Flooring and Carpeting/Saltillo tile


QUESTION: I am  renovating a condo that has, what I beleive to be, Saltillo tile flooring 500sq.ft. downstairs..  The tile and grout was very dirty, so I got a professional tile cleaner in clean and seal the tile and grout.  When the job was complete he told me someone had put some kind of finish on the tile, and remnants of that finish remains on the tile, especially around the one-foot edge area.   24 hours later this problem is apparent on all the tiles.  There are shiny and dull places on all the tiles, and some loose and peeling waxy remnants.  It will not come up with a good wash with hot water.  I called the professional cleaner, as satisfaction was guaranteed.  He said he was paid to clean the tile, and did not expect to have something on the tile that should not be there.  He believes something like a mop-and-glow product was used repeatedly.  He says the job was satisfactorily completed, but will consider to another job like stripping it completely.
My question: does this type of tile normally have a finish on it that has been ruined by this cleaning, and how do I fix this now?

ANSWER: The person who cleaned the tiles should have informed you at the time he was cleaning that there was residual sealer/finish on the floor that needed to be stripped in order for the floor to look proper whether re-sealed or not.  

If he put a sealer down after just cleaning, given the situation with the tiles, he should have known better than to do that.  

It needs to be stripped, regardless now.

Bill Hohmann

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for your prompt response.  Can I strip it myself?  With what product?  What product do I use to reseal?  Should any professional tile cleaning service be able to strip it, or do I need a restoring company?

Stripping a Mexican Tile or other terra cotta tile can be very tricky. If it is not done right, the material that strips at the surface ends up going down into the tile, ruining the aesthetics.

There are very few people out there in the cleaning service industry with the knowledge to do this right.

You work on a small area at a time, usually about four tiles. Somewhat saturate them with water, then apply the stripper to the surface. We make a stripper called SR-5 for this. If a wax or wax type product was used on the floor, then apply a wax / finish stripper along with the SR-5.  Let this dwell a couple minutes, then you should be able to scrub with a chemical resistant, non metallic brush, while spraying water from a bottle on the tiles should you see anything start going into the tiles. Also, quickly take paper towels and wipe up what has stripped. Having soaked the tiles in water helps keep stripped material from soaking in, keeping it at the surface, floating on the water.

While doing this with 4 tiles, you can have the stripper(s) soaking on the next 4 tiles.

It is tedious, but I have not found any other way that works well, besides using acetone or methylene chloride one or two tiles at a time, which doesn't always work, and flammability, ventilation become a big issue.

Bill Hohmann

Flooring and Carpeting

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Bill Hohmann


I can answer questions concerning the stripping and sealing of various tile, brick, and stone flooring with an emphasis on Mexican Tile. I cannot help in regards to installation issues, such as what sort of tile to use; how to install or remove tiles, etc.


Over 30 years experience in the manufacture development and use of sealers, coatings and cleaners for tile, stone, brick, etc.

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