Saltillo Tile? [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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08-15-2001, 02:38 PM
Hi guys! I really enjoy your board, I've learned alot and hope you can give me some advice.
We live at the beach in So. California. We have a large part of our house (kitchen, family room, entry, hallway) that we need to floor with something. Our house is built on a concrete slab, and there's lots of movement (earthquakes, shifting), so there are cracks in the concrete.
I really love Saltillo tile, but I've recieved so much conflicting advice about the stuff, I thought I would see what you all thought. Specifically, is one product better than another? Does one buy pre-glazed tiles, or glaze before installation? Is it worth it to drive the pick-up over the border and get it at the source?
Do I want it in my house at all?
Thanks for your input. The guys at Home Depot keep trying to sell it to me (I even bought a do-it-yourself video, looked easy), but I think I trust the opinions of this board more.

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Rob Z
08-15-2001, 03:13 PM
Hi Barbs

Thanks for visiting us. I'd love to be on the beach in So CAL right now!

I have no experience with Sautillo (it's not popular in No VA), but I know John has done quite a bit of it.

He'll be by shortly to give you a pep talk.


[Edited by Rob Zschoche on 08-15-2001 at 05:24 PM]

John Bridge
08-15-2001, 03:58 PM
Hi Barbs,

I'm about to cry. Southern Cal beachfront house. I'd kill for something like that. I used to live in San Diego. Please don't tell me you're in Ocean Beach, or Pacific Beach. And definitely don't tell me you're up at Laguna!

If you like Saltillo, it's the greatest thing there is. People who don't like it seem to hate it. There's no middle ground. If I had a beach house, I would want Saltillo or something that looked very much like it.

If your slab is cracked up, you'll have to fix the cracks with an isolation membrane of some sort, and if there are numerous cracks, you may want to treat the entire floor.

If there are beaucoup cracks, you may want to consider another type of flooring.

Did you see my Saltillo pics. The color is a little phoney because I messed with it, but the pattern is nice.

Oh God, don't tell me you're out by Point Loma somewhere . . . .

08-15-2001, 04:55 PM
Thanks, John, I have seen your your whole site, great place.

We're not beachfront, have to bike to the beach, and I wish I lived in Laguna too!! Point Loma would also be nice. We're in Surf City, USA....about as far from LA as you can get and still commute. Not as nice as San Diego though.

It's comforting to know that you would use Saltillo.....guess we'll treat our slab and start thinking designs. Hubby will be relieved that I've finally made up my mind.

John Bridge
08-15-2001, 05:12 PM
Okay, Surf City. That would be up the coast or down the coast. Redondo is nice. Ventura. Don't tell me . . . .

Rob Z
08-15-2001, 05:21 PM
So, there really is a Surf City? I just thought that was a Beach Boys invention to make the song sound good.

08-15-2001, 07:57 PM
Yes, there really is a Surf City. It's the nick name for Huntington Beach, Ca. With the "Official" Museum of Surfing. The same as the "Official" nickname of Los Angeles "City of Angeles", La Canada Flintridge = Tree City. "Unofficial" Santa Monica = People's Republic (heheheh).

John Bridge
08-16-2001, 06:40 AM
I told you not to tell me. I love Huntington Beach. . . .

Landlocked in Houston

(Well, I could float down the ship channel to Galveston, I guess.)

03-12-2004, 11:29 AM
I am in the same situation. I live in San Diego and am considering Saltillo tile outdoors with Talvera insets for an outdoors area and my front walkway. Can someone tell me where to buy this in San Diego? Is it better to go across the border? Any recommendations on installation that I should keep in mind? This will be my first tiling experience. Thank you for your help.

John Bridge
03-12-2004, 07:28 PM
Hi CG, Welcome. ;)

I used to live in La Mesa.

You can get talaverra tiles easily in San Diego, or you can cross over and find plenty of retailers between San Isidro and Tiajuana. Saltillo the same way. I buy Saltillo tiles at Home Depot, actually.

