Terrazzo Floors vs Polished Concrete Floors – Differences and Similar Features

When you’re choosing flooring for your next project, you have a lot of choices. Lately, terrazzo floors vs polished concrete floors have become popular because they are durable, easy to maintain, and environmentally friendly.

These two types of flooring might seem similar, but there are certain differences between them. This post will point out those differences and give you a quick summary of each option.

What Is Terrazzo Flooring

What Is Terrazzo Flooring?

A terrazzo mix uses cement or epoxy and adds marble, stones, glass, and more. Its popularity has grown because it’s practical and offers many design options. It lets architects and designers play with many colours and patterns.

The latest terrazzo technology, using epoxy and different aggregates, is not just for floors anymore. Now, you can find terrazzo in chairs, tables, walls, countertops, and more. It’s a great choice for places like hospitals, museums, schools, government buildings, and libraries.

There is also another type of terrazzo, cementitious terrazzo, that uses a cement base. The cement-to-aggregate ratio in this type of terrazzo is 1:2  and it is better suited for more challenging areas, outdoor uses, and renovation projects where there’s no vapour barrier under the surface.

What Is Polished Concrete?

Polished concrete is a type of flooring that uses the existing concrete slab of a building, making it strong, shiny, and easy to take care of. It is made by adding a special liquid that makes the concrete harder and less likely to stain.

Then, the concrete is ground and polished until it’s smooth and reflective. Polished concrete doesn’t need a sealer on top, which means it’s easy to maintain, even in places with a lot of foot traffic.

Differences Between Terrazzo and Polished Concrete

While terrazzo and polished concrete look similar and are both strong, they have some significant differences.

Cost Comparison

Terrazzo flooring can be quite expensive because the materials mixed in, like marble or pearl, can have a higher price tag than other stones. On the other hand, polished concrete is a budget friendly option that looks a lot like terrazzo but for less money.

The cost of polished concrete mainly depends on the size of the area, how much prep work is needed, whether you want a special pattern, and the staining or dyeing process.

Aggregate content

The next difference between concrete and terrazzo is the amount of coarse aggregate used. Concrete usually has about 30 percent coarse aggregate, while terrazzo uses a lot more, around 70 percent aggregate.

Installation

Polishing concrete is usually easier to install because it uses an existing concrete slab, so it doesn’t require much work. Terrazzo needs to be specially mixed and poured, then ground and polished, which involves more steps.

Slip-resistance

Polished concrete is one of the least slippery flooring options. In contrast, terrazzo needs waxing and buffing, which can make it slippery. However, applying a slip-resistant sealer to improve its grip can also make terrazzo less slippery.

On-going maintenance

Polished concrete floors are shiny and don’t need waxing, keeping their shine for a long time. Terrazzo floors are similar but might need occasional buffing, resealing, and waxing.

Shared Benefits of Polished Concrete and Terrazzo Flooring

Both types of flooring offer similar benefits, making them excellent choices for your home or business. Advantages of both floors include:

  • Exceptionally long-lasting, often lasting for many years without needing replacement.
  • Offer a wide range of customisation options, including the ability to choose different stain colours, patterns, and even incorporate business logos into the design.
  • Guarantee a unique floor every time because of each installation’s distinct materials and colour combinations.
  • Highly resistant to common issues such as moisture damage, stains, chips, and cracks, ensuring a durable and long-lasting surface.
  • Eco-friendly choice, emitting no harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and adhering to the strict green standards set by LEED.
  • Simple to maintain and clean, requiring minimal effort to keep looking as good as new.

Terrazzo vs. Polished Concrete - What to Choose for High-Traffic Installations

Terrazzo vs. Polished Concrete – What to Choose for High-Traffic Installations?

When choosing flooring for areas with a lot of foot traffic, consider how durable and easy to maintain the surface will be. Polished concrete is often preferred for high-traffic areas because it’s incredibly tough and requires little upkeep.

It can handle the wear and tear of constant walking, heavy equipment, and spills without losing shine or getting damaged easily.

Terrazzo is also durable and long-lasting but might need more maintenance, such as buffing, resealing, and waxing, to keep its appearance over time. This can mean more work and higher costs in busy settings.

FAQs

Is the terrazzo floor slippery when wet?

Yes, terrazzo floors can become slippery when they are wet. This happens because the smooth and sealed surface of the terrazzo does not absorb water, leaving the water on top, which can create a slippery situation.

However, applying a non-slip coating or treatment can significantly reduce this risk, making terrazzo a safer option in areas where spills or water are common. Businesses need to consider this, especially in high-traffic areas, to prevent accidents and ensure safety for everyone walking on the floor.

What are the problems with terrazzo floors?

One problem with terrazzo floors is their cost. Installing terrazzo can be expensive because it involves labour-intensive processes and high-quality materials like marble chips. Another issue is maintenance. While terrazzo is durable, it requires regular polishing to keep its shine. This can add ongoing costs.

Also, if terrazzo isn’t correctly sealed, it can stain easily when spills occur. Repairing terrazzo can be complex and costly because matching the colour and pattern of the existing floor can be challenging. Lastly, while terrazzo is generally slip-resistant, it can become slippery when wet if not treated with a non-slip coating.

How long do terrazzo floors last?

Terrazzo floors are well-known for their durability. Terrazzo flooring can last for decades, even more than 75 years, with proper care and maintenance. The secret to terrazzo’s longevity lies in its hard surface, made from a mix of cement and marble or other stone chips, which is then polished to a smooth finish.

This makes it tough and resistant to scratches, chips, and stains when it’s correctly sealed. The main thing is to keep up with regular cleaning and occasionally reseal the terrazzo floor to protect its beauty.

How long do polished concrete floors last?

Polished concrete floors can last over 20 years with the proper care and maintenance. They are incredibly durable due to their solid and well-sealed surface, which helps resist scratches, stains, and wear from foot traffic.

Regular cleaning and occasional resealing are the keys to keeping polished concrete floors in top condition. This way, these floors maintain their appearance and functionality for many years, making them a cost-effective option for businesses and homes.

How often do you need to polish concrete floors?

The need to polish concrete floors can depend on the level of traffic and use they get. Typically, for areas with heavy foot traffic, you might want to polish the floors once a year to keep them looking their best.

Polishing every two to three years could be enough in spaces with less foot traffic. Regular cleaning and taking care of spills quickly will also help maintain the shine for longer, potentially reducing the need for frequent polishing.

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