To Saltillo, Or Not to Saltillo

Saltillo Tile

Many of our clients are business and home owners that have installed Saltillo tiles (Mexican unfired clay tiles).  These tiles remain one of the cheaper alternatives on the market for large areas that require a hard surface (about $1.50/sqft), but many ignore the warnings concerning proper protective measures and maintenance needed for these soft tiles. We at Surface Solutions would like to share with you what we have learned about Saltillo tiles and hope you can find the right solutions for your beautiful tiles.

When considering Saltillos for flooring make sure your contractor protects the tiles “before” the joints are grouted.  These tiles are so porous they will soak up what we call “grout haze” and nothing will remove it.  The grout haze will change the color and look of your tile and many times projects need to be redone to the satisfaction of the client.

Saltillos need protection.  Their porous nature make them very susceptible to staining and wear.  There are many “systems” available for this purpose but topical coatings are not recommended, grout should never be shiny regardless of what you see at the Biltmore or the Santa Barbara Court House.  Topical coatings will eventually haze, crack, and peel wearing mostly in traffic areas.  We recommend penetrating water and oil protective sealers to help fight staining.  Top coats are often necessary but should be used sparingly to avoid the issues mentioned above because top coats will need constant maintenance to keep them looking their best.  Surface Solutions does offer a new system for the glossy/wet look that is urethane based so if this is your target look please give us a call for further information.

Always use area rugs or other protective barriers such as felt under furniture feet especially in areas were chairs are frequently moved as in dining areas.  Constant dragging of metal or wood feet over Saltillos can remove the smooth “cream coat” on the top of the tiles.  This type of damage can be repaired but it is costly.

Finally, lets talk numbers. Many folks choose Mexican tiles because they are affordable compared to their stone or ceramic counterparts.  What folks do not like to hear is that proper preparation of a new Saltillo floor can run another $1.50 – $10.00/sqft on top of the tile and installation costs, depending on the treatment chosen.  If the tile needs to be stripped of older top coats the price goes up even more.

The moral of this story is that proper knowledge and preparation can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars when installing and maintaining softer tiles like Saltillo.  Surface Solutions is now offering a system for unglazed tiles that was created by the same artisans that manufacture the tiles in Texas and Mexico.  And it is only $1.50/sqft for areas larger than 200 sqft. Call us today for a Free Estimate 805.886.6828

Please do not hesitate to call us if you have questions concerning the proper care and maintenance of any hard surface.  Our results are guaranteed.

Best Regards All,

Drew

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