Magnesite Flooring and Vintage Northeast Los Angeles Homes
Tracy King Realty
If you're fortunate enough to own a vintage home with magnesite flooring, you owe it to the value and authenticity of your home to restore its magnesite to its former glory.
Ever the fashion in many early 20th-Century Los Angeles homes, magnesite is loved for its durability and beauty, and for keeping the home cool through the summer. These idyllic homes, including wood bungalows, Craftsman and Spanish Mission Revival-style houses, are special to the architecturally important to cities like Glendale, Pasadena and neighborhoods of Northeast LA such as Atwater Village, Eagle Rock and Highland Park.
Atwater Village Real Estate has been a hot commodity as of late and Altadena and Pasadena real estate is perpetually booming. New homebuyers who are purchasing the vintage homes in these areas of learning about magnesite flooring and find themselves wondering what to do about restoring or replacing it.
Over 10,000 homes in Los Angeles County have some kind of magnesite flooring. If the magnesite is properly restored, it can improve not only the character but the value of your home, and by up to ten percent. Homebuyers are willing to pay a lot more, even for an authentic magnesite entryway, staircase or countertop.
Staying authentic to the true style of your house is key. Magnesite floors have a vintage look well matched with wrought-iron light fixtures, arched doorways and hardwood floors. As gentrification makes the housing markets in Highland Park, Eagle Rock and Echo Park (as well as surrounding neighborhoods like Atwater Village) more competitive, new homeowners will want to peel back the old carpet or linoleum and check for the original beauty of magnesite floors.
The old-fashioned flooring appears in many colors, smooth like cement or in Mediterranean and Spanish-pattern tiles. Unlike regular tile, magnesite is formed on site. It is made by mixing an organic compound of magnesium with water. Workmen can cut and stamp the magnesite while it sets, or mix pigments into the compound, to give it a tile or marble aesthetic.
The worst damage to magnesite is chipping and pitting due to nails and hammering from linoleum and carpet being installed on top of the original floor, a common practice in the Sixties and Seventies as carpet became popular. If the magnesite has significant cracked and crumpled areas, you likely need to have the areas cut out and a new magnesite poured in and mixed with matching pigment. Then, the repairman can paint highlights onto the patch to ensure that it blends with the original magnesite, including redrawing the original patterns.
The total cost of repair can run from $500 to $3500 but will ultimately be a pittance compared to the overall increased value of the home. Only a few select specialists remain who truly know how to bring out the beauty of magnesite. Though the art of making magnesite is a thing of the past, there are a few expert artisans in the Los Angeles area who remain fluent in the varied and complex techniques to mix, pattern and patch it.
Once a Magnesite floor is repaired, you will want to maintain it with non-oil cleaners. Oil residue has to be stripped off, which adds to the cost to restore. Instead of oily cleaners like Murphy's Oil Soap or Pine Sol, treat your magnesite like wood floors with a Polyurethane finish.
Magnesite has a beautiful coloration, ranging from opaque to translucent, with variable amounts of calcium, carbonates, oxides, manganese, aluminum and silicates of iron that lend to its milky-white appearance. Painting over the magnesite flooring will cover up its unique color and unusual porous texture. While you will not only regret losing its vintage artisanal feel in your home, future homeowners and tenants will miss out on experiencing this precious and forgotten material.