refinish tile floor ??

I moved into a house that has about 800sq ft of 12" X 12" tera cotta (I think) tile floor. Some of the areas with high foot traffic are not sealed anlonger. This is obvious after damp mopping and seeing the places where the water "stains" the tile until it dries completely.
In places with no foot traffic the surface finish seems like a "semi gloss" finish.
Questions that I hope you can help me with...
Do I need to "strip" off the old sealer before applying new? If so, what do I use?
How can I tell the type of sealant used before? e.g. water based or ??? something else?
Obviously the floor needs to be clean - is there any other surface prep? Will the new coating of sealant adhere to the old?
Do I need to use more than one coat of sealant???
What brand sealant have you found that works the best? Is the most durable?
Any other tips/hints would be much appreciated..
Djay
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djay wrote:

No ________________
Oil based sealers/top coats would have made the entire floor very dark...like the spots that show up after mopping; therefore, your floor most likely has a water based top coat.
I say "most likely" because it is entirely possible to seal the floor with a water based acrylic sealer and top coat that with an oil based material. In that case, the finish would have a *slightly* yellowish cast which it would not had the top coat been water based. __________________

It should adhere well enough, always has for me. The remaining top coat has already been scuffed up a bit from foot traffic. ____________________

Yes and it will help you if you stop thinking "sealant". Think sealant *AND* top coat. You need to get on sufficient coats of a "sealant" so that they no longer wet out. At that point, three coats of top coat are usual. _____________________

Brand doesn't much matter. Most wear resistant generally available to home owners is polyurethane for the top coat.

In the old days, the usual finish for a terra cotta floor was boiled linseed oil - many coats - followed by waxing. I doubt yours has that but you can easily check by looking carefully...is the unabraded semi-gloss finish *in* the tile or *on* it? Assuming it is on it - a top coat - here is what I do with my own terra cotta floor (3500 sq.ft. of Saltillo tile)...
1. After laying and grouting I seal it with an acrylic sealer. Specifically, Seal Krete Original. I mop it on with a sponge mop, let dry and repeat until no more "wet" spots appear. This is not the intended use of the product and I have never known anyone else to use it in this manner. Works fine for me, YMMV. http://www.sealkrete.com/original.htm
2. I then apply 3-4 coats of oil based semi-gloss polyurethane varnish, generally with a pad appliator. Sponge works OK too but is more likely to make small bubbles (which don't bother me - it is a floor for heaven's sake!). Brush works fine too for smallish areas.
There are reasons I do it this way: I want the floor to stay close to the unfinished color and if I used just the oil varnish it would turn out very dark. By sealing first, I avoid that.
One could skip the sealer and go directly to water poly but those floors suck up a lot of material and Seal Krete is 1/4 the price of poly. Additionally, I like the slight yellow cast from oil poly...to me, water poly looks cold and dead.
Once done, the finish will last from nearly forever to two or three years depending on foot traffic. The problem - no, not problem...characteristic - of Saltillo tiles (which yours probably are) is that the surfaces are irregular. That makes them far more comfortable to walk on than other tiles but the high spots will wear faster. Not hard to refinish though and one need only refinish the worn areas - even if it is just one tile. The trick is in knowing what the original finish was. In your case, I would guess water based polyurethane varnish.
If I were you, I wouldn't mess with a separate sealer, I'd get a small can of semi-gloss water poly and test it on one tile in some inconspicuous place. Once it "builds", see how it looks compared to the others and go from there. It will probably be likely that the worn areas on the tile will look slightly different from the non-worn areas after finishing. Think of it as a "bonus" terra cotta is *supposed* to look rustic. :)
-- dadiOH ____________________________
dadiOH's dandies v3.06... ...a help file of info about MP3s, recording from LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that. Get it at http://mysite.verizon.net/xico
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The floor is probably less than 5 years new and I believe that the topcote is waterbased as you have suggested.

The floor is not yellowish at all.

So on the low wear areas I won't have to scuff at all - that's a good thing!

Are you saying that the "sealant" and "topcoat" are different products?

Correct the finish is *ON* top of the tile.

I think I would have to go this route anyway since I still have 80 percent of the floor tile still "sealed" with the old sealant, yes?

I would agree completely.

So no Seal Krete? Just go over the existing tile finish with semi gloss water poly?
dadiOH thanks for the very informative post Djay- once upon a time a cincy boy.

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djay wrote:

It would only be noticeable - and slightly at that - when comparing a bare area vs coated.
__________________

I don't ____________________

Not necessarily. I'm saying that the *purpose* is different. The sealer seals so that the top coat won't penetrate and therefore the top coat *is* a top coat. You could use what you are topcoating with to seal too but - as I said - these tiles suck up a lot of material. Expensive material. I used a separate product for sealing because it is cheaper and because if I'd used oil poly on the raw tile it would have wound up very dark. _____________________

Yes, but myself, I'd try it on *ONE* tile first just to be sure of the results. _____________________

NP
- once upon a time a cincy boy.
The breaded tenderloins in NE Indiana are better than those in Cincinnatti :)
-- dadiOH ____________________________
dadiOH's dandies v3.06... ...a help file of info about MP3s, recording from LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that. Get it at http://mysite.verizon.net/xico
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