So we have this house (the 1964 Eichler that I’ve been going on and on about) and it’s great and all, but there have been times when it has driven me crazy. Take the floors for instance – specifically, the entry foyer floor. When we bought this gem of a house, the entry floor looked awful. Forty years worth of dirt and grime had taken a toll on the exposed aggregate. Worse yet, imagine walking on it – in bare feet. Trust me, it wasn’t pleasant. And considering I’m a ”no shoes in the house” kind of person who pretty much always walks around in bare feet when I’m indoors, I knew we had to do something. Our realtor told us to cover it with slate – a suggestion that made me want to scream, “This floor is special you twit!” Instead, I shook my head, rolled my eyes and ignored her. Seriously, those photographs up there at the top – those are “before” and “after” shots of the very floor I’m talking about. Any rational person should be able to see that covering this floor would have been a huge mistake.
This floor was a very deliberate choice – one that illustrates just how much thought the original architect put into designing this house. Let’s look at the entry to see what I mean.
The original architect, John Brooks Boyd, designed this entry as a transition space. Clearly influenced by Japanese architecture, he intentionally blurred the line between indoors and out; an oversized sliding glass door is all that separates the two. Looking closely, you’ll notice that he extended the plane of one exterior wall (clad in dark chocolate colored wood siding) inside the house – quite literally, he brought the outside indoors. And lastly, the same beautiful exposed aggregate – pebbles from “Teri Beach” – specified for the walkways and patios on the outside of the house were also used to create the interior entry floor, once more blurring the line between outdoors and in. Unfortunately, when we purchased the house, this floor was a mess. Unlike the beautiful exterior hardscape, these pebbles were permanently stained.
Besides forty years of accumulated dirt, demolition added another layer of grime.
This is the threshold between the entry hallway (with the exposed aggregate) and one bedroom (no exposed aggregate) – after we removed the wall-to-wall carpet and hired an asbestos abatement company to remove the original floor tiles and mastic. No amount of scrubbing made even the tiniest dent in those stains. Nothing, not even muratic acid.
Determined to preserve the exposed pebbles, but equally determined to have a floor that was both easy to walk on and easy to clean, I began doing research. Before long, I realized it might be possible to grind down and diamond polish the exposed aggregate; and if we were successful, all three of my problems would be solved at once. Of the umpteen contractors I contacted, only one was willing to give my idea a shot (most said the job was “too small”). He agreed to try wet polishing a portion of the floor with a hand grinder, but made no promises. With that last bit in mind, we asked him to do his test on the floor of the coat closet – a location no one would see if things went poorly. Several hours later, the test was deemed a success, but with one catch. As thrilled as we all were with the initial results, our man on the job told us that he simply didn’t have the proper equipment to continue. We thanked him for his honesty, paid him for his time and effort, and began to look for new leads.
Eventually, we found a concrete resurfacing company that was willing to take on the job and they offered an idea as to how we might improve our chances for success; before grinding and diamond polishing the surface, they would apply a cementitious overlay to fill in the gaps between the various pebbles – gaps that would otherwise result in a pitted surface. It worked!
The results aren’t perfect mind you; but tell me, please, what’s so great about perfect? “Perfect” doesn’t have patina. “Perfect” doesn’t have a story to tell. “Perfect” is boring.
This is most certainly not boring.
Beautiful isn’t it? It looks just like terrazzo, because it is terrazzo.
And now, my floor is lovely to look at, lovely to walk upon and a breeze to clean. Finally.