How To Seal Saltillo Tiles With A Topical Glossy Or Matte Sealer

Saltillo Tile Sealing Tips

By Troy Cantini

Saltillo tiles are extremely porous tiles that will soak up and absorb any type of liquids like a sponge.  It is impractical to try sealing Saltillo with any type of impregnating sealer. Impregnating sealers will simply soak into the Saltillo and it would take many coats of sealer to get any sealing benefits with an impregnating sealer. Topical sealers work best for sealing Saltillo and they also give the dull Saltillo tiles a glossy or matte finish.

before and after sealing saltillo tiles

Unsealed Saltillo tiles will quickly absorb all types of dirt, grease spills and contaminates.  Sealing them with a topical sealer proved them with a protective water proof coating that makes them much easier to clean and maintain. Dirt and spills will simply sit on top of the topical coating and be easy to clean up and remove.

Unsealed Saltillo tiles will look dull and lifeless without a topical sealer applied.  Saltillo tiles are made with natural clay and can tend to have a chalky dull look to them. Topical sealers come in glossy and matte finishes and they both provide a level of gloss to the otherwise dull looking saltillo. Topical sealers will also enhance the colors of Saltillo tiles making them look much more colorful and vibrant.

Before sealing the Saltillo tiles you should ensure that they are clean, dry and not left in an acidic state.  You do not want dirt and contaminates on the saltillo to interfere with the bonding of the topical sealer with the saltillo. If the Saltillo is wet then water in the saltillo can evaporate through the sealer and cause bubbles and other imperfections in the sealer. Additionally if acidic cleaners were used to clean the Saltillo then make sure the last cleaning step involved using an alkaline cleaner to neutralize the acids. If the Saltillo is left in an acidic state then the topical sealer will not properly bond with the Saltillo.

excess colorsealer on tile surfaces

Sealing tiles with a topical sealer is more difficult than sealing them with an ordinary impregnating sealer.  A topical sealer should be applied in thin even coats over the entire surface of the tiles. It can take many coats of sealer to get a nice even glossy look on the tiles. You should not be tempted to apply thick layers of sealer to the tiles. Thick layers of a topical sealer will not properly adhere to the tiles and the sealer can crack, peal off the surface of the saltillo.

Water based acrylic topical sealers work best for sealing Saltillo.  They come in glossy or matte finishes and they are not impossible to strip and re apply like polyurethane based topical sealers. Acrylic based topical sealers are also less toxic and easier to apply than polyurethane based sealers. While acrylic based topical sealers come in glossy and matte finishes most people opt for the glossy finish when it comes to sealing Saltillo.

You should only seal Saltillo tiles in a cool clean environment per the manufactures instructions.  Avoid sealing the tiles in direct sunlight or in hot environments. It is important that the sealer does not dry too fast on the tiles. The sealer should dry slowly so that it forms a clean even film on the tiles. It is also important that the Saltillo tiles are not in an acidic state before sealing them . If you used any type or acidic cleaner on the tiles then it is important to first clean the tiles with a mild alkaline cleaner to neutralize the tiles. Trying to clean Saltillo tiles in an acidic state can cause the sealer to not properly adhere to the Saltillo.

removing excess grout renew colorsealer

A clean microfiber cloth works best for applying the sealer.  You can apply the sealer directly to the microfiber cloth to saturate the cloth with sealer. You can then use the microfiber cloth to evenly apply the sealer to the tiles. Work quickly in only small sections. After you apply the sealer to the tiles then you should quickly wring out the cloth and go over the tiles to remove any sealer puddles and areas where the sealer is sitting on the tiles too thick. You should attempt to not see any sealer puddles in the grout lines and you should not see any sealer bubbles on the surface of the tiles. A thin even coat of sealer is what you want to see on the surface of the tiles.

applying grout with grout float

After you apply a coat of sealer to the tiles then allow the sealer to dry on the tiles before applying subsequent coats of sealer.  In normal conditions it should take no more than 30 minutes for the sealer to dry on the tiles.  If it takes much longer for the sealer to dry then you are applying the sealer too thickly or in too cold of an environment. Keep applying thin layers of sealer to the tiles until you are satisfied with the look and finish of the tiles. In some cases it can take as many as 10 coats of sealer to get an even looking high gloss finish on the saltillo tiles.

After achieving a satisfactory look to the saltillo allow the sealer to dry for 24 hours before walking on the Saltillo.  When cleaning Saltillo tiles that have been topically sealed a gentle pH neutral cleaning solution is all that it should takes for normal everyday cleaning. Avoid using harsh alkaline or acidic cleaners on the sealed Saltillo. These types of cleaners are not necessary for daily cleanings and they can break down the sealer and cause it to have a cloudy or hazy appearance.

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