Concrete & Terrazzo Floor Polishing
While we are all familiar with concrete tiles (mostly used in garages and warehouses), the term ‘terrazzo’ might be new to many. The ‘terrazzo’ tile is considered to be among the most versatile tiles in the modern construction industry. It is made with a combination of marble, quartz, glass chips or granite, with cement as the binding agent. Traditionally, terrazzo was made with marble chips mixed in cement. This combination was ground flat and then covered with top sealer.
One of the biggest advantages of terrazzo as a flooring option is that it is extremely cost-effective. Also, it looks appealing and is a highly durable product. Today, terrazzo is polished mechanically (without the use of chemicals) for achieving a high-shine surface. Terrazzo is known for bringing versatility and flexibility that is not possible with other flooring options. In fact, designers and architects believe that terrazzo is one flooring style that is poses no design limitations.
When shopping for terrazzo tiles, you may come across a wide range of colors and unlimited collective options such as marble, mother of pearl and recycled glass. Regardless of whether you prefer contemporary monochromatic styles or something traditional and reminiscent of Italian mosaic design, terrazzo can serve as a perfect canvas.
As far as durability is concerned, terrazzo flooring will hardly disappoint you. Centuries old terrazzo floors continue to stand in several buildings all across Europe and the Middle East. In fact, epoxy terrazzo flooring is considered to be even more sturdy and long-lasting and may outlive the building or structure in which it was installed!
Where to Use Terrazzo
Since terrazzo tiles are incredibly durable and tough in nature, they are suitable for nearly all spaces, both indoors and outdoors. Architects and designers recommend these tiles for high-traffic areas like hallways, lobbies and other frequently used outdoor areas.
Besides being durable, terrazzo tiles are also quite water resistant. This makes them an excellent flooring option for bathrooms and kitchens. Terrazzo is capable of repelling both stains and water and is also frequently used on countertops, in swimming pools and showers.
Damage to Concrete Floors
There are several types of damages that can occur to concrete and terrazzo floors. Some of the most examples of floor damage include the following:
Heavy loads and physical damage may cause damage to a concrete floor (e.g. dropping of a heavy tool). Cracks can also result from contraction and expansion of the concrete floor with changes in temperature.
- Water-related damage
Concrete is porous in nature. Therefore, if there is seepage of water followed by freezing, it could break off tiny flakes on the surface. This type of scaling of concrete floors typically occurs at the onset of winter and could get worse over a period of time. In fact, a concrete floor may collapse completely if scaling is not prevented.
Pitting in a concrete floor could result from former resurfacing work that had a poor concrete mix, exposure of surface to salt water or a poor finishing job.
If your concrete or terrazzo floor endures abuse for years together, you will end up with a completely worn-out floor which shows continued deterioration. Further, the amount of investment done in repair will keep increasing if you fail to address the problems at the initial stage.
Restoration of Concrete Floors
If your concrete floor has undergone damage and shows cracks or chips, it might be time to consult a professional to get repair work done. In most cases of concrete floor damage, professionals make use of an epoxy, polyurea or polyurethane based crack filling substance which can be sanded. These crack repair materials are capable of curing and hardening with greater strength and also avoid water intrusion. They can be sanded or ground flush along with the concrete. Further they would easily take on epoxy or paint coating.
Deeply cracked concrete is usually filled with silica sand. The reason for this is that it helps avoid the seeping down of the repair material into the settling and concrete. Therefore, you save up on using too much material and don’t have to bother making low spots which require refilling.
Damage and Restoration of Terrazzo Floors
Most people think that terrazzo floors are made with either granite or marble and therefore, they perform repair work suitable for granite or marble flooring. This is in fact a big mistake.
Even though terrazzo might mimic the appearance of certain stone floors, it is quite different in its nature and structure. Certain procedures used in the repair of terrazzo floors might be similar to those used for restoring marble ones, but the treatment is still different.
It is important to understand that Terrazzo flooring is a kind of artistic flooring that has its origins in the ancient Venetian period. In those times, stone masons used to take waste marble from their existing work sites and combine it with another substance, mostly concrete, to form a unique flooring material, later named ‘terrazzo’. Though terrazzo was considered to be an inexpensive substitute for the luxurious marble floors, it continued to retain its beauty and charm.
Repairing cracks and chips
It is recommended that you consult a professional repair agent/company when faced with a cracked terrazzo floor. The common methods of repairing cracks in a terrazzo floor include the following:
- Epoxy patch:
An epoxy patch repair is used for fixing minor cracks on terrazzo floors and also helps avoid the widening of cracks.
- Cement patch:
Cement grout is useful for repairing fine-line cracks or chips in a terrazzo floor. This kind of repair is usually considered to be more long-lasting than epoxy. It also requires greater use of labor.
- Oil-based primer:
Oil-based primer sealers are helpful in sealing the area around the tiles while filling up the pores in the damaged area.
Grout cleaning for your terrazzo floors should always be done by professionals. Why? This is because the floor can get damaged during the cleaning or repair of grout. A professional cleaner will be able to eliminate all dirt and stains from the grout formed around the terrazzo floor. This is usually followed up with the reapplication of seal to prevent further damage.
Prevention and cleaning of stains and absorption
Terrazzo flooring is most susceptible to damage caused by stains and absorption (not wear). An impregnator with a water base can be immediately applied to the terrazzo floor after polishing and/or honing. This impregnating sealer gets absorbed by the cement mix and helps seal pores.
If there is stain on your terrazzo floor, then you may only use a neutral pH cleaner for removing the stain. Always avoid soaps and all-purpose cleaners when cleaning your terrazzo floor.
The Increasing Popularity of Concrete Dyes
Decorative contractors often treat concrete as their color canvas. The combination of concrete dyes and chemical stains is absolutely perfect to create vibrancy in a given space. Similar to stains, concrete dyes are now receiving their share of applause in the design and construction industry. These coloring agents are capable of creating dynamic tones which cannot be achieved by stains alone.
According to several decorative designers, dyes have the effect of getting the applicator into extremely bright colors like blue, yellow, purple and many others. You can now explore the world of customized concrete flooring with concrete dyes. In majority of the climates, translucent dyes can seep down into the concrete and dry in less than 60 seconds.