Saltillo, Friend or Foe?

Saltillo Tile CleaningAhhh, saltillo tile, that little terra-cotta slice of love found in every mexican restaurant and thousands of homes in Phoenix. Whether you have indoor saltillo or outdoor, it seems to be a love hate relationship with the tile. While it is beautifully rustic, and appeals to those wanting that southwestern Arizona feel to their home, it can be somewhat of a high maintenance floor.

Most of our clients call many, many years after the Saltillo is installed, frustrated because they can’t seem to get it clean or, if it is outdoors, because there are yellow and white flakes coming off of the tile. I will begin by addressing the indoor saltillo tile issues as the two are different.

To determine the correct course of action for indoor saltillo tile, a few questions must be asked. First, is there a finish on it? How long has it been since that finish was applied? Has additional finish been applied since the original application? How often? Does the area receive a high amount of traffic? The reason I stated that saltillo tile is a high maintenance floor is because to really clean it, it must be done by a professional using the proper equipment. Most homeowners aren’t going to have a floor buffer with the appropriate pads and heavy duty rinse extraction machine to suck up all of the gunk. If the existing gloss coating is in good condition with no chips or peeling, then we recommend not stripping the gloss but, instead, performing a deep cleaning followed by a fresh coat of finish. Stripping the old finish off the floor becomes necessary when there is a lot of chipping and/or holes in the finish. The amount of gloss that has accumulated on the floor plays an important role as well. There may be layers upon layers of trapped dirt that cannot be removed simply through cleaning. A professional will have to determine which service is appropriate for your floor.

Outdoor saltillo tile is usually sealed with a heavy duty exterior penetrating sealer. We recommend a water based product because of the high porosity of the tile. This sealer should not be confused with that of a topical coating. We do not recommend topical applications outdoors as they deteriorate quickly due to the elements and become extremely slippery when wet. This type of a coating around a pool is an invitation to the ER. We sometimes find that a gloss coating has been applied on an exterior saltillo patio. If the patio is located under the protection of a cover, in a yard without a pool, then it is conceivable that the coating can remain on the tile and a cleaning and recoat can be performed. If, however, the coating is in an area that is exposed sunlight or water from landscaping sprinklers it is likely that the old coating will have deteriorated to the point that stripping it from the floor is necessary.Outdoor Saltillo Tile

Saltillo is a beautiful surface when properly maintained. Call Us today with any questions you may have abut your saltillo tile or to have a technician give an in home estimate.