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Unread 01-05-2022, 01:36 PM   #1
kristentm
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Staining Saltillo Tile Black?

Hi! I want to stain my natural red terracotta color Saltillo tile to black or very dark black/brown. I do want to see some of the natural variation come through. Has anyone done this? I am including a couple images to show you my floors and what I am hoping it will look like when done. (Ok well not change shape obviously although any suggestions for that would also be welcome

It has a shiny finish right now so I assume I will have to strip it first? What is the simplest way to do this and what products do you recommend?

And what should I use for stain? Unfortunately the Aqua Stain for Saltillo does not come in black. And when I called them they were not very helpful in recommending an alternate product. I asked about their concrete stain but got a standard "we can't recommend it for that use" and they mentioned that it was really more opaque like a paint than a stain anyway. So what do you think? Add some black tint to the Aqua Stain "Spanish oak" brown? Use wood stain? Use concrete stain? Is water base ok? Any thoughts?

And I want it to have a matte finish at the end so what should I seal it with?

Thanks so much for any advice! I am in Los Angeles by the way and haven't decided whether the is a DIY project or whether I will try to hire someone so also happy for referrals....

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Unread 01-05-2022, 09:34 PM   #2
Tool Guy - Kg
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Welcome to the forum, Kristen!

This is a deeper, harder question than it appears at first blush.

Staining the tile can be done with a number of products (including wood stain) if it's not already sealed with something. But your floor is unfortunately sealed. Possibly with multiple layers. Possibly with varying products. To thoroughly strip, you're probably dealing with a tough, uphill battle that will not produce good enough results for you to give you what you want. To strip Saltillo, men have wasted away...gone mad....gone broke...changed careers to being a "scraping-gum-from-the-bottom-of-restaurant-tables-person".....well, maybe I'm exaggerating a little. But this type of tile has historically been sealed with every product under the moon other than those products specifically made for this...All sorts of waxes, motor oil, polyurethane, varnish...you name it and it's been done. Many of these have worked reasonably well and are cheap...hence why they were used. Stripping it is not easy because it's hard to identify what it's been sealed with so you know what product to strip it with. There are no real standards on what was "probably used". Once you identify what the sealing product is, you can take steps to strip it. But stripping doesn't necessarily remove all the sealer. It is very, very, very likely to remain in enough pores of the tile to result in your new stain not taking evenly. The new stain needs to penetrate into the pores....not sit on top. Even if you strip 99% of the sealer, that last 1% will mess you up. It will result in a blotchy mess instead of the evenly colored tile you're dreaming of. To top it off, multiple layers of sealing may require multiple approaches to stripping. Did I mention it was messy? And many sealers are hazardous and smell something fierce? And you'll probably ruin a few clothes along the process?

I won't pretend to be an expert, as I leave that to folks like Davestone that have taught me a lot about the subject. He's forgotten more about the subject than I know. Hmm....maybe that doesn't make me sound to good. Yeah, forget I said that. Instead, alter the way you think about it to make Davestone look like the super-guru that he is.

Now, for a dose of reality: there aren't many saltillo-stripping folks on the forum anymore. Most of them have left to scrape gum from tables.

I'd suggest using the "search" feature in the blue bar above this thread. Click on the arrow to the right of the word "Search" to get a drop-down menu and then click on the "Advanced Search". Or just click here for an Advanced Search. Once you get to the new page:
In the upper left "Keyword(s)" search box, type in: Saltillo stripping
In the upper right "User Name" box, type: Davestone
Just below in the "Search in Forum" box, choose the "Cleaning Restoration, and Sealing" forum.
Poke the "Search Now" button on the bottom of the page and you'll immediately have a bunch of reading you can look through to give you a feel of what you're up against.

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Unread 01-06-2022, 02:13 PM   #3
kristentm
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Thanks.

Thanks for the advice. Not what I wanted to hear, but appreciate your brutal (and amusing) honesty. I've heard Saltillo is also a nightmare to remove so no easy solutions here. I really hate the color. I'll look up the links you referred me to. There is a small powder room with the tile that is attached to the larger living areas and it is first up for renovation so maybe I will give the stripping a try there and see if I get lucky or maybe even like any inconsistent and uneven quality it results in? I'm a designer so sometimes I do things a little outside the box and appreciate imperfections as "character". You never know. If not, will have it demoed and start over I guess:/ Was hoping for a simpler and cheaper solution but...
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Unread 01-06-2022, 11:35 PM   #4
Tool Guy - Kg
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With the right tools (readily available to rent), it’s not hard to remove. Does that interest you at all?

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