The Three Basic Types of Terrazzo Flooring

Three Basic Types of Terrazzo Flooring - Terrazzo Australian Marble

The Three Basic Types of Terrazzo Flooring

Have you ever found yourself stopping dead on your tracks because the floor you’re walking on is beautifully and intricately designed?  I have been known to scramble a few floors up so I can take in a more complete view of a hotel lobby floor.  So when I found out about terrazzo, I now want to go searching for malls, hotels and other buildings that use terrazzo.  This is because numerous establishments often turn to terrazzo flooring to create one of a kind designs and patterns.  These days however, terrazzo is also used for other things besides flooring; walls, countertops, outdoor benches and sometimes even artwork.

Terrazzo is used to describe both the material and the method and is almost often confused with mosaic however it is really quite different from the latter.  The difference being the pieces of marble used in the making of mosaic is usually cubic and uniform compared to the more free form marble chips used in terrazzo.

 

There are three basic types of terrazzo flooring:

  • Traditional terrazzo – also called cementitious terrazzo.  This type of terrazzo is heavy and requires laying a thick cement subflooring or foundation to start.  This type is ideal to use for both indoors and outdoors especially in areas where there is a higher ratio of foot traffic.
  • Polyacrylate terrazzo – this type of terrazzo uses a combination of cement and latex which helps in strengthening the mixture allowing a much thinner spread and therefore “cures” quicker than traditional terrazzo.  This type of terrazzo flooring is actually preferred for homes which already have existing level floors.  It also has more design flexibility compared to traditional terrazzo and can often include post-consumer glass in the mixture.
  • Epoxy terrazzo – this is the most versatile, strongest and most commonly used type of terrazzo in the market today.  It is practically impervious to scratching, fading, unsightly staining and cracking.  It is mostly installed in structures that have multiple levels.  However, epoxy terrazzo is not advisable for outdoor installation as it is non-porous and the epoxy does not fare well under prolonged exposure to sunlight.

Each type has its own pros and cons.  Despite some limitations however, terrazzo is still the preferred material for airports, malls and hotel lobbies.

How to Care for your Terrazzo Countertops

How to Care for your Terrazzo Countertops - Terrazzo Australian Marble

How to Care for your Terrazzo Countertops

Terrazzo countertops are increasingly growing in popularity among designers, builders and more importantly, homeowners.  This is happening because terrazzo countertops are proving to be more durable than any other countertop materials in the market today.  Apart from its longevity, terrazzo is also highly customizable, with a variety of aggregate materials and colors to choose from.  What this means is, your terrazzo countertops can easily be made to match existing color schemes or made to the exact color specifications of your preference.

Like any terrazzo-made surface, maintenance is relatively easy however there are important things to remember so that your terrazzo countertops’ longevity and durability is increased.  Moreover, with the right kind of care and cleaning, terrazzo countertops will look as flawless as the day they were installed.

Here’s a handy guide on tips and what to avoid when cleaning and caring for your countertops:

Cleaning and Care Tips:

  • Always use soft cloths or fabric when cleaning your terrazzo countertops
  • For buffing, always use a clean cloth to finish
  • In the event of stains, clean them up right away.  Do not allow stains to sit and settle in deeper.  Gently blot the stain then clean it afterwards.
  • There are cleaners that are specifically recommended for terrazzo countertops, these would be your best options in cleaning to get the best results.
  • In some cases, gentle rubbing alcohol can be used to clean terrazzo and will remove most stains

 

Mistakes to Avoid in Terrazzo Countertop Maintenance:

  • Never use gritty powder cleansers.  They are abrasive and can cause small scratches on your terrazzo surfaces.
  • Always check your choice of cleansers.  Those that are acid based are harmful to terrazzo surfaces and most natural stone.
  • Vinegar and lemon juice, staple ingredients in most organic homemade cleansers are extremely acidic and should therefore never be used on terrazzo countertops.
  • Never use metal or hard plastic scourers to avoid further damaging terrazzo surfaces.
  • Bath and laundry soaps and detergents should be refrained from being used as they leave behind fatty residue.

 

Protective Maintenance

  • Every couple of months, apply a fresh stone polish and buff gently to keep your terrazzo countertops shiny and looking new.
  • Reseal once every couple of years.

Waterjet Technology and Terrazzo, Making Intricate Flooring Designs Possible

Waterjet Technology and Terrazzo - Terrazzo Australian Marble

Waterjet Technology and Terrazzo, Making Intricate Flooring Designs Possible

Terrazzo is one of, if not the most customizable building material.  These days, it is used not just for flooring systems but also as 3D wall installations, counter tops and even smaller decorative pieces.  Terrazzo is also one of the most durable and time-tested building materials.  Ancient terrazzo dating back hundreds of years ago are still intact and gracing numerous halls, villas, bathhouses and palaces.

Over the years, terrazzo’s popularity has come back with fervor.  Builders, designers and architects saw the need for a material that not only boasts of durability but is also highly customizable.  Today, with the addition of computerized Waterjet technology, terrazzo has become even more design-flexible.

 

How it works:

Waterjet technology is a computerized cutting technology that can cut or shape most building materials including metal into any desired two-dimensional shape.  In fact, materials such as stone, stainless steel and porcelain cannot be cut any other way into more intricate shapes using any other method without wasting or risking damage to the material.  Also, because Waterjet cutting does not heat, harden or distort metal, it is the perfect method to use in cutting the aluminum forms into which the terrazzo material is poured.  Additionally, anything that can be drawn on a computer can be cut by Waterjet.

