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Terrazzo Floors VS. Polished Concrete Floors

Craftsman Concrete

All about Terrazzo Flooring

Terrazzo Flooring Basics

What is terrazzo flooring? In its most simplified form, terrazzo flooring is a mix of small marble pieces (or other aggregates) and a binding material such as Portland cement or epoxy. Because this mixture typically includes more rock than binder, the wear surface of a terrazzo floor is primarily rock. Not only does this provide the classic ‘speckled’ look of terrazzo, it also provides a tough and durable wear surface.

Terrazzo Installation

Terrazzo installation is a highly technical process. It requires specialized materials, labor, and equipment to execute correctly.

We mix terrazzo on-site, meaning the aggregates and binder are mixed either in a concrete mixer or with large paddle mixers immediately before installation. We then trowel down this mixture according to the specified design over a concrete slab or wood decking.

After curing, the poured terrazzo is ground with specialized concrete grinders to expose the embedded aggregates consistently and create a smooth, level flooring system. Before being put into service, we seal terrazzo with a penetrating sealer or topical floor wax.

All about Polished Concrete Floors

What are polished concrete floors? Polished concrete is an installation that utilizes the existing structural slab of a building to create a resilient, finished floor. We install Polished concrete by adding a penetrating liquid, called a silicate densifier, to the existing concrete to increase its hardness and resistance to stains. The treated concrete is then ground and polished to create a smooth, reflective, and durable floor. Polished concrete never uses topical sealers, meaning that the wear surface of a polished concrete floor is hard concrete, not a soft plastic sealer. This leads to a floor that requires very low maintenance, even in extremely high-traffic installations.

About Craftsman Concrete Floors

Craftsman Concrete Floors is a specialty flooring installer based in Texas. Specializing in residential and commercial projects, we have no minimum footage requirement for the installation of terrazzo or polished concrete flooring. We pride ourselves in providing only high-quality, living wage jobs to our 100% in-house labor force. If you’re working on a terrazzo or polished concrete job, call us for a free consultation. 

Benefits of Terrazzo Floors

Endless Design Flexibility

One characteristic of a modern terrazzo floor is its embedded metal strips called ‘transition strips’. These strips have a functional benefit in reducing the risk of cracking but also allow for endless flexibility in the design of a floor. We create intricate logo designs and patterns with metal strips. Further, these metal strips allow for the clean use of multiple colors, increasing the complexity of the design. Simply put, no alternative offers more design flexibility than a terrazzo flooring system.

High Durability

Terrazzo floors are considered the most durable type of floor that can be installed. In fact, terrazzo floors are notorious for outlasting the buildings that they’re installed in. This is due to a poured terrazzo floor’s high cement-to-aggregate ratio. Cementitious terrazzo floors are generally 50 to 70 percent aggregates (marble chips, granite, mother of pearl, or glass), significantly exceeding a polished concrete floor’s 30 percent aggregate content. Because aggregates are extremely hard (much harder than cement), this high aggregate content creates a highly durable floor that can last many decades without wear issues. Further, terrazzo floor restoration can bring neglected floors back to their previous glory without the need for replacement. 

Low Lifetime Cost

Terrazzo floors are known for their extremely long service life, which leads to a low average lifetime cost. Unlike other types of flooring, such as VCT, wood, or carpet, terrazzo should never need replacement. Further, terrazzo floors are easy to clean. The only maintenance that terrazzo requires is occasional stripping and resealing–a task performed by in-house facilities personnel. All in all, terrazzo costs less than any other flooring for long-life, high-traffic uses.

Benefits of Polished Concrete Floors

Environmentally Friendly

Because we’re not adding additional material such as wood or vinyl to create a finished floor, polished concrete is considered the most environmentally friendly flooring installation available. Installing polished concrete floors can offer builders LEED credits and provide tax incentives in certain municipalities. Businesses installing polished concrete floors can feel about their decision to use our sustainable flooring system.

Extremely High Value

Because polished concrete floors utilize the existing slab, they offer an extremely high value for businesses installing these floors. In most cases, they’re the most affordable type of resilient flooring a building owner can install.

Low Maintenance

The wear surface of a polished concrete floor is extremely hard, meaning that even after extended periods of exposure to high traffic, polished concrete will look as good as when we installed it. Further, because there is no topical sealer on a polished concrete floor, they don’t require stripping and resealing maintenance like terrazzo floors. Simply put, there is no lower maintenance flooring type than a polished concrete floor.

Similar features of Polished Concrete and Terrazzo

Slip Resistance

Terrazzo and polished concrete floors both offer very high slip resistance. In fact, high slip resistance is one of the primary reasons architects specify polished concrete and terrazzo in high-traffic retail and municipal use cases. This increase in slip resistance is a factor in liability insurance and may reduce overall liability insurance costs for users.

Easy To Clean

Due to their hard, resilient surface, terrazzo and polished concrete floors are incredibly easy to keep clean. Standard walk-behind or ride-on floor scrubbers can be used for commercial projects. For Residential projects, a regular (or robotic) vacuum and microfiber wet mop will take care of cleaning. Even better, no harsh chemical cleaners are needed for terrazzo or concrete floor cleaning. 

Terrazzo vs. Polished Concrete- What to choose for high-traffic installations.

As discussed in this article, terrazzo and polished concrete floors are terrific options for high-traffic flooring installations. Due to this, the decision on whether to invest in terrazzo or polished concrete floors often comes down to the expected life of a building. Terrazzo is our recommended flooring installation for facilities with a long expected life, such as stadiums, airports, and schools. Polished concrete has much lower up-front installation costs and is our suggestion for buildings with shorter expected service lives.

Expert Flooring Install in Texas

At Craftsman Concrete floors, we’ve been a leading installer of decorative concrete floors in Texas since 1999. Specializing in residential and commercial projects, we’re one of the few installers in Texas that can service smaller terrazzo flooring jobs. If you need a project quoted, call us for a free consultation.