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Unread 05-20-2020, 06:36 PM   #1
beenbeaz
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Mexican Tile Identification / Restoration

Greetings all,

I have just purchased a home with about 1400 sq ft of terracotta tile that I am looking to restore. The house was built in '78 and I believe the tiles to be the same age.

Firstly I am trying to identify the tiles themselves. I have been told they are saltillo but I don't know for sure. When comparing to pictures on the internet my tiles just don't seem to have the same brightness and color variation of genuine saltillo, but that could be due to poor maintenance over the years.

Secondly I would like to determine the current state of the finish. I believe the finish is polyurethane because there are some flakes that I picked off that resemble poly to me, but I am unsure.

Any insight would be incredibly helpful. I've attached photos of some key areas.

I also should mention that I have access to commercial stripping products as well as floor machines, although when it comes to saltillo I have read that the old hands and knees are the best bet.

The overall appearance of a large area.
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Close-up of the sheen
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Here parts of the grout look glossy and dark and other parts look white and hazy
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Hazing (possible efflorescence? or maybe just sealer applied to poorly prepped tile?)
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In these two photos it looks like the tiles are stripped, but the grout looks glossy as if it still has sealer
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Again, thank you for any advice and the wealth of information I've already gleaned from the forum.

-Grady
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Unread 05-20-2020, 10:50 PM   #2
cx
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Welcome, Grady.

A geographic location in your User Profile is frequently helpful for some types of questions.

That certainly has the look of Saltillo to my eye except that it is too flat and color consistent to be hand packed and low fired as they actually do it in Saltillo.

The parts with the shiny grout look like mine usta turn out back when we had access to the really good topical sealers. The parts with the white looking stains would be efflorescence if I were to guess. Common problem.

The very first time I thought I'd refinish some Saltillo on an out of town remodel, I ran out of time and hired it done. And that is absolutely the only way I'd ever do it again. I've no doubt you could DIY, but you gotta be void of any mess-averse gene and you gotta consider wet vacuums and buffer pads disposable items from my observations.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 05-21-2020, 10:28 AM   #3
beenbeaz
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Thanks for the quick reply CX. Location info updated as well.

Believe me my first instinct was to hire it out because I know it's a PITA, but I just can't afford that price tag. I'm no stranger to hard work, so it is what it is.

And I agree about the color. I think Saltillo, but it just doesn't have that genuine hand-made appearance.

I have access to a rotary floor buffer, pads, brushes, vac, commercial floor chemicals, (Betco, NCL, etc), and any other tools necessary, so if I can cut the elbow grease down a little bit I'm all for it. However I have also read on other threads/sites that saltillo is best restored by hand. Either way I just want to achieve the best end result. Would the heavy machinery be too much?

Most of the stripping products I can get contain 2-butoxyethanol as the main ingredient. I was wondering if anyone could chime in on how that compares to methylene chloride or MEK with removing polyurethane.

I already have a sample of Betco's "AX-IT" and "Extreme" products and am going to do a small test area today. Should I maybe test something a little weaker first?

Thanks again for your feedback!

-G
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Unread 05-21-2020, 12:30 PM   #4
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I am not a professional at all, but most of the recommendations I see here are to start with the least aggressive/harmful chemical first and work your way up. Obviously in out of the way places if possible for tests
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Unread 05-21-2020, 01:03 PM   #5
cx
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Grady, you're gonna need to experiment a bit to see what will remove the sealer you have. Just another reason to hire someone. And yes, you'll end up finishing by hand, but you'll wanna start with the floor machine and one or more people with shop vacs pouring chemical in front of you and picking up behind you. And ventilation! You'll want a lot of ventilation.

I treat that just like staining concrete floors. Can I do it myself? Yep. Have I done it myself? Yep. Would I do it myself again? Nope. Just not worth it.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 05-21-2020, 03:31 PM   #6
Davy
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When moisture gets under the sealer, it can cause it to flake on the surface. The tiles and a possible mud bed underneath can wick moisture way back under. Like you mentioned, efflorescence can also show up. I would check for a moisture problem before resealing or you may end up in the same boat before long.

I've installed tons of it and learned to let someone else stain and seal it. I had a top notch wood floor guy that I use on several jobs.
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Unread 05-22-2020, 11:33 AM   #7
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Hi Grady, . Way back in the day I did a lot of Saltillo floor work and finished a couple jobs myself. That experience taught me to hire a professional, and there were pros at the time that specialized in Saltillo only.

When I started in the early seventies Saltillo was usually finished with urethane, but by the time Saltillo petered out in the eighties, everyone had switched over to acrylic. There are stripers that will cut either one, and that's what you should find and use. Try real paint stores.

Saltillo takes three weeks to dry out, so don't start the new finished until that amount of time has elapsed.

Before you apply new acrylic, seal with a cheap penetrating sealer such as Thompsons. Otherwise you'll be wasting your acrylic.
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Unread 05-22-2020, 10:02 PM   #8
Tool Guy - Kg
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Welcome, John.

Even seasoned refinishing pros can be driven mad doing what you're about to. And the reason is due to the extremely wide variety of materials used to seal tile. A former moderator named Davestone does work like this regularly and I've heard him run into headaches all the time.

I wish you the best. Hopefully, it's a simple job and you're not visited by Murphy.

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