Well it’s been a very uncertain weekend. Having had two different guys come in and quote us two wildly different prices to do two completely different jobs on the floor, we were starting to feel confused. The decision to smash or not to smash has been the only topic of conversation all weekend. Finally we had to call in the big guns – parents.
Fortunately my dad has over 30 years experience in doing all manner of concrete-related jobs. Unfortunately he lives in France and is notoriously difficult to get hold of. Finally tonight we managed to arrange a session on Skype, and got some fantastic advice.
The query whether the concrete was sinking or not has been explained in one of my favourite ways: using a food analogy! Apparently the concrete screed acts like a slice of bread when it’s drying. If it’s allowed to dry unevenly, or too quickly, or is left too long before being tiled, it will start to curl up at the edges like a slice of bread left out in the air. So the bow in the middle of our concrete is not sinking in the middle, it’s actually curling up at the edges. Meaning that we don’t need to dig out the current concrete sub-floor – yay!
The timing of this information was a little too late though, as a few hours before speaking to my dad we knocked through the concrete to see how deep it went.
It was just a little nibble though, rather than a full-on Hulk moment, so it could have been a lot worse! Dad’s advice gave us 2 options. Firstly – lift all the quarry tiles, extend the concrete out to cover the entire room, level it off with one massive screed and then re-lay the original and reclaimed tiles on one solid surface.
Now this will of course give the floor the best finish. But we can’t quite bring ourselves to lift up the tiles that have remained in place for over 130 years. While we know the finish between the two areas won’t be flawless, we’ve made the decision to go with Option Two: Leave them in place and just work on getting the reclaimed tiles to match up as best we can. Hopefully the layout of the kitchen will place the island unit over the join, so any obvious seam will be hidden.
It’s taken a very long time to come to this decision, but we think it’s the right thing to do. The idea of keeping the original tiles untouched will be worth the compromise in the final finished look, and it’s a huge relief to know that the concrete isn’t sinking!