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Old 02-27-2019, 10:44 AM   #1
rsparrowhawk
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Saltillo and Talavera, dif. thickness/same plane

Hi all,

I'm a cabinetmaker who's relatively new to tile work.

I'm laying out a diagonal pattern of 12" x 12" Saltillo tile. Every so often inlaying a 2"x2" Talavera tile at 45 degrees, relatively speaking.

The Saltillo measures at 5/8" - 11/16" thick, and Talavera at 5/16" thick.

Traditionally, what do you all do to keep the top surface in plane when setting this? A different size, small trowel for that thinner Talavera tile? A modified tile leveling system?

I've attached a couple images.

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give on the subject.

Bob
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Old 02-27-2019, 07:22 PM   #2
Davy
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Clip the corners on the 12x12's and install them. Then, add fat mud into wet thinset to build up the 2x2's. A skim coat of thinset on the 2x2's is also needed. Mash the 2x2's into the mud until they are flush. Rake out any mud that fills the joints and sponge the surface.

Or, if you're using a large format tile thinset, you could just use that to butter them up.
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Old 02-27-2019, 11:18 PM   #3
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What Davy said!

Welcome to the forum, Bob!
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Old 02-28-2019, 09:01 AM   #4
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Excellent. Thanks a bunch guys - you've got me rolling forward again
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Old 05-14-2019, 12:07 PM   #5
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Saltillo / Talavera Project - Finish Fail! Please Help

Hi all,

I'm remodeling a home that my wife and I recently found. Last week, I completed the install on our Saltillo / Talavera floor.

I bought the topcoat finish sealer from a well respected place in the Saltillo industry, applied as per manufacturers instructions, and it all turned a ghosty white!

Let me give you the specific details and photos:

Ground level floor (kitchen, dining room, living room, coat closet, and pantry)
855 sqft
Pre-sealed Super Saltillo (12x12") with inlayed Talavera (2x2")

I completed the install last week (before clear top sealer) on Wednesday 5/8. On Thursday 5/9, I started to clean off the remaining grout haze. By grout, I mean regular mortar mix as is traditionally used in these Terra Cotta floors. For this process, I started with a bucket of hot clean water, soaked and wrung out the sponge and very lightly damped/wiped the surface of the tiles (working in small sections at a time) and followed that with my grout float which I had wrapped in cheese cloth and lightly rubbed the surface. Then a clean wipe with a wrung out sponge. Then I cleaned the residual (like the “mist” left behind) with new clean microfiber towels. At this point the floor was dry to touch and after about 20 minutes the grout had also returned to its dry color.

Last Friday morning, 5/10, I woke up early to do one more wipe down. I noted that the grout haze was indeed cleaned away. This time I was extremely light with water. The sponge was fully wrung and my process was much simpler - I was just getting any surface dust off the floor to prepare for sealing, so no cheesecloth polish. There were about 4 or 5 tiles that had some marks on them so I rubbed those off with an acetone rag. Then, I hit it all with a wrung out sponge and new microfiber cloths. So dry that most the grout remained the “dry” color and within 25 minutes the floor looked, and felt dry.

At this point, I turned on the fans and also had AC in the home on. Even though it was dry that morning, I let it dry until about 8pm - to be sure, then I started applying this Industra Green Low Sheen sealer as per manufacture's instructions. Using a latex paint pad on an extension to put down a super thin and even layer. They sent me videos on how to apply, I did the same thing.

After about 30 minutes to an hour the sealer started to turn from clear to a ghosty/frosty white - by that time I was halfway through with the floor and and decided to keep going thinking it may cure like some epoxies do, milky turning to clear. I was wrong, and now our whole finished floor is covered in this white sheen.

Note: Besides around 5 tiles getting a quick rub with an acetone rag, there were no chemicals used. No grout release, no grout haze cleaners.

I've attached some photos here: Note, there are a few photos that show the floor the day before finish went on (clean) and a few that show from this past Saturday 5/11 after the finish "ghosted". Also, I wanted you to see the water/biobased sealer I used for reference. One of the photos shows the expansion joint before I sealed with silicone (that is now complete), just wanted to give you a close up of the clarity of tile before the finish sealer went on and that's the only close up photo I've got.

So the finish has been on the floor for about 3 and half days. I presume we need to strip the failed finish and reseal. I've been speaking with the finish dealer and the manufacturer. No solutions yet...

**So there are a few solid Saltillo specific install heroes in my area. And i'm now considering hiring one to help me fix this. Yes, this hurts...

But here's the thing: There's not a lot I can find, published or unpublished, on *traditional installation and resurfacing of Saltillo. So i've just done a ton of research to this point and have been asking questions to you all and to local Saltillo specific installers. When I look online theres lots of articles about heavy chemical strippers etc etc to remove the finish...My understanding is that you really want to avoid this with Saltillo to avoid discoloration. Were talking about clay here, not ceramic or stone. Yes, I realize some sort of stripper will likely need to be used . I just really want to preserve the natural beauty of the floor - after all, ITS BRAND NEW!

