestions for repairing cracks and or pits?

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  42. Thanks for the info. I was considering ripping them out. I have about 1000 sq ft. I also might learn to love them. Any suggestions for repairing cracks and or pits?

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  43. Thank you for good and informative information :) if you want suggestions related tile repair @ D'Sapone

    Tile repair atlanta

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  44. Good info. I found I needed a respirator also, Those fumes are nasty. Otherwise, great!

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  45. Hi Dusty! First A BIG BIG THANK YOU!!! I currently have satillo tile throughout my house, about 1000 sq ft, and I usually like it, but the previous owner never took care of it (sealed it probably 5 yrs ago), so it's like your old pictures, stained and looks ugly. But living in AZ I really like the how it does keep the house cool. Anyway, I'm going to clean it and seal it as per your recommendations. But I have a quick question, I'm thinking of staining it a darker color, would you recommend me cleaning it and NOT sealing, but staining and then sealing? Your thoughts are appreciated..

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  46. Hi Dusty
    I commented and posted my question on your blog, but I will also send you this email. I have satillo tiles too, and I'm thinking of staining, but my question to you is since mine are old, very dirty (sealant virtually gone and they are stained), I was planning on cleaning them first (following instructions from your blog) and then staining, then sealing them..would you recommend that? Have you ever stained satillo tiles? Thank you in advance for your time, it's truly appreciated. Zoraida

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  47. Nice post with great tips. Hope that we will found more helpful post like above from you soon. Thanks.


    Basement Metallic Epoxy Flooring NJ

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  48. Thanks so much for this info, especially the Zep stripper! I adapted your method slightly for a French hexagon tile floor - my blog post is here: http://www.salticid.com/kogblog/?p=156

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  49. Dusty, thank you so much for this detailed post. I was so happy to come across it because there is so much useful information in it. Living in the Boston, MA area, I can't find anyone with experience dealing with Mexican saltillo tile. 5 years ago I had a granite cleaning company come in and strip and seal my 300 sq ft kitchen saltillo tile floor which came with the house when we bought it 30 years ago. However within one day the finish became cloudy and scratched off easily resulting in a very mottled look - sadly right before my daughter's wedding. Contractor came back but results were worse. So I've lived with it until I came across this post in late Spring. I'm willing to try doing this myself now that I saw you do it. Perhaps the finish on my floor didn't hold because on the day it was applied, it was raining that fine, misty summer rain that can happen here in August. Maybe the cloudiness in the tile was caused by moisture in the air seeping into the tiles and getting trapped by the sealer. Or maybe too many coats were applied before sinking into the tiles. I decided not to strip it this Spring(2017) because of all the rain we had. I keep waiting till I get a weather forecast for about 5 clear sunny days, but it's not happening. How long do you recommend I wait to let the tiles dry after applying the stripper and rinsing it off with clear water, then paper-towel drying the floor? 1-2 days or more like 5? I realize that in AZ you have hot dry air whereas here in the Northeast it can be hazy, hot and humid in August.
    I thought I'd use the AquaMix Seal & Finish Low Sheen recommended by Tomas Rodriguez in his post but should I use a penetrating sealer instead?
    Thanks for your help! Looking forward to hearing back from you!

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    1. Hi Fran, glad you found my post helpful! If you don't think it's going to rain 24 hours should be good enough for the tiles to dry.

      I don't like aquamix products at all, so I can't advise you there. Your prior sealer could have been milky from humidity or it could have had a chemical reaction with whatever has been on your tiles previously.
      Sealers can be finicky. That's why I recommend the Behr sealer; it's never gone cloudy on me, it dries fast, is easy to mop on. Behr has a low sheen option also. A 24 hour window of no rain is recommended when applying sealer. It's a very simple process if you use the right products.

      *I have no affiliation to any of these products- they have just been what works best, time and again, after a lot of experimenting.

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  50. Many thanks Dusty! I'll give it a try with your recommendations. Appreciate your fast response!

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  51. Dusty,
    I'm sooooo happy I found your post here. I have satillo tiles in my house. Sadly, the previous owner did not take great care of them, (no sealing, no good cleaning). Anyway, I still plan on changing them out, but not for at least 2 years. I couldn't take the dirty look of them anymore..and then I found your post. I'm slowly working through my house and have to say I'm really happy with the change so far. when I finish a big enough section, I'll send you before and after pictures. For me, I don't need fancy, but I do like a clean floor and now I can have that :)

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  52. Dusty did you have any issues with the chemical vapors and odors with this product.Also do you know if the sealer you removed from your tile was water based or some other type.

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  53. Hi Dusty, This is the best I've read on saltillo tile. I too have tried different products and what has worked best for me is Ajax or Comet directly onto the tile, one by one, and scrubbing with a kitchen scouring pad, then rinsing each one as I go. One mopping with Mop N Glo, just once follows. I've been doing this method for about 15 years, about once a year. I mop every week with Fabuloso (smells amazing) and the re-mop with Mop N Glo (good cardio haha). I can't have a slippery floor. I've been afraid of applying a sealer because of the "slip" factor. I want that super glossy look. Is the Behr product slip resistant? Any suggestions? Thank you.

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  54. Hi...does your method and stripping product work on oil based sealers...i.e. Duraseal 500? And once stripped, can the tiles be resealed with a water based sealer?

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If you have any questions you can also email me directly at

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