Category Archives: Uncategorized

Common Tile Cleaning Mistakes

Tile and grout floors and surfaces are durable and relatively easy to keep clean. When sweeping and mopping don’t suffice, some people resort to more drastic cleaning methods that can cause an unsightly appearance or even permanent damage to the tile and grout. Here are the most common cleaning mistakes.

Wet Mopping with Dirty Mop Water

The first and most common mistake is wet mopping rather than damp mopping. Dirty mop water seeps into the porous surface of grout and unglazed tiles. Damp mopping and frequently changing the mop water is the method of cleaning we recommended.

Colored Cleaners

Beware of colored cleaners. They can stain unglazed tile, because the surface of the tile is porous and may absorb dye from the cleaning agent.

Harsh Chemicals

Muriatic acid, bleach, and other harsh chemicals should not be used for routine cleaning and care of your tile and grout floors and surfaces for several reasons. First, harsh chemicals can be dangerous. Any mishandling or misuse of these chemicals can result in severe burns or respiratory problems. Secondly, splashes or spills can damage plumbing fixtures, appliances, or other belongings in the surrounding area. In some cases, even when no splashing occurs, the vaporous fumes can cause damage. Thirdly, strong cleaners can cause premature deterioration of grout, especially if the grout is alkaline and the chemical is acidic.

Abrasives

Never use steel wool or metal scouring pads to clean your tile, because these can cause permanent scratches, stains, and ruin a glossy finish. Abrasive powders and abrasive tools should be avoided, as well.

Waxes, Oils, and Sealers

Waxes and wax-based cleaning products may offer some temporary protection against stains, odors, and wear, but for a long-term solution, waxes pose too many problems and may actually increase maintenance costs. They must be continuously stripped and reapplied. If the stripping process isn’t thorough enough, wax build-up occurs and becomes an unsightly mess as it turns yellow, becomes scratched, and functions as a dirt magnet. Oil-based cleaners, especially on glazed tile, pose an increased risk of slip and fall accidents. Sealers can be tricky, and unless you have the knowledge and experience of a tile and grout cleaning professional to select the proper sealer and apply it appropriately, you could end up with slippery tile, stains, or peeling and flaking grout lines.

If you are trying to resolve some specific problem with the appearance of your tile and grout, avoid the mistakes mentioned here. Download our FREE Stone and Tile Care Guide for tips and helpful information about routine cleaning and care of your tile and grout floors and surfaces. Feel free to contact us for specific recommendations.

This is one of a series of articles written and published  on behalf of surpHaces Partners.

Considerations for Mixed Stone Installations

The highest concern of natural stone installers and designers is to make sure your natural stone floors, walls, countertops, or other applications look great and are installed correctly. They often don’t give much thought to what the stone might look like after traffic and use have taken a toll. As natural stone restoration contractors, we sometimes get calls from home or business owners who want us to refinish their kitchens, baths, or other areas that have soft stones like marble or travertine with hard stone inlays, such as granite. These clients are frequently surprised at the cost difference between refinishing a single stone versus refinishing a design that incorporates several types of stone. In addition, people who have combination finishes, for example a floor with some parts honed and some parts polished, run into the same situation. This article explains the reasons behind the price differences and also provides some suggestions to people who are considering utilizing more than one type of stone or one type of finish in a new installation.

Time = Money

We asked Fred Hueston, Chief Technical Director for surpHaces, and a world-renowned natural stone expert and author of over 30 books, 10 instructional videos, and over 100 articles on stone installation, care, and restoration in both the United States and foreign publications and journals, to explain why mixed stone surfaces require more time to restore than single stone surfaces. He said,

The reason for this can be a little confusing to the average client. There are diamonds made for honing and polishing marble and others specifically for granite. Some diamond pad manufactures now have combination diamonds that can be used on both. But the price difference has to do with time, not diamond cost.

