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You’ve probably heard the rumors about Saltillo floors.  Soak it, Strip it, Spacers, Seal it…  I could go on and on with the old wives tales and myths.  The truth is that all things change with the passing of time. NOW, Saltillo tile floors are created to be more durable, longer-lasting, less maintenance… and GORGEOUS!  Though Mexican Saltillo tile floors offer a timeless look,  installation techniques have improved over the years.

As the largest producer and distributor for handmade Saltillo flooring, we are the experts.   Did you know that we ship our Mexican tiles worldwide too? Check out all of our Mexican Tile varieties. Need a price estimate for your floor?  Contact us today!

mexican tile

Here are 5 things you should no longer do with saltillo tile…. because, well, you don’t have to!

1.  Do not buy unsealed tile because presealed tiles will save you $$! If you’re trying to save a buck, then let me offer a pro tip.  Buying unsealed saltillo tile is problematic for several reasons.  The raw clay is extremely absorbent.  What you’re saving by purchasing unsealed tile will be spent (in excess) by buying enough sealer to protect the clay properly.  Rustico Tile® presealed tiles have 5 coats of penetrating sealer already coated into the tile.  Here’s the math if you are considering unsealed clay tiles.

5 coats of sealer + Labor cost for application of sealer + Time required for the sealer to dry = BIG $$$

To be blatantly honest, most of our customers who attempt to seal their unsealed saltillo tile floors regret it.  Then, they call us to troubleshoot their messed up floors.  Fixing saltillo floors is not without considerable expense and stress.  Why go through this madness when you can buy a great quality presealed saltillo tile that is ready to install?

spanish style kitchenunsealed saltillo tile

Our recipe for success is simple.  Buy Presealed Tile, Install it, Apply final topcoat sealer.  Done.  (And our topcoat sealers have lifespans up to 15 years so there’s very little maintenance with this process.  Trust the pros at Rustico Tile®.)

2.  Do not soak saltillo tile. Once upon a time installers would soak saltillo tile in water prior to setting it with thinset.  This was done to serve the purpose of what penetrating sealer accomplishes for the tiles now.  If Saltillo tiles are soaked in water, you can expect to deal with efflorescence issues throughout the lifespan of your floor.  This is an imperative point.  Don’t trap excess water in the clay during the installation process.  To reiterate point #1 above, just don’t buy unsealed saltillo tile.  Buy it presealed and install it as-is.

install saltillo tile

3.  Don’t use spacers when you install your saltillo tile. Because saltillo floors are handmade, there are variations in size and thickness from one tile to the next.  This begets the use of spacers as problematic.  Your floor installation may go smoothly at first, but the tiles will start spreading out in a funky way several square feet into the installation space.  Rather than use spacers, a good installer will draw grid lines or snap chalk lines on the subfloor for guidance as the tile is set.  See above.  Any adept tile installer will install saltillo tile flourishingly if our tips are followed.  He or she just needs to apply a craftsmanship approach as the tile is being laid. (This is not true of all types of Mexican floor tile.  Our beautiful Cement Tiles & Cantera Stone tiles can be installed with spacers. See what’s on sale this month in our stock MeaLu Collection cement tiles!)

Setting Saltillo Tile without Spacers

4.  Do not strip your tile. Really… don’t do it.  We only recommend stripping saltillo clay tile as a last resort to repair or refinish a floor.  In most instances, a floor can be fixed by using other methods that will not damage or discolor the tile.  The risks presented with chemically stripping saltillo floors include bleaching/discoloration of the clay, sealer delamination from the clay, and ongoing maintenance issues created from residual stripping chemical trapped in the clay.  Look at other maintenance options before you consider stripping your saltillo floors.


Antique Saltillo Tile riviera pattern

5.  Do not use harsh chemicals to clean your sealed saltillo floor. This is really a common sense approach to tile sealer.  The lifespan of a good quality sealer will last several years.  Preserve the life of your sealer by using diluted cleaning chemicals or no chemicals at all.  I love the disinfecting power of a steam mop on my saltillo floors.  No chemicals are used with steam mops so the life of the sealer is preserved.

hexagon tile pattern terracotta floor tile

I hope you find these tips to be beneficial.  Installing and living on saltillo floors should something you’re proud to own and love to show off to friends.  After all, you must have exquisite taste if you’ve purchased handmade saltillo flooring.  Follow these tips to avoid headaches and ongoing, unnecessary maintenance for the life of your floor.  And don’t forget… Make Every Space Count!

buy sealed saltillo floor tile

Presealed Saltillo with TerraNano Gloss Finish Topcoat Sealer


To sum it up…

saltillo tile advice

Contact us today to get a price estimate for your next home remodel project calling for Mexican tiles.  We offer wholesale-direct prices and we SHIP WORLDWIDE. Check out our decorative Cement Tiles for spaces like bathrooms & kitchens!

