Research

Terrazzo

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Interior Design
 
By: Sandy Lu, Tammy Henry, February 2003, Vancouver, Canada

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Terrazzo is a poured flooring, which is composed of marble, granite, onyx or glass chips set in cement. The marble chips give the surface a mosaic like appearance. Terrazzo can be purchased in 12”x12” tiles, but is usually seamless. The texture can be sleek and smooth to rough and rustic or anything in between. The desired texture is achieved by grinding in flat and polishing. Terrazzo can create patterns or strips by the use of divider strips. Divider strips can be made of white alloy of zinc, brass or plastic.

A big appeal of terrazzo is it can be poured into large areas without grout lines. Terrazzo offers the beauty of solid marble and granite at a fraction of the cost. If taken care of terrazzo can last 25 years and is widely used in high traffic commercial areas. It is ideal for hospitals, restaurants, supermarkets and anywhere sanitary conditions are of concern.

Terrazzo can also be customized to fit client’s special needs, such as:
- Counter tops
- Bathroom showers and vanities
- Walls
- Bar tops
- Window sills
- Columns
- Seating
- Center pieces

Composition
Terrazzo is made by using a two step process. The top surface is composed of high resistance cement and marble or granite chips. It is the fine grinded to expose the stone chippings. The second layer is composed of special sands and high resistance cement. %80 of the finished product is natural stone.

Terrazzo uses three types of binders to anchor marble chips or other aggregates:
1- Portland cement or
2- Polyacrylate modified Portland cement or
3- Epoxy or polyester system

Portland cement provides a good background for marble chips and can be tinted to produce various colors.
Polyacrylate is an excellent binder for thin-set tiles and can also be tinted to produce various colors.
Epoxy is also an excellent binder for thin-set floors. It is lightweight, so it is easily used in multi-story buildings and renovation projects.

Colors
Terrazzo has an unlimited color choice. It gets its color from marble and pigments added to the mix. Most suppliers can match almost and any color you present them with.

Installation
Terrazzo installation is to be done by a professional. It is usually installed during construction, but can be done for renovations.
Mixture will be pored into place and spread out. Once hardened, it can ten be ground and polished. A sealer is ten applied to fill the pores of the surface to prevent dirt and stain absorption.

Procedure for terrazzo inlaid floor:
Designs will be cut from pre-cast terrazzo and the rest of the flooring will be poured around the design.
Procedure for pre-cast terrazzo slabs:
Terrazzo will be cut into shapes and pre-assembled and sent to job sites for assembly.

Maintenance
Terrazzo is easy to clean and maintain, because it is seamless flooring. A sealer will maintain a good sheen for a period of 45 to 60 days before needing additional coats.

Cleaning
1- Use of non-treated dust mop (Treated mops contain oil that can discolor terrazzo.)
2- Use a furniture polish or commercial dust mop spray (dust control treatment must be water based)
3- Dust mop daily (commercial)
4- Wet mop once a week for residential and twice a week to daily for commercial.

Uses (Restrictions)
Terrazzo is the deal material for use in areas subjects to heavy foot traffic and hard use, but where aesthetics and ease of maintenance are of prime importance. Terrazzo has the advantage of being seamless finish (no grout joints), it does not need protection from wear and it will not absorb most staining substances. Terrazzo is highly decorative finish yet ha the lowest life cycle costs f any popular flooring material in use today.

Terrazzo can be used in areas such as airports, sport facilities, commercial, retail, institutional facilities, schools, hospitals, hotels, office lobbies, churches, restaurants and bars, restrooms and pool areas.

Types of Terrazzo
There are many different types of terrazzo floors, installed from ¼” to 4”:
1- Sand cushion: ½” terrazzo is placed on 2 7/16” of under bed with an isolation membrane and 1/6” sand.
2- Monolithic: ½” terrazzo is placed on a concrete slab.
3- Thin set: Epoxy matrix with installation of ¼” to 3/8” thick placed on a concrete slab.
4- Polyacrylate: Cement mixed with polyacrylate and installed at 3/8” this is placed on a concrete slab.
5- Bonded: ½” terrazzo is placed on 1 ¼” under bed bonded to a concrete slab.
6- Structural: ½” terrazzo is placed on 3 ½” reinforced concrete under bed, placed on compacted sub grade.
7- Rustic: ½” terrazzo usually installed on the exterior and has a rough exposed agar ate appearance.
There is also pre-cast terrazzo that can be customized to fit client’s special needs, such as Counter tops, bathroom showers and vanities, walls, window seals and bar tops.

Source, Cost & Availability
Terrazzo is done on-site most of the time as the traditional way. Now it does come in tile form with special request. The order usually takes 6 to 8 weeks and price may start from $10 per square foot, depending on the design of the pattern. Terrazzo is actually not easy to find, because the market is rather small, as most people prefer tiles because of its cheaper price and easier installation.
Most suppliers do not carry terrazzo, unless there is a special order.
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