For example, granite is going to take four or five times as long to refinish and polish than marble. The contractor may opt to tape off the granite, refinish the marble with one set of diamonds, and then tape off the marble and refinish the granite with another set of diamonds. If the contractor uses a diamond pad that can restore both marble and granite to refinish the entire area all at once, the amount of time spent on the floor must be based on the granite, not the marble. In certain circumstances, only the marble is refinished, because the granite is in much better condition than the marble. Even so, the granite portions of the surface will need to be taped off.

Suggestions for New Installations With Stone Combinations

We also asked Hueston what kinds of stone combinations he would recommend for people who have their hearts set on utilizing more than one kind of stone in their design. He said,

Obviously, using different colors of one type of stone would be good, for example, black marble with white marble. If you are going to use different types of stone, they need to match in hardness. So, generally marble, onyx, and limestone can be combined and then later restored or refinished with little or no price difference from a single-stone application.

Combination Finishes

Home and business owners also can expect to see a price difference to have combination finishes restored. A honed finish must be achieved first, and then the portion of the surface that should remain a honed finish must be taped off before the polished portion of the surface can be restored. This takes extra time than just achieving a single finish for the entire surface. However, there should be no price difference if you want to go from a combination finish to a single finish. If you are having new stone installed, you must either go with a single finish or be willing to pay a little bit more to maintain the appearance of a combination finish.

This is one of a series of articles written and published  on behalf of surpHaces Partners.

Stone Restoration Pro vs. Cleaning Company

When your natural stone has lost its luster or has become damaged in some other way, or needs to be protected, who do you look to? Do you look to your cleaning or janitorial company? Or should you be looking elsewhere? 

The fact is, stone restoration and maintenance, from chip and crack repair to deep cleaning and sealing to honing and polishing, requires specialized knowledge, training, and equipment and it is important to find the right service provider.

Residential and commercial property owners and managers are often “up-sold” specialized services for natural stone by unqualified janitorial services and carpet cleaning companies. Specialized services for marble, granite, travertine, and other natural stone on floors, countertops, walls, and surfaces fall outside of the realm of expertise of regular cleaning crews. Here is what sets properly trained and qualified stone restoration contractors apart from well-intentioned but misguided cleaning and janitorial services.

Specialized Knowledge

The properties of natural stone vary from one stone to the next. Contractors need to have a solid understanding of the properties unique to each type of stone. For example, let’s have a look at granite. It is much harder than marble. When it becomes dull or scratched and needs to be refinished, there is a greater level of difficulty and special equipment necessary to get the job done right compared to marble refinishing. In fact, some stone restoration contractors who restore marble all day long, every day refuse to work with granite, because they know they would be getting in over their heads.

Granite and marble are just two types of stone, each with unique properties and restoration methods, but there are many, many more examples. Unless a cleaning or janitorial service has been specially trained, they are simply not equipped to understand, let alone resolve the problems for all the different types of stone.

Specialized Training

Just as contractors need to have a solid understanding of the properties unique to each type of stone, they also need to have the skills necessary to work with each stone type. For example, consider travertine. It has naturally occurring holes. These holes are often filled and finished for a uniform appearance when the travertine is installed. With traffic and use, the fillers eventually loosen or fall out. To resolve the problem, stone restoration contractors mix tints with fillers that blend with the appearance of the surrounding stone and use a process called “floating” to evenly apply the filling material. This process is then followed by honing and polishing with diamond-impregnated pads in a series of progressively finer grits to achieve the desired travertine finish, which may be anything from a soft matte to a high gloss finish or something in between. A great deal of training and practice are necessary to perfect accurate diagnosis of stone problems and to implement the proper repair and restoration procedures.

Specialized Equipment

What might you find in the back of a stone restoration contractor’s work van? You might find cupwheels and diamond-impregnated pads to mount on hand tools and floor machines for grinding, honing, and polishing, steel wool and hogs hair polishing pads, gloss meters, moisture detectors, polishing compounds, poulticing materials, sealers, grout color sealers, color enhancing sealers, and other items that would leave most janitors and cleaning companies scratching their heads.

