Apr 20, 2006, 2:03 PM
Post #3 of 3
I installed saltillo tiles throughout a cottage and on 2 outside decks at our old house in San Anselmo, Calif. I did seal them 3 times and it is a bit of work. Basically you paint them all with sealer before installing, let them dry. Set them in the floor with a good sized grout space, once they are set, you paint them all again including the empty grout space. Then you grout it, let it dry and paint the whole floor. I actually did that last step twice. The inside sealer held up pretty well for around 5 years and then I resealed them. The outside decks were looking like bare tiles within 2 years and I resealed them with something different which I can't remember now but which worked a lot better but had a shinier surface than I preferred. The shine wore off in a year or two and they stayed waterproof for another 6 or 7 years, I hadn't resealed them again when I sold the house and they looked fine.
Realize that saltillo tiles are not level and they are not even. There are problems getting furniture level on them, lots of shimming to be done. Also, anything that hits the floor will break. I had them in the kitchen and had exploded mayonnaise jars and jam jars and other goodies to clean up several times. The tiles rode out our earthquakes pretty well, no big cracks in the grout - that's one reason I used large grout spaces. However, anything that fell during a rattler was done for.
You can get regular flat floor tiles with a "saltillo look" at any Home Depot type store in the US. I don't like the way they look but they are level and uniform in shape and size, something real saltillos are not.
Oh, forgot to mention I actually added one more step in prepping the tiles, I whitewashed them with diluted water based paint before sealing them. It is a great look and you can do a lot of nice things to the color if you start with unsealed tiles. I've seen some with a brown wash that also looked nice, it ended up a reddish brown color. A dark red wash and you get the oxblood look. You can't do any of these treatments on sealed tiles.
Jonna - Mérida, Yucatán