Keeping Your Terrazzo Floors Looking Good as New
Terrazzo floors are inexpensive to showcase marble speckling and are often seen in large shops, entry halls, or businesses.
Terrazzo was first introduced over 500 years ago in Italy according to the National Terrazzo & Mosaic Association. Workers were actually looking for ways to eliminate waste. They had excess pieces of marble chips lying around that needed to be used. They were able to integrate these pieces of marble and incorporate them into the flooring. Marble is commonly used along with other materials including granite, quartz, glass and porcelain. The result is a stunning statement for commercial or residential floors.
However, while beautiful, they aren’t all that common in homes. Many people who own terrazzo floors may not know the proper method for cleaning them.
If you’ve recently acquired new terrazzo tile flooring or got a job wherein you need to clean the terrazzo floors, you should know how to clean them without damaging them. Here is a complete guide to cleaning terrazzo floors, from daily maintenance to resealing and setting the floors.
Terrazzo flooring is inexpensive and easy to install. Unlike a hardwood floor, it is low maintenance and often used for high-traffic areas, such as malls and airports. This is because terrazzo flooring is two parts marble or pearl aggregate to one part sealant. The sealant preserves the look of the broken-up marble and protects it from scratches.
Although it’s highly durable and low maintenance, terrazzo floor tile does have a specific cleaning regimen. It’s relatively simple but should be followed in order to attain a clean terrazzo floor. It’s crucial to clean the terrazzo the same way every time to avoid the risk of cracked or slippery floors. Whether you do this yourself or you use third party cleaning services, you’ll want to make sure you follow these steps.
The first step is to know what kind of binder the terrazzo flooring has. For the most part, three different resins hold the aggregate together. The most common in newer terrazzo flooring is an epoxy resin system. This offers a more precise and shinier finish than older terrazzo tile floors.
However, the original binder, the Portland Cement binder, is still used. If your terrazzo floor isn’t bound with epoxy resin, it’s likely bound with Portland Cement. There is a third type as well: polyacrylate-modified cement. However, this form of cement wasn’t used for very long, and very few terrazzo floors still have it.
Fortunately, the cleaning system is very similar for all three types of binders. The main difference lies in how porous the systems are and how susceptible to staining or etching. Porosity also depends on the aggregate within, with marble being the most porous filling.
For any type of terrazzo tile floor, you should dry-mop the floor daily as part of your regular cleaning process. No matter how large or heavily trafficked it is, dust will accrue and cause a dirt buildup within days. The only daily task in maintaining terrazzo flooring is dust mopping every day, but it is a crucial one to prevent debris from building up on your floor.
There is no special technique for dust mopping as long as the mop is dry and the dust doesn’t settle back on the floor. Most janitors and cleaners use a regular dry mop or push broom and clean up any wet or sticky messes individually. Keeping the floor clean of dust and dirt will help the weekly wet clean be more effective.
Once a week, it’s essential to clean the entire terrazzo surface with a wet mop. Go over the entire floor section by section with plain water or a neutral cleaning solution. There are two things to keep in mind while you wet-mop the terrazzo flooring:
- Never use an acidic or basic cleaner. Always use a neutral neutral ph cleaner.
- Make sure the floor stays wet until it’s ready to be rinsed.
After you’ve gone over the floor, rinse it off, ensuring that the foundation has been wet the whole time. If you’ve allowed the floor to dry between mopping and rinsing, the first particles will simply dry back onto the floor and be more challenging to get off.
You can rinse twice – once with soapy water and once with clean water, but only if needed. Some janitors or owners choose to clean their terrazzo floors twice a week, but this depends on your specific needs and the traffic levels of your business.
If desired, you can reseal the resin on the terrazzo floors and reseal the entire thing. Although this will increase the health and longevity of your floors, there’s no need to do this procedure more than once every two years.
To reseal terrazzo flooring, you should call in a flooring expert and show him the areas that are especially stained or worn. These will be the focus areas, although the professional flooring worker will reseal the floor.
Here are some helpful tips for cleaning terrazzo floors.
Whether you clean your floor by hand or with a mop, you’ll need to use some liquid. However, never use acid, vinegar, or another non-neutral liquid. This can eat away at the resin and cause the floor to sustain damage. Terrazzo cleaning requires a neutral cleaner.
Sometimes, the terrazzo will stain no matter what you do. If you’ve experienced this, you can go over the spots by hand with some neutral cleaner and a rag. This can help you wait until the weekly cleaning to clean the floor.
Terrazzo floors are naturally slick, making them much more slippery when wet. Always use caution signs when mopping the building, and never add a coating of sealer or wax to the floor. It can cause injuries and will be unnecessary in the long run.
Here are some frequently asked questions about cleaning terrazzo floors and their answers. Hopefully, they help you answer your questions and keep your floors clean.
If you’ve cleaned the floors following the steps above and there are still deep discoloration or stains, it might be time to reseal the terrazzo floors. You can do this independently or by hiring a flooring professional to reseal and retemper the entire flooring. Depending on the severity of the staining, you may also want to consider terrazzo restoration.
Terrazzo flooring should never be treated with wax, as it will be extremely slippery and dangerous to anyone who walks on it. To keep terrazzo floors from getting too slick, ensure that you dry them thoroughly after mopping and always use necessary caution signs when the floor is wet.
While vinegar is a typical house cleaning substance, it shouldn’t be used on terrazzo flooring. The abrasive, acidic properties of vinegar can dull the flooring and cause etching holes to appear in the sealant.