Hardwood Floors vs. Terrazzo Floors – The Pros and Cons

Terrazzo Floors vs Hardwood Floors

Many an article has been written about the pros and cons of both terrazzo and hardwood floors – but not a lot of side by side comparisons that tackle the important details like cost, durability, upkeep and general aesthetics.

Making the choice between these two flooring systems also depends on other variables – if you’re remodeling, starting from the ground up; the allotted budget, the availability of materials, whether you’re going the DIY route or leaving it to the experts.  To make things hopefully a little easier, here’s a very basic run through of how one flooring system compares to the other.


Overall Cost: Materials and Installation

Terrazzo Hardwood Floors
Terrazzo floors cost more compared to most of the flooring systems available these days.  This is due to the following factors:

  • prior to installation, a concrete-based sub floor is required
  • installation is labor-intensive, time-consuming and more often than not, a professional involvement is required


Compared to terrazzo floors, hardwood will definitely be the more practical choice.  This is because:

  • installation and materials are less expensive and labor intensive
  • most times, DIY-ing hardwood floors can still give you great results
  • any kind of sub flooring is suitable


Durability and Damage-Resistance

Terrazzo Hardwood Floors
Durability is one of the stronger selling points of terrazzo.  Point in fact, most of the earlier terrazzo installations are still in existence today.  This is the reason why terrazzo is the preferred flooring system when it comes to places that have higher foot traffic like airports, shopping centers, hospitals and even campus buildings.  Additionally, terrazzo is waterproof, fireproof, scratch and impact resistant. Between the two flooring systems, hardwood doesn’t even begin to match up against terrazzo.  Hardwood is easily scuffed and scratched by shoes and heavier furniture often leaves grooves or indentations.  Unfortunately, hardwood is not waterproof even when treated with a special sealant which is why it has a tendency to warp and rot.


Maintenance and Upkeep

Terrazzo Hardwood Floors
Terrazzo floors do not require periodic cleaning or special cleaning solutions.  Once installed, it takes very minimal upkeep to preserve its newly-installed look. Hardwood floors need to be periodically sanded and stripped.  And to retain its newly-installed look, it needs to be completely refinished.  This type of maintenance is very costly.


General Aesthetic and Design Flexibility

Terrazzo Hardwood Floors
Terrazzo is the most flexible type of flooring system as it can be customized to suit the surrounding architecture or existing furniture.  Furthermore, terrazzo lends its surrounding a more regal, more expensive appearance. Hardwood floors are not so flexible in design and often only match certain type of architecture or surrounding.  However, it brings warmth and character to its location, making it appear less utilitarian and severe.

The Advantages of Using Terrazzo External Pavers

Terrazzo External Pavers

Are you thinking of finally building that backyard patio you’ve always dreamed of?  Maybe you’re contemplating on sprucing up the driveway; perhaps adding a pathway that cuts through the front lawn from the garage to the front door.  Whatever outdoor improvements you’re planning on doing, consider using terrazzo external pavers instead of any other flooring system.

Terrazzo external pavers have the following advantages, compared to what’s currently available in the market:

The fact that Terrazzo was originally used for outdoor installation and with most of the original terrazzo pathways, terraces and floors still in existence, speaks volumes of terrazzo’s durability.  This is why terrazzo is the preferred choice of many landscapers as it is specifically built with the ability to withstand heavy foot traffic and harsher weather elements.

Design Flexibility
Terrazzo external pavers can be manufactured to match or complement existing outdoor furniture or structures.  They can also be cut to take the shape or size of a surface area.  Furthermore, since terrazzo can be made with different kinds of aggregates, you can be sure that your terrazzo floor does not look like anybody else’s floor.

Environmentally Sound
Terrazzo is the original green flooring system.  This is because it is made from all natural materials.  In some cases today, homeowners who are advocates of green living can choose to include post-consumer products such as colored glass and stone scraps along with the more commonly used aggregates such as stone chips, granite, marble, river pebbles and quartz.

Cost Saving
Yes, installing terrazzo may cost more initially, however, because it is durable and low-maintenance, you are able to save more in the long run.  This is especially true with external pavers.  Maintenance is as easy as weekly washing with just soap and water.  There’s no need for special cleaners or appliances.  Upkeep is minimal as terrazzo external pavers are built to endure harsher every day wear and tear.

Non-slip Surface
The last thing you need is somebody slipping on your pathway or patio during rainy days.  Terrazzo external pavers can be specifically made to have anti-slip surfaces.  This ensures that your pavers are safe to walk on even during the rainy season or right after you’ve watered the garden.

