Terrazzo: Characteristics, Uses And Problems

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Developed For Hspg (Nps - Sero)
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This standard includes general information on the characteristics
and common uses of terrazzo and identifies typical problems
associated with the material.


Terrazzo was created in Europe several hundred years ago by the
Venetians who experimented with reusing marble chips by setting
them in concrete.  Further experiments with polishing resulted in
a smooth surface for walking.  After marble was brought to the
U.S., marble dust was added to make different colors.  Wood strips
were used to separate sections when casting.  The wood strips were
then replace with another material.

Characteristics of Terrazzo:

-    Terrazzo has been described as a decorative form of concrete.
    Random sized marble chips are mixed in a binder, troweled,
    ground and polished.

-    Good terrazzo has a smooth surface that is a mixture of 70% or
    more coarse marble aggregate and 30% or less Portland cement

-    Terrazzo combines the durability of marble with the strength
    and economy of concrete.

-    Ease of maintenance - is one of the principal reasons why
    terrazzo is found in so many buildings where traffic is heavy.

Types of Terrazzo:

The biggest difference between types of terrazzo is the type of
binder that is used.  The binder, which is either a Portland cement
or resinous base,  serves to hold the aggregate in place.
Different binders require different sealing procedures.

-    Terrazzo with a Portland cement binder

-    Terrazzo with a polyacrylic-modified Portland cement and
    acrylic additive binder

-    Terrazzo with a epoxy or polyester resin binder (a.k.a.
    resinous thin-set system)


Typical historical and 20th century uses for terrazzo:

-     As a flooring material in public buildings.

Typical uses for terrazzo in the 20th century:

-    As a flooring material in places like airports, convention
    centers and shopping malls.


-    Has a reputation for being maintenance-free
-    Sensitive to harsh cleaners
-    Sensitive to all-purpose cleaners and soaps containing water-
-    Avoid sweeping compounds containing oil as they may
    permanently discolor the floor
-    Portland cement systems must be sealed with a penetrating
    solvent-type sealer after final polishing to protect the
    porous cement binder
-    Resinous systems can be sealed with a non-penetrating or
    surface type sealer since the matrix  in this system creates
    a non-porous surface

For additional information on terrazzo, see the following
procedures: 09400-01-P  Routine Preventive Maintenance Guidelines
for Terrazzo , 09400-01-R  Removing Ink Stains from Terrazzo ,
09400-02-R  Stripping and Cleaning Dirty or Discolored Terrazzo
Floors , 09400-03-R  Patching Minor Chips and Cracks in Terrazzo
With Cement Grout , 09400-04-R  Installing a New Bonded Terrazzo
Floor to Match Historic Terrazzo , 09400-05-R  Epoxy Patching
Cracks in Terrazzo Floors , 09400-06-R  Removing Lubricating Oil
Stains from Terrazzo Floors , 09400-07-R  Removing Tobacco Stains
from Terrazzo Floors , 09400-08-R  Removing Coffee Stains from
Terrazzo Floors , 09400-09-R  Removing Iodine Stains from Terrazzo
Floors .

                             END OF SECTION
Last Reviewed 2012-02-24