In contrast, regular cleaning and janitorial crews use vacuum cleaners, squeegees, sponges and rags, mops, spray bottles, cleaning solutions, paper towels, strippers and waxes, and often, a floor cleaning or buffing machine.

Although you are likely to find items used by cleaning and janitorial companies in the back of a stone restoration contractor’s work van, it is highly unlikely that you would find the equipment of a stone restoration contractor in a janitor’s or cleaning service’s professional arsenal.

Allowing anyone that is less than specially trained and experienced to resolve problems with natural stone is a risk. It is not worth saving a few bucks if you end up with serious or even permanent damage to your stone. Have peace of mind by leaving your natural stone in the hands of an expert stone restoration contractor, instead.

This is one of a series of articles written and published  on behalf of surpHaces Partners.

Kitchen Backsplash Cleaning and Care

Stone and tile kitchen backsplashes improve the value of your home and help protect your walls, but they are subject to cooking or liquid spatters from coffee, spaghetti sauce, grease, and other substances. Recommended methods for cleaning and care of kitchen backsplashes vary, depending on what type of backsplash you have.

Glazed Porcelain, Ceramic, and Glass Tiles

Glazed porcelain, ceramic, and glass tiles are practically impervious to stains, and keeping them clean is a cinch. Mix a mild detergent or vinegar with water and wipe clean with a cloth or sponge. For stubborn, stuck-on spots, spray with an all-purpose cleaner, and allow the cleaner to dwell until the substance softens. For extra greasy messes, spray using a degreasing cleaner.

Unglazed Porcelain, Clay, and Natural Stone Tiles

Unglazed porcelain, clay, and natural stone tiles are more susceptible to stains than other types of tile, and keeping them clean can be a challenge. Do not use soap, windex, or vinegar! These substances can damage the finish of your tile.

Spray with a stone-safe, pH-neutral cleaner and allow ample dwell time. Wipe clean with a non-abrasive cloth or sponge. (For grease and other stains, you may need to apply a poultice. See our Stain App for more information.) Rinse with warm water. Water spots will not hurt your stone, but if you want to prevent them, dry the tiles with a white cloth or paper towels.

Stacked Stone

Stacked stone backsplashes have a rough, porous texture and plenty of crevices that trap food or liquid spatters. They are difficult, but not impossible to clean. Use a stone-safe, pH neutral cleaner and a brush with bristles stiff enough to reach the nooks and crannies but soft enough to be non-abrasive. Follow with a warm water rinse.

Professional Cleaning, Restoration, and Care

An experienced stone and tile restoration contractor can deep clean your backsplash, achieving dramatic results, as well as repair chips and cracks. Honed or polished natural stone can be refinished to like new, virtually erasing signs of wear, such as scratches and etch marks.

Because backsplashes are continuously exposed to substances that can potentially stain, it is best to have natural stone and absorbent tile backsplashes sealed to inhibit staining. Sealers make porous surfaces less absorbent, which means you will have more time to wipe up spots and spatters before they can turn into stains.

Glass and stone mosaic tiles make beautiful backsplashes, but have a lot of grout lines. Since grout is porous, it is susceptible to staining. Your contractor can apply a high quality clear grout sealer or grout color sealer to fill in all the tiny holes in the grout, making cleaning easier. Grout color sealer is impervious to staining and highly recommended. In addition, grout color sealer has a constant-acting mildewcide so your backsplashes will stay more sanitary than backsplashes with clear sealed or unsealed grout lines.

Maintain the beauty of your backsplash to ensure your kitchen is always a clean and inviting place for family and friends to congregate and refuel.

This is one of a series of articles written and published  on behalf of surpHaces Partners.

