For centuries, terrazzo has been a popular flooring option due to its distinctive look. This beautiful flooring material is usually a combination of cement and chips from various types of stone including marble, granite, and quartz.
Terrazzo floors usually need to be sealed since the cement part of the terrazzo is susceptible to stains. What’s more, sealing terrazzo also protects the flooring against mold and mildew. In this article, you’ll learn all about the proper process for sealing terrazzo, as well as the benefits of a sealed terrazzo floor.
Can you seal terrazzo tiles?
Yes- absolutely. For new terrazzo floor tiles, you can apply a sealant right after installing and staining/painting the tiles to your taste. For old terrazzo floor tiles that had probably been sealed before but need a new coat of seal due to scuffing and abrasion, you can strip the old layer of seal off and apply a fresh coat of sealant.
Most modern sealants leverage the power of advanced technology to facilitate micro-molecular bonding with the surface of the terrazzo- thus making it impermeable/non-porous. When shopping for an appropriate sealer/sealant for your terrazzo floor, keep your flooring needs in mind. Do you prefer a high gloss finish? Do you want maximum protection against oil-based and water-based stains?
A good sealant is one that ensures floor durability by rendering your terrazzo surface impermeable, while also enhancing the floor’s shine. Sealers can also be grouped into penetrating sealers and surface sealers, with the former type providing the best terrazzo protection against abrasion, but requiring annual re-application. Surface sealers, meanwhile, serve more of an aesthetic purpose and don’t need to be re-applied every year.
How to seal and finish terrazzo floors
To ensure the proper shine and maximum floor protection, you need to prep your terrazzo floor before sealing it. Prepping the floor involves multiple steps, as discussed below;
Prepping the Terrazzo Floor
- Clean the floor
Cleaning your terrazzo surface before sealing it ensures that the effectiveness of the sealant isn’t hampered by oil stains or grease-based dirt build-up. You should avoid using all-purpose soaps and detergents on terrazzo, as they usually contain acids and crystalizing salts that may etch the surface of your terrazzo.
Instead, use a commercial stone and tile cleaner, as they’re usually neutral pH cleaners that won’t cause surface etching. Mix the neutral cleaner with water in a bucket and sprinkle all over the floor. Then, use a stiff bristle brush to scrub the floor. This will help work the cleaning solution into all areas of the terrazzo floor and bring out all the dirt and debris.
Once you’re done, rinse the floor with clean water and let it dry out. Also, if you’ll be using a pressure washer to rinse the cleaner off your terrazzo floor, avoid high pressures above 800-PSI, as this may cause damage to the grout.
2. Strip off the old sealant
Once the floor is clean and dry, it’s now time to strip the terrazzo floor of old wax coatings, sealant, and salt build-up. For terrazzo floors, a stone tile stripper will get the job done. Once the stripper stops bubbling up, signaling the end of the reactive process, scrape it off and rinse off the excess stripper.
You can use a wet vacuum to suck off the excess water off the floor after rinsing. To test if you’ve completely stripped off the old sealant, wet the terrazzo surface and check to see whether the water soaks into the grout or beads up the surface. If the latter is the case, you’ll have to repeat the stripping process.
3. Buff the floor
Once the floor has been stripped of the old sealant and has dried up, attach a hair disk to a floor buffer and buff your floor to the highest possible shine.
Sealing the Terrazzo Floor
After you’ve cleaned, stripped, and buffed your terrazzo floor tiles, it’s now time to seal the surface. Follow the procedure below;
1. Mix the sealant
For the best possible results, ensure to adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions when mixing the sealant. Then, pour the mix into a paint roller tray.
2. Seal the Floor
Using a paint brush, initially spread a thin layer of sealant around the perimeter of the terrazzo tiles. Then, using a paint roller, apply sealant to the rest of the surface of the tiles. You can use an extension handle to ease your workload in certain areas. Also, the best way to ensure you fully cover the entire floor area with sealant is to slightly overlap your roller strokes.
Once done, give it about half-an-hour to dry up; after-which you should use a dry mop to wipe off excess sealant. Now repeat the entire process, by applying a second coating of sealant in a direction that’s perpendicular to the initial coat. Depending on the porosity of your terrazzo floor tiles and the desired level of shine, you may have to apply up to four layers of sealant.
After sealing your entire terrazzo floor, give it about a day to totally dry up, especially if you used a surface sealer. Also, ensure to buff the floor periodically to keep up its shine.
Benefits of sealing terrazzo
Since sealant makes the terrazzo surface impermeable, sealing your terrazzo flooring offers protection benefits against the following issues;
- Oil-based and grease-based dirt.
- Water-based dirt and water damage.
- Mold and mildew growth.
- Ultraviolet staining/fading
- Acid staining.
In addition, sealing your terrazzo has an aesthetic benefit, as it leaves your floor looking shinier and more visually appealing.