Old "stone" floor

Linda Rosario
September 27, 2012
Has anyone seen this sort of floor before (minus the peeling door paint...)? Know what it's called? Have any suggestions on how to remove it?

It seems to be chunks of real stone/tile/marble? inlaid ... in some hardened black tar stuff. I think we might have to jack hammer it out!

One nice thing is that it's the only part of our home's flooring that doesn't squeak!

Comments (97)

  • PRO
    Capua Custom Tile & Stone
    More widely known fact:
    Mediocrity often searches out precedent to justify itself. :^)
  • Linda Rosario
    Well, so far the evil spirits aren't being kept away anyhow - haven't even been here two years and the kitchen has had to be gutted due to broken water pipe... a 12 ft tree limb through the roof... the garage's back wall has to be replaced due to rotten wood... the pool has cracked and the pump died... we have a 60ft red oak that needs to come down due to wood beetle infestation... a flooded basement... the mortar around the front entrance has crumbled away... the entire HVAC had to be replaced (along with the water heater).... I could go on. I suppose in retrospect I should be dealing with those things instead of worrying about an ugly tile floor...
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    Comments (52)
    Check with your home owners' insurance about putting real wood flooring in. Some will not cover the cost when it's damaged by water. Personally, I don't blame the insurance companies when they have such a policy. Real wood over a concrete slab is nothing but a future nightmare. Its not a matter of "if", but "when". And when a small patch in front of your sink starts to discolor, buckle, swell, all because of a simple leak which went unnoticed, you will be replacing the whole floor as you wouldn't be able to match existing. Best to stick with a porcelain tile. I have witnessed many many kitchen floors get destroyed by something so small. Real wood has no place in a kitchen IMO. This post started in 2012, pretty sure the author has made a choice by now :)
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    Comments (4)
    HI -- Yes it is a good choice ... but not the only one . Their are a lot of new things you could do in this space . You should go to some stone and tile shops to see what there is . I love the old stone floor looks . There is even the French style stone floors that I think have a no grout look ... not sure but I think the stone is set with just sand . The actor Rob Lowe has it in his house in the entrance . It was featured in Architectural Digest . The re-claimed antique wood is also very popular now too.
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  • silverscreenstar
    Would a sledge and a pry bar work to break up the floor so it could be removed? Don't know, but would like an answer from someone who knows more than I. Thanks!
  • Linda Rosario
    Ceci - while I appreciate all those suggestions, I think I'll forgo spending more money to make my decor match a floor I don't like. :) I think (for now) I'll just try to ignore it, decorate to my taste... and save up for a jackhammer rental. haha
  • Ceci Garcia
    Sorry to hear of the all the urgent fixes demanding your attention. That's no fun. I guess try painting the foyer and the door, give it a shiny glaze, add a rug to blend in and artwork? I'm from Miami it doesn't bother me as much but I understand and empathize. Just make that orange and black look good!
  • PRO
    Capua Custom Tile & Stone
    Yes, a hammer and chisel can be used to remove an installation like this. It's hard work and you should expect to hit your own hand a couple of times as fatigue sets in. But do not use a long-handled sledge. Too long of a handle in tight quarters like that and you'll be looking at drywall repair also. I would use a 3# hand-sledge and a variety of Dasco cold-chisels. But once you've bought the right tools, you'll have spent about the same as you would to rent a demo hammer for the day. Seriously, it's not expensive. I think Home Depot rents what this project would require for less than $40 per day.
  • PRO
    Beautiful Remodel llc
    Hi Linda

    As a GC who's demo'd many tile floors, Capua's advice is spot-on. A good sized demo hammer is your best bet in removing this quickly. (If its a very small tile area, then a 5lb sledge, a 3" brick chisel and a large pry bar will work)

    You mentioned your other floors squeak though so I'm presuming this is wood-framed floor? if so, and IF they used a backer board, this could be easier to remove, as long as you can pry from under the backer board. If the tile is set on plywood then it will tear it apart when you demo it (the same if they set the backer in thinset too) So you may have to patch the subfloor when the demo is complete.