About Porcelain and Ceramic Tiles

What You Should Know About Porcelain and Ceramic Tiles

Porcelain and ceramic are similar, in that they are both made from clay and kiln fired, making them very different from other categories of tiles, such as glass or natural stone. Although the words porcelain and ceramic are often used interchangeably, differences between the two types of tile can make a difference in the cost, appearance, and longevity of your installation.

What’s the difference between porcelain and ceramic?

Ultimately, a ceramic tile is categorized as porcelain if its moisture absorption rate is .5% or lower. Ceramic tile is cheaper, easier to install, and offers more color selections than porcelain. The ingredients of porcelain tiles are more refined, and it is fired at a greater pressure and higher temperature than ceramic, making it much harder and denser, and consequently, more expensive and more difficult to install than ceramic. But cost is only one consideration among many.

About Glazed and Through-Body Porcelain

A glazed porcelain tile has a coating that fills in any microscopic holes on the surface of the clay, making it easier to keep clean than unglazed tiles. However, unglazed tiles are better for slip resistance and less likely to show signs of wear, since the color on the surface is the same color that runs through the entire tile.

Tile Care and Maintenance

Tile floors should be swept and damp mopped regularly and professionally cleaned as needed. Porous grout lines can be sealed to inhibit staining and to make regular cleaning more productive. When grout color sealer is applied to grout lines, they become impervious to stains. With all the benefits of clear sealer, grout color sealer offers numerous additional benefits, including constant-acting mildewcides and fungicides. Unglazed porcelain tile, although less porous than natural stone, can be subject to discolorations and staining with traffic and use. These surfaces should be professionally sealed once per year or more. Glazed ceramic or porcelain tiles do not require sealing, but may need slip resistance treatments, depending on the way the space is used.

Consider all the factors, and not just price, when you make your purchase decision for new floors and surfaces. For existing floors, proper care and maintenance can make a world of difference. Don’t replace your tile without consulting with an experienced tile restoration contractor, who may be able to achieve dramatic results that postpone or eliminate the need for replacement.

This is one of a series of articles written and published  on behalf of surpHaces Partners.

How To Remove A Terrazzo Stain

Stains on terrazzo can be unsightly and may lead you to decide you have no choice but to have tile or carpet installed over it, but often stains on terrazzo can be effectively removed. You can attempt to remove the stain yourself or contact a professional stone restoration contractor. Here is what will need to be done.

Are your terrazzo floors waxed or coated?

It is not uncommon for a terrazzo floors to be coated or waxed with a topical finish. The only way to know whether the stain is in the topical finish or in the terrazzo itself is to remove any old finish. If you are certain that your terrazzo has a natural, honed or polished finish then you can skip the stripping process described below and move on to the poultice application.

Also note that most modern terrazzo is made with a resin matrix that will soften if stripped. If you are sure that your terrazzo has an older cementitious matrix, you can safely proceed with stripping. If you have any doubts or know that you have a newer, resin matrix terrazzo floor, do not apply a stripper to your terrazzo. Please contact your stone restoration contractor for guidance.

Stripping Waxes and Coatings

It is very important to note that floor stripper is very caustic and can cause injury or damage. You must wear heavy latex gloves and eye protection and use masking tape and plastic to protect the floor surrounding your work area.

Mix one part water-based floor stripper (the same kind used for vinyl tile or polymer finishes) with six parts water and apply to the stained area. Allow five minutes dwell time. Agitate the solution with a green scrubbing pad. Use an absorbent white cloth or paper towels to soak up the solution. Then, repeat this entire process.

At this point, if the coating was stained and not the terrazzo itself, it is possible that the stain may be gone. If so, use a pH-neutral, stone-safe cleaner to remove any remaining stripper and clean the area. If the stain is still there, that means it is in the terrazzo, and you can try to remove it using a poultice application.

