QUESTIONSealing Saltillo Tiles - I just had my satillo tile cleaned and the contractor cannot get them sealed properly. He used a brush and I saw the brush marks and it was uneven and too shiny. Now he's used a rag and it's too dull.
ANSWERANSWER - Saltillo tiles that are made in the region of Saltillo, Mexico, where that local source of clay has that distinctive Saltillo look, can vary in quality substantially, which can affect how it will react to sealers. Some Saltillo tiles are pressed or extruded with machines and then fired in high temperature kilns, where others that don't perform as well are manufactured in a more primitive manner using hand molded methods and low temperature kilns that results in a softer more absorbing and less durable product.
There are many types of sealers. Some are topical sealers and some are penetrating sealers. Some are breathable and some are not. Some are water based and others are solvent based. Normally Saltillo tiles are sealed with special sealers for highly porous tiles. Some sealers are meant to give a natural look, some are meant to give a glossy look, and some give a enhanced look with a slight shine.
The only way to know how the sealer will react with your particular Saltillo tile is to experiment. Buy a small container of the sealers and test it out to see what you prefer. Always be sure to wipe any excess sealer off the face of the tile with a lint free cloth right after it is applied or you can get streaking or it will leave a tacky finish. Follow the sealer manufacturer's instructions for preparation and application. Be sure not to have too high of moisture in the tile substrate or it can lead to a discoloring or efflorescence in the tile. Good Luck.