Sealing Saltillo tiles

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Mar 11, 2006, 9:37 AM

What product can I use to seal saltillo floors that will not sit on top like polyurethane or varnish? I have been told motor oil, used motor oil, fabric softener…like Downey or Suavitel, and then Glomosoa. Has anyone had any experience with any of these products??

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Mar 11, 2006, 10:05 AM

Kerosene is also used. I don’t have any personal experience, but I have been told that kerosene is better than motor oil because it does not darken the tile as much.

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Mar 11, 2006,

In the states, you buy it buy the gallon at Home Depot- brand name: JASCO.I did my entire house in Phoenix with Satillo tile. Very attractive. It has been rented out for two years. We will sell it soon.

Kerosine mixed with floor wax would work. Try it on a scrap piece first. To remove it for rewax, use ammonia water.

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Mar 11, 2006, 4:27 PM

Do you recommend sanding the tiles first?

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Mar 12, 2006, 9:04 AM

Yes if they are stained . I use Kerosine floor wax and for some reason chapopote.

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Mar 12, 2006, 4:06 PM

No. They are very pourous. I as speaking of new tile. But stripping with ammonia seems to work.


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Mar 12, 2006, 4:51 PM

The kerosene odour also seems to keep the little legged critters at bay.
The smell for you and your pets goes after an hour or two (not 100% kerosene please) but how would you like to crawl along with your smeller(s)rubbing along a kerosene soaked floor?
After 13 years I find that the tiles are still “young and fresh looking”

But I don’t think I will try it on myself – I will just have to age gracefully the old fashioned way.

David McL

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Ed and Fran

Mar 13, 2006, 6:49 AM

Kerosine, floor wax, chapapote… proportions?

Tell me this chapapote is not the black tar that they put on roads.


Ed (although it’s probably too late for our tiles)

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jennifer rose

Mar 13, 2006, 10:29 AM

Yep, the chapapote is the same as road tar.

The chapapote, wax (the kind resembling adipose tissue), and kerosene combination is also used for finishing furniture. All of the ingredients are cheap and easily obtained. I have no idea what proportions are used, but the worker applying it will know. The amount of chapapote to be added depends upon how dark you want the finished product to be, ranging from barely blonde to almost black. In time, it will harden and not leave a waxy appearance, and the combination can be added later to rejuvenate an old look. In fact, the table on which my computer sits as I write this message, an antique no doubt used by Jose Ma. Morelos himself (That’s a standing joke in this house, after my worker reminisced about creating antiques for the late Ray Cote, the founder of Morelia’s Villa Montana.), is refurbished with the mixture every few years. We have also used this mixture, applied with a toothbrush, to carved, unfinished Indian coffee tables with great success.

Last summer, I asked my gardener to try the mixture on macetas in the garden. It worked wonderfully, covering up mold and blemishes. We decided that it would work even better if we left the macetas to dry out in the hot sun during the dry season.

While the mixture makes a great floor finish, my problem with that is that the floors never seem quite clean enough to walk on with bare or stocking feet. I first encountered floors finished in this method at the Villa Montana in Morelia, and I still love the smell. For public places, this is a great combination, but I do not recommend it for residential areas.

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Ed and Fran

Mar 13, 2006, 11:01 AM

Post #11 of 29 (46721 views)

wax (the kind resembling adipose tissue)

We’re looking for some kind of semi-solid wax here? Not some liquid flor wax?

I have no idea what proportions are used, but the worker applying it will know.

Yours, maybe. I’m not sure it’s a well known technique here. We’ll see if someone else comes back with a mix.

I asked my gardener to try the mixture on macetas in the garden. It worked wonderfully, covering up mold and blemishes.

That sounds like an interesting possibility. We have lots of mold around here.

I do not recommend it for residential areas.

It’s for the patio outside.



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jennifer rose

Mar 13, 2006, 11:20 AM

No, not liquid floor wax. It looks like yellow fat, like schmaltz, and it’s available in bulk at any old-time hardware store.

All right, just for you, I went outside and asked Ramiro, who denied that the solution every contained kerosene, insisting it was peligroso. Frankly, I think he just got religion or forgot, because I know we used kerosene before. He said the amount of chapapote depends upon the color you want, more for darker, less for lighter. He uses fibra, loose wads of fiber, also available at the hardware store, to apply it by hand.

A year or so ago, I came upon a bottle of some US brand of liquid floor wax in my bodega. Not wanting to apply it to the floors, because I feared it would turn them yellowish in time, but not wanting to let it go to waste, we applied it to the macetas, just to see what would happen. It worked perfectly, and that gave me the idea about using the cheap wax for the macetas.

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Mar 13, 2006, 8:27 PM

The Johnson’s floor wax is the yellow semi hard wax that has been used on wood flooors NOB for eons. They do use it on furniture and floors in Mexico. My question is that when you put the kerosene on the saltillo tile floor is the wax mixed with the kerosene or applied later. All the floors in SMA were done this way when we came here 20 years ago. The tar is the tar that you heat to dissolve..just like road tar. With polyurethane this is being lost. It never lifted up like varnish does. Worked great.

