Monday, August 4, 2008
Hold Me Back Before I Jump
I can be impulsive, like buying a hundred-year-old house and jumping into the project. The south balcony was so bad it could have temped me to jump in a bad sort of way. I tried to ignore it because I did not have a clue how to fix it. When I bought my Victorian, I was fortunate that the house had a new roof, but I was not to happy that the roofing material covered the floor of this guest-bedroom balcony. Stepping on it in the summer was like stepping on hot blacktop. The railings were loose and posts were rotting and falling apart. I was stumped on how to repair it. I did not opt for a wood floor, because my other balcony floor takes so much upkeep. I considered plain tile, but I just could not get excited about that idea because I was afraid it would crack or come loose during winter. I found that other people in town had tile on their porches that held up through the cold weather. As I was discussing this option with a friend, he said, “Have fun with it.” That triggered my interest, and I started shopping for tile with a pattern. I chose ceramic tiles with a rough surface so they would not be slick when wet, and drew up the floor plan to scale with a graphics program showing how I wanted them laid. I called my trusty carpenter, gave him the pattern and he went to work. When he pulled off the roofing material, he found the floor was rotting in places and was uneven so it tilted to the side. He repaired the balcony floor and installed white metal sheeting on two sides to stop water from doing damage in the future. The floor dips slightly to the center so the water runs off the balcony in the middle. He did a beautiful job laying the tile I had chosen. I replaced the railing and posts. The colors in the tile pull the gray roof, the red brick and white railings together. I now have balcony I enjoy standing on, especially when the breeze is rustling the leaves of the cottonwood trees and bird are singing or flying about. When I look down I often see butterflies flitting about in the flower bed below. It is a job where money was well spent. The tile made it through this last cold, long winter and has not shown any wear or damage.