We finally conquer the $*#&^*$ breezeway floor

We finally conquer the $*#&^*$ breezeway floor

First, the bad news: the breezeway isn’t finished yet.

The good news: we are in the homestretch.

When I last left you, we were making headway on our breezeway floor (ripping up ugly tile) but faced a challenge with the black adhesive permanently embedded in the concrete (left).Blog Photo

When my brother-in-law Jack saw it, he told me it would be tough to remove enough adhesive to make any paint stick.

Did I listen? Not at first.

Undaunted, I borrowed/bought several different kinds of solvent and tried to scrape away what became a tarry black goo. After about an hour’s hard labor I managed to clean off a 6x6-square-inch section. I did the math and realized this project would stretch into next summer at that rate. Lesson learned.

Painting experts advised us that the only way to make new paint stick to the floor would be to use a power chisel and scrape the thickest layers of adhesive off, then acid-wash the floor.

Jack offered to do it, but it sounded like an awful lot of work, so I moved on to plan B: picking out a new indoor-outdoor carpet to lay on top.

Then my neighbor stopped by to offer me a deal. She had leftover slate tiles from a project that we could buy for $1 each. I was tempted — very tempted — as they were a cool gray/brown stone, which looked stunning with the new brown (actually, bittersweet chocolate) doors. Visions of Pottery Barn mudrooms danced in my head.

But then I learned it would cost about $500 to install because it’s hard to level natural stone tiles. I didn’t have another $500 to blow on this project — “it’s a mudroom,” my friend Kerry kept reminding me — so I once again resigned myself to the carpet. I even went shopping with my decorating guru Karen to pick one out.

The next day I got an email from Jack, saying he’d be up in a few days to chisel/acid-wash the floor. I half-heartedly tried to dissuade him (he was in the middle of his own renovation project) but once he decides something it usually happens. Very quickly.

Blog PhotoNeedless to say, he finished the job in about a day. It was messy - we had to cover the walls with plastic to protect them from acid splatters, and the chisel nicked up the baseboards. But it looked SO much better (left), and we decided that staining the floor a dark brown might actually reproduce the look of the slate tiles. For a lot less money.

I had to do my usual dithering about concrete stain choices (this was a new world for me), but after consulting the experts I chose a Quickrete semi-transparent stain. I was worried it might not cover well enough, but the heavy-duty acid-based stains seemed like too much trouble and, I reasoned, the floor had already been acid-washed. (Plus the semi-transparent version was $25, as opposed to $75.)

Given our trials with the floor to date, I was a bit dubious when I started this project.

Blog PhotoBoy, was I wrong. Halfway through, I stopped to text a photo to all of my project advisers because I was so thrilled with the outcome (left).

When the stain dried, there were some obvious thin spots, so I did a second coat in some areas and let it dry.

You can see the result (below). The remaining black stains in the concrete provide just enough color variation to produce the mottled look of slate. I love it.

The next weekend I applied a sealer topcoat and - finally! - the floor was done.

Blog PhotoThen it was on to some painting touch-up (you may recall our initial painting escapades) and then, well, we got bogged down with the holidays  - not to mention various bouts of illness.

But we have started installing the cabinets, and all that's left are various odds and ends - trim pieces, window treatments and, my personal favorite, accessories. (I feel like an HGTV host.)

My New Year's resolution is to finish this by the end of 2012 (wait for it.... howls of protest from decorating friends HERE).

I'm KIDDING. We'll be done much sooner. June at the latest.


Breezeway expert Julie Wurth writes and blogs about family issues and covers the University of Illinois for The News-Gazette. You can leave a comment below, or contact her at 217-351-5226, jwurth@news-gazette.com, or on Twitter at @jawurth.


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LeighLa wrote on January 12, 2012 at 8:01 pm
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Love it! I wish I had a concrete floor in my house. I do however have those attrocious tiles in my kitchen and laundry room, can't wait to replace.

Julie Wurth wrote on January 12, 2012 at 9:01 pm
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Thanks! I honestly didn't think it would turn out this well...but I'm a believer now! Is your tile as ugly as mine was? If you need any tips once you pry it up, let me know!