How To Strip A Topical Sealer Off Of Saltillo Tiles
Saltillo Tile Stripping Tips
By Troy Cantini
Over time the topical sealer on Saltillo tiles will get embedded dirt and grime in it that is impossible to clean. The only way to clean the Saltillo is to strip the dirty sealer off the tiles. Stripping Saltillo tiles requires using aggressive floor stripper products, aggressive scrub pads, a lot of patience and a lot of elbow grease.
Before stripping Saltillo tiles you should first try to determine what type of topical sealer has been applied. There are two types of topical sealers that are typically applied to Saltillo. Water based acrylic sealers and solvent based polyurethane sealers are the two most populary types of topical sealers that are applied to Saltillo. Water based acrylic sealers are much easier to strip and remove than solvent based polyurethane sealers. A normal water based floor stripper like Aquamix's Sealings and Coatings Remover can be used for stripping water based acrylic sealers.
Polyurethane based topical sealers are much more difficult to remove. To remove a polyurethane based sealer off of saltillo you will be required to use toxic paint strippers, a respirator and protective clothing. The easiest way to see if you have a polyurethane based sealer applied is to apply a water based floor stripper to the sealer. If you see that it does not soften up then you are probably dealing with a polyurethane based sealer. If you see that the water based floor stripper softens up the sealer so that it can be scrubed away then you probably have a water based acrylic sealer applied.
If you see that a water based floor strippers does not soften up the topical sealer than you probably have a polyurethane based sealer that is much more difficult to remove. Polyurethane based sealers require paint stripper products with MEK to be soften up and remove the sealer. When working with MEK based strippers thick rubber glove, protective clothing, eye protection and a respirator should definitely be used for removing the polyurethane based sealer. If you discover that you have a polyurethane based sealer you should seriously consider hiring a professional to strip the tiles or consider just replacing the existing Saltillo tiles.
A water based floor stripper like Aquamix's Sealings and Coatings Remover works well for stripping saltillo There are Water based floor strippers are much less toxic than solvent based paint strippers. There are a minimal amount of fumes but you should still wear rubber gloves, eye protection and knee pads when stripping saltillo. You should follow the directions on the floor stripper and try not to allow the floor stripper dry on the surface of the saltillo.
To strip the sealer off of Saltillo tiles you should apply the stripper solution on to the tiles and allow it to dwell there. It can take a while for the stripper to work at softening up and breaking down the sealer. In many cases it can take an hour or more for the stripper to break down and soften the sealer on the tiles. An extremely aggressive scrub pad should then be used to scrub away the loosened up sealer and remove it. For large Saltillo floors a floor machine over an aggressive black pad can be used to remove the softened up sealer.
It is important to not let the stripper dry on the surface of the tiles. Keep adding stripper as required to ensure that it does not dry on the tiles. Use the aggressive scrub pads to scrub away the loosened up sealer until it has all been removed. Extract away all the broken down sealer and thoroughly rinse the excess stripper off of the tiles. Allow the tiles to thoroughly dry before re sealing them.
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