Be sure to check out these related articles!
Design Tips Using Spanish Floor Tile
Get Decorative with Painted Talavera Tiles
Saltillo Tile Kitchen Floors
Saltillo Tile for Bedroom & Bathroom Flooring


  • Linda Pizzola says:

    Hi! I am thinking about tiling my staircase with saltillo tile. My living area is all tiled (1983) and I think this will look best. 17 stairs, 37″ wide. So looking for the rounded front tiles. Can you estimate a price? Can we pick them up here in Austin or even in Pharr? Thanks for your help!

    • Melanie says:

      Hi Linda – Thanks for your inquiry. To get a price estimate, can you please send us your city/zip for delivery? I also need to know which shape/size and Saltillo tile color finish you’re most interested in! You can submit the information through our Get a Quote form or give us a call at 512-260-9111. Thanks!!

    • Tom Boone says:

      We have a large Sautillo tile floor that requires stripping and resealing by professionals. Floor finish partially damaged by improper use of thin waffle type plastic rug pad. This waffling effect damage is down to raw tile surface. Total floor size is: approximately 22’x48′ with all on one level composed of std 12″x12″ unstained tiles. Damaged area is 15’x12′ and the rest is worn through. Furniture removal and replacement is required. Time-frame is open.

  • John says:

    A couple outside saltillo floors have discolored is there any way to darkened them and sealed them

    • Melanie says:

      Hi John,
      With some sealers, you can add stain to color enhance the tile. But you can also just test out a color-enhancing sealer as well. Depending on the quality of your original sealer, you may also need to reseal the entire floor. We have a couple of very long-lasting sealers… just be sure to test anything that you use on the existing tile before you seal the full floor.

      Some of our Saltillo Tile Maintenance & Sealer Tips.

      Hope that helps! ~ Rustico

  • Terri Hyde says:

    We purchased our tile through you. It looks like it needs to be re-sealed, reading above, you do not recommend stripping..do you just apply sealer on top of the old sealer? (we have some white marks in the sealer) What about lime washing the tiles…to get a more muted look? Do you recommend this and can it be reversed if you tire of the look?

    • Melanie says:

      Hi Terri – It’s nice to hear from you again. Can you send us a photo of your existing tile? Someone from our team will reach out to you today via email! And no, we don’t ordinarily recommend stripping Saltillo tile floors. 🙂

  • Darla. Von Moos says:

    Hi Melanie,
    Unfortunately, we are one of those people who purchased unsealed Saltillo tile! A few years back we ordered and purchased one of your sealers. The non gloss one. It is time to reseal it. Your customer service was wonderful!
    We are wondering if you would recommend a different sealant that we could purchase from Rustico. Maybe a longer lasting one.
    Kind regards, Darla Von Moos, Chehalis WA

  • Darla. Von Moos says:

    Hi Melanie,
    Unfortunately, we are one of those people who purchased unsealed Saltillo tile! A few years back we ordered and purchased one of your sealers. The non gloss one. It is time to reseal it.
    We are wondering if you would recommend a different sealant that we could purchase from Rustico. Maybe a longer lasting one.
    Kind regards, Darla

  • Hi , I had Saltillo tiles installed and I requested sealed tiles . However, every little water mark shows on the tiles . When I called the company to inquire about this he insisted the tiles were sealed and I should clean with mild soap and water. I am afraid to use any water on them . Do you think these tiles were sealed ?

    • Melanie says:

      Hi Karen – It’s really hard to say. Unfortunately, there are some ‘imposters’ out there. Some companies sell what we call “primed” tiles. These tiles may be good quality Saltillo tile but likely only have 1-2 coats of sealer applied to the clay. As a contrast, our presealed tiles have 5 coats of penetrating sealer coated into the clay. That’s a “sealed” tile. The downside to “primed” tiles is that they need the investment of more coats of sealer… in which case, you also bear the burden of making certain that any new sealer is chemically compatible with what’s already on the tile. Without being properly sealed, the tile can stain. If soap and water isn’t removing the spots, consider lightly sanding the area with the spots… cautiously. With any luck, those spots are just on the surface of the tile. Also, hard water is known to leave minerals on the surface and there are cleaners geared to removing these mineral deposits.

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