Because it is computerized, Waterjet technology can create practically any shape or form into which the terrazzo can be poured into and can replicate it as many times as needed without sacrificing symmetry and uniformity.  This marriage between technology and design is especially perfect for larger spaces like malls, building lobbies, food courts and other areas that serve as design focal areas or have a heavier than normal foot traffic.

With terrazzo tiles being heavily customizable and Waterjet cutting technology’s ability to cut more intricate and complex designs, there really is no limit to what can be created using both.

Basic Cleaning Guidelines for Terrazzo Floors

Basic Cleaning Guidelines for Terrazzo Floors - Terrazzo Australian Marble

Basic Cleaning Guidelines for Terrazzo Floors

There is no other flooring system easier to maintain than terrazzo floors.  If you know the proper way of cleaning and maintaining your terrazzo floors, they can remain as flawless as they were when they were newly installed.  The thing to remember with terrazzo floors, you cannot deviate from recommended cleaning methods without first consulting your terrazzo builder.  While terrazzo floors are pretty much impervious to most stains and cracks resulting from high impact trauma, using the incorrect cleaning solution or material can harm your terrazzo floors.

Here’s a list of Dos and Don’ts when it comes to cleaning and maintaining your terrazzo floors.

Let’s start with the Dos. 

  • After installation, consult your terrazzo builder for the best methods, cleaning solutions and materials that will give you the best results.
  • Sweep before you mop.  This ensures that grit and dirt do not scratch the surface of your terrazzo floors.  This is especially important to remember when your terrazzo floors extend to your exterior spaces.
  • Use only recommended cleaning products.
  • Remember to always consult with terrazzo experts if you are unable to procure the recommended cleaning solutions before you deviate or change from what is normally used.
  • Deep clean your terrazzo floors at least twice a month.  More depending on the amount of foot traffic that your floors get.

Here are the Don’ts:

  • Avoid using “great for every kind of surface” solutions.  They do not have the proper pH balance needed to thoroughly clean your terrazzo floors without harming them.
  • Don’t use an electric polisher without first sweeping your floors thoroughly.  Doing so would ground debris deeper into your floor and over time could cause pitting and scarring.
  • Don’t forget to thoroughly rinse your mops before using them again to ensure that all previous grit and debris have been removed completely.
  • In the event that your terrazzo floors get heavily stained, do not attempt to fix the situation without first consulting with your terrazzo builder.  While it is true that everything can be found on the internet, it is still best to get advice straight from those who are considered experts on the field.

Remember to stick to the guidelines and your terrazzo floors will remain flawless and pristine throughout the years.

The Evolution of Terrazzo – A Timeline

The Evolution of Terrazzo – A Timeline

The Evolution of Terrazzo – A Timeline

Terrazzo these days has become synonymous to subtle elegance, proven durability and unparalleled customizability.   Add to that, terrazzo is the most affordable flooring system based on its life cycle and the materials needed to manufacture it.  Terrazzo in fact, is so popular that quite a number of designers, builders and architects recommend it to a lot of their clientele – from residential spaces to massive shopping malls and hotels.  Indeed, it has definitely come a long way since its humble beginnings as recycled discarded marble remnants.

 

Mid-16th Century

Ingenious Venetian stone and mosaic workers discovered that the marble remnants they have been discarding can be reused as building materials for terraces that they built around their homes.  Over the years, the technique to leveling the odd-sized chips progressed from manually rubbing the uneven surface with stone, to the development of the galero – a long-handled, weighted grinding stone.  When workers noticed that goat’s milk brought out the opulent colors and natural luster of the marble, it became the first known sealer.

During this time, the terrazzo and marble industry was mostly monopolized by north region’s Frulili craftsmen.  To this day, the industry is still predominantly held by the latter generations of those talented craftsmen.

 

1890 – 1915

Terrazzo was first laid in the United States of America by Italian craftsmen in 1890; the location – the famous Vanderbilt residence on Fifth Avenue in New York.  However, during that time, mosaics were still largely favored over terrazzo.  The massive migration of Italians to the US from 1900 to 1915, established the Italian craftsmen as the aristocracy of the immigrant labor force because their work was so highly skilled and valued.  They were given the name, terazzeri and were often regarded as true artists.  These honors bestowed on them made them guard the secrets of their craft with much zeal and fervor – only handing them down from father to son with each passing generation.

 

1920s

After World War 1, terrazzo became the flooring of choice, passing over and replacing marble mosaics.  This is because architects in the 20s recognized that terrazzo had a greater potential design flexibility which is perfect for the smooth and curvilinear style of Art Deco that was starting to gain popularity.  Additionally, the electric grinder was invented in 1924 and brought with it the ability to gain a finer finish, quicker and more accurate production at significantly lowered costs.

Some of the more popular structures that were built with terrazzo include Radio City Music Hall and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, famously designed by Frank Lloyd-Wright.  These buildings attest to the durability, timelessness and elegance of terrazzo.

 

Current time

To this day, terrazzo has held its own against most of the other flooring systems in the market today.  And with the advent of new technology, Terrazzo has also become a major material in other structures such as 3D wall installations, outdoor furniture and many more.