Is Terrazzo Slippery?

Is Terrazzo Slippery

 Is Polished Terrazzo Slippery?

Is polished terrazzo slippery? One of the biggest concerns of my customers is that the terrazzo will be very slippery once it has been polished. And I completely understand their concern, after all if you have viewed our gallery it sure looks like these floors would be slippery! Interestingly enough, a comparison between the floor before we begin – often with old worn slippery coatings – and after it has been polished proves that the diamond polished floor is incredibly slip resistant. Even when wet you may find the floor so grippy you could trip over it before you slip over it. The reason is that on a microscopic level level the stones actually have a texture. When you coat a floor with a finish you are basically creating a thin sheet of plastic on the surface, which has a terrible slip resistance when wet. Call us today at 386-837-6887 for more info, or click here to drop us an email and we will get in touch with you shortly.

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Terrazzo, from the Italian word for terraces, was created several hundred years ago in Europe when Venetian workers discovered a new use for discarded marble remnants. Since that time, it has become a logical, practical solution for contemporary design and construction.

Fifteenth-century Venetian marble workers began to use off-size marble pieces (remaining from the custom sized marble slabs)to surface terraces around their living quarters.

The uneven surfaces created, when the spalls were set in clay to anchor them, convinced the workers that flattening the surface would produce a smoother surface more comfortable for walking. They began to rub the surface with a handstone, achieving a flat surface.

The workers soon advanced their technique for rubbing the surfaces by designing a long handle with a weighted end to which they could fasten their rubbing stones. Now they were able to rub the terraces in a more comfortable upright position, utilizing their body weight to provide the pressure to abrade the surface faster. This tool was named the “Galera.”

A smoother surface was achieved with this crude equipment and back-breaking labor, but it still lacked the true marble color that only resulted when the surface was wet. As years passed, workers discovered the milk from their goats brought out the true color of the marble when applied to the surface. The true color of the marble was retained when it was dry. This was the first Terrazzo Sealer!

Gifted craftsmen brought the Terrazzo concept with them from Europe in the late 18th century, where Terrazzo was used extensively in monumental structures. (Our first President, George Washington, designed his Mt. Vernon home and selected Terrazzo for many of the rooms.) Soon the Americanized version of Terrazzo was created from the wealth of marble in the United States and American ingenuity advanced installation techniques.

Ingenious individuals devised a method of using wood strips to separate different colors of the marble chips. These strips were removed and the void filled with another material. These same people learned that adding marble dust to this material resulted in various colors. Thus, they could now create a design with this material.

In later years, 3/4″ colorful marble cubes, known as Mosaic Tessarae, were used as the division strips for separating colors. These became a permanent part of the floor and added further aesthetics. Marble strips, 3/4″ x 3/4″, one to three feet in length, were developed, providing another permanent dividing strip.

Brass divider strips became available in the mid-twenties, replacing or offering a second choice to the marble cubes or strips. In the thirties, white alloy of zinc metal strips were developed, and during World War II due to the essential need for metal, plastic strips were developed. These strips were not only designed to separate colors, but they played an essential role in the control of localizing shrinkage in the Terrazzo topping, preventing cracks from marring the aesthetics of this beautiful surface. Soon advanced technology gave this industry various gauges of all these strips, resulting in the creation of elaborate and intricate patterns and designs.

In 1924, improvements on the Galera led to the development of electric grinding equipment to achieve a fine finish. The technology of carborundum stones on a rotating head, aided in advancing grinding and polishing procedures to today’s standards.

When white Portland cement was introduced into this industry, it expanded the horizon of Terrazzo colors with the mineral color pigment additives. Now the spectrum of color for Terrazzo was unlimited.

Today, advances in polishing machinery along with polishing compounds  allow near mirror-like finishes to be achieved on Terrazzo in very little time. Please contact ustoday if you would like to be a part of the resurgence of this beautiful, historic floor.