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Terrazzo Flooring

Terrazzo is the ideal flooring substance. Its hard, durable consistency allows it to hold its integrity and design despite being placed in high traffic areas. Terrazzo is versatile enough to be used in any conditions. Since there are several different types of terrazzo flooring, it’s important to select the right type for indoor, outdoors, or multiple purposes. Terrazzo is also versatile enough to be able to take on any design. It can be molded into any shape, come in any color, and have additives, such as glass, shells, and stone, that give it a beautiful, lustrous shine that cannot be achieved with any other flooring material. While terrazzo is extremely durable and beautiful, it’s also easy to clean and maintain. It’s made mostly from recycled materials and by-products of the stone cutting industry, which makes terrazzo one of the mast environmentally friendly materials available for any purpose. Terrazzo is the perfect indoor flooring because of its smooth surface and elegant, marble appearance. This also leads to it being very easy to clean when put in a large, open space, compared to carpet or other types of tile. However, in outdoor situations, a smooth surface is the last thing an architect wants to use, because of the exposure to the weather, and lack of slip resistance. That is why there is rustic terrazzo. Rustic terrazzo has a rough, textured surface that is slip resistant, and can give an outdoor space, the elegance of an indoor appearance. There are different styles of flooring created based on materials and specification:
  • Aggregate
  • Substructure
  • Appearance
  • Texture
    In general, Terrazzo is a composite material consisting of marble, quartz, granite, glass or likewise natural or synthetic chips and mixed with a bonding agent to resemble a faux marble appearance. The mixture of aggregates, colored cement or epoxy resin is poured in place or precast and given time to cure in either recycled plastic or strips of aluminum.  Once the Terrazzo has hardened, it is polished down to expose the interior of the chips among the colored matrix and otherwise finished to produce a uniformly textured surface.

Depending on the existing floor, owner preferences or architectural design, there are many suitable options available that will yield a beautifully designed surface, with thicknesses varying from ½-inch to 5-inches. In addition to marble chips, substances such as glass, recycled glass or mother-of-pearl may be used to create an attractive depth and unique color combinations. Different sized or textured chips are used to complete a patterned Terrazzo floor, as specified strictly by industry standards.

Types of Terrazzo Flooring

Epoxy Terrazzo

These days, more and more architects and building contractors are joining the trend of using not just durable but also eco-friendly materials. When designing an area – no matter how big or small it is – it’s important to not just have a beautiful and cost-effective design, but the use of sustainable products is prioritized as well. Fortunately, there are sustainable materials like terrazzo which fits all of these categories. For centuries now, terrazzo floors have been known as the original recycled flooring. The material used here are actually marble chips which are by-products of the stone-cutting industry. When you see the central area of a shopping mall from the top which has a huge design on the floor, it is most probably made of terrazzo. Now, one of the most popular types of terrazzo is called epoxy resin matrix terrazzo, or simply epoxy terrazzo. First, let’s take a look at the benefits of using this type of material. Based on the specific application, there are certain types of terrazzo which are more suitable as flooring instead of a counter-top material, or vice versa. With epoxy resin terrazzo, the system thickness is equivalent to three-eighths of an inch. It can be used over concrete or wood sub-spaces, which means that it has a wide array of applications. Once finished, terrazzo floors which are made from epoxies are probably the lowest maintenance among other types of flooring material. Design-wise, you will not be lacking for the possibilities because there are virtually limitless possibilities for the vibrant colors that you can use when designing with epoxy resin terrazzo. If you are looking for a thin set terrazzo, you should definitely consider this epoxy type because even thin glass chips can be used here, unlike other types of terrazzo which has this as a limitation. The time to cure epoxy terrazzo can be accelerated so you can work on a large area within a shorter span of time, saving on labor costs. Aside from being the lowest maintenance type of terrazzo, it is also one of the most cost-effective. After learning about the numerous advantages of using terrazzo epoxies as a main material for flooring or counter-tops, there are a few limitations that you need to be aware of as well. Epoxy resin terrazzo is actually not recommended for exterior use. This is because the system is not breathable at all, so it cannot withstand the harsh weather conditions outside. An effective moisture vapor barrier would be required for applications using slab-on grade material. All in all, if you are looking for a beautiful, economical, easy-to-maintain material for floors and counter-tops for your home’s or office’s interior, then you should definitely consider epoxy resin terrazzo.