  • Karen
    Hi. if you dont like it, you dont like it. I would tile over it. BUT use some of the new tiles from Europe that are thinner than normal US tiles. They are specifically designed to go over old floors without ripping the previous floor out. This keeps transitions looking more natural and will usually avoid having to trim doors etc. Even with shipping, they are not as much as you'd think and come in some large sizes. I mean really large. I have 40" x52" in my kitchen/ living room. Lea has some that are 3' x 10'

    I have Slimmker from Inalco. Another good one is Lea Slimtech. There are more, Im just drawing a blank now. Oh, and dont think they are weak because they are thin- these bad boys are cutting edge and much stronger than traditional 3/8" tiles!

    Best of luck!
  • Aja Mazin

    Your immediate problem is your 60ft red oak with wood beetle infestation.

    1.] If the treee i beyond saving, remove the 60ft red oak immediately
    before you have more than a 12 ft tree limb through the roof.

    Have ALL debris removed.


    2.] Treat with the appropriate pesticide, prune, and keep your red oak tree healthy.

    Killing adults and any exposed larvae will disrupt the reproductive cycle of the beetles and discourage future generations of wood-boring worms.

    Clean up any fallen limbs and dead wood lying around the red oak tree,
    as those could also harbor worms and beetles.

    IMPORTANT: Check your house for any signs of infestation.
  • PRO
    JRI Design/Build
    I'm in Memphis and can help with this or any project.
  • Bruce
    we have the same retro broken tile floors in SC, well similar, on our enclosed patio and have been considering the BEHR Deck Over at Home Depot. Either this or covering it with some sort of thin concrete to add some slope so the water is pushed away and can be easily cleaned. Not sure if it will work but experimentation seems like fun...unless anyone else has advice.
  • Aja Mazin
    How about a Chia floor?

    Dump a bushel basket of Chia seed onto the damp floor.......
  • Bruce
    I love that idea!!! Keep me posted!
  • PRO
    These floors are very common in Germantown for that age of house. It definitely is a huge eyesore the moment you walk in to the house because it doesn't reflect your style or taste. Unfortunately, you either need to have it tiled over or broken out. If you want to remove it, this is better left to a contractor. These floors usually have an extremely thick mortar bed and you don't want to damage surrounding areas. If you tile over it, you will mostly have a higher floor than the adjacent areas, but tearing it out can be pricey. I would get an estimate for both ways and see which more important to you.
    Linda Rosario thanked LM.DESIGNS
  • Patti Bradford
    Lisa, It's broken tile. Has to be broken and removed with a sledge hammer.
  • angelfishmom
    Linda, I live in Memphis and have the same floor in my sunroom. I stage and decorate for a living. You didn't mention what your decorating style is, however there are ways to make it less noticeable with color. A great light fixture ( an iron one would be pretty) that matches your personal style and the style of the house. Add a rustic distressed beige table, pretty wood mirror, and a large contemporary arrangement with a pop of color. I would stay away from the bright metals in this area and keep most of it neutral. Try a ph neural floor cleaner and seal it. White is your enemy, stay with the creams and beiges. If all your trim is white then leave it and change the color of the door. You may not believe me, but you can work with it for now. Good luck! This post is very late so you probably done something with it by now, but just in case I thought I would try to help in case you didn't have it removed.
    Linda Rosario thanked angelfishmom
  • Linda Rosario
    You know what... I haven't done a darned thing yet! We had to sink a ton of money into having the joists of the actual floor reinforced (as we were sinking) and treated and now I have a $$$$ 40 ft $$$$$ retaining wall that has to be entirely replaced in the back of our yard. This poor old floor has had no love yet.
  • angelfishmom
    I'm so sorry, it's always something with older homes, however they are worth it! I will be unpacking for a long time and my next project will be taking down wallpaper in the hall and hall bathroom. When I decide what i am going to do with my floor, I will take pictures. I hope the repair work ends with the retaining wall.
  • friedasmom
    Hi, Linda--I feel your pain (yours too, angelfishmom). I came across this post looking for ideas on how to deep clean a similar broken tile mosaic floor on the sun room floor of my 1935-ish home. It seems that someone put wax on it at some point, and the wax has trapped years/decades worth of dirt which is very unattractive.

