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Old 04-11-2006, 11:16 PM  
TxBuilder
 
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Default Saltillo Tips

I am about ready to lay a lot of unsealed saltillo tile. Then after grouting it sealing it.

Any tips on laying this tile? Used to lay cermanic but it looks like this will require some extra steps to finish.



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Old 04-13-2006, 09:30 AM  
Bud Cline
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Saltillo is a beautiful product but has some characterisitics very different from every-day ceramic and stone tile and requires a little extra effort in most cases.

True saltillo will be very irregular in the shape of each individual tile. Cupping and crowning will be the most obvious conditions. With saltillo, cupping and crowning is natural and an aspect of the beauty of the product but crowned tiles will require additional thinset under the tile centers to insure proper bonding and to eliminate voids that would compromise the support of the center of the tile. The same goes for cupping tiles but in this case the additional thinset and support is required along the edges of the tile.

Saltillo is very soft and pourous and should be well sealed prior to grouting. If the tiles are not pre-sealed then the grout will be very hard to clean from the surface and could leave streaks and haze that you won't be able to remove. Using a regular portland grout or even a modified portland grout will only add to the problem of cleaning unsealed tiles. Some installers prefer to use a sand-mix (portland and sand) for a grout and this product is a little easier to clean up than bagged grouts are. In many cases the cleanup difficulty comes from the color pigments that are added to colored grouts other than natural grey.

Sealing the tiles is highly recommended by this installer.



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Old 04-13-2006, 01:18 PM  
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Do you seal the grout as well?

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Old 04-13-2006, 03:48 PM  
Bud Cline
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Yes. But the saltillo should be sealed maybe twice before it is grouted and then again after the grout cures.

There are both grout and stone sealers and in some cases a stone enhancer can also be used to seal the tile. The sealers are available in both gloss and matte finish.

Another little trick we used to do in Texas was to use wood stain to stain the saltillos if this appeals to you. Most any penetrating stain can be used and then sealed when totally dry.

There is a slight learning-curve to the installation because the substrate if it is concrete will suck the moisture out of the thinset rapidly on the bottom and the saltillo will suck the moisture out of the thinset rapidly on the top. If this all happens too quickly the thinset will dry before it cures and bond could be lost. Years ago we would soak saltillo in a tub of water. When we were ready to set a batch we would drain it a few minutes and set it wet. This slowed the curing process of the thinset, and that's a good thing. These days pre-sealed saltillo9 is available so the soaking isn't necessary in that case. The pre-sealed tiles however cannot be stained.

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Old 06-24-2008, 02:10 AM  
tanyatraveling
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Help! We wanted a really dark color so we used wood stain (oil-based) on our outdoor tiles and now none of the (penetrating) sealers we try are working. Do we need to strip everything off and start over? The stain pretty muched sealed the tiles so we thought about just putting an acrylic hardner/polish on top. What are your thoughts on this? We're worried that the stain is going to come up or peel off. Thanks!



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