Terrazzo flooring is made of marble chips and bits of natural stone mixed with a cement-based binder. The marble and stone chips give terrazzo floors a glossy appearance when polished. But, how do you make the terrazzo floor shine?
Clean the dull terrazzo floor thoroughly and then reapply a floor sealer to restore its shine and luster. If the terrazzo floor looks too old, crystallize the surface using an acid solution, grind it with a planetary grinder and then buff with a polishing powder to make it shine again.
You may be wondering about the ins and outs of terrazzo polishing: whether you can do it yourself, and how much it’ll cost you if you hire a flooring contractor. We discuss these and more in this blog that focuses on terrazzo floor polishing.
Can you polish terrazzo yourself?
Yes, it’s possible to undertake terrazzo floor polishing as a do-it-yourself (DIY) project. You don’t even have to purchase any expensive polishing equipment. You can simply rent out such equipment from a local store for the duration of the project.
Examples of equipment and supplies that you may need for a terrazzo polishing project include;
- Planetary grinder,
- Diamond abrasives,
- Crystallization solution and,
- Polishing powder.
In addition, you may hire a professional terrazzo polisher to do the work for you, in case you aren’t a DIY kind of person.
Ways to Make Terrazzo Floors Shine
Here are some strategies you can adopt to maintain and restore the glossy finish on your dull-looking terrazzo floor surface:
1. Clean the Terrazzo Floor
Regular cleaning of terrazzo surfaces goes a long way towards maintaining their shiny appearance. Cleaning your terrazzo floor at least twice per week can ensure that it maintains its high-gloss appearance for longer before needing to be restored by polishing. Here’s a short procedure for effectively cleaning terrazzo flooring:
- Remove any loose dirt, debris, and dust particles from the floor by sweeping with a broom or a dry mop.
- Next, wet-mop the entire terrazzo floor using water or a pH-neutral cleaning solution such as Black Diamond Stoneworks or OdoBan Neutral pH Floor Cleaner.
- Rinse the floor using a dry mop or wrung mop to remove any residual water/cleaning solution. Alternatively, you can use a wet vacuum cleaner.
2. Seal the Terrazzo floor
As the cement binder in terrazzo is porous, it can pick up liquid stains. This dampens the shine of the terrazzo floor. To prevent this from happening, you need to seal or re-seal your terrazzo surface.
Here’s a detailed procedure for properly sealing terrazzo flooring:
- For you to restore a terrazzo floor, you’ll need to strip off the old layer of sealer material before resealing the surface. Use of a stone tile stripper solution to dislodges the old sealant from the terrazzo surface by reacting with it.
- Next, use a floor scraper to remove the dislodged old sealant gunk from the floor.
- Rinse the floor using clean water to remove any residual stripper and gunk. Ensure you remove rust stains, and leave the floor to dry.
- Once the terrazzo surface dries up, apply a new coat of sealer using a paint roller. Once you’ve gone over the entire floor, let the initial coat of sealer dry up for about half an hour before applying a second coat.
- After applying the second coat.
Tip: Avoid walking on the terrazzo surface for up to 24-hours. This will allow ample time for the sealer to dry up.
How to Polish a Terrazzo floor
You can polish terrazzo flooring using any of these three methods:
- Use of polishing powder,
- and Diamond polishing.
Diamond-polished terrazzo surfaces can maintain their satiny appearance for years although, of the three, it’s the most expensive. By contrast, terrazzo floors polished using polishing powder or crystallization solutions typically lose their shine after about two years.
1. Use of Diamond Polishing Method
Diamond-polished terrazzo surfaces are low-maintenance compared to those polished via polishing powder or recrystallization. This is because they can maintain their high-gloss finish for longer without the need for restoration- typically up to eight years.
If your terrazzo floor restoration is long overdue and the floor is in particularly bad shape, the process starts with diamond grinding using a planetary grinder. Get Coarse-grit diamond abrasives and use them to grind the terrazzo surface, thus getting rid of scratches and scuff marks. Polishing is then done by passing medium-grit, followed by fine-grit diamond bits over the terrazzo surface. The end result is a visually appealing, high-gloss finish.
Here a video guide on how to diamong polish terrazzo floors
2. Terrazzo floor Recrystallization method
Crystallization- also known as vitrification- is a method of polishing stone surfaces such as terrazzo using an acid solution, a steel wool pad, and a grinding/polishing machine. After pouring a little amount of the solution over the terrazzo floor, the polishing machine, with the steel wool pad attached to it- is then used to evenly spread the solution over the surface.
During crystallization, the acid solution chemically alters the terrazzo stone surface. The glossy appearance after crystallization is due to the calcium fluorosilicate layer (a byproduct of the reaction between the acid solution ingredients and the terrazzo surface) at the top of the terrazzo floor.
Here a video on how to polish-recrystallize terrazzo floor surface
3. Buffing Terrazzo floor with Polishing Powder Method
Here’s how to buffer terrazzo floors with polishing powder:
- Purchase some pH-neutral polishing powder. There are several online stores that stock these. Also, if you don’t have a buffing machine, hire out one from your local building equipment supplier.
- Next, attach soft polishing pads onto the buffing machine (like Prolux core heavy floor buffer). The pads should be of a light shade, as you don’t want to stain your terrazzo.
- Sprinkle a substantial amount of polishing powder on the terrazzo surface, then buff the floor until all the powder is absorbed.
- After buffing, clean any residual polishing powder or slurry using a wet mop- and let the floor dry up.
- Once the floor is dry- buff it once again until you achieve a visually striking, shiny finish.
Cost of polishing terrazzo?
Maybe you don’t have the time or resources needed to undertake a DIY terrazzo polishing project- and are wondering how much it would cost if you hired a professional contractor to do it. Well- the cost of polishing your terrazzo surface will vary depending on various factors such as the size of your house, labor costs, and the method of polishing used.
Terrazzo polishing costs can range anywhere between 1-8 dollars per square foot. As such, the larger your terrazzo surface is, the more it’ll cost to polish. In terms of labor, terrazzo contractors charge an average of 30-dollars per hour.
The costs may also vary depending on whether the polishing project is for a new installation or an old terrazzo surface that needs restoration. Typically, it costs more to polish existing terrazzo surfaces that are being remodeled. This is because the contractor has to spend extra equipment and effort to cover up the dust from the grinding and polishing process from drifting to other rooms.
Finally, terrazzo installation costs may also depend on the polishing method being used by the contractor. Diamond-polishing typically costs more than crystallization and powder polishing, as it is a labor-intensive process and also gives a longer-lasting shine.
Here a Video guide on polishing natural stone flooring like Terrazzo