My questions to the forum:

1. How do I **safely remove this water based topcoat finish from the terra cotta floor?

2. Can I use a floor buffer with an aggressive pad? Or am I really risking removing the factory tile pre-seal. I want to keep the pre-seal.

3. I'm DEFINITELY using a different brand finish next time. AND I'll go with the high gloss. Any experienced recommendations for the new topcoat sealer?

Thank you all in advance for any light you can shed here. This project is a baby of mine, means a lot to get it right!
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Old 05-14-2019, 12:12 PM   #6
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Here's a close up of the failed finish.
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Old 05-14-2019, 06:31 PM   #7
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I have to say, you did a beautiful job installing the tile.

I'm not a chemist or sealer expert. I know just enough to be dangerous. Makes me wonder if the top sealer you added is compatible with the bottom sealer. Was the sealer you used recommended by the tile shop that supplied the presealed tile?

I've installed presealed Saltillo but I always waited about a week to apply the top coat of sealer. We never damp sponged the surface. I don't know if it makes a difference but back in those days (40 years ago) we used oil based sealers.

I would stick a left over tile on a piece of sheetrock and try to replicate the problem. Then you would have something to experiment with.
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Old 05-15-2019, 06:50 AM   #8
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Yep great looking job. I have installd and sealed a lot of saltillo but raw not prefinished. And I have striped lots of stuff but not saltillo. I would make some samples like Davy said. Try different strippers. Because they are not flat a scraper wot work very well, maybe for some of it.I would try very coarse steel wool but check to see if it scratches. Even if it does then try the new sealer over the scrathed piece. More than likely they will go away.
As far as sealers you will have to experiment with that too.

So sorry for the cluster f***. TI understand the time you spent and the pride you have in the beautifull work. I feel your pain. But look at the bright side.You didnt put a bullet in your head and you are still watching potatoes grow from the top side.

Good luck
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Old 05-15-2019, 07:20 AM   #9
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Thanks Davy and Mark, really appreciate the good words - means a lot coming from experienced guys like you all!

Davy - I've got this feeling you're right on compatibility. It's kind of a funny thing about the sealer: One of the premier places here in Austin for Saltillo sold me the sealer (the low gloss one they use and recommend for pre sealed Saltillo). BUT their Saltillo was too expensive for my wallet - so I found a different vendor for the clay. My understanding is that Saltillo is made by a variety of families and they all have dealers and then its sold through importers...so likely the pre-seal finish is in fact different than that of whom I bought the top coat sealer from. I will say this: the grout has a "frosty" look to it too, which makes me think that perhaps it's just the sealer that's the problem?? But hey - i'm just an ordinary guy, not a tile pro

And Mark the humor's a good medicine ha!

I am poster child for 'try it on one before the whole floor' right now

You two are just the kind of folks I was hoping to hear from. And this is sage advice. I'll start here: will get a few tiles glazed over this morning out in the shed and mess around with getting that finish off.

AND i'll update this thread after I fix the issue and get some paint and trim up so you all can see the finished product

Thanks guys!
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Old 05-15-2019, 08:16 AM   #10
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Hi Bob,

Can't be certain, and like Davy it's been many moons since I've dealt with any sort of Saltillo tiles, but it seems to me that the few times I installed pre-sealed/pre-finished Saltillo that I didn't do anything except grout them. I don't recall using any type of sealer/finish after installation.
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Old 05-15-2019, 08:41 AM   #11
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Hi John!

Thank you. Sage advice indeed - perhaps i just need to get this stuff off and call it good! I see you're in Rosanky! My inlaws used to have a gorgeous property out there, love that area. They have since moved back to the city and now miss it
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Old 05-15-2019, 02:26 PM   #12
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Bob....Like John, I have put down a fair bit of the sealed tile and have never added another sealer on top/ Little late with that advice but DID want to give you "props" for an excellent install....
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Old 05-15-2019, 05:43 PM   #13
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Bob, First of all, l would apply a coat of sealer to a dry tile and see if that clouds up. For this, I wouldn't stick it to sheetrock or wipe it with anything but a dry rag. Looks like if the sealer is the problem, it'll cloud up too.

It's very possible you could be seeing efflorescence under the sealer. But from my experience efflorescence takes a few days to show up, not 30 minutes. So, I kinda ruled that out.

After installing the tiles, did you wet them before grouting or leave them dry?
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Old 05-16-2019, 06:17 AM   #14
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I've done one project of stripping and resealing saltillo tile. Wouldn't really want to do it again. Reeso Tile Importers Inc. here in San Antonio was very knowledgeable and helpful with my questions. (They have crews that strip and reseal saltillo) Their number is: 210-736-2634. You might contact them and see if they could answer some of your questions.
https://www.amazon.com/Glaze-Seal-Me...48150204&psc=1
If I remember right, this is what I bought from them to seal the saltillo.

Edit: Beautiful job by the way!
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Old 05-16-2019, 08:21 AM   #15
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I agree Resso is a very knowledgeable source. I bought from them years ago and they were always on target.
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