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Sneak Peek: Brookline Mid-century Modern Floor

Getting the look of concrete with giant-size porcelain tiles

The homeowners of the Brookline Mid-century Modern project originally wanted polished concrete floors for their house. They loved the aesthetics and practicality of the material, which has become an iconic choice for contemporary interiors.

However, the house’s poor condition meant that the TOH team would have had to reinforce the floors before they could handle the weight of the concrete, an expensive undertaking. So the homeowners came up with a smart alternative: big porcelain tiles that look like concrete.

How big are they? Really big. Each tile measures 2 feet by 2 feet and weighs 80 pounds.

To install the tiles, contractor Mark Ferrante and his crew used special techniques: They moved the tiles around the job site using suction handles—similar to those used by glass workers—because it was impossible to grasp a 4-foot-square, 80-pound piece of tile with bare hands. They also applied twice the amount of thinset that they would typically use for a normal-size tile to ensure there was enough adhesion.

As a final step, the crew inserted self-leveling clips so that each tile would set at the same level. In the end, all the care was well worth the result: perfectly smooth, totally even, concrete-look floors—which also feel toasty under bare feet, thanks to the radiant floor heat added throughout the house.