Terrazzo Floor – Pros/Cons, Types, and Costs

Terrazzo Floor has been around for ages – in fact, from the ages of Egyptian art. Though it is so ancient, If you do not know about it, it is not really surprising. Using Terrazzo increased to a large extent in the 18th century in Italy.

At that time, in Italy, marble floors were very popular with the richer classes as it was pretty expensive. Terrazzo was to the middle class what marble is to the richer class. This is because it was so much cheaper than marble.

Terrazzo also has various advantages which have started impressing designers of late. Using terrazzo means that they can completely do away with stone floors that are really cold and also evade tile work. Terrazzo is a material that is very easy to handle and can actually be poured just like concrete. However, it allows for the addition of different textures and colors too.

What is Terrazzo Tile?

Pouring terrazzo-like cement is not the only way to use it. It is also available in the form of tiles. If you are wondering what these tiles actually are, then read on:

It is a building material that is a combination of chips of stone or marble and epoxy resin or concrete aggregates. These tiles are suitable for inside and outside the house and where you use them depends on the components that make up the tiles.

Keep in mind: There is a kind of cement tile which is called Gratino. This is similar to terrazzo in many ways and as a result, is also called the terrazzo tile. So, in case you come across someone referring to in situ terrazzo, it only means something that is poured in place. Since it is obvious that we only pour terrazzo where it actually has to be poured, we might as well say “poured” terrazzo.

What Are The Terrazzo Types

There are some things to be taken into consideration when you decide whether you need to go in for terrazzo or not. The topmost among these is to see if you really wish for the poured or tile appearance. People have various preferences when it comes to the appearance of the floors.

There are people who prefer the consistently even look and hence, like the poured terrazzo look. Though this is in many ways like a concrete floor, it is a lot more ornate. There are others, however, who feel that it is always better to have a structured and patterned look which is only possible with tiles. This is further enhanced by the grout that needs to be used.

After this decision comes to the decision of the final look, the color, and the components you want in the terrazzo tiles. You have a wide variety of components to choose from ranging from metal pieces, stones, chips of glass, abalone shells or mother of pearls, and many other options.

Though these are different in many ways, be assured that they will all give you the stunning look that you want. Whether they contribute to a flat floor or not depends on the texture and the components that go to make the tiles.

These discussions make us wonder about the kind of floor we would like to have. The choices that we have are the smooth and the textured versions. You should base this decision on the place where the tiles are going to be fixed. Someplace outside or the porch or pool area and the bathroom can definitely benefit from a textured floor. However, in areas that are inside the house like the bedroom and the living room, for instance, a smooth texture is best for the floor.

The other surprising possibility with terrazzo is that it can be molded into furnishings, bathtubs or countertops too. This is a great idea for you to try out.

What Are The Installation Methods

When it is poured into the original areas that it should be in, especially in floors that are not narrow, we need to use metal divider strips. These strips are very useful as they can delineate the whole floor into different areas so that there is no splitting.

Parts of the floor where breakage is possible to have to be identified and the strips have to be used in these areas as these cracks are essential there. If you want many colors on your floor, then also these divider strips come in very handy to identify the different colored areas.

Irrespective of whether you want to pour in the terrazzo or choose to go with the ready-made tiles, you will need the help of an installer who is proficient in what he does. He will get your floor ready in stages such as sanding, polishing, and sealing.

These processes ensure a floor that is smooth and perfect. This remains unchanged even if you select tiles. Even the grout that is required between the tiles will be completely on the level with the tiles.

Methods for Installing Terrazzo

If you decide to use terrazzo at home, it is definitely not a good idea to try to do it on your own. Since there are various processes involved, especially with the terrazzo in situ, it is always better to get professional help.

The experience and well-informed guidance from these professionals will ensure the best results for your floor. Since these people are aware of the different kinds of methods, they are the best people to guide you on important decisions regarding your floor.

These are the three principal methods of in situ process:

Thinset Terrazzo

This is a layer that is applied over concrete. It is made of epoxy resin and is around 3/8 in thickness. If you have a floor that is made of plywood or concrete, then you can fix this kind of terrazzo floor on it.

