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Sealed Saltillo Tile: The Buying Guide

sealed vs. unsealed Mexican terracotta tile

The reason to purchase sealed Saltillo tile vs unsealed Saltillo tile is summed up in 3 points.

1. Less Expensive | 2. Less Maintenance | 3. Easier to Install

Let’s unpack this more thoroughly.

What is sealed Saltillo tile and how it is different from unsealed tile?

Sealed Saltillo tile, or terracotta tile, is a type of clay tile that has been treated with a protective sealant. This sealant fortifies the terracotta tile and prevents stains, moisture absorption, and everyday wear and tear damage. On the other hand, Unsealed Saltillo tile lacks this protective coating and is more susceptible to staining and damage since it isn’t fortified with several coats of penetrating sealer.

Learn more by watching our video about Sealed and Unsealed tile differences.

Save Money with Sealed Saltillo Floor Tile

let's do some math

Up front, (our) sealed Saltillo tile is a little more expensive than unsealed tile. But in the long run, it’s the least expensive option for the full flooring project.

The quality difference between our sealed and unsealed Saltillo tiles is striking.

We are known for the quality of our presealed Saltillo tiles. Each tile is delivered to you with 5+ coats of penetrating sealer already soaked into the clay.

How does this benefit you? The clay tile is fortified, protected, and ready to install with no time-consuming prep work. Since it’s already a fully sealed terracotta tile, your installer can most often skip the expense, time, and labor of applying grout release (except for our Antique (textured) terracotta tile… that still needs grout release for the texture.)

** Still considering unsealed Saltillo tile? If you intend to purchase unsealed Saltillo tile to save money, please consider this. Even with a very inexpensive, low-quality sealer, you’ll need multiple coats applied BEFORE you can install the tile. That alone costs an average of $3-$5 per square foot.

Then, throw in the labor cost to seal those tiles. Most installers charge $1 – $3 per square foot to seal tile floors.

** Why do I need to apply SEVERAL coats of sealer? Please don’t make the mistake of applying 1 or 2 coats of sealer. The tiles may be protected from some water absorption but with only 1 or 2 coats of sealer, it’s unlikely that you’re getting the fortification benefit of many coats of a small molecular-bodied sealer that penetrates deep into the clay tile.  Unsealed Saltillo tiles must be fortified in this process to deliver the durability qualities of Saltillo riverbed clay.

See where we’re going with this? It makes no sense financially when we can supply our fully sealed Mexican tiles for a lower-priced project value.

Our recipe for success is simple.

  1. Buy presealed Saltillo tile. (Super Saltillo with round edges and Regular Saltillo with square edges are the same price.)
  2. Install the sealed terracotta tiles.
  3. Clean the floor and allow it to dry.
  4. Apply the final topcoat sealer for sheen preference, added scratch-resistance, UV protection, and grout sealing. Enjoy the look and feel of terracotta flooring.
buy sealed saltillo tile

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Presealed Saltillo Floors are Easier to Install

set your installer up for success

If your installer starts talking about “soaking” Saltillo tiles, run for the hills!

Avoid this old-school way of thinking. It results in cosmetic issues and costly maintenance issues for the life of your floor.  The advanced technology of sealers replaces any ancient logic of water soaking methods.

Our fully sealed Saltillo tiles are ready to install with no prep work required. This reduces the tremendous risk of installation error for your tile contractor.

In addition to ease of installation, presealed tiles are exceedingly fortified for lifelong durability over unsealed, raw clay.

Installing this type of flooring is very basic. Follow standard tile installation procedures. Avoid using spacers to accommodate for handmade size and thickness variations. Then, complete the process with a high-quality top coat sealer.

→ Here’s a quick visual – watch this short video below to see the cumbersome process for applying a sealer to unsealed Saltillo flooring.

Why is Topcoat Sealer Important?

low-maintenance flooring solutions

We believe in topcoat sealer when paired with our sealed Saltillo floor tiles.

Additionally, the topcoat sealer must be high-quality for it to matter and be effective.

No one wants to move furniture out of rooms and turn life upside down every 12 months to re-seal a floor. Whether it’s our topcoat Saltillo tile sealer or sealer from another company, invest in quality.

Quality indicators include long lifespans, strong abrasion & UV resistance properties, and easy application methods. We offer sealers for Saltillo tiles that range in lifespan from 5-15 years.

Plus, we only sell sealers that are chemically compatible with our presealed tiles. This is important!  If you’re considering our sealers for your floor (when not purchased with our tile), test it thoroughly before the full application to verify chemical compatibility.

Indicators of incompatibility include (but are not limited to) peeling, flaking, tacky to the touch, bubbling, or beading. Again, if you don’t have a full history for your existing Saltillo floor and you want to apply our topcoat sealers, test a small area first and allow it to cure for several days to evaluate compatibility.

→ Learn more about our Topcoat Sealer options.  Consult with your tile contractor for advice specific to your project space. Rustico Tile & Stone is not liable for sealer adhesion or application errors for spaces not completed by our installation team of tile professionals.

Check out these photos to view unsealed tiles, sealed tiles, and finished tiles with topcoat sealer.

Should Unsealed Saltillo Tile Ever be an Option?

only in rare instances

There are only 2 reasons for which we recommend purchasing unsealed handmade Saltillo tiles.

  1. If you have an older clay tile floor that you’re expanding or repairing, you may need to purchase unsealed tiles to match the marks of authenticity by experimenting with various sealers for color adjustments.
  2. Buy unsealed Saltillo tile if you desire to custom stain your floor for styles specific to your project space.

That’s it. Otherwise, buy presealed Saltillo tile to save time, money, maintenance, and headaches! As the Mexican tile experts based out of Austin, Texas, you can trust our years of experience.

Enough Talk, Let's Build Something Together

Thank you for considering Rustico Tile & Stone for your Mexican Saltillo tile needs. As experts in the field, we understand the importance of finding the perfect tile for your project.

We offer a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors to fit your design needs. Whether you’re looking for traditional square tiles, terracotta pavers, or unique hexagons, we have options for any project, decor styles, and budget. We are experts at helping people find ways to incorporate Mexican tiles into interior design projects.

If you need help selecting the perfect tile or have questions about our sealers, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our team is here to help!

Shop our selection today and see the difference that sealed Saltillo tile can make in your space. 

Enough Talk. Let's Build Something Together

Make Every Space Count.

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