Apr 072010

Saltillo tile comes from Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico.  They range in colors from orange to reds and some yellow shades, the color range of the tile comes from its placement during the firing process.  The variety of colors make it a great choice for almost any style of decor.  Saltillo floor tile comes in lots of different shapes and sizes giving endless options for a custom design installation.  The tile is hand formed in wooden frames from clay that is dug right from the ground and set outside to dry.  It is common for dogs or other animals to walk on the tiles as they bake in the sun leaving foot prints in the tile.  These foot print tiles are popular, many people will set these in high traffic areas to make sure they are visible.

Saltillo Tile Designs

The two basic shapes are super and regular, super saltillo is going to have a round edge and rounded corners and regular saltillo has square edges and corners.  Saltillo Mexican tile does not have a glazed finish making it avery porous tile, because of this it is a good idea to seal the floor tile and grout after installation.  There are a couple of different types and sheen of sealers to choose from oil based sealers and water based sealers.  I would recommend only using the water based sealer indoors and using the oil based outdoors or indoors.

Installing saltillo tile is different from other ceramic tiles, because it is hand made they can be different sizes, colors, not square, not all flat, chipped edges and occasional cracksand these are not defects this is what makes it unique.  These unique properties can make it difficult to maintain straight grout lines during your saltillo tile floor installation.  To help offset the different sizes you normally want to install saltillo tile with a half inch grout lines, this will give you some play to make adjustments if needed.  The bigger grout lines also means you will need a special grout that’s made for saltillo tile, its made with larger sand  particles than regular grout.

I also recommend getting an extra 10% of tile for waste and 18% if your installing at a diagonal or other patterns.

You will want to start out like any other tile install with good floor prep and lay out the tiles to find the best place to start.  I use a 1/2 x 1/2 trowel  and even with the bigger trowel some saltillo tiles will be cupped and you may still have to back butter some as you install them.  Its always a good idea to pull up a couple tiles as so go to make sure your getting proper coverage on the back, the national standard is 80 to 95 percent of coverage with a minimum of 3/32-inch thick of thinset  on the back of the tile.

To make your cuts you will need to use a wet saw with a diamond blade, they are available to rent at most local rental stores.

Sealing Saltillo tile you can seal your tile before installation or after, but I would recommend sealing it first.  When you  are 

Mexican Tile Stairway

installing unsealed saltillo there is a chance you could stain the tiles during installation.  Grouting the tiles is also much easier when sealed, if you decide to install and grout first you will have to wait a couple days for the tile to dry out before you can seal it.  Another thing to think about is if your using oil based sealer it is very flammable when wet and has a very strong smell so special care must be used if sealing indoors.  Sealers can be sprayed but that takes special equipment most home owners don’t have, so most will use a 3/8 inch nap roller to apply the sealer.  The first coat will absorb very quickly, you will want to do a minimum of two or three coats.  Its a good idea to try not to get sealer on the sides of the tile when sealing this can affect the grout from sticking to the tile grout joint making a week joint.

If you have any question feel free to leave a comment I will do my best to answer

  5 Responses to “Saltillo Tile”

  1. I had a tiler put in 16 saltillo tiles after having to replace the toilet. He did his best to match with the other saltillo tiles. The problem is he did not know to seal it before he grouted it but vice versa. The finishing product is dirty/ dusty looking saltillo tiles. It does not look good. What can I do?

  2. I installed saltillo unsealed tiles and I’ve put about 3-4 coats of sealer down but it still does not have a glazed shinny look that I’ve seen sealed tiles have. My tiles still have a peachy tone to them. Can you recommend a product I can use to give me that sealed patina look.
    Or do you get that look with wear and tear?


  3. Can terracotta tiles be used for driveways and bear the weight of parking cars on them? If so is there a special way of installing them different then normal?
    Thank You,

  4. Your best option would be to use a chemical stripper and remove the old sealer from the saltillo tiles. Read the directions carefully. Depending on the sealer they used and the amount of coats they did you may have to repeat the stripping process a couple times. When your done make sure you rinse the saltillo tile off well and let dry overnight. You will need to get a good penetrating sealer and apply several coats. A penetrating sealer will not leave a film on top like a gloss sealer giving it a non slippery finish. The saltillo tile is going to have a more natural look and feel to it so you may want to test it out in a corner first and see if your going to be happy with the look. The only other option I can think of is there are company’s that can apply non skid finishes to tile floors, I have never done this so I dont know much about it. Thanks let me know if you have any more questions

  5. Hi. I hope you can help me with my problem with saltillo tile. I had it installed around my pool and the idiots that installed it sealed it with a glossy sealer. I tried to tell them not to do it….as soon as he did the first tile I saw the shine and knew that you don’t use that on outdoor saltillo. Well, he went ahead and did it anyway (my fault for allowing it). It’s been 2 years since I had it installed and I thought the elements would wear it away but it’s worse than ever. Do you know what I can do to make it non-slippery. I don’t want to take away from the beauty of the tiles..am very happy with them. But it is a very dangerous situation.

    Thank you,

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>