Terrazzo floors are commonly found in airports, malls, government buildings, hospitals, train and subway systems and in some residential homes. The Slippery Rock Gazette presents a case study where the WerkMaster Titan was specified to refinish the Dulles Forth Worth International Airport (DFW). 

Terrazzo floors are commonly found in airports, malls, government buildings, hospitals, train and subway systems and in some residential homes.Terrazzo is a composite material, poured in place or precast, which is used for floor and wall treatments. It consists of marble, quartz, granite, glass or other suitable chips, sprinkled and poured with a binder that is cementitious, chemical or a combination of these binders. Portland cement makes up the majority of cementitious terrazzo floors while epoxy or polyaspartic resins are found in chemical-based terrazzo floors.

What makes terrazzo such a desirable flooring solution? Its durability in high traffic areas combined with design flexibility, beautiful aesthetics, environmental friendliness and the implied benefit of low maintenance. 

The reality is that most terrazzo floor installations achieved the beautiful shine and glossy finish using several coats of wax. The floors are typically ground to a 200 Grit mechanical finish then wax is applied and burnished to achieve the shine. As many Facility Maintenance Managers are realizing, waxing, stripping and re-waxing terrazzo floors is a labor intensive, costly process. The use of harsh chemical strippers over time can cause floors to eventually deteriorate, especially along the metal divider strips, resulting in costly repairs. Environmentally green stripping products are not as effective as the harsher chemical stripping products resulting in higher labor costs due to lower production. And because of the expense, many floors are not efficiently maintained nor properly stripped resulting in heavy wax buildup, causing yellowed, dull and worn-looking floors.

Terrazzo Needs to Breathe 

Since 70 percent of the content in a terrazzo floor typically comprises marble or natural stone chips, moisture transmission through capillary action is necessary for the stone to “Breathe.”  If natural vapor transmission is prevented from occurring and moisture gets trapped in the stone, chemical and mineralogical changes can occur. 

This will result in damage to the stone. This action of decay may take the form of pitting, spalling, flaking and oxidation. Oxidation is generally noticeable along the metal divider strips. Waxes DO NOT allow stone to breathe!

4-Step Restoration Process

The best way to restore a worn and tired terrazzo floor to its original clean and beautiful look is to mechanically grind and polish the surface. The process includes four steps: 

Step 1: Remove the wax coating using WerkMaster’s Propane or Electric powered Terrazzo Grinder/Polisher and proprietary Plug’n Go metal bond or Hybrid diamond abrasive tooling. The initial grind can be accomplished dry or wet using a slight amount of water by misting the floor. Once the floor is completely void of wax and the entire surface has been evenly ground and refined, then move onto Step 2.

Step 2: Remove the tool marks using WerkMaster’s Achromic Plug’n Go Transitional Resins ensuring all tool marks have been removed.

Step 3: Using WerkMaster’s MirraShine resin bond tooling, sequentially polish the surface to the desired shine and clarity. A high gloss shine would involve using 200, 400, 800, 1500 and 3000 Grit MirraShine resins. 

Step 4: Apply UltraGuard Stain and Wear Protector Sealer. UltraGuard is a breathable, modified, non VOC acrylic sealer specifically designed to allow terrazzo, stone and concrete surfaces to breath. It prevents etching or damage to the surface for up to 24 hours from harsh staining agents such as vinegar, soya sauce, mustard, ketchup, wine, soda, coffee, urine and most other staining agents. It provides a James Scale Slip/Fall rating of 0.68 and is CFIA Certified for use in hospitals, food processing and food courts and food preparation areas.