Cement Terrazzo

Once you step foot in a university, don’t you usually see their floors decorated with a giant version of their logo on the floor? Or how about seeing one of those artworks in malls – but instead of hanging on walls, the scene is actually depicted on the floor that you are stepping foot on? These floors are actually made with terrazzo. Despite being tagged as a ‘recycled’ flooring material, it is still one of the most beautiful, versatile and cost-effective options for architects, engineers, builders and designers out there. In general, terrazzo is composed or marble, decorative or glass aggregates which are bound with usually colored cement mortar. The process works in such a way that the mixture is ground after being cured and finished so that a hard, smooth-to-the-touch surface will be produced. One of the most popular types of terrazzo is called cementitious terrazzo. To give you an idea about the difference between this type of a terrazzo from all the other flooring options that you can go for, here are a few bits of information that you should know about. Typically, cementitious terrazzo is laid out on a green cementitious screed. The thickness exceeds 15 millimeters and in order to avoid cracking, there are certain precautions that need to be taken. For instance, the floor should be divided into panels which are not larger than one square meter in area. The water content in the mixture should be kept as low as possible. While laying out the cementitious terrazzo, there should be suitable weather conditions so high temperatures and strong winds should be avoided. One of the many highlights of using cementitious terrazzo is that its durability is really good, with a life span of up to 65 years when the floor is well taken cared of. Meanwhile, the slip resistance of cementitious terrazzo depends on the type of finish that is chosen by the designer. It does tend to be very slippery when polished or wet, however. When deciding which type of terrazzo to go for, it is very important to take a few factors into consideration. For instance, the first thing that you need to know is whether the flooring material will be for indoor or outdoor use. Should the system be breathable? What are the requirements when it comes to the installation? If you’re making a selection between epoxy systems and cementitious terrazzo systems, what edge does one have over the other? Based on your answers to these questions, that is how the selection of terrazzo system or flooring material should be done. Although there are a few limitations when it comes to the installation of cementitious terrazzo, it is still one of the most beautiful types of terrazzo systems out there – which will turn an area from bland to superb-looking once the installation is finished.

Sand Cushion

As a type of faux-marble used in flooring and counter-tops, terrazzo is one of the most useful and beautiful materials that you can opt for. Originating from an Italian town with the same name, some of the types of terrazzo that you can choose from including epoxy, cementitious, sand cushion and monolithic. When you consider one particular type of terrazzo which is the sand cushion, what advantages does it have over the others? That is what we will try to learn more about here. First, what exactly is the basic construction of a sand cushion terrazzo? When used as a material for flooring, for instance, it is composed of different layers of material. It has a cement matrix topping underbed with wire reinforcing, an isolation sheet and another layer of sand when used in interior floors. Based on the standards of the National Terrazzo and Mosaic Association, Inc., the technical properties of sand cushion terrazzo such as its underbed depth, reinforced wire mesh, sand layer and isolation sheets allows it to absorb minor defects. It also prevents mirroring on the surface of the flooring or counter-top materials. In terms of the appearance, sand cushion terrazzo is ideally used for incorporating design patterns and multiple colors on the surface of the area that is being designed. For instance, if an architect is designing an art gallery and the owner would like the floors to create a particular multi-colored pattern without spending too much on mosaic artwork, sand cushion terrazzo can be used instead. Feminine-oriented business establishments such as designer clothing stores can also utilize this benefit to their advantage, by incorporating a particular design on the flooring through sand cushion terrazzo. Aside from its versatility in design, this type of terrazzo is considered to be the best available cement terrazzo system. As mentioned earlier, the characteristics of sand cushion terrazzo minimizes the defects and eliminates the mirroring effect on the finished surface. Typically, the total thickness of sand cushion terrazzo tiles is 3 inches including a half an inch of terrazzo topping. This means that using this type of a terrazzo as a flooring material is also a cost-effective option. Finally, if you are a home or business owner and you would like a worker to use a sand cushion terrazzo finish on your floors or counter-tops, what are the things that you need to keep in mind? Take a look at the following list: – Make sure that the materials that the worker is using meets the industry standards in making sand cushion terrazzo. – For the installation, the underbed of the entire surface to receive terrazzo should have a dusting of sand and they should also be properly placed and cured. – After the curing process, finishing, cleaning, sealing and protection of the sand cushion terrazzo flooring or counter-top job should be completed.

