Concreate, Inc. delivers concrete polishing and custom staining for both commercial and residential projects primarily in Virginia and Maryland (but also up and down the East Coast). We work hand in hand with with designers, architects, project managers, general contractors, tradesmen, and home owners alike from start to finish. We welcome the opportunity to serve your polished concrete needs in every way possible.

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How to Make a Concrete Floor Look Like Terrazzo

How to Make a Concrete Floor Look Like Terrazzo

Concreate workers operating a concrete surface preparation machine.

Epoxy terrazzo can be poured directly over an existing surface, provided that the base substrate is structurally sound.

Key Takeaways:

  • Terrazzo flooring looks great but is expensive
  • It’s possible to install terrazzo epoxy over a concrete floor
  • The result is a brand-new floor without a multiple-step installation

Terrazzo, an Italian word meaning terrace, is composed of composite materials used for floors, stairs, and walls. It was first created in Italy over 500 years ago by Venetian workers seeking a safe way to discard marble remnants.  

According to the National Terrazzo and Mosaic Association (NTMA), original terrazzo floors consist of marble, granite aggregate, quartz, onyx, porcelain, mother-of-pearl, and resonance matrix. A binder helps hold everything together. 

A versatile material

Terrazzo has gone through several developmental changes since its first use. Today, resin and polymers are used for better design, easier installation, and maintenance of terrazzo surfaces. The colors and flecks are customizable, and terrazzo floors are lighter and more durable.

Thanks to these developments, terrazzo is no longer only for commercial buildings and government offices. It has become more popular in homes and apartments, not only for floors but also for kitchen surfaces such as backsplashes and countertops. 

But why terrazzo? The following are the reasons behind terrazzo’s growing popularity.

Why use terrazzo flooring?

  • Customizable: Terrazzo comes in a variety of colors, designs, sizes, and materials that are customizable to your liking. 
  • Eco-friendly: Terrazzo ranks as the most environmentally friendly flooring. Created in the 15th century, it’s regarded as the first “green” flooring. 
  • Highly durable: Terrazzo floor and surfaces often outlast the host building.
  • Low maintenance cost: Sweep and mop occasionally – that’s it! No need for a planned maintenance schedule. 

Undoubtedly, terrazzo is the present and future of construction design. There is, however, one major hurdle: cost.

High cost

Terrazzo is perhaps the most expensive flooring alternative available. The installation cost is so high in part because this is strictly a job for the professionals – it’s definitely not a DIY project! It’s also a highly labor-intensive venture.

A standard floor, with minimal design, costs between $10 to $23 per square foot – 2 to 4 times higher than polished concrete. You’ll have to part with even more money if you want intricate designs.

In addition to labor costs, you’ll need the materials as well as having pre-installation prep work done to the floor to get the best results. Sounds expensive, right?

Luckily, there’s a way to cut on the high cost. That’s where epoxy terrazzo flooring comes in. 

Why epoxy terrazzo is preferred

Essentially, terrazzo is a compound comprising either a resinous or cement binder (matrix) with added aggregates made of granite, marble, onyx, and glass, among others.

First used in the 1970s, epoxy terrazzo is a nominal quarter-inch resin matrix veneer specified with granite, glass, or synthetic aggregates. 

Epoxy terrazzo flooring accounts for about 95 percent of current installations. There are several reasons epoxy terrazzo flooring is preferred over cement-based terrazzo systems. 

  • Thin and lightweight: Epoxy terrazzo’s thickness ranges between 1/4″ to 3/8″ and weighs between 3 to 4 PSF (pounds per square foot). It is one of the thinnest and lightest floor materials, making it ideal for multistorey use. A typical cementitious terrazzo, in contrast, is 2.5″ thick and weighs around 6 PSF. 
  • Unlimited color choices and features: Epoxy terrazzo offers a variety of matrix colors, resiliency, tensile-compressive strengths, and chemical resistance not found in cement binders. It’s an excellent choice for multi-colored surface designs. 
  • Lowest maintenance cost: Due to its nonabsorbency, epoxy terrazzo needs minimal maintenance. It can be installed in sanitary areas with minimal dividers yet provide seamless appeal. 
  • Quick to install: Epoxy terrazzo has the fastest pour-to-grind time. It takes less than 24 hours to cure at room temperature, while cement terrazzo cures in 7 or more days.

Save on installation cost and time

Demolishing or keeping the old floor can mean the difference between being able to finance terrazzo installation and not. It’s costly, labor-heavy, and could turn messy.

Fortunately, unlike cement-based terrazzo flooring, it’s possible to install terrazzo epoxy over a durable concrete floor.

Epoxy terrazzo can be poured directly over an existing surface, provided that the base substrate is structurally sound. This significantly cuts on project costs to make room in your budget for a classy terrazzo floor that will outlast any building structure. However, terrazzo overlay must not be poured over an existing soft floor like carpet, vinyl, and VCT (vinyl composite tile) or in case of a broken or loose tile.

No interfering with the schedule

Overlaying terrazzo on existing flooring helps avoid some of the usual flooring installation complexities and makes the process quicker. It’s possible to trowel the material one day and polish the terrazzo the next day without interfering with the business schedule. 

Here’s a simple walk-through of installing epoxy terrazzo on an existing concrete floor:

  • With multiple colors of terrazzo, fix metal divider strips to the slab using an epoxy adhesive.
  • Mix epoxy resin with decorative aggregates and pour the mixture onto the slab.
  • Trowel the material to the top of the strips and let it cure overnight (around 17 hours).
  • Grind and polish the surface to let out the decorative aggregate’s beauty.
  • Finally, apply a sealer to make the surface more water-resistant and protect the surface from grouting.

Epoxy terrazzo has zero VOCs (volatile organic compounds) with no chemical emissions, so it’s safe to keep the facility open while the installation is in progress.

Overlaying is also a big environmental plus as it saves loads of waste from going to landfills and avoids dust and noise pollution and energy use.

And yes, epoxy terrazzo can also be overlayed on existing terrazzo, a natural stone floor, or even quarry tile.

Terrazzo is the future of flooring

Terrazzo flooring has seen widespread adoption among commercial and residential spaces. It’s the future for any project looking for that customized elegance that makes a huge impact. And with epoxy terrazzo, you can save time and money and get a beautiful new floor without having to remove any concrete.

Epoxy terrazzo surfaces have been installed in many places lately, including airports, cafeterias, shopping malls, schools, food processing areas, corridors, convention centers, theme parks, hospitals, waste-water treatment facilities, and pharmaceutical plants, among others.

The bottom line

Installing terrazzo epoxy over a concrete floor is an excellent way to cut construction costs. But before pouring epoxy terrazzo, it is necessary to ensure that the concrete floor is solid and strong. You’ll need expert guidance to help with this. And that’s exactly what we do at Concreate.

Our team at Concreate comes with decades of industry experience and surface preparation expertise that will ensure your terrazzo flooring is done in the most efficient way possible. Get in touch today to learn more about our services.