Monday, January 25, 2016

Broken Terrazzo Tile: What Are My Options?

One of the things I liked about the house my husband and I bought eight months ago was the original terrazzo tile in the entryway. It is an aggregate tile buffed to a shine and was extremely popular--at least in the ranch-style homes we've lived in in West Texas built anywhere from 1950-1975.

In fact, I liked it so much, I blogged recently (showing my before and after photos) talking about how it is one of my favorite features of the house. We had absolutely no plans to replace it.


Last week we had an appliance guy too much in a hurry to use ramps for the step-down who ended up dropping the entire weight of a dolly and double oven on the edge of the tile. He barely even noticed he left not only a crack, but most of a semi-circular chunk on the verge of chipping out completely.

Now we are in the middle of talking to their insurance people and their repair people and their tile people. No surprise that they were not able to find the exact tile to replace it with. (That wouldn't have been a great idea anyway because a new tile would have stuck out, I think, since the old ones are scratched up and loved.)

Want to know their solution? They want to use epoxy to repair it from the top and call it good. I don't like that solution for many reasons:

  1. The spiderweb of cracks would still be visible.
  2. The sheen on top would be different--and quite visible from across the room. There's no way their epoxy would look the same across the top as the shine of the other tiles.
  3. I doubt it would be strong enough to be a permanent solution. The crack is exactly in the most used spot. Just about everyone who uses that step will put pressure on that spot. Eventually it will be too much and will just crumble out and then we'll really be out of luck.
This tile will always receive a large amount of the everyday stress. Repair doesn't seem like a long-term option.

Now I have to figure out how I want the problem solved. Aside from wishing it never happened, these are some ideas.

1. Replacing the one tile.

As already stated, I don't see this happening. I've looked around town and online and haven't found an exact match. I'd be willing to give it a shot, though I worry it would look newer than the rest, but perhaps we could buff the rest of the tiles and bring them all back to original shine. If you know of a place that sells this exact tile, please, please let me know!

2. Replacing the row of tiles at the edge of the step-down with a contrasting tile.

This is probably what I'm leaning toward. Though I've heard that perhaps this may sound easier than it is to do it. This terrazzo tile was probably set in a mud base, so removal would require jackhammers and we'd lose chunks of concrete in the process. I don't want to crack other tiles, nor do I want the stress of getting it done. (But they should pay to do this, right?)

If we do this, I've considered a couple of options:
  1. Contrasting color of travertine--maybe a dark brown--in 12x12 squares.
  2. "Brick" style (but neutral) 3x6 tiles in a similar, shiny finish laid in a herringbone pattern.
  3. Smaller squares (6x6) laid on a diagonal.
  4. Any suggestions???
(Please excuse the cat's toys in the background. As you know, cats rarely clean up after themselves.)

3. Making a border around the entire entry.

One concern here is the removal of the edges only (especially next to the wall) without breaking other tiles. Also, I think it might accentuate the off-centeredness of the entry as I have it decorated. And again, I'd have to decide what material to replace those tiles with. I've also considered finding a similar terrazzo tile for this, but in a contrasting color so that it isn't as obviously a replacement.

4. Replacing the entire entryway.

I do not want to do this really. Besides the fact that I heard this is a bugger to do, I like this tile. When I was online looking for replacement tiles, I saw many websites talking about how although it used to be very popular, it's now only high-end homes outfitted with this type of tile now and that home flippers need to realize that tearing it out or covering it with wood floors is actually downgrading the value of the home. That's pretty much how I feel. However, if what we choose ends up breaking more tile, eventually I may have to replace the entire floor.

What would I replace it with if I could? Hard wood? Wood tile (which would match the dining room through the French doors and across the formal living room)? I don't want just plain ceramic tile. It would probably have to be travertine.

The big question is--do you have any suggestions? Anything I haven't thought of? Any experiences you've had working with this kind of tile?

(Click here for the solution and "After" pictures.)

Friday, January 1, 2016

Repurposed DIY Entry Table

I love my "new" entry table! It makes me happy to know I took two existing things that were of no use to me in their current condition, and changed them into exactly what I needed. The entire project cost me about $18--admittedly because I already had some of the materials, but even if we had to build the entire table from scratch, it wouldn't have cost that much more.

Well, this is after my husband started dismantling it. But you see the scale is way too small for the space.

This is the table I started with. When we first purchased this table, it was about twice as long and weathered, unstained wood. It worked great for the size of my entry in that house and worked with my decor. When we moved, my foyer changed shape significantly, and the only wall space I had for a table was greatly diminished, so my husband took it apart, cut it down, and reassembled it. I rubbed some mahagonay wood gel stain over the wood, and it was perfect. Until we moved again.

Now at our new house, the table was way too small to fill the space. It also didn't fit the feel I wanted for this house. No problem. So I set to shopping to look for something new. I wanted something with character. Something unexpected, yet functional. I went to every thrift store, antique store, and used furniture store in town. I scoured Craig's List and Pinterest to either buy or create my own entry table.

Piano top on an old bookshelf to get an idea if it was going to work. This is before it was cleaned up or anything else.

Finally, I spotted it. I was in a small antique store, Glory B's, run by the most amazing shopkeeper. It's a darling store with sundry vintage items; the kind of store where you can make great discoveries. As I poked around, I didn't see a table per se that would work, so I was thinking about what I could repurpose. I saw some shutters (which I have a few of at home, but never seemed quite right) and next to them, a long, solid piece of battered wood that, upon closer inspection, turned out to be part of a piano. I was super excited. I think the shopkeeper probably had some project in mind for it, and there was no price listed, but we settled on a price, and I lugged it out to my car, still not sure what I was going to use as a base.

How do you like my Nativity scene? Just trying out how it might be as a table, and figuring out where our Christmas decorations will go at the same time.

After an exhausting search, I was still at a loss for a base, so I headed to a decorating warehouse and found columns. My husband and I bought, I think, three separate pairs trying to find just the right look.

Still not quite right . . .

In the end, the columns didn't make the cut. For one thing, the colors were wrong--especially with that mirror. I knew I could change the look of the mirror (and already had a few times), but the more formal look simply didn't fit the rest of the house. So I returned all of the columns to the store, and I was back to figuring out what to do.

While checking out the size of the piano top and if that was even an option I wanted to pursue, I had taken my old, small entry table and paired it with a close-but-not-close-enough height bookcase. Obviously they weren't going to stay, but the more I looked at it, the more I realized I liked the look of the table's simple frame holding up the piano top. I just had to convince my husband.

Obviously, the base(s) weren't staying. This was a size check to make sure I wanted to use the piano top.

Luckily, it doesn't take much to convince my husband to take on a project, especially one this easy. So he took the table apart (one of the first pictures in this post shows that already in progress).

He measured, cut, and mitered new wood to fill in where I needed longer pieces. Basically, he just keep the end parts of the table, inserted new long boards on the front and back, and voila, here we are.

DIY table base extension before stain.

There was no need to even add top pieces, since no one was going to see those anyway.

I was a little hesitant to remove the strip of wood that ran most of the length (the music holder), but it hindered decorating the way I wanted it (it needed to be upside down to be more stable at the hinge), so off it went.

And here it is. The finished project. I might need a little more stain on the front, now that I look at the pictures, but still, I love it. It is the perfect mix of simple and elegant, vintage and new. It is functional and interesting without being strangely out of place. And it's a little bit unique.