Familiar with those surfaces or floors that look like a bunch of rocks all stuck together into one cement collage? That's what you call a "terrazzo surface."
It's a common type of surface used in a lot of homes and even buildings, some would argue that as they age they look better, but despite the cement or binder changing color, that's just basically years of dust, dirt and other particles logged into the small nooks and crannies of terrazzo floors or terrazzo surfaces.
These floors or walls still need cleaning as any other type of floor or wall, and if not cleaned on a regular basis will cause the terrazzo to look dull, scratched, and just downright icky.
Terrazzo is a composite material poured in place or precast, which is used for Terrazzo flooring and wall treatments. It consists of marble chips, quartz, granite, glass, or other suitable chips, sprinkled or unsprinkled, and poured with a cementitious binder that is polished when cured.
There is also some more high-end terrazzo floor material that is made of pearl, abalone shell, and more precious and delicate materials or natural stones. These are typically found in finer homes or buildings.
Terrazzo floors or Terrazzo Flooring can be manufactured to resemble polished stone or wood floors and can be found in a wide variety of colors. Originally, terrazzo was produced in Venice from the 15th century onward. The name comes from the resemblance of some colors of terrazzo to varicolored marble stones found in Greece and Turkey (terra cotta means “baked earth”)
Essentially, the surface of terrazzo tile floors is ground and polished to a smooth finish. Terrazzo floor may also be created by embedding additional materials, such as glass or porcelain tiles, into the ground layer before polishing it.
Terrazzo floors or terrazzo flooring can be found in both residential and commercial settings across the United States and the whole world. It's most often used as an interior flooring material, with its durability making it ideal for areas where there is high foot traffic.
How Often Should You Clean Your Terrazzo Floors?
Terrazzo floors are a beautiful and elegant addition to any home or property, but they do require regular cleaning to maintain their appearance. Depending on the amount of traffic in your area, you should sweep or vacuum your terrazzo floors or terrazzo flooring at least once a week.
Terrazzo maintenance is not like your regular flooring. In order to have clean terrazzo floors, you need to use the right products, tools, and methods. In terms of how regular you should clean your terrazzo floors, we recommend:
These two are essential in cleaning terrazzo flooring for the general cleaning and for the deeper cleaning that is needed at least once a month. A microfiber towel can also be a great alternative for a wet mop when you don't want to use too much water on your terrazzo floors or terrazzo flooring.
Cleaning solutions vary based on your budget and your kind of terrazzo floor. You can get away with just plain tap water or even distilled water if you have, but for a cleaner and fresher look, a neutral cleaner with neutral ph will do just the trick for your terrazzo floor and keep the binder used intact. All-purpose cleaners can also work as long as they are not too acidic or alkaline, but it's best to go for neutral cleaners for the sake of your terrazzo floor's binder. What you need to avoid though are abrasive cleaners as they can damage the actual surface of your terrazzo floors and leave it dull and lackluster.
This is a great tool to use to really get into the small spaces between the little shards and shells used in your terrazzo floors. The dry brush will help release the small debris that you might not be able to even see.
How to Clean Your Terrazzo Floors
To begin cleaning your terrazzo floors, start by sweeping or vacuuming up any loose dirt or debris. It is essential to rid the surface of any loose dirt or debris before applying any liquid to it. This is to make sure that you don't waste your efforts when you start to mop and that the cleaning solution you use will be able to do its job properly.
Once the surface is clean, you can start mopping with a pH-neutral cleaner or a natural tile and stone cleaner. Make sure to wring out your mop head well before mopping as you don't want to leave any puddles of water on the floor which can lead to streaks or even worse, mold growth.
Then mix together a solution of warm water and dish soap, then use a mop to apply the solution to the floors daily. You may also use a neutral cleaner or terrazzo floors specific cleaners or even just plain water.
It's important to use a neutral cleaner when cleaning a terrazzo floor because if you use an acidic or alkaline cleaner on your terrazzo floor, it can have a reaction with the binder and disrupt the flooring itself. A neutral cleaner will just clean off the surface and leave a clean-looking sheen on top. Baking soda paste can also be utilized as a cleaner, mixing equal parts of baking soda and vinegar which are also used in cleaning different kinds of surfaces.
Likewise, allow the solution to sit on the floor for a few minutes so it can loosen any dirt or stains, then scrub them away using a brush or sponge.
Just like with laundry, you need the cleaning solution to do its thing. Terrazzo maintenance shouldn't be rushed, so make sure that the cleaner seeps into each chip on the entire floor surface before you get onto mopping.
When scrubbing or brushing off any stains make sure you are going in a circular motion to avoid any scuff marks on the whole floor.
Finally, rinse the floor with clean water and dry it with a towel or mop.
When mopping, make sure you are using a dry mop and rinse it off the dirty water often to avoid redepositing the dirt back onto the floor. It is essential to completely dry the floor as well, so no puddles are left on the terrazzo floor which can lead to streaks or water spots. If you have a towel handy, use that to dry up any puddles quickly.
Not all terrazzo maintenance calls for just a simple dusting and mop. If you are covering a larger area or would just like a more professional finish, there are industrial cleaners available that will give your terrazzo floor a deeper clean.
An industrial cleaner can get into all the nooks and crannies of your terrazzo floor and loosen any dirt or debris that might be embedded in there. This will leave your terrazzo floors looking shiny and new in no time!
This is a great tool to release those stubborn stains or dirt that just won't come off. This is also perfect because of the way terrazzo floors are made, the water will be strong enough to go in deep for a more deep clean finish. But be careful because if the water pressure of the hose is too strong it can cause permanent damage to your terrazzo flooring.
This is a great alternative to a mop, after letting the terrazzo floor soak up the cleaner, you can go in with a wet vacuum to further dry off the floor. Alternatively, if your terrazzo flooring is outdoors, it would be better to release the debris using a high-pressure hose and then use a wet vacuum to clean up.
This is a great service that you can hire for your terrazzo maintenance. Steam cleaning will help lift off any of the dirt and in the process give you clean terrazzo floors. A steam clean can also kill more bacteria because of the heat emitted from it and the warm water used in the process.
Electric Floor Scrubber
This is also a great investment for houses or buildings with terrazzo flooring, this makes having to get down on your knees and scrub off any dirt or stains with a brush easier, all you need to do is to guide the scrubber where it needs to go onto!
Terrazzo floors are a great aesthetic piece, it can put together these marvelous little shards and pieces of different materials and come together to create this intricate and one-of-a-kind look for every tile.
However, even if your terrazzo floor is as basic as shards of marble, cement, rocks, and glass, or a combination of pearl, abalone shell, and other precious stones and materials, terrazzo maintenance is something that must be done to protect your floors and keep them sparkling clean and new.
We hope that these tips were useful to you and that you can use them the next time you go about cleaning your terrazzo floors!