Terrazzo Installation – Know the Basics

Whether you’re having your terrazzo floors professionally installed or going the DIY route, you still need to know the basics that go into terrazzo installation.  This is because each step is as crucial as the next and any mistakes or overlooked details could result in lengthy, difficult repairs.

Surface Preparation
This step sets the entire balance of the installation process.  This process serves to prepare the subflooring to bond strongly with the terrazzo.  Improper surface preparation could result in post-installation problems that would definitely be costly to amend.  This is done by shot blasting the surface to give it the proper Concrete Surface Profile that will accommodate the particular terrazzo flooring system you will be installing.

Crack Detailing
This procedure is done to ensure that cracks or fractures do not move upwards into the terrazzo installation.  This is achieved by using a flexible epoxy to fill and top cracks that are found after surface preparation.

Strip Layout
This procedure is done if you’re planning on customizing your terrazzo installation with logos, artwork or any other kind of design.  This ensures that your artwork is carefully laid out thereby avoiding costly mistakes.

Substrate Priming
This is done to achieve a strong bond between the substrate and the terrazzo installation.

This process is done once the floor has cured over 24 hours.  This is done to ensure that a brilliant and uniform surface is achieved.  Once this has been done, grouting can be done to further ensure that a non-porous and even terrazzo installation is achieved.

Polishing and Sealing
This step is done especially as there are a few different finishes available for terrazzo installation such as the standard Sealed Polished Finish, the Machine Polished Finish for low traffic areas and the Honed Anti-Slip Finish.

Terrazzo installation, when done properly will ensure that your floors come out flawlessly and can endure as long as you want it to.  With proper maintenance and upkeep, your terrazzo installation will definitely be worth the cost of choosing it over all the other flooring systems.

Tips on Maintaining Terrazzo Floors

terrazzo floor
What you need to remember to keep your terrazzo’s original luster longer.

It is an indelible fact that terrazzo is durable and long lasting.  To this day, many ancient terrazzo floors still exist.  If you want your terrazzo floors to last as long then read through.  Listed below are some of the more important things you need to remember when cleaning terrazzo:

  1. Sweep or vacuum away dirt, soil and grime as often as possible.  Remember that dirt particles are abrasive and damaging to terrazzo floors.
  2. Avoid using cleaning liquids that contain neither alkaline nor acid.  Neutral liquid cleaners work best for terrazzo.  Ensure that you follow manufacturer’s instructions when you purchase a neutral cleaner, especially when it comes to ratio of water to cleaner.
  3. Never use oil-based cleaners as they can cause permanent discoloration.
  4. Use the solution to mop the floor and let it stay for a few minutes.  Ensure that you frequently change the rinse water to remove left over dirt.  Keep the floor wet during this entire process to prevent dissolved soil from drying back onto the floor.  Buff the floor once it dries to help restore the natural sheen of your terrazzo.
  5. Sweep your floors daily so weekly cleaning is easier and you’re sure that there will be less abrasive particles to scratch your terrazzo floors.
  6. Wipe up stains quickly to avoid it from seeping deeper into your floor.

When cleaning up stains, ensure that you are using the recommended cleaner for that particular stain.  Different stains require different cleaners and cleaning methods.

In Situ Terrazzo – For a Seamless Finish on Your Floors

In Situ Terrazzo – For a Seamless Finish on Your F

As the name suggests, in situ (the literal translation of which is “on site”) terrazzo is poured on site and is the more ideal flooring system for establishments such as hotels, office lobbies, retail spaces, clubs and even high end residential dwellings.

In situ terrazzo is divided into panels which measures no more than 1500mm square per panel; with an ideal bay size of 1200mm x 1200mm.  It is also possible to do rectangular bays however one side should not be more than twice the length of the other side.  These terrazzo panels will help in controlling movement or any ensuing cracking that could possibly occur.

In situ terrazzo requires on site grinding and polishing and is available in several finishes:

Standard sealed finish – Recommended for high traffic applications for which sealer polish is applied to the surface to protect from staining and abrasion.  This finish is also honed on site.

  1. Polished with impregnating sealer – this finish is recommended for residential establishments, shops and office foyer applications and is polished on site to the same degree as factory-finished marble which leaves a high shine floor.
  2. Honed with impregnating sealer – this finish leaves no gloss on the floor and is not recommended for high traffic areas as it may track.  Also ideal for residential, shops and office foyer applications.
  3. Antiquing or Brushed Finished with impregnating sealer – this finish is polished on site as per honed finished.  The floor is then passed with brushes to give it an antiqued appearance.  This finish is also ideal for residential, shops and office foyer applications and can still have a sealer finish applied if so desired.

In situ terrazzo is the preferred flooring system by designers, builders and architects who are looking to integrate different colours and designs into a floor.