Crystallization

A popular method of polishing Terrazzo is through the use of Crystallization. Many contractors employ this method  as a way to save time and also because it takes the guesswork out of properly handling different types of marble correctly to achieve the desired shine. Contrary to what they may tell you it IS a topical coating and is not the same as properly polishing the floor using ALL of the steps of diamond abrasives, not just to 400- or 800-grit, but up to 8500-grit.

The crystallization process consists of
spraying a fluid onto the marble floor and
buffing it in with steel wool under a standard
buffing machine. The steel wool generates
heat through abrasion and the chemical reacts
with the marble, producing a new compound
on the surface of the stone.

Almost all crystallization chemicals
contain three main ingredients: acid,
fluorosilicate compounds and waxes.

When the crystallization fluid is
sprayed on a marble surface, the acid attacks
the calcium carbonate. The fluorosilicate
compound then attaches itself to the calcium
ion, forming a new compound called calcium
fluorosilicate.

Simply put, the crystallization process
works by forcing one ion from one molecule
to another in the cement matrix that holds the
crystals together. This forms a new cement
matrix that can be harder than the original
cement matrix of the stone. The newly hard
and the preexisting softer structures form two
layers, and thus a layer of separation is
between them. In many stone varieties,
especially those that contain carbon elements,
this causes the stone to delaminate. In others,
especially many low and medium density
limestones, this causes iron (from the steel
wool) to enter into the stone’s chemistry. All
stones that undergo this process have dramatic
changes in their element construction. In
order for this reaction to take place, frictional
heat must be generated. This is the reason for
using steel wool on the buffing machine.

The new compound formed blocks the stone’s ability to “breathe,” traps moisture, and causes the stone to rot.” 

Not only have you just transformed the chemical composition of the surface of your floor, but you’ve just added a topical coating, which will need to be regularly maintained. But, since this coating is now bonded to the surface it will not simply strip off.  The solution that crystallization contractors employ? RE-crystallization, building up more hard wax on your floor until it look like a wavy sheet of plastic! And once that avenue of maintenance has been exhausted? You guessed it…start all over with diamonds to cut the floor back down passed the layer of calcium fluoride. Its a terrible cycle but a very profitable one for those who stay busy offering “Terrazzo Restoration” at nearly half the price of true diamond polishing….

For more information and a free in-home sample of real terrazzo polishing, please Contact the Terrazzo Guy today!