There are numerous varieties of colors that you can choose from. It also has the least possibilities of breaking or cracking. This is because of the epoxy resin. It adds largely to the flexibility of the floor.

Thinset terrazzo has become the most used type for the reconstruction of interiors. This is because there is no better material suited for different kinds of floors and interiors.

Sand-Cushion Terrazzo

This type of structure has to be used all over the building that you want to use it in. This differs in the way it is structured. First, there is a cement base that is created. Then, a layer of sand is fixed on it before pouring the cement terrazzo combination on top of it.

The layer of sand is very useful as it has the capacity to allow some movement. This quality lowers the possibility of cracking and breaking. However, the disadvantage is that this procedure results in a thick and heavy floor. Such kinds of floors are fit only for modern buildings and can only be used inside buildings.

Monolithic Terrazzo

This kind of floor is fit for buildings that have only one floor or for ground floors. In this procedure, the terrazzo made of cement is put directly onto the subfloor which is made of concrete. It is good to remember that this is possible if the subfloor is even and is in the best condition. This approach can be used both inside and outside houses.

There are other ways of handling poured terrazzo. One such method is bonded terrazzo. This is similar to the method that used sand as a cushion. In cases when the epoxy variety poses problems and does not stick, Polyacrylate terrazzo is a very useful approach. There is yet another approach that is called Rustic terrazzo. This is ideal for outside the house in which a rugged texture is preferred.

Terrazzo Tile Flooring

If you are not happy with the procedure of pouring that is used, then you can always opt for the terrazzo tiles. This involves a process very similar to how ceramic and porcelain tiles are laid. The terrazzo tiles are laid using adhesive and grout. If the person who fixes these tiles is experienced, then he will probably use a sealed and sanded surface and the result will be a really even and smooth look when contrasted with the poured terrazzo.

Advantages of Terrazzo Flooring

This kind of floor is a really great option as it has a lot of advantages. The following advantages will help you make the right decision.

Visual Appeal

When you compare terrazzo and plain concrete floors, the former is a fantastic option. This looks a lot like an industrial, smooth pattern. However, it has a lot more interest and extra texture.

People who like the plain or commercial look sometimes feel that the edges could be a little softer. The answer to this expectation is terrazzo. Apart from all this, terrazzo can be made to suit your likings to a great extent. You can choose the color and texture to create the floor of your choice.

Conducive to Underfloor Heating

This approach is the best one for houses where carpets and rugs are not used. Terrazzo floors do not get affected by heat and do not get damaged. Hence, it is one of the best choices if you have an underfloor heating unit. The additional advantage is that terrazzo is a good conductor of heat and this will surely help to reduce your utility bill too.

Healthy

The best thing about sealed poured or tiled terrazzo is that you can be sure that there is absolutely no microorganism or mold on it. What more can you ask if you want an ultra-clean floor? So, after you are done cleaning the floor, you are actually convinced that there is no unseen dirt or germs on your floor. To reap these benefits, the floor must be made really professionally.

Easy upkeep

What do you have to do to maintain it? Well, all you have to do is sweep and mop it regularly and it remains immaculately clean.

Environmentally friendly

If you are a person who is conscious of the environment, then you will surely love terrazzo products. Recycled porcelain, glass, and metals go to make up a number of these products and so, they do support the environment in a big way.

Durable

You are going to love this quality of terrazzo. It is so enduring that if you have installed it professionally in the right way, then you can forget about replacing it for a really long time. No wonder there are so many businesses opting for this product.

Disadvantages of Terrazzo Flooring

Most products come with their own disadvantages and terrazzo is no exception. Here are the disadvantages of such an amazing product:

Be cautious with fashion choices

Choosing terrazzo could be a mistake if your aim is to build a lovely house and then sell it. This is because though terrazzo is riding a high wave now, it is definitely not everyone’s favorite.

