Saltillo tile is a durable, easy to clean flooring tile that originates from Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico. Often used in homes that wish to achieve a Southwestern decor, the tile is long lasting and looks beautiful when installed properly. Since the tiles are created in an unglazed state, saltillo tile requires sealing to protect the tile since saltillo tile is naturally very porous and will absorb moisture easily.
However, before installation there are a couple of options as to whether or not to have the tile pre-sealed (which is not a %100 seal) or to install the tile in an unfinished state.
Our recommendation for most people is to work with pre-sealed tile. Basically, pre-sealing is either done by applying an oil/solvent sealer to the tile or a water base sealer to the tile prior to installation. It’s important to note that this does not create a finished product as further sealing and finishing will need to be done after installation.
So why use pre-sealed tiles? Well, first, the grouting will be easier and the drying time will be significantly reduced. And, as we mentioned before, saltillo tile is very absorbent and there is a lot of moisture involved with the installation process. Tiles are cut with a wet-saw, the mortar used to set the tile is mixed with water, and the grout is also mixed with water. This can cause discoloration and undesired results of the look of the tile.
Pre-sealed tile will also be easier for the do-it-yourself or less experience tile installer as the color is set once the tile is pre-sealed, so you know exactly what you are working with. Note that pre-sealed tile is not ‘pre-finished’ which is a different process altogether. We recommend to hold off on finishing the tile until one week after the tile and grout installation. This will allow the tile to cure and will also create a finish for the grout as well.
With all that said, there are still contractors and installers that want to work with unfinished tile. This tile comes un-glazed and does allow for some coloring flexibility after installation. However, we highly recommend sealing should be done by true sealing professionals with this method and tiles should be applied with grout release to avoid any grout staining.
Should you have further questions regarding the installation or purchase of saltillo tile, please feel free to call us at either of our two location: Phoenix: 602-954-6272 | Tucson: 520.622.4352. We look forward to hearing from you!