    Anyway, since you've been diverted from redoing your floor by bigger issues, may I suggest that perhaps it's for the better? I don't see a mention of when your house was built, but I'm assuming that it's of the era when this broken tile mosaic was used frequently I do agree that this floor style is an acquired taste--in fact, I hacked out a broken tile hearth and entryway in my last house, replacing them with flagstone. Why? I did not know that this was part of the original home! I thought it was a cheap, ill-conceived repair job from later on. Once I found that out, I somewhat regretted removing it. Now that I know these floors are a blast from the past, they seem more attractive to me, and I'm leaving the one in my "new" old house intact.

    So, maybe you will want to practice "tolerance" if not love for your authentic floor. Tolerance is cheap, and you won't risk permanent injury by accidentally hammering your thumb (as I did) instead of the chisel. Don't know if you ever figured out how to clean the mortar, but that may help, too.

    Just don't paint it!

    I hope your house stops costing you big money soon. If we only had to worry about small tiled areas in old houses, life would be so easy...but it's always what lies beneath that's the problem. :-(
  • Aja Mazin
    Linda Rosario,

    Despite your problems, you have a great attitude and an indomitable spirit.

    You know the secret - it is the love and patience that fills your home
    that makes it beautiful!.

    p.s. Is your homeowner's insurance premiums current?
  • Marion
    I just scrubbed by broken tile floor and am looking for a way to improve the dull appearance of the floor. I too am in Memphis, must have been a trend here as I know if several homes built in 1958-63 with the same floor in the den. The grout is worn in a few areas. It was covered with wall to wall carpet at one time, I think, because the edge near he door has some kind of glue and some chipping.

    From other posts it sounds like wax isn't a good idea. So what can improve the dullness or make any improvement at all?

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  • Marion
    Here's the floor.
  • myperfectadvice

    light it up and tell the insurance guys that ur stove caught

    nah- just jack hammer it up....we had to do that.....very messy....but its the only way
  • myperfectadvice
  • angelfishmom
    Marionpow.... Do you know the ph of the cleaner you used? Cleaners have different ph values and will affect floors in different ways, sometimes in a negative way. Call the experts at DuPont, they are very knowledgeable and don't mind spending time with you. Good luck!
  • sewkneady
    I have the same floor in my entryway. I used a self leveling concrete over it and put vinyl plank flooring over it (on a severe budget!)
  • Diana Bregman

    oh my god! Don'r mean to be mean, but that last post is just horrible. Depressing. I found this thread because I'm buying a 1945 ned revival and am hoping to learn as much as I can about all the period material in it and how to restore them....DIY, but correctly. Have that same broken tile throughout sunroom. I don't LOVE it...but really...does anyone love vinyl? Vinyl? Really? That's just an awful and short-sighted thing to do. Tolerance and preservation are the best options and are great for the budget. I'm going to clean - NOT PAINT and not OCVER the old stuff and deal with it. Oh gosh..., this stuff is pretty historic, (not the vinyl I mean...that never will become won't make it - material today just aren't as long lasting). I think it's a shame. Watch rehab addict and get into it! My 2 cents.

  • Marion

    We're still here looking for ideas. I do like my floor and would only cover it with an area rug for warmth. Stone is quite cold in the winter. It is low maintenance and unique. I would like a more uniform appearance, a little shine but I don't know how to apply wax or if that would be a slip n fall waiting to happen.

