Saltillo tile is a highly porous, fired clay tile produced in Saltillo, Mexico. For effective use as flooring, saltillo must be sealed and waxed to prevent it from wear, water damage and staining. A traditional installation method is to penetrate saltillo with thin layers of boiled linseed oil to form a shiny, hard tile surface. After the initial application of linseed oil, saltillo waxed and regularly cleaned for maintenance.
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Sealing Saltillo with Boiled Linseed Oil
Derived from the flax plant, linseed oil is widely used as a natural surface preservative. Paint or roll the linseed oil onto the dust free, dry and raw surface of clean saltillo tile. Apply one thin coat and allowing it to penetrate into the clay and dry completely before applying a second and subsequent coats. Boiled linseed oil can be slow to dry in humid or cold climates, if this fits your circumstances, you can thin the oil with mineral spirits or turpentine to ease application and speed up the drying time. Dilute boiled linseed oil as desired by up to half volume with the thinner in a clean glass jar or bucket. Stir the two to combine evenly with a clean stick or utensil. Roll on the diluted mixture with a fine foam roller or a natural bristle brush in thin even coats over the expanse of tile and allowing to dry completely before applying subsequent coats. Wipe down any excess of oil that remains on the surface of the tiles with a clean roller or lint-free cloth to aid in even drying time and reduce sticky residue that will mar the finish.
Protective Wax Coat
Over the freshly applied and completely dried boiled linseed oil sealant base, apply one or more coats of floor wax to protect the tile, enhance its wear and make maintenance cleaning easier. Reapply the floor wax when it begins to show wear, when stains become harder to lift or when the finish becomes dull. Apply a coat of maintenance wax to the floor at least once and up to several times a year, as needed. Apply the wax in a thin, even coat onto a freshly cleaned and completely dry tile floor with a foam or microfiber mop applicator according to your specific product directions.
To maintain saltillo floors sweep, dust mop or vacuum twice a week to lift dirt and debris and prevent dirt from being ground into and marring the tile finish. Wash the saltillo with water and mild, non-acidic cleanser and a sponge or microfiber mop at least once a month. In lieu of a mild household floor cleanser you can use a specialty cleaner formulated for waxed natural stone or tile floors, such as Waxwash.