Progress on tomettes

Author: fraise

Sunday 7 June 2009, in Home improvement, La France, Nice

Living room looking towards sofa nook

I’ve continued restoring the original tomettes, traditional southern French terracotta tiles I discovered (and uncovered) in December. As a reminder, this is what the living room looked like before, while this photo shows the tile adhesive I had to remove.

The photo above, tomettes now clean, shows how the sofa nook looks now, and here’s the other half of the living room. Last Sunday I decided to test my theory about a heavy-duty cleaner (décapant in French) that I had used before and that didn’t work so well. Instead of diluting it as recommended, I added only half the amount of water prescribed, making it more concentrated. This worked nicely, and I was able to scrape off tile adhesive residue very quickly. About two-thirds of the living room still needed adhesive scoured off — I finished it all that same day!

What most surprises me is that the floor is in such good shape. The apartment building dates from 1953, so the tomettes are 56 years old, and yet only one of them has serious damage. The rest were so well cared-for that even after being tiled over, then having that tile removed, and being scoured, scraped and treated with a chemical cleaner, they still shine! My apartment has only had two owners before me, with the previous owners having bought four years ago and putting in the tile when they arrived, so it would seem that the original owner truly cared for the terracotta floor.

Some thin spots of residue still need to be scrubbed off with a regular scouring pad, but that should go quickly. After that, all that remains is to seal and wax the floor. Easier said than done since with the furniture, I’ll only be able to do half at a time. And will need to keep kitties from exploring the floor while it’s worked on. They behaved surprisingly well with the ammonia-based cleaner, never once touching it — I’m assuming because it smelled bad.

4 responses to “Progress on tomettes”

  1. Simon Says:

    Hi Anna – good to see your blog is up and running again. Grey looks so much healthier and I’m mightily impressed with your tomettes work. You must have extraordinary patience!

  2. zuleme Says:

    Nice floor, and a lot of work. We have two large buildings here and it is never done.

  3. Joanne Mathews Says:

    I have similar tomettes in the attic space of my house down here in the South of France, and I would like to clean them up. I wonder if you could let me have the trade name of the product you used, so that I know exactly what to purchase to get them looking spic and span.

    Your tomettes look fantastic by the way!

  4. fraise Says:

    For regular cleaning of tomettes, nothing beats savon noir à l’huile de lin. There’s no trade name in particular, several brands make it. It’s sold in several supermarkets. All you need to do is wash the tomettes with the savon noir à l’huile de lin, then scrub any particularly dirty spots while nice and wet.

    You might (probably) need to wax your tomettes, which should be done once or twice a year. The brand Starwax makes a good wax specifically for tomettes. (They make several other tomette-specific products too, but you likely don’t need to worry about anything more than the wax.)

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