Sealing Terra-Cotta Pavers
Apply one of the many finishing systems available for sealing pavers and Saltillos.
Terra-cotta pavers look great when treated with a top finish. Applied in addition to a sealer, a top finish enhances durability, ease of cleaning, and gives the tiles a great, sophisticated look. There are myriad finishing systems made for sealing pavers and Saltillos, each offering a slightly different look and finish.
As always, we prefer to use water-based finishes because they have a lower toxicity, have less odor, and are easier to clean up than solvent-based products. Just make sure that the finish you select is compatible with the tile sealer you used by checking with the manufacturer; the wrong product can ruin the look of an entire job.
Most terra-cotta finishing systems consist of two or three products 1. The first is a sealer that’s applied to the tile before grouting.
In addition to preventing the grout from staining the tile, this sealer makes it easier to clean the grout from the tile faces during wipe down. The second product is a top-coat finish that, depending on the particular product, gives the tile either a natural, matte, or glossy finish. The top coat is usually applied in several applications. Some finishing systems include a third product: a wax-type finish that is easy to reapply to make tile look fresh again, after long usage has dulled the finish. Some manufacturers will combine the second and third steps in a single product, for ease of use.
The application of any terra-cotta finishing product is quite straightforward. If you’re finishing a small area, use a plastic bucket and a brush, sponge, or clean rag as an applicator. Brush the sealer on evenly, beginning with the perimeter of a manageable area, probably about 4 sq. ft., coating the tile face and grout joints 2. Let it dry according to the directions and apply a second or third coat as necessary. For larger floors, apply the sealer with a paint roller with a 1/4-in. nap mounted on a pole handle (this will save your back). Pour the liquid into a 5-gal. pail fitted with a bucket grid 3, dip the roller into the bucket and roll it a few times across the grid, to remove excess liquid. This prevents the sealer from going on too thick. Roll the sealer onto the floor, making sure the tile faces and grout joints are fully covered 4. If some puddling occurs, use the roller to spread the finish to adjacent areas. You may also use a pad-type applicator instead of a roller 5. Let the sealer dry according to the directions, then apply the second and (if used) third finishing products, brushing or rolling each on in a perpendicular direction to the previous coat 6.