Photos of my first Saltillo tile project
I just bought a house in Austin and I'm putting Saltillo in the living room, kitchen/dining room, and hallway.
So far I have completed the living room, which represents a little over half of the project. It took about 3 full days of work to pull up carpet, tackstrips, baseboards, and to strip linoleum in the kitchen, lay 300 sq. ft of tile in the living room, and grout it. Stripping up the paper backing of the linoleum was the slowest part. I had a 12 inch wide blade from Home Depot, but it just didn't work too well, even with the floor soaked. I finally spent about 3 hours on it with a simple razor blade scraper.
I used unsealed tiles from Home Depot and installed them wet. No problems whatsoever with the tiles on thinset over the concrete slab. I snapped chalk lines with a 4 tile square grid pattern and just tried to stay more or less true to the lines. The grout line is roughly 3/4 inch. It's a continuous layout through all three rooms, so it took a little while to figure out the layout so as too avoid slivers in the wrong places.
You guys weren't joking about the grout being the hardest part. I resoaked the tiles with the garden hose and used a 3:1 sand to portland mix. You could definitely tell with tiles had dried up too much, as the grout turned to powder rather quickly. More water solved the problem.
I'm sure I read it on here somewhere, but I must have forgotten how important it is to wear gloves when working the grout. I figured out that I could sometimes work the grout into the joints and scrape the excess off the tiles with my bare hands better than with a float sometimes. It took about an hour to realize that my fingertips were all bleeding and I no longer had any fingerprints! It's nows four days later and my fingers are still scabbed up, but they are healing nicely. Note to self: rubber gloves next time.
I already see some effloresence. Next weekend I'm going to try to finish laying and grouting the kitchen and hallway. Then I'll wait a couple of weeks and give it all a wash with vinegar or whatever is necessary. I also have a few edges that stick up higher than I like. I guess I'm going to try to sand them down a little bit. Then it will all get a couple coats of penetrating sealer followed by a glossy top finish.