Fractures

All the advantages of terrazzo are if the floor is done professionally. If it is not installed properly, then, the disadvantages show up. One of them is that the floor can split. There are remedies for such a situation but these solutions are not fast and can burn a hole in your pocket. So, if you opt for this kind of floor, get a professional expert to lay it for you.

Expense

Terrazzo floors are not at all inexpensive too.

Cost of Terrazzo Flooring

Terrazzo floor

All terrazzo floors do not cost the same. The difference comes because the aggregate used in different floors is different. If you choose to go with basic stone aggregates, then the price will be reasonable. However, if you wish to use marble or quartz, then the floor will be much more costly.

The material is not the only thing that determines the cost of terrazzo. If you decide to use terrazzo, then the only way to lay it properly will be to spend on a good professional contractor.

Apart from this, the existing subfloor may have to work on before installing terrazzo. You could calculate the cost at around $20-100 per square foot in case you go in for poured terrazzo. As for the terrazzo tiles, you will have to spend around $15-30 per square foot.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Thickness of Terrazzo Flooring?

Though terrazzo is normally around ½ to ¾ inch in thickness, it can be very different based on who makes it and what products are used.

Terrazzo that is thin-set could be around ¼ and 3/8 inches. Thicker floors such as sand cushioned and bonded terrazzo could be around ½ an inch in thickness. However, there are other measurements also to bear in mind.

The thickness of the mortar bed is usually around 1 and a ½ inches and this has to be added to the thickness of the cushion of the sand or asphalt paper which is another ¼ inch.

How Long will Terrazzo Last?

The life of terrazzo floors is a surprising 75 to 100 years. Occasionally, if they are taken care of really well, then they can last even longer. In fact, these floors outlive the buildings they are in. All these put together, these floors even have a lifetime guarantee.

How can you keep terrazzo floors looking shiny?

That the terrazzo floors are coming back into fashion is not at all surprising as they look sleek and shiny. Maintaining this shine is not a bother at all if you learn how to do it. However, if you do not want to take up the responsibility, then there are professionals who will do it for you at the rate of $3-7 per square foot.

Doing it yourself is as easy as mopping the floor with a microfiber mophead and a pH-neutral cleaner that is manufactured specifically for this use. After the floor dries, you will have to apply a layer of terrazzo sealant.

After this dries, the next step is to polish the floor. There is a specific powder made to polish these floors and do not be shocked if your floor looks rather muddy after using this powder. This is only because the powder tends to become a slurry.

All you have to do is just mop the floor when you feel that the majority of the powder you used has settled in. If you are still not satisfied with the way your floor looks, you just have to keep rubbing with the powder until the floor looks as shiny as you want it to.

Can You Repair The Terrazzo?

If there is an unfortunate event when a heavy object is either dragged or dropped on the floor, then terrazzo can crack or even break. Not being installed properly also causes the same results. However, if this happens, then there are two ways out. One is to get professional help to fix it. If the damage is minimal, then there are DIY ways to fix them too.

If your floor needs repairing, then there are many people who can help you out. They are experts who can repair and restore your terrazzo floors for a price. You may have to spend around $5-8 per square foot. However, this depends entirely on how bad the damage is.

If the damage is not too bad, then you can repair it on your own. You will have to set the right fault lines and for this, you will need coloring, epoxy, and a toothpick. All you have to do is use the toothpick to mix in the coloring and the epoxy and then fill this into the lines. Do not use the area or step on it for a day at least after this is done.

If the damage is bigger, then a paint stripper will have to be used so that surrounding sealant, if any will be removed. After this, you can use oil-based paint to do the repair. Make sure that the color of the paint you use matches that of your terrazzo and seal the area once again.

If you have a floor poured in the city, then the procedure is different. The area that is damaged will have to be got ready by sanding it using fine-grit paper. After this, wipe the area and then use the new material on it as a patch. Allow it to dry for a day. After it dries, you will have to sand down the area with 40 grit sandpaper. Make sure that the area is level with the rest of the floor. When you are certain that it is smooth and even, you can seal it.

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