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Unread 03-22-2021, 09:54 AM   #1
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Saltillo tile restoration - HELP!

We bought this house recently knowing that the tile would need to be refinished but we didn't know what we were getting into apparently.

We have watched many videos on how to re emove the old sealer but what we have doesn't seem to match what we are seeing in the videos. The "sealer " is extremely thick. The easiest way we have found to get the bulk of it off of the tile is a razor blade. In some areas it will actually come off in sheets, other areas require stripper and lots scrubbing. Getting it out of the grout is a whole other story.

The last picture is of the kitchen area the we spent 4 very long days on. It looks pretty good but we have a total of 2200 sq ft of it. This will literally take months at this rate.
We need advice please
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Unread 03-22-2021, 07:59 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum, Todd.

I'm going to cut straight to it: I'm not a Saltillo guy, but I've been around long enough to know how outrageously difficult it can be to refinish. One of the big reasons that it's difficult to strip is that everybody's idea of what it should be sealed with is different. The finishes range from (and I'm not kidding in the least) used motor oil, to polyurethane, to commercially available Saltillo finishes, to everything in between. Because you don't know what the material is, it might take a long time to figure out what will cut through it. That may be a big reason why the videos aren't helping you. Even after you figure out what works, the chemicals can be stinky, the dissolved finish a gooey mess, the manual labor hard, and you can consume a ton of paper towels, rags, brushes, and scrubbies. So, this is a dirty job.

While we wait for Saltillo guy, I'd suggest you use the search feature that's in the blue bar towards the top of the page. Either click through there to get to the Advanced Search or click here. For the "Keyword" box, type in "Saltillo" and over on the right for "Username", type in "Davestone" (one of our very best Saltillo guys who has since left the forum). Then, click on the "Search Now" button and you'll have pages of posts that he's made that you can start sifting through. Feel free to search with multiple "Keywords" if it helps you. There will be plenty of posts to read up about suggestions on possible soy or citrus sealers, tools used, as well as finishing products that you might want to use.

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Unread 03-22-2021, 09:01 PM   #3
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Thanks Bubba. It appears I may have bitten off more than I can chew with this project, or at least have the patience for.
Looking at replacing it all at the moment. Got any words of wisdom for removal? I have heard it is a nasty, dusty job as well. Not afraid of a little hard work but the end result has to be worth it!
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Unread 03-22-2021, 11:12 PM   #4
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Welcome, Todd.

I've installed and caused to be installed a good many square feet of Saltillo in my day. Most of it we pre-finished prior to installation and then finished again a couple weeks later. The sealer of choice back then was some wonderful stuff and would require a solvent in the Keytone family to remove handily.

The occasional pre-sealed material we set had a surface that was even more difficult to remove. Not sure what it was. And we generally finished over that, including the grout, with our usual material.

In all those years I had only one large area stripped and re-finished. Sold me immediately on the fact that I would never try to do that myself. It was a large, whole house remodel and I have no idea what had been used to seal the Saltillo. Took the re-finished company most of a morning to determine what chemical or chemicals would be required to strip it. Then it took the rest of that day and half the next for them to strip the floor using two large floor machines and several shop vacuums to do the rough part and then more hours of hand work to get all the corners and such. And then they applied the new finish.

Worth every penny I paid them and more. And I cringed every time I thought about how I was actually planning to do that myself.

Only tool I recommend for finishing Saltillo is the same tool I recommend for drywall and insulation work. A telephone.

But it's not dusty!

My opinion; worth price charged.

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Unread 03-25-2021, 07:26 AM   #5
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Well, I didn't have the patience to refinish the saltillo. Rented a chipping hammer and attacked it. It is going to be a huge tough job just getting the tile out and then retailing 2200 sq ft but in the end I know it will be worth it. Thanks for the advice and wish me luck!
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Unread 03-25-2021, 08:19 AM   #6
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Hi Todd,

There are demo contractors who will get it out in a day. Check it out.
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