The Many Kinds of Terrazzo and Finishes

Ahhh terrazzo! Have you ever been mesmerized by walking on an intricately and exquisitely designed terrazzo floor in a posh hotel lobby or a swanky department store or even a business office front atrium. A beautifully designed terrazzo installation can leave one breathless with this experience. Nowadays large shopping centers, restaurants, hotels, homes and other structures use terrazzo to create one-of-a- kind and imaginative designs that bespeak of their own distinct branding. Terrazzo uses have come a long way since its early beginnings as a crude flooring material in old Venice. Now it is extensively used as pre cast elements with useful applications which include Stairs, Steps and Risers, Skirting, Wall Panels, Benchtops for kitchens and other work areas, Covings, Bathrooms and Lavatories, Shower Partitions, Columns and Engineered Stone Partitions and in more recent times as Public Furniture in parks and walkways.

terrazzo floor

For everyone to understand, terrazzo here is used to describe both the material that is in the mix and the method that it is manufactured. So we talk about the terrazzo mixture used and the finish of the terrazzo itself.

Cementitious terrazzo is also the traditional terrazzo that most people know. This type of terrazzo is heavy and requires a thick cement subflooring or foundation to start with. This terrazzo is ideal for both indoors and outdoors, especially in areas where there is heavy foot traffic.

Polyacrylate terrazzo is a type of terrazzo that uses a combination of cement and latex which helps in strengthening the mixture whereby allowing a much thinner spread which “cures” much quicker than cementitious terrazzo. This type of terrazzo flooring is actually the most desired for use in homes which already have existing level floors.  It also offers more design flexibility compared to traditional terrazzo and often include post-consumer glass in the mixture.

Epoxy terrazzo is the most versatile, strongest and most commonly used type of terrazzo in the market today.  It is practically impermeable to scratching, fading, unsightly stains and cracks. It is usually installed in structures which have multiple levels. But sad to admit, this kind of terrazzo is not advisable for outdoor installations due to its non-porous quality and the fact that epoxy does not do well under long exposure to sunlight.

Sealed Polished Finish is the standard finish to commercial retail projects in which the floor is ground on site and a protective shiny sealer is applied to the floor. This special sealer is maintained to ensure that the floor always looks like new.

Machine Polished Finish is where the floor is ground and machine polished on site with a penetrating sealer applied. This finish is suitable for low foot traffic areas.

Honed Anti-Slip Finish is where the floor is ground on site to a bevel finish. If a non-slip finish is required a non-slip additive is added during the manufacturing process that enables the floor to achieve at least a finish that will not easily wear off. Dark colours are recommended for this type of terrazzo finish.

Terrazzo is a versatile building component that has a lot of types and finishes that one can specify and use to their advantage.

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