Terrazzo comes from the Latin word ‘Terra’ which means ground. It is a composite material that is made up of marble chippings which are set into cement.
This idea started in the 16th century in Italy to refuse off-cuts of stone, and it can be poured manually by professionals, or you can get precast blocks that are able to be cut to size. There are also ready-made terrazzo tiles that you can apply to your walls and floors with ease.
Terrazzo tiles can make for beautiful home design, and the easiest way to install this style is with tiles. Installing tiles is easier, as you can do this yourself. If you were to do this any other way you would likely need to have a construction crew or team in.
Once you have your terrazzo tiles installed, however, you do need to make sure that you are properly looking after them. Proper maintenance keeps them and your home looking gorgeous, so let’s look into how you should install them and look after them properly.
How To Install Terrazzo
With a lot of large areas terrazzo is usually poured with the concrete, and installed by construction workers/ builders, who mix in the marble chippings in with the cement and lay it this way.
However, for many homeowners this is just not reasonable, and when you want to have some terrazzo styling in your home, tiles are just the more sensible option, and are much easier to install.
Installing Terrazzo Tiles
When you install terrazzo tiles, they have to be installed on a well-leveled out dry and clean surface, if you were to install terrazzo on a humid subsoil then the tile’s surface will develop fur deposits.
You need to apply whatever adhesive you intend on using to the surface you will be laying the tile on, doing so with a large toothed comb trowel. You should also apply the adhesive to the back side of the side as well.
Position the tiles evenly with your hands, do not hammer and be sure to leave a gap of around 1-2 mm thick for the joint. If you have under-floor heating or are installing terrazzo tiles outside then you should leave a slightly thicker gap, at a minimum of 2 mm.
Be aware that the pigments that are inside a colored grout can get into the pores of the tiles, this will cause irreversible staining, so try to ensure that you do not use a grout which is not pigmented.
Once you have humidified your tiles, fill in the grout space with a liquid cement grout filler that has no pigment. Do this with a filling knife.
Any excess grout needs to be immediately removed with a damp (not wet) sponge. Do not spread the grout onto the whole surface of the tile if you can help it.
Crystallization & Polishing
Once you have installed your tiles, and done the grouting, it is ideal to polish and sand your tiles. You would also do this with stone or marble. Use abrasive polishing to level out the surface and to shine and tone the tiles.
As you remove a thin layer on the surface it perfectly levels the surface out and creates a more even finish, giving a shine and some curvature to the tiles. This is most recommended when you install larger tiles.
If you want it even shinier, you should consider buffing it and using a neutral wax on it.
As with using marble limestone, and so on, you can crystallize terrazzo as well. This will harden and protect the surface, while also giving it a color enhancement and a super shiny finish. If you want this done, however, you will need to contact a specialist.
How To Maintain Terrazzo
Terrazzo is pretty easy to maintain once it has been installed. Just cleaning with a simplistic steam mop, or perhaps a nylon scrubbing brush is pretty much all that you need to give it a good clean.
Do note, however, that poured terrazzo is much more prone to cracking than slabs of terrazzo.
In order to restore cracks in terrazzo, it will need to be ground again and polished again by a specialist.
Always ensure that you clean terrazzo tiles with PH neutral cleaning products that are non-acidic and non-alkaline. A natural soap and natural cleaners for marble are easy to get in a majority of stores. You can use marble on terrazzo for cleaning.
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