The Poulticing Method of Stain Removal

A poultice is a combination of a dry, absorbent medium and a liquid chemical or cleaning agent. The ingredients for your poultice will depend on what type of stain you are trying to remove. Please visit our Stain Removal Application for the specific ingredients and directions for mixing and applying a poultice.

Restoring Your Terrazzo Finish

Please note: If your terrazzo has a natural, honed or polished finish, there is no need to strip or reapply coatings.

If you stripped the stained area, you removed the topical finish. That means you now have a small area that looks dull compared to the surrounding floor. To resolve this problem, use a paint brush to reapply a water-based finish. It may take up to eight coats to give the work area a nice, even sheen that blends with the surrounding area.

Professional Terrazzo Stain Removal and Refinishing

An experienced natural stone restoration contractor can use a floor machine with an aggressive pad to strip your entire floor, if needed. Depending on the severity of the stain, the technician can either apply a poultice or grind the affected area, removing a very thin upper layer and virtually erasing the stain. Then, the floor can be deep scrubbed and recoated to rejuvenate the existing finish or honed and polished for a beautiful, natural finish that eliminates the need for any future stripping or recoating.

This is one of a series of articles written and published  on behalf of surpHaces Partners.

Practical Suggestions For Stone Care and Maintenance

Stone restoration contractors often get calls to remediate accidental damage done by homeowners, cleaning services, janitorial services, and building service contractors who mishandle the care and maintenance of natural stone surfaces.

As an example, one of the most frequent mistake we see residential customers make is to use vinegar to clean a calcium-based stone like marble or travertine. Vinegar is an acidic substance that chemically reacts with the calcium in natural stone, transforming once-beautiful and elegant stone finishes into dull, rough-looking surfaces.

Commercial customers have their fair share of missteps with stone care, too. For example, a commercial client sought professional services shortly after a maintenance employee (who did not have the knowledge, experience, or credentials to provide care or maintenance on engineered stone) applied a clear coating to three thousand square feet of flooring. The high traffic concentration at this facility caused dullness, damage, and wear patterns in walkways while the edges near the walls were still shiny. Every time the housekeeping department wet-mopped the floors, pieces of the brittle finish came loose.

The calls we get usually start the same way, with the customer hoping that what was done to their stone didn’t ruin the finish and that they might be able to avoid having the stone replaced. Although we are always ready and willing to provide restoration services, we would like to offer some practical suggestions for avoiding natural stone damage during care and maintenance procedures.

Practical Suggestions for Care and Maintenance

  • Dust mop floors daily to remove any excess grit that could scratch the surface.
  • Use a neutral stone cleaner for mopping. For commercial clients who do auto scrubbing, use a very soft pad and keep the squeegee clean and free of soil.
  • Do not allow the floor to be sealed with any film-forming finish, such as conventional floor finishes or over-the-counter products that “add shine.”
  • Do not use any penetrating petroleum distillate products that seem to darken and shine by clogging the pours of the stone with an oily finish. Not only is this difficult to remedy, but it can also increase the risk of slip and fall accidents.
  • Do not allow acidic products to be used near marble or other calcium based natural stone. Although stone care professionals may use acidic polishing compounds, these chemicals can cause serious damage in the hands of those without the proper training and experience. Especially make note of toilet bowl cleaners. If they are used near natural stone, they should not be acidic.
  • On showers and counter tops, do not allow any abrasive cleaners, even abrasive products considered “soft.” Many marbles can scratch and dull very easily when abrasives are used on them.
  • Don’t use products for hard water removal unless they clearly state they are safe for natural stone as most of them contain some sort of acid.

Sealers Are Important

A stone impregnating sealer will repel spills, giving you enough time to clean up before they are absorbed by the porous stone and become stains. A professional stone restoration contractor can select the appropriate sealer for your stone and ensure it is properly applied. However, keep in mind that although impregnating sealers inhibit stains, they don’t protect the surface of the stone from etching. Although most granites are not susceptible to etch marks, something acidic like lemon juice, vinegar, or some cleaning chemicals can still create etch marks on marble or other calcium based stones, even if they are properly sealed.

