Services – Saltillo Tile
The Power Clean method for cleaning Saltillo will vary depending on the current condition of the tile and how well it has been maintained. We have the knowledge to use the correct abrasives to clean the Saltillo but not damage the clay. These are general methods, and results will vary.
New Saltillo: A very light custom abrasive process is used. Slurry removal is through a powerful truck-mounted machine for a very thorough cleaning step.
Older Saltillo previously sealed with a penetrating sealer only: We will scrub and lightly sand the surface of the tile safely using appropriate grit strength. The cleaning solution is very aggressive and will remove as much discoloring and staining as possible. Truck mounted equipment will wash away all the slurries generated during the abrasive process.
Older Saltillo previously sealed with a topcoat sealer: The abrasives used will depend on the condition of the existing coating, whether it is intact, or breaking down exposing the clay or showing deterioration of the clay. In some cases, the coating may need to be stripped off as best possible and then recoated. If the clay has eroded in areas, the discoloring can generally be improved after a good clean and recoat, but not erased.
Saltillo showing effloressence (minerals leeching up to the surface) along edges.
The patch on the right shows where layers of clay have eroded away.
Two sealing options: Penetrating or Topcoat Sealers
Penetrating sealers are clear and soak into the clay with no change to appearance. They help keep moisture from soaking in, but keep in mind Saltillo is clay and clay is very, very absorbent. Staining and discoloring will still eventually occur but to a lesser degree than unsealed Saltillo.
Penetrating sealers mixed with enhancer will darken & enrich the Saltillo but won’t add any shine. Think of it as moisturizing the clay. Penetrating sealers help to prevent water erosion and staining but Saltillo is so porous even after being sealed it can still be discolored.
Saltillo bricks: Enhancing penetrating sealer darkens the clay for a richer deeper hues, but adds no shine for a natural look.
Before (left): Unsealed saltillo walkway in Phoenix-Scottsdale area.
After (right): Same walkway with an enhancing penetrating sealer.
Topcoat/Surface sealer will always impart some shine ranging from semi-gloss to high gloss. First we apply a large molecule chemical resistant sealer. This soaks into the tile as much as possible to prevent water penetration and stains. Then we apply several coats of acrylic sealer that is chemical sensitive. This becomes a working surface as long as it is cleaned properly and recoated before the sealer it is broken through and the tile is exposed. It is very important that topcoat sealers are maintained properly or they will lose restorability. In some cases the coating may need to be stripped. Stripping is removing as much of the coating as possible and makes restoration more difficult as well as adding expense to the project .
**Important to note that topcoat/surface sealers do not last as long outside due to heat, sun, and water exposure. Maintaining the coating is the best way to protect the clay tiles from erosion.
Before (left): Previously coated Saltillo cleaned with just enough abrasive value to leave the existing coating intact and prepare for recoat. After (right): A smooth glossy coating brings this Saltillo back to life.
A poorly maintained Saltillo patio, coating has worn away exposing the clay to damage and staining. This patio needed to be stripped removing as much of the old coating as possible. (Right) After stripping remaining coating and recoating w/sealer. Although the Saltillo looks much better, the spots where layers of clay have been worn are still visible.