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.)