Following these suggestions will help you to avoid accidental damage. If you use a cleaning service, janitorial service, or employ building service contractors, be sure they are aware of these basic care and maintenance instructions for natural stone surfaces.

This is one of a series of articles written and published  on behalf of surpHaces Partners.

What To Do About Cement Stains on Sandstone

We recently were asked how to remove 3 year-old cement stains from sandstone walls without changing the color of the sandstone. Although this is not a question we get frequently, we thought it was a good one.

Projects involving cement (DIY or otherwise) can be messy. If spillage or splatters are not addressed immediately, they can be difficult to remove, particularly once they have dried. In areas where sandstone is commonly used as a building material, removal of cement stains can become even more challenging.

First things first. Is the cement chunky?

If the cement was splattered (rather than smeared, for example) and looks as though it is sitting on top of the stone, you will want to carefully chip off as much of the chunky bits as possible first. Remember to use safety equipment, such as safety glasses, during this process. No one wants cement in their eyes.

Cleaning with muriatic acid

Muriatic acid (also called hydrochloride acid), diluted with water could be used to remove the cement, but since sandstone is often held together with calcite or dolomitic cement, which are broken down by acids, muriatic acid may do more harm than good. Before using any kind of acidic cleaner, it is important to test how your sandstone will react.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: Muriatic acid is just that – an acid! It can be harmful to pets, children and adults (plants don’t like it much either) so be sure to follow ALL safety instructions and precautions on the container and keep the children and pets away.

To test how your stone will react

Dilute one part muriatic acid with six parts water and place a drop in an inconspicuous location. If the drop of diluted acid fizzes, that means the acid is breaking down calcium carbonate within the stone. Do not use an acidic cleaner.

If the drop of diluted acid does not fizz, don’t assume you are in the clear yet. Dilute one part muriatic acid with four parts water and test the stone again. If the less diluted acid still does not fizz when in contact with the stone, things are looking good. You will still want to be vigilant as you clean.

Be sure to clean the stone using a pH neutral cleaner once the cement is removed.

Working with a professional

Cleaning with acid can be daunting, and we highly recommend you leave this tricky cleanup job to an experienced, trained stone restoration professional rather than doing it yourself or hiring a handyman who doesn’t understand the properties and characteristics of natural stone. We are always happy to answer your questions or provide an estimate.

This is one of a series of articles written and published  on behalf of surpHaces Partners.

How to Clean and Protect Limestone Floors

Limestone floors are relatively easy to maintain and can bring a timeless elegance to any kitchen, bath, or living area. However, limestone can become dull and dirty with time and use. Here are some tips to keep your floors looking their best.

Dealing with Dull Spots and Etching

First and foremost, it's important to use a pH-balanced cleanser that is formulated specifically for marble and limestone floors. Chemical abrasives and acidic cleansers can cause etching, a phenomenon that occurs when a calcium-based stone like limestone, travertine, or marble comes in contact with anything acidic and creates what looks like a cloudy white watermark. Spills from acidic liquids like vinegar, soda, tomato sauce, and lemon juice can also cause etching. Limestone polishing compounds or etch removers for getting rid of light etching are available for DIY use on polished (not honed) limestone. Ask us about specific product recommendations. For more information, view How to Polish Out Etch Marks. Heavier etch marks, that is, any etching that has a texture, as well as etching that covers larger areas, should be removed by an experienced stone care professional.

Getting Rid of Stains

Stains that leave dark spots on natural stone can usually be removed with a poultice. A poultice safely absorbs stains from the surface without discoloring the stone. You can buy a ready-to-use poultice or make one yourself. For more information, visit our Stain Removal Application.

