Sunday, June 19, 2011

Before and After: Terrazo floors

Here's how our terrazo floors went from terrible to TERRIFIC in two days.  [Too rushed to read our harrowing tale? scroll down for before & after pics]  When we first saw our house, we were initially horrified that the freshly laid travertine tile floors only covered the main living areas, leaving the back 2 bedrooms with severly damaged terrazzo.  Perhaps the previous owner was gonna put carpet in those rooms, but we didn't want that for us.  Unfortunately, most commercial carpets contribute to poor indoor air quality because they off-gas chemicals and retain allergens (pets, dust, etc.).  Although the best eco-option is usually to use what ya got, our terrazo floors were full of paint stains, deep gauges, nails, holes, and scratches.  Unsure if the floor was beyond repair, we called up a professional restoration company.  Yikes - very pricey!  So then we looked at the prices of just getting NEW terrazo installed ($25 to $50 per square foot).  Double Yikes!  Then, we contemplated alternative flooring: M wanted cork flooring and I wanted bamboo.  But as the years went by, our indecision defaulted to NO decision.  Finally a few months ago, I surrendered to M's idea of cork flooring tiles.  But even as we celebrated our unified decision making, there was this nagging feeling that by covering up the terrazzo, we would forever lose a part of our home's history.

Ya see, in the 1960s (when our house was built), terrazzo was all the rage in Florida housing developments.  Terrazzo - essentially a mix of tinted concrete embedded with colored stones - was poured directly over a foundation pad, then walls/framing were built on top.
With nostalgia in mind, I took a deep breath and called another local company, AJ's & CJ's Terrazzo Restoration (based on their postive reviews on Angie's List) as our last hope of rescuing the floors. I told 'em that I didn't even know if our floors were (A) salvageable or (B) if we could afford to have them salvaged.  The company assured me that they would (A) be straight up about restoration potential and (B)  were guaranteed the best price in town, so... After an astonishing low quote of around $3/square foot, we did a little victory dance and the rest as they say is history...

Note the mirror-like finish...awesome! no attention to the messiness in the "before"...haha.

So, what's with our love for Terrazzo?
  • Terrazzo installed/restored does not offgass harmful chemicals
  • It requires only a mop w/warm water to keep clean (no harsh chemical cleaners/sealers, etc.)
  • The cool & smooth surface is ideal for bare feet (no shoes=less allergens tracked into the house)
  • It holds it's value as a flooring surface (unlike carpeting which starts to lose value with wear)
  • When restored, terrazzo shines like a new nickel.  Being highly reflective, it bounces light all around, looking clean and glossy...ahhh.
  • It honors the original style/era of our 1960's ranch home. What was old is new again
If we have one regret, it's that we waited waaaay too long to complete this project.  Perhaps if we had bothered to call more than one professional restoration company way back when, it wouldn't have taken so long.  Sheesh. And moving furniture out of bedrooms, having your dressers and nightstands end up in the living room is not our idea of fun for a weekend. But now we are luvin' our floors.  Even the cat likes it - and she is one fickle feline. 
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