Sealing your Saltillo and flagstone tile surfaces are necessary to maintain its beauty. Your sealed interior Saltillo or flagstone tile was likely sealed using a water-based acrylic or urethane. It partially penetrates the bare tile, creating a strong bond. However, there are three elements that will seriously shorten the durability and appearance of your tile. They are:
Saltillo and flagstone tile are very porous. Even though the tile is sealed, water can seep in from around the edges, through scratches in the seal’s surface and from moisture coming up from underneath the concrete slab (from rain draining towards the house, pool water, irrigation water, or simply excess moisture from watering plants, trees, etc.).
The best way to prevent moisture damage is to limit your tile’s exposure to water as much as possible. DO NOT over-water your saltillo or stone floor. Contrary to what most people do, heavy mopping with lots of water allows moisture to get into or under the tile. Once the moisture is in the tile it must come out. However, since the tile is sealed, the only way the water can get out is to break through the seal, which it does. The result is a worn-out, ugly seal. Excess mopping will also cause the seal, tile and grout, to darken quicker because water mixes with minerals, dust, dirt, etc. When the water evaporates it leaves behind a few of these contaminants each time. Over time they build-up and darken the tile and grout.
If you have live plants make sure they have a leak proof water container underneath them. When watering do not spill water on your tile. Also make sure you do not over-water plants in pots. The water will run through the soil and onto your tile very quickly.
Living in Arizona, dirt and dust are part of our every day life. Plan on cleaning your floors regularly to remove all dirt, dust, rocks, pet hair, etc. Instead of water, use a soft broom, a “3 foot wide” dust mop, or a wand type vacuum or sweeper. Cleaning the sealed finish will be very easy. Dust mops flow effortlessly across the tile. Dust and dirt will not stick to the floor’s surface like it does on unsealed tile. The finish, and particularly the gloss is affected when one walks across dirty tile. The dirt under one’s foot acts like sand paper and will dull the gloss over time. If not cleaned, the dirt will eventually wear the seal away.
A good sweeping program using a large dust mop only takes about 3 minutes to complete. The key is to clean off the traffic areas daily. Occasionally it may be necessary to clean up spills. Use water only, not cleaning chemicals since chemicals will dull the finish. Use a damp (not wet) mop to mop the floor. Make sure the mop is not used elsewhere with chemicals. It is best to have a mop bucket with a wringer. Wring the mop dry as much as possible before placing it on floor. Always clean the mop with a hose after each use.
In Arizona the sun is hot, hot, and hot. The sun’s UV rays damage most seals. Protect your tile from excessive sun exposure with doors and window coverings.
We recommend a professional cleaning and a light reseal every two to four years if you have light to moderate traffic and follow the proper maintenance procedures. More frequent service may be necessary if water, sun and dirt damage the seal sooner. The product applied to your tile usually does not have to be stripped if this schedule is followed. The floor would be mechanically scrubbed (not stripped) and then resealed. If the finish was seriously damaged by water, sun and dirt, it may be necessary to remove the seal in those areas. This process costs as much as 2-3 times more than scrubbing and resealing alone, so maintenance does pay for itself.
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