The Problem with DIY Finishes

Over-the-counter finishes and lacquers can create that desired "wet look" and a temporary guarantee to protect your floors, but in reality, they may actually cause more harm than good. These finishes eventually flake away, leaving your floor vulnerable to damage from foot traffic. They can also block the pores of limestone and cause premature degradation and dullness over time.

If you already have such a finish, it's best not to remove it yourself because the process can be very difficult and may cause permanent damage to the stone if done incorrectly. An experienced stone restoration professional will be able to remove the finish with the appropriate equipment and stripping agents, and then hone and polish your floor to a low sheen or even a high-gloss, depending on your preference.

Sealing Your Limestone Floors

Limestone floors may need to be sealed periodically, to inhibit staining. Keep in mind that sealers will wear away over time, so it's best to have sealed limestone floors cleaned and resealed by a professional restoration contractor every two years or so.

Restoring Worn Floors to Like-New

If your limestone floor is worn, scratched, or damaged, don't replace it. One of the most wonderful features of natural stone is that your floor can be professionally refinished to look brand new again.

Keeping Them Looking New

With the right care and maintenance your limestone floors can always look like the day they were installed and give you a lifetime of beautiful service.

This is one of a series of articles written and published  on behalf of surpHaces Partners.

Taking the Mystery Out of Terrazzo

Many of us remember terrazzo floors from childhood schools we attended or hospital corridors that we may have visited. Although many terrazzo floors have muted colors, terrazzo actually can be made in limitless color choices. With its environmental friendliness and versatility, it is a smart flooring choice for both residential and commercial properties. Understanding terrazzo, it’s history, and care will help direct design and maintenance choices wherever it may be found, from historic to modern spaces.

A Little Bit of History

Terrazzo is one of the oldest forms of installed flooring with examples that date back 9,000 years to the ancient cities of Jericho. Invented out of necessity, terrazzo was an easy way to use leftover chips of stone and was often mixed with clay, compacted, and coated with goat’s milk. At that time, it was an inexpensive and durable floor; so durable, in fact, that some of these floors are still in existence today.

As the centuries passed, cementitious materials took the place of the clay matrix and a more sophisticated sorting of the colors and size of the marble chips gave a more custom look. Terrazzo was used extensively by the Venetian’s in the 16th century and eventually migrated into the rest of Europe, from sacred spaces and large buildings to private homes. In the late 1800’s and the first half of the twentieth century, the use of terrazzo exploded in the United States with commercial, healthcare, and civic application. In 1959, designer and builder Frank Lloyd Wright, chose terrazzo for the floors of the famous Guggenheim Museum in New York City.

Modern Terrazzo

Twentieth century terrazzo was almost always sealed with film forming finishes to prevent staining. In the 1970’s, with the onset of more complex polymer technologies emerging, a new generation of terrazzo using those polymers and then epoxy matrix completely changed the game. This new mixture allowed the terrazzo to be applied at depths of 1/4″ to 3/8″ rather than the standard 1-2″ in the old style floors.

Terrazzo has come a long way. Aggregates in new terrazzo are not limited to stone chips and can include mother of pearl, abalone, post consumer glass, porcelain, and mirrors chips. Custom designs can be achieved with the use of separators installed on the substrate that allow many different mixes of color in the same floor. These strips can be made of zinc, brass, and even colored plastic.

Caring For Terrazzo

Property owners and managers should be aware of terrazzo strengths, weaknesses, and best maintenance practices. Both cementitious and epoxy terrazzo can be maintained with a natural shine achieved using the same polishing processes used on marble and other natural stone. Glossy waxes and shiny finishes on terrazzo look good at first, but eventually become scratched, trap dirt, and turn yellow. Natural polishing methods not only can achieve a beautiful shine, but eliminate the need for stripping and waxing. In very high traffic situations, or in facilities such as schools or hospitals where nonslip and antimicrobial floors are important, a high performance coating may be beneficial.

This is one of a series of articles written and published  on behalf of surpHaces Partners.