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Unread 08-10-2020, 05:53 PM   #1
djmabf
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Saltillo Tile Conundrum

Hi, New here. I've read all the saltillo posts and learned a lot, but still confused, especially in a post-methylene-chloride-world.

I have A LOT of Saltillo, over 1500 sf. Installed in the 90s, the former owners added polyurethane to "renew" it from time to time. But at some early point, they sealed dirt in the kitchen grout and in all areas, many of the grout lines look dirty or are yellowed from poly that pooled there.

THREE PICTURES- Pic#1) (Includes sofa) I LOVE how the color is mottled and mostly in the red-orange family yet not yellow-gold like so much new Saltillo I see. This is why I want to keep it. It's beautiful to me. This is the foyer and it's mostly OK as is.
Pic#2) Close-up of kitchen grout I cleaned as a test (and also you'll see how dirty it is in untreated places).
Pic#3) The floor in general. A lot of it looks like this, dirty looking grout lines.

I tried Citristrip. It strips the actual tile top pretty well after two coats, but even with three coats there is poly left in the grout joints. In the kitchen grout closeup photo (#2), I literally scraped the grout with a metal putty knife to get it that clean, but I obviously cannot do that for the whole floor. Green arrows show poly that remains.

I tried Josco, same results. I know MethChlor and other such chemicals can be dangerous (I have no pilot lights ;-), but unless there is a stripper that works faster, I don't see how this is possible.

Please know that I am the tenacious and determined type. Long hours and hard work do not scare me, but I do try to avoid beating my head against a wall. Is there some more aggressive formula that will work better (wearing 3M 6000 series mask, goggles, etc. and sleeping elsewhere for a few weeks).

Btw, I'm in North Florida and this tile isn't popular here. In South Florida you can find people who restore Saltillo, but up here, everyone I call seems stumped.

Your help is much appreciated and thanks for this forum! I've learned a lot.
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Unread 08-11-2020, 03:30 PM   #2
John Bridge
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Hi Denny,

I did a lot of Saltillo back in the day. At some point most of the finishers switched from poly-urethane to acrylic. I wonder is that might be your problem, since a lot of strippers with cut poly. I would got to a good paint store for a stripper. Good paint stores don't include the big box places.
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Unread 08-11-2020, 08:43 PM   #3
djmabf
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Cool Thanks

Hi John,
Thanks for the reply! I will try the paint store., but I fear that they don't have anything much stronger. Everything I've read seems to indicate that all the MethCh substitutes are far inferior.

I did read that in 2019, the EPA allowed Methylene Chloride for commercial use. This chemical sounds VERY dangerous so I'm not sure I want to use it any way, but the crazy thing is, a consumer can't buy a paint stripper with MC any longer, but he can buy a 5 gallon can of pure MC from Amazon. Go figure.

I'm pretty sure I have polyurethane because from what I've read, if I wipe a rag on the floor with lacquer thinner or acetone, some of the coating should come up. But even if I pour a little thinner on the floor, it just pools and the floor remains unscathed. Wouldn't this indicate polyurethane?

Thanks,
Denny
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Unread 08-12-2020, 02:31 PM   #4
John Bridge
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Sorry Denny. I'm not much of a chemist.
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Unread 08-12-2020, 03:10 PM   #5
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DON'T use the MEK. Seriously, find another way. I've seen it burn a hole in a windbreaker, its noxious and not worth it.
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Unread 08-12-2020, 03:38 PM   #6
cx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Denny
...even if I pour a little thinner on the floor, it just pools and the floor remains unscathed. Wouldn't this indicate polyurethane?
Not any polyurethane I've been exposed to if that's the lacquer thinner you mentioned earlier.

I'd hafta disagree with Jeff on the MEK, though. Yeah, it's pretty harsh stuff, but quite useful in some applications. You do need to be very careful with it and have plenty ventilation and no ignition sources, but it'll certainly clean up some things other solvents won't.

I'd very strongly recommend you contact a service that provides such floor stripping services, though. They should be able to determine what it's gonna take to remove whatever you have for a coating and I think you'll be glad you spent the money once you see just what's involved with doing a really good job of stripping such floors.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 08-14-2020, 09:25 PM   #7
djmabf
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Thanks for the replies

I appreciate the insights. CX, I'm happy to spend the money but I can't seem to find anyone around here that knows what to do with it. As I said earlier, North Florida doesn't have a lot of Saltillo tile so there are no restoration businesses around here.

But I hear you. It's a lot of work, not to mention the chemical exposure to whatever is going to actually strip it. I hate to have it all ripped up but it's looking more and more like that might be necessary.
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