Bonded Terrazzo

Whether you’re having your house or office newly constructed or remodeled, you should definitely put terrazzo on top of your list as a flooring option. Instead of spending a fortune on floors which are made entirely of marble, you can have the same glossy-surface effect by using terrazzo. Basically, marble chips which are a by-product from the process of cutting stone are used along with cement or another type of base. Not only will you have a cost-effective, beautiful and durable surface to step on – but you can use a green construction material as well. This is because the materials used in terrazzo floors are recycled and reusable, so it is extremely environment-friendly. One of the most popular types of this material is the terrazzo bonded to concrete. Be it an interior or exterior finish that you would be requiring the bonded terrazzo for, the thickness and weight should be the deciding factor – something that the person responsible for the installation would have prior knowledge of. For exterior bonded terrazzo flooring, the minimum thickness required is a couple of inches while the weight supported is 20 pounds per square foot. Now, what edge does a terrazzo bonded to concrete have over other types of terrazzo? First of all, it can be used for both interior and exterior applications. Whether you are looking for a finishing for your living room floors and kitchen counter-tops, or if you’re a business owner who would like to have a classy outdoor area to receive your clients, you should definitely consider using terrazzo bonded to concrete or cement. If you are using bonded terrazzo for exterior use, it can be acid-washed so that a slip-resistance factor can be added for exterior use. From a technical point of view, the thickness of the top layer when used as a flooring material can accommodate the largest chip size. The system is also breathable and will not suffer the ill effects of vapor transmission. But just like all the other types of terrazzo, there are certain limitations that you need to be aware of when using terrazzo bonded to cement. Because of the panel size that you are limited to use, there are certain designs – especially for big projects – which cannot be done using bonded terrazzo. Unlike the multi-colored application of sand cushion terrazzo, you cannot use that many colors with bonded terrazzo. The time to cure terrazzo bonded to cement is also longer as compared to the other, more basic types of terrazzo. If you would like to achieve a glass chip effect and use this exact material, it is also not recommended to opt for bonded terrazzo. Despite the limitations, there are still numerous applications wherein bonded terrazzo can be used – making it a really beautiful flooring or counter-top option for interior and exterior areas in residential and office units.

Monolithic Terrazzo

The National Terrazzo and Mosaic Association has the following definition for terrazzo: it is made up of marble, onyx, granite or glass chips in polyacrylate modified cement or a matrix binder with resin. The terrazzo is poured, cured, ground and polished – and is typically used as a finishing for floors, kitchen counter-tops, walls or stairs. Some of the most popular types of terrazzo include epoxy, cementitious, sand cushion and monolithic. Although it is possible for you to use almost any type of terrazzo that you want, there are certain limitations to the individual types which will make it suitable for one application, but not another purpose. Let’s say that you are considering using a monolithic terrazzo. What makes it suitable for either outdoor or indoor flooring applications? What are its limitations? What makes this type of a terrazzo a suitable material for flooring and kitchen counter-tops? For this, it is best to learn about the basic composition and construction of monolithic terrazzo. With a monolithic terrazzo, the total thickness is one half inch for the terrazzo topping, with a weight of 7 pounds per square foot. What this means is that monolithic terrazzo is the most economical of all terrazzo systems, especially if used in applications like large retail stores, shopping malls and schools. The performance of monolithic terrazzo as a flooring material is based on the quality of the concrete substrate. Once the monolithic terrazzo is placed on a level concrete slab, there are certain rules that architects should follow, even more so when it comes to placing the divider strips. For this, it is good to avoid long, narrow slabs. The concrete joints should be spaced appropriately and the plates should be properly furnished and installed by the contractors. When used for large applications such as schools or commercial establishments, the main advantage of using monolithic terrazzo is that it is a high-quality, durable type of flooring. It is also hygienic and easy to maintain. No matter what theme of a design it is that you have on the interior, you can install the monolithic terrazzo in such a way that it will still be in keeping with the rest of the decor. Monolithic terrazzo is also extremely hard-wearing, cost-effective and slip-resistant. Finally, using monolithic terrazzo and other types of terrazzo in general will allow you to do your share in saving the environment. Since terrazzo is considered as the original recycled flooring which has been around for ages, you can use the fact that your monolithic terrazzo floors is constructed with ‘being green’ in mind. In terms of its durability, quality, recycled content, composition and air quality issues, monolithic terrazzo is one of the best flooring material options that you can go for.

