18 Apr Specifying Terrazzo
Specifying Terrazzo for Architectural Buildings
Terrazzo is a trending building material today. General contractors and architects alike are starting to see the wonders that terrazzo can do in regards to functionality and design, thus specifying terrazzo more often in commercial buildings.
Terrazzo has been around for centuries. The word terrazzo originated in Italy, where Venetian marble workers built terraces using scrap remains from previous projects. Traditional terrazzo uses a cement binder mixed with decorative aggregates, which could be installed indoors or outdoor. By the 1970s, an epoxy matrix was introduced allowing terrazzo to expand its style.
What’re the main differences between epoxy and cement terrazzo? Epoxy terrazzo is lighter and has a quicker cure time. It is also thinner than a cement matrix at 1/4″ or 3/8″. Epoxy terrazzo also offers more design options with more colors to choose from and more experimentation with glass or shell chips. But the most important fact about epoxy terrazzo is that it is now the most cost-effective flooring today showing up in places you may pass by every day like high schools, airports, hospitals, and even restaurants.
Which Terrazzo System is Best for Your Project?
If this is your first time working with terrazzo, you might have a few questions about which terrazzo system is ideal for your commercial building. Many buildings will use epoxy terrazzo for a few good reasons. Epoxy terrazzo is great if you want to create a custom floor design using any color. It is also preferred over cement terrazzo systems for its lightweight, speed of installation, and long-term value.
But that’s not to say that cement terrazzo is without its own advantages. For one, cement terrazzo systems are recommended for outdoor applications like patios, pools, and walkways. They are also recommended for older buildings that do not have a vapor barrier underneath the slab.
Like many flooring projects, moisture can halt a project right in its tracks or lead to problems in the future. Moisture mitigation systems are available to cease vapors from coming up through the floor. If moisture is a concern, make sure to contact a terrazzo contractor prior to installing epoxy terrazzo.
Terrazzo is a cost-effective floor that will last a lifetime; however, initial costs can be higher than other flooring products. Price estimates include the cost of the installation plus the cost of the materials selected.
People love working with terrazzo because they have the design flexibility to create a unique floor system. It may be even a good idea to consult with a local terrazzo contractor in planning a terrazzo design. Some people speculate that terrazzo tile is a better investment than epoxy flooring, but that is not always the case. Contractors can find ways to reduce the cost of a project by suggesting recommendations for materials.
So far we’ve mentioned cement terrazzo and epoxy terrazzo. Another option is precast terrazzo. Precast terrazzo is manufactured off-site in a controlled environment. The benefits of going with precast terrazzo are budget and ease of installation. On-site pouring requires labor and time to cure the terrazzo, but with precast terrazzo, the materials can be transported to a construction site.
Precast terrazzo can produce products like tile, shower base, wall panels, stair treads, and countertops. Like epoxy terrazzo, precast terrazzo shares the same design and performance qualities.
What are the Options to Consider When Designing Terrazzo?
When specifying terrazzo, consider the aggregates.
Aggregate options include marble, glass, shell, plastic, and metal. Italian marble or North American marble is the most commonly used aggregate in design. Architects seeking LEED points for building projects should choose post-consumer glass chips or post-industrial marble chips in their designs. They should also consider using aggregates that are sourced and processed within 500 miles of a project’s site.
When selecting aggregates, not only do you have to factor in type and color, but also the aggregate size. Designers are interested in using the Venetian and Palladiana styles in their floor designs. Palladiana refers to a floor design where large marble slabs are placed on the floor with traditional terrazzo filling in between the gaps. Venetian refers to a floor style that uses large-sized aggregates. Both styles are rare but easily captures a viewer’s eye.
Aggregates are graded based on the size of the material. Traditional terrazzo chips are graded from 0 to 2, which range from 1/16″ to 3/8″ in diameter. There are other aggregate sizes on both ends of the spectrum. As mentioned earlier, Venetian chips are larger than traditional sizes. But micro-aggregate chips can be used with are smaller than size 0 and labeled as 00 and 0 on the aggregate size scale.
Divider Strips Options
The most common divider strips for use is zinc. Divider strips come in other materials like brass, aluminum, or plastics. One thing to keep in mind is the maximum length of divider strips for both a cement and epoxy terrazzo system. Divider strips for cement terrazzo systems extend to 3 to 5 feet whereas divider strips for epoxy terrazzo can go as far as 30 feet. Architects can use divider strips to create free-flowing lines or interesting floor patterns with an epoxy terrazzo system.
Another option in specifying terrazzo is considering waterjet designs. Logos and graphics can be cut using waterjet technology and then embedded into the terrazzo floor. Waterjets are great when a floor design calls for a detailed logo.
TERRAZZCO is a brand name of epoxy and resin products distributed by Concord Terrazzo Company, Inc. We are dedicated to bringing the latest techniques and product innovations to the time-honored art and craft of terrazzo. When specifying terrazzo, there is much to know; however, Concord Terrazzo Company is here to answer any questions. If you need help in specifying terrazzo, contact a sales representative at firstname.lastname@example.org or complete our online form.