  • Marion

    Thank you angelfishmom. I've found Zep neutral floor cleaner in another thread and will try it on this time floor and my broken marble entry way floor.

  • Dodie Price

    I know this is an old post, but I have the same floor. I have tried scrubbing it, it doesn't stay clean. I tried bleaching it, no effect. I tried staining the grout, which left this horrible mess as the stain wore off of areas where people walked. So I have an indoor/outdoor rug and I'm putting that over it. I'd rather carpet over it, but it leads outside. You can't tile over it because the surface is uneven. Sigh. I have this in the sunroom and on a huge porch 20x15. It is the most difficult floor to sweep and clean that I have ever seen in my life and the thing I hate most about this house. This and the old tub that the finish has worn off of (love the tub itself just not the finish). please let me know if anyone has any ideas.

  • ninigret

    ty for bringing up this blast from the past. i think the best idea was to cover it over with something else. nightmare.

  • Diana Bregman

    I think if you hate it so much, that you can actually tile over it, even though it's uneven....need to pour/float a leveling compound over it first and then tile it w/ something you like. I have it too :( Ugggh. UNfortunatley mine is SUCH a large area, I can't afford to tile over it...saving up!

  • elaurel

    My experience is that, if you can ventilate well enough, you can use pool bleach or muriatic acid to get the mortar more uniform and lighter. You may find the contrast less attractive. You can make it shiny with a concrete floor sealer, and live with its historic "beauty". You can pour a leveler over it and pretend it is concrete. And you can tile over that. You can cover it with carpet, or you can have a rug cut and bound at any carpet place in whatever size and shape works. Because they were on porches and entries, often the transition is not exact anyway, but if you hate it you can cover it with a floating type hardwood. Of course none of these solutions is as permanent as the armegeddon proof floor you are already living with. I just bought yet another house with it, this time it will be a dining room. I will send pics if I can find a way to de-uglify it.

  • Dale Loyd
    Could you put brick pavers on top?
  • Lori Slavich

    Wow- I've got a huge kitchen with this ugly, red floor that does not at all go with the craftsman style of the rest of the home. Can't go Mediterranean, can't get the grout clean, major job to change it out. Thanks for all these comments!! It least I'm not alone. Ugliest kitchen ever.

    Love the house- hate the kitchen!!

  • lkmemphis

    Okay, I live in Memphis, too, and have a ranch house circa 1960 with this kind of broken tile flooring. Most folks I've met who grew up with it hate it--they mostly grew up in these homes, which were probably middle-class at the time (remember when families of 6 or more lived with one bathroom?) and have moved on to MacMansions, which I pretty much detest.

    I guess this type of broken mosaic tile flooring was popular in the 60s and 70s? Or the 50s and 60s? At any rate, I LOVE it. It's very durable to have lasted almost 60 years and my tiles are terra cotta, which strikes at the honest, functional heart of me. I imagine in the day with much less frequent a/c, these floors were cooler to live with than carpeting.

    Anyway, I just think it adds to the retro aesthetic of homes of the period. Plus it's easy to mop and seems impervious to everything: things spilled on it, objects dropped on it...I agree with the earlier critique of not covering it over with vinyl wood flooring, which won't last, anyway.

    What I'm looking for is a way to clean the mortar (does the low pH cleaner work?) and then seal it so that it has more of a polished finish. One person on my "Next Door" app recommended an acrylic floor polish called "Glaze and Seal." Any experience with it? Can/should the floor be cleaned before applying this polish?

  • Marion

    Thanks IKM. I was just looking for a polish or something to make this tile and the broken marble entry way gleam a bit. You are correct, it's easy to clean and take care of. I've used a bleach solution and a scouring cleanser as I do on the kitchen tiles ( but not at the same time of course), to really get some grime off but it was pretty clean when we purchased the house in 2005. It gets dull with mopping. I think I'm going to try the plain old kitchen floor polish granny used. Johnson's floor wax maybe, it came in a tall slender white can and was applied with a sponge mop.

