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Unread 04-09-2021, 02:30 PM   #1
Saltillo Tile
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Maintaining Saltillo Tile Floor - kitch, bath, living

Hi, tile experts! My saltillo tiles are a bit stained, absorb water, and might look better glossy. I'm looking for advice on how to clean and maintain them in an eco-friendly way.

My husband laid unsealed, flat, uniform saltillo tiles 10 years ago in the kitchen, bathrooms, and in the entire walk-out basement studio living area. These are not "antique" dome-shaped saltillos, but look similar, just more uniform/machined. I helped by handing him tiles and washing his mud buckets

We sealed them with something generic from Lowes or Home Depot that was an impregnator and sealer. It wiped on milky and dried clear. I wasn't impressed with the sealer - it didn't seem to protect the floors or make them look nicer, plus it's a polymer/plastic which in my opinion isn't great for air and water quality. We drink local spring water and use a septic tank, so everything we put down the drain has the potential to come back to us through the spring. We haven't kept up with maintaining the sealer, and now I think most of it has been worn away.

The floors are very pretty, in my opinion. Picture attached of part of the kitchen pantry area. But they're getting stained in the kitchen and absorb water when I mop or spill. I'm not sure if this is bad, but I wondered if the water is reaching the wood subfloor upstairs. Now, I'd like to remove the stains - dirt, oil, food - and protect the floor with something. I was leaning toward a carnauba wax paste since it should look pretty and protect the floor - but I also hear it is difficult to maintain and needs to be completely stripped sometimes?

People have very strong and differing opinions on how to care for saltillo tile and I can't decide what to do - but I'm afraid if I wait too long to decide my tiles will get ruined somehow.

What do you recommend - both techniques and products? I need help on all the steps - deep cleaning, resealing (is that necessary?), and is waxing a good way to maintain them. I currently vacuum and mop periodically with simple green or dish soap.
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Unread 04-10-2021, 08:30 AM   #2
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Location: Princeton,Tx.- Dallas area
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Hi Pat, welcome. As far as I know, we only have a few folks here on the forum that have sealed Saltillo, and even less that have stripped and cleaned it. I would want someone that has experience in that field. That doesn't mean homeowners can't handle the job, it just means we don't want to misinform you on the steps needed and which products to use.

I do know that there are several different ways the Saltillo tiles are formed and made. The old Saltillo tiles I'm familiar with were sun cured, not sure if that's what you have or not.

I also know that many times a topical sealer is used instead of a penetrating type like you used.

Do you have any left over tiles from the original installation? It would be good to have something to experiment with.

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Unread 04-10-2021, 02:13 PM   #3
John Bridge
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Hi Pat,

I'm pretty sure the tiles you have are glazed. As Davy mentioned, "Saltillo" tiles, AKA Mexican tiles, are not glazed.

I would definitely not use any type of wax. You can try a penetrating sealer, Aquamix makes good ones, and they are available at Lowes. Miracle sealers are also good. Do all your cleaning before using sealer.
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Unread 04-10-2021, 04:56 PM   #4
Saltillo Tile
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Thank you Davy and John

Thank you Davy and John for your thoughtful replies - we have a ton of leftover broken and cut tiles as a matter of fact! I don't know why I didn't think of experimenting on those, but that's a great solution. It's good to hear you don't recommend wax - I don't think my husband is excited about wax either. In some past posts in the forum people recommended cleaning with ammonia and water mixes or vinegar. I'll try something like that on the kitchen food stains and see how it goes.

Thanks again!
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