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Mar 20, 2006, 7:32 AM

This is not directly relevant to the question (which was asking about floor saltillos) but I thought people might be interested in our experience working with saltillos in a different way. We just put in a new kitchen in our home doing all the work ourselves (on an island in British Columbia) which seemed to morph into a MExican style all by itself (grin)…anyway, once we started down that path, we couldn’t stop ourselves. We made a unique backsplash and countertop on the island using ordinary cheap saltillos from Home Depot. We cut the tiles into bricks roughly 4″ by 8″ with a dry saw using a concrete blade…this was very important as it kept the tiles dry and reduced efflorescence later. Then we laid them in a diagonal herringbone pattern. After my husband laid them, I sealed them with a 50/50 linseed oil and mineral spirits mix (3 coats) and then my husband grouted them. I then sealed the grout with ordinary sealer. After that I applied by hand three coats of paste wax. The effect is absolutely stunning…a very rich rustic finish and WE LOVE IT….

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Mar 29, 2006, 6:56 AM

I found that Prisa (paint store) sells wax by the kilo.(cera), as well as muriatic acid. I strip the floors with the acid (1 part acid to 3 part water).
Then wax with wax and solvente mix (1 part wax to 4 part solvente), dry well and then buff.
Heat the wax and solvente in container set in water, (no direct heat) so it becomes a mix.
These directions were obtained from the paint store clerk and various lady customers, both Méxicano and NOb.
It works well and you can vary amounts depending on the circumstance.
I am happy to find out about the chapapote. Does it darken the tile? That would be groovy!

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Mar 29, 2006, 8:36 AM

The tar does darken the tile and it looks very antique.

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Feb 20, 2007, 3:24 PM

Okay, so I have read this entire forum about sealing tiles, and I am wondering if anyone is willing to re-visit the topic? As I have NEW saltillo/baldosa tiles newly laid and waiting to be sealed with SOMETHING! My builder does not seem to be confident or certain of what to recommend, and we do NOT want to use poly. I have seen the wax, chapapote, kerosene recommendations, but then they seem to not be clean enough to walk on without shoes? Has anyone tried this of late?
I recently heard of motor oil with diesel? and a Linseed oil, turpentine, motor oil combo? and when y’all talk of macetas, do you mean the large terra cotta flower pots?
ANY feedback with experience and results would be SO welcome, as I really want to get this right. My partner tends toward allergic reactions, so there is that to consider as well. This is my first post, as I usually just read whatever. I apologize if it is lengthy and if there are errors in etiquette, etc,! thanks in advance

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Mar 1, 2007, 6:11 AM

Sparks MexSeal and Stone Glamor are by far the best I’ve ever seen. We have 2500 square feet of traditional Saltillo floors in our New Mexico house. I applied this system once 10 years ago and it has held up unbelievably well. But I really had to look for it.

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Mar 1, 2007, 4:40 PM

I have sealed brick and saltillo with used motor oil. You put it on and let it absorb as much as possible. You can use clean motor oil. Then take naptha or turpentine and clean up any access oil or residue. Put one or two coats of glomosa or johnson’s one coat floor wax. It is a wonderful way to treat your floors. Try it on a tile or two, clean it , put wax on a tile or two and see if you like it. We were given the recipe in Omaha in a restaurant that had beautiful brick floors…no upkeep because of this treatment. My parents, grandchildren all walked on it barefooted..why not. It is not greasy or dirty…If you paint polyurethane or something on it..water peels it off and you have a mess. If you are in Mexico go to other houses and see how they have treated the floors. I have heard of people that seal their floors with Downy is silicone and they swear by it. They have been sealing floors in Mexico for years..Poly is new and it is easy and looks good when the builder leaves the house but not 6 months later..i have heard of a poly that costs like gold but works pretty well.

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Mar 1, 2007, 6:58 PM

Thanks Septiembre and Cynthia7 as well. Yes, I AM in Mexico, and I must not be talking to the ones (here)who KNOW! Your recipe of motor oil is very appealing to me, but my partner hears the word WAX and freaks out that this will mean frequent maintenance; more and more wax applications taking us WAY back to “waxy buildup”, yellowing, and work! One person here swears that if you simply have the saltillo mopped every day with Fabuloso, there will be a natural coating build up that has lustre, etc. We are resistant to such a rigorous approach , yet don’t want the dust of leaving it untreated. Maybe the Downy or motor oil will win out. I will try a sample tile tomorrow.
One guy here tells of an Impregnador de Concreto (which is pricey) sold at Home Depot. Ingredients are not listed, but it does claim to have a silicone base but needs to be re-applied within three years. Anyone know of this stuff? I still want a natural treatment. Our Mexican crew seems to say that the old timers used NOTHING and made out okay, but we are seeing lots of dust in homes that try this. Anyone tried the Selador?
And anyone with firsthand Downy trials?

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Mar 2, 2007, 7:27 PM

We just applied Behr Wet-Look Sealer to the saltillo tiles on our portico and our interior patio. It looks great, just like we hosed off the tiles. We’ll see how well it lasts.

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Jul 15, 2007, 4:19 PM

Our kids have saltillo tile on both floors of their small Nayarit hotel. The tile has been sealed for more than two years with lots of traffic and is holding up well. I applied much of the sealer and it is either epoxy or polyurethane and available from both Prisa and Comex. It comes with a hardener that must be mixed with the resin and applied within a few hours. We used two coats 24 hours apart. The first coat all soaked in and sealed the tile and the second coat hardened the surface and gave it a low gloss, rustic finish. They wash it with pinol and water and dry mop it with a small amount of oil. They’ve been quite satisfied with it but it aint cheap.

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