Thursday, November 18, 2010

An Italian Bathroom Pavimento (Floor)

I have dreamed about having a polished concrete floor in a bathroom
You know, the hip, industrial kind you see everywhere is restaurants, boutiques,
the kind that has become increasingly popular in the last 15 years.
It is also very economical and simple to create if you are starting from
scratch, you just pour a slab of concrete, and get someone who
knows what they are doing to polish it with the proper equipment.

Just like these below.
When I started designing this Italian bathroom in my head, I knew I finally could
bring that dream of polished concrete floor into reality.

I thought it would be easy.

But I must have forgotten that when building or remodeling in Italy,
nothing is easy.

So I approached Taddeo, the muratore (wall and floor builder)
with the idea of a polished concrete floor.
He tells me they don't do those in Italy.

What do you mean they don't do those?

He tells me, again, they don't do
"pavimenti industriali" (concrete floors)
in bathrooms or any other room in Italy.

But that is what I want, I explain patiently.
I see them everywhere, I tell him there is a parking
garage down the road a bit with the perfect
"pavimento industriale"
that will do just fine.
He says,
No, they just don't do that here.

He then brightens and says,
"But I can do something with "resina"
over the concrete base we have to pour anyway,
it will look just like you want.
I'll bring you make you a sample."

Allright, I am going to be open-minded about this.

The next day, Taddeo shows up with some concrete smeared on a piece of roof tile,
that he poured some of this resina stuff on, and did some smearing.
If I squinted, it looked kind of like concrete, minus the polish part.
For about a week, I tried to be ok with his solution.

Then I saw yet another nearby parking garage, with again,
the perfect concrete floor for my bathroom.

I am very tenacious (or maybe it is just controlling)
about what I want, when I want it.
is just not acceptable.
So, I decided to do a little internet research myself and educate both
myself first,and subsequently Taddeo,
on how we could make a polished concrete floor
in this bathroom here,
at Casa San Marco,
in this Italian hilltown of Cortona,
even though nothing like it
had ever been attempted before.

Thank god for Google and high speed-internet.
I Googled and YouTubed for hours until I was
proficient in the creation of high polished concrete floors.
One uses a diamond grinder which looks kind of like a huge
lawnmower with a large drum on the front.
This may be a good business opportunity for me here in
Italy, this making of concrete floors since
no one does them.

But back to the task at hand.
So now that I am so knowledgable in
the making of polished concrete floors, how am I going
to pass on my new found knowledge to Taddeo,
who speaks no English?
I can't exactly show him all the articles
I found.
My Italian is functionally fluent, but certainly
not fluent enough to deliver a long dissertation
on the chemical components and the technical procedure for
polished concrete floor making.

But I do know enough Italian to plug in some keywords into,
the Italian version of Google.

"Pavimento industriale", " pavimento di cemento"
and pavimento industriale come uno specchio"
(concrete pavement like a mirror)
were but a few of the phrases I googled.

I am happy to report the Google Italian
works just well as Google English.
A host of informative sites appeared on this
concrete floor business, along with many informative
DYI or how to Youtube videos.
My favorite were these two videos, part 1 and part 2.
Oh. Whoops, looks like this is Mexico.
Won't really serve my purpose here.
But the technique crosses all borders.

So then I find some helpful articles in Italian
on concrete floor making and polishing,
I even use Google Translate to translate an
entire PDF document from English to Italian
that was particularly informative.
I save at least 5 or 6 YouTube
videos, 4 or 5 Italian articles,
all on my desktop, organized and packaged
all nice and tidy.
I have also spent a small fortune on
Italian Home magazines, all which have glossy
photos of concrete floors built in
real Italian homes,
living rooms, kitchens,
(Didn't Taddeo tell me they don't do that here??
I went so far as to purchase earlier several packages of
metal clips to mark the pages in these magazines.
I wanted to be hyper-organized when
I did my visual aids presentation to Taddeo.
After many, many hours of research and subsequent
I was ready for Taddeo.

I called him up and told him that I wasn't feeling right about
our decision to do the floor with "an imitation concrete
resina look-alike'' solution that we had arrived at,
I wanted to "show him" some things I had found.

Ha. He didn't have even a clue of the coming

He showed up at the usual time of 9pm,
after dinner, after his actual work day somewhere else,
because he never seems to stay here more than
15-20 minutes during the day.

He sat down at the kitchen table where I had my presentation all
ready. I stated my case and used my armory of
visual aids.
He focused on the diamond floor polisher and laughed.
Stacey, first of all,
you can't get those here, second of all,
how are you going to fit that in the bathroom?
He has a point.
I'm sure you can get those diamond polishers here,
I did find them on Italian sites as well,
but regardless, those monsters are about 8 ft long and
3 feet wide and the bathroom isn't even that big.

He looks at a few of the sites, mildly interested,
I had so painstakenly saved on the desktop for him,
and says,

"Si, no problema, we can do this.
You just need to do it by hand
with an American trowel tool."
(whatever that is)

You can?
That's it?
He explains how he will do it, and does not seem to think it is an issue.

Then, he says, like a schoolboy who want's to be let out of school,
"Posso andare?"
Can I go now?

Yes, Taddeo, you can go.
Wouldn't want you to spend more than your
allotted 15-20 minutes a day here.

Well, I am holding my breath about this concrete floor.

1 comment:

Chris Lavin said...

wow well written and nice pics thanks.
Polished Concrete Floor