Polyacrylate Terrazzo

Although the flooring material of a building or a home is something that you merely step on, it is one of the most important parts of construction that architects usually prioritize. The material used on the floors and counter-tops should be beautiful, durable and cost-effective all at the same time. If you are looking for a type of flooring material which fits all of these categories, then you should definitely consider using terrazzo. For hundreds of years now, this popular type of ‘recycled flooring’ has been used by builders who would like to have a beautiful but long-lasting base on their projects. Depending on the type of terrazzo, it can be composed of a cement or epoxy which can contain any of the following decorative aggregates: glass, shell or marble. If you’ve seen one of those floors which look speckled, this is a type of terrazzo. The combination of materials is troweled, ground and polished to give it that marble-like appearance. Looking for the precise type of terrazzo material to use on different applications should be based on the limitations and thickness of each individual type. With polyacrylate terrazzo, for instance, the minimum thickness and weight is half an inch and three pounds per square foot. Aside from the classification in terms of the material combined with cement, there are three general types that terrazzo can be divided into – cement, polyacrylate and epoxy. For polyacrylate, an acrylic additive is incorporated into the mixture of modified cement. What it does is to allow the cement to be poured as thickly or as thinly, up to one and a half inch thick. Architects work in such a way that they consider first whether a particular type of terrazzo is suitable for outdoor or indoor applications. With polyacrylate terrazzo, its main advantage is that it can be used in outdoor applications. This is due to the fact that the combination of cement and other materials used in the mixture allows polyacrylate terrazzo to be ‘breathable’. If you are looking forward to incorporating glass chips in the design, you can certainly do so. The glad chips can even be acid-washed for outdoor applications. Since there is a thickness limitation to polyacrylate terrazzo, there’s a high flatness tolerance required for the sub-floor; you cannot necessarily design floors with vibrant colors; and there’s a smaller chip size for the general construction of floors with this type of a terrazzo. To sum it all up, polyacrylate terrazzo is an elegant type of flooring material which can be used with glass chips for outdoor applications. If you are considering it for outdoor use, the material needs to be acid-washed. Finally, the system is breathable and will not be affected by the transmission of moisture vapor, making polyacrylate terrazzo a viable option if you are looking for a flooring material to use.

Rustic Terrazzo

Are you familiar with terrazzo that is used as a material for flooring and counter-tops? Depending on the exact type of application, terrazzo is a mixture of cement with marble, granite, onyx or glass chips which are combined into a resinous matrix binder. Frequently used as finishing for stairs, walls or floors, the terrazzo aggregate is poured, cured, ground and polished. The good thing about this type of flooring material is that it is durable, beautiful, cost-effective and can be used in outdoor or indoor applications. There are certain types, however, such as epoxy resin matrix terrazzo which are not suitable for outdoor use. But what if you are looking for a flooring material which can be specifically used for the outdoors? This is where rustic terrazzo comes in. Rustic terrazzo is the most commonly used type of terrazzo for outdoor applications. What makes terrazzo material a suitable indoor flooring option in general is that it has a smooth, marble-like surface. But this is not necessarily a good idea if you are installing a flooring material outdoors – which is subject to harsh weather conditions. With a rustic terrazzo, there is a rough surface added that is used for slip-resistance purposes. This type of a terrazzo which comes with a textured surface is available with sand cushion, structural, bonded and monolithic terrazzo systems. Technically, the total thickness of a rustic terrazzo is half an inch to 6 inches – including the 0.5 inch for the terrazzo topping. The weight depends on the terrazzo system selected. The primary advantage of using rustic terrazzo for outdoor use is that there are an infinite number of variable textures, colors and patterns that a designer can come up with. Instead of colorful collages or mosaic-inspired floors being limited to indoor use, these beautiful designs can be extended outside simply by using rustic terrazzo which is created in weather-resistant, non-slip deck surfaces. Lastly, where specifically can rustic terrazzo flooring be used? This durable and beautifully textured type of outdoor flooring can be used in lawns or commercial establishments where there are swimming pools built. Rustic terrazzo flooring can be applied in outdoor areas of hotels, condos, apartment complexes, patios, lobbies, sun rooms, garages, restaurants, museums, showrooms – and a range of other commercial establishments. When looking for a contractor to install rustic terrazzo flooring for you, make sure that they have extensive experience when it comes to installing this type of material. Rustic terrazzo floors should be non-slip, beautifully made, hand-troweled and built with industry-wide standards in mind. With all the benefits of using rustic terrazzo, there’s really no need for you to have plain-looking exteriors – be it for residential or commercial applications. With the help of rustic terrazzo floors, you can give any bland outdoor area an instant facelift without having to spend a fortune for it.
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