    Many famous homes and museums have this tile. It is cold in the winter so we have an area rug and baseboard heaters.


  • mcpherson007

    Linda, it must have been popular, I just bought a Condo in Florida and I have teal blue and white.

    Venice Florida · More Info

  • Tina Anderson

    Are you going to embrace it or tear it out? I have it in my 1840's house in an obviously added-on porch from the 70's.

  • pianoplayinmomma

    This is a really old post, but so relevant! I have had this tile in my laundry room for 12 yrs. (Yes, in Memphis) & didn't really care. However, we're buying a house in Germantown and it is the flooring for the kitchen, breakfast nook, and great room. I'm trying to pick out rugs, but what looks good on this floor? Nothing I can find!

  • angelfishmom

    I have an off white rug on mine, creamy whites are big this year. My floor is in a large sunroom and everyone that walks in it only talks about how beautiful the room is. The key here is to make the focal point of the room the star.

  • mcpherson007

    I have a blue shag in my Florida sunroom

    Venice Florida · More Info

    Venice Florida · More Info

  • angelfishmom

    Your blue on blue looks great and it's a popular color this year!

  • Hester Davies
    Still working through this in our basement. Terrible dull orange. Has anyone tried to use garage epoxy paint? We are leaning that way - in a grey. Trying to decide whether to grind or use acid etching before painting. Also considered using self-leveling concrete to cover. Seems difficult. Geez.

    BTW, we had this upstairs as well and our contractor was able to easily remove with the jackhammer. Just not at that budgetary level now!
  • Virginia Riggins

    I live in Memphis and have this floor in my family room and entryway. It has had carpet on it for a long time so there are white spots and places where the glaze looks "glopped" on and of course, the black mark all the way around the room where the carpet tack was. My question is this, can I strip it down to the tile and stain it dark to match the hardwoods and blend in better???

  • HU-551198882

    Did anyone have any success with cleaning and restoring shine to a floor like this? My home was built in '75 , in Atlanta, and my front porch has the same sad looking cracked tile. I don't want to remove it right now but I would like to clean it and give it a little shine if possible. Just don't know what to use.

  • PRO
    JRI Design/Build
    The only success at cleaning and shining is to have a local tile and grout cleaning company to come out and use there steam cleaning process. It does work but they might need to do it more than once. Once it has dried you can get a stone and tile wet look sealer and it will work on this type of floor.
  • deebrown9952

    I'd embrace it. Bring in large plants in black pots. You could buy plain terra cotta pots and spray paint them high gloss black. Paint the door a cheerful color, solid, not distressed, as you've got enough pattern going on.. Use the door color for pops of accent. Make it into a garden room entry. Add a little bench if you have the room. A window or lattice-style mirror. Clean the tile as best you can and use Behr high gloss concrete and stone sealer. (no smell) When you have the time and money to resurface the area, all of those plants, etc., can easily be used in other areas of the house.

  • HU-551198882

    Thank you both for the suggestions! A large black plant pot on it would be incredibly attractive with my new roof and shutters! I do have a child's sized bench on the wall with the window to my kitchen so a tall, narrow planter could be very nice. This awful brown railing made of 4x4's closes things in. It's not the best design but the posts are supports so I can't remove them. Also, the railing helps hide packages from porch pirates and is a catchall for some gardening stuff. A few years ago I replaced all the original windows and with that I got new shutters. Prior to that I put on a new roof and went with a black roof instead of the original brown and the shutters are black as well. I really need to give some attention to these brown posts, and brown front door. Carpenter bees love these things and I'm tired of filling the holes. Sorry, digressed for a min. I think what I'll do, once all the pollen has subsided, is declutter, clean it and seal it to make it shine. I'll purchase a tall planter or build a narrow and tall box out of my pallet wood stash and paint it black. Might be onto something here! Take a look at the tile and layout. All suggestions welcomed!!

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