I think you might want to start your own thread. This is a pretty old one. :)

Ventura USA
04-13-2004, 04:27 PM
I didn't see where anyone answered if you should buy pre glazed tiles, or if your should glaze them yourself. Also if you glaze them yourself, do you seal both the top and bottom before you put them down to keep them from discoloring? We've seen regular and super. How do you know which to get. I like the ones with animal prints in them. Any light you could shed would be good.

John Bridge
04-13-2004, 07:00 PM
Hi Ventura, Welcome. I think you should start a new thread, too. This one is over two years old. :)

You wouldn't use a "glaze" for outdoors. Only a penetrating sealer.

04-15-2004, 03:03 PM
I'm one of those who does not like Saltillo, it can be a very functional and beautiful floor covering, but most of the time it is plagued with problems like efflorescence (white powdery stuff), spalling (chunks of saltillo popping off the top), staining (it's very absorbent)... if you have it coated with a topical coating, it will need to be stripped and resealed on a routine basis at a cost of $3.50/sf or more and several days of not being able to use the floor. Stone Armor will help protect if from stains, but it will still get scuffed and ugly looking with much use and it most likely will not prevent the moisture associated problems of efflorescence and spalling. Saltillo cannot be refinished like natural stone (marble, limestone, travertine, granite...)
Before you decide on Saltillo, you need to inspect some older installations in your area... do they still look great? If you still insist on Saltillo... especially outdoors... be sure to prep the slab properly... moisture vapor barrier... and avoid potted plants and landscaping beds where moisture will become a huge issue... be sure you have plenty of drainage. These are important issues with any installation, but especially Saltillo... I much prefer the Saltillo looking porcelain...
Don't mean to sound so negative, but we get called out a lot to look at Saltillo (mostly moisture issues that are difficult to avoid) and it makes me feel bad to tell people they have to rip out the installation and start over again because their Saltillo cannot be restored...

01-23-2007, 02:07 PM

My name is Ben and I work for Mexican Tile and Stone Co. in Arizona, we specialize in Saltillo and Talavera. Saltillo can be controversial because it is VERY easy to mess up an installation.

First- Your saltillo will only be as good as the surface you are laying on. Ideally you have a concrete slab with no cracks. With a few cracks you can use an isolation membrane, or with many you may need a special thinset base like redguard.

Second- All saltillo comes from saltillo mexico, but it is not all the same quality. Big chain stores have huge demand, and therefore need as much as they can get. When they excavate a river bed, they take all the clay they can get. Clay should be taken only from the river bank, where there is less silt. This silt can cause spalling or lime pops, making craters in the surface.

Third- Saltillo should not be pre-sealed. Grout uses water and saltillo will soak it up like a sponge, a pre-seal will trap this water in the tile and can cause discoloration and more lime pops. People suggest presealing so that the grout will not stain your tile, however, a product know as GROUT RELEASE is inexpensive and can protect against this without creating a host of other issues.

Make sure your floor is 100% clean and DRY when you seal it, anything on your tile will be trapped under the seal.

A good seal will protect against normal wear as well as water, you will need to reseal depending on how much traffic your tile gets. As your seal is built up over time, resealing it every so often, you will be able to wait longer in between reseals. To test to see if it is still good, wipe a little water across it, you will notice where the seal is broken by a color difference where the water is being absorbed.

Stripping is NOT necessary to reseal. Clean your tile thoroughly, then apply your sealer with a clean sponge. Nice and easy. Stripping is a hazardous, caustic process that is better left to the experts. Stripping is rarely necessary, unless the original sealing job was messed up.

There are a wide variety of seals, finishes, colorants, and oil products to achieve many different looks with your saltillo.

Additionally, there are many different sizes and shapes of saltillo available in both the usual reddish color and the chocolate brown 'moreno' saltillo.

For more information on setting, sealing, finishing, and of course purchasing saltillo please contact me. For complex questions, e-mail may be the best way to communicate. It may be some time before I return to this particular forum.

I am very familiar with saltillo, but I am not a contractor. My boss has 20 years experience as a licensed contractor working specifically with such tile, so for questions I cannot readily answer, I can rely on his expert opinion.

Ben Wheeler
Mexican Tile and Stone Co.
(520) 622-4352