Terrazzo tile is made from marble chips and stones. It is a very durable tile that has a high gloss finish which is installed in many homes that have a retro design element. In terrazzo flooring, Portland cement, which is referred as the matrix, is poured into a metal grid that is T shaped and acts as the expansion joint for the tiles. The metal grid is used as a guide by the installer in pouring concrete and it provides the limitation to the flow of the mixtures. There is also an epoxy terrazzo but this particular material is usually covered with vinyl or carpet in many homes and business establishments.
If you want you to give a new look to your flooring, you can buff and clean your terrazzo tiles and paint it over. Painting can be done on the tiles but you have to make the proper preparation for it.
Step 1 - Cleaning the Terrazzo Tiles
Since older homes and businesses have their terrazzo tiles covered up during the 60’s and 70’s eras. You need to take out all traces of foam padding or adhesives that might have remained on the floor. You can easily do it with a heavy bladed scraper that is about 2 or 3 inches in width. Apply a solvent cleaner to soften the accumulate adhesive and foam. Scrape them off with the scraper.
Step 2 - Removing Accumulated Grime
To clean the terrazzo floor thoroughly, you will have to take out all dirt, grease, grime and oil that may have accumulated on the surface through the years. An effective way of doing it is to use tri sodium phosphate or TSP that you can purchase either in a concentrated liquid form or in powder. Mix it as required in the package direction and apply to the terrazzo floor. Get rid of accumulated particles using a large sponge or mop and then rinse off the solution with clean water. Let dry for around a day before moving on further with the task.
Step 3 - Applying Primer
A primer will make the paint bond better with the terrazzo surface. A white latex primer that is quite strong will suit the task. Apply a light coating on the whole floor area and allow to dry. You do not have to apply a solid coating of primer so it is alright if there are unpainted surfaces on the floor. In fact, making a solid coating can be a waste of the primer. You should also note that a primer has to achieve its maximum bonding capability to be effective. Hence you should allow several days of curing or hardening before applying paint. Some types of primers may take 3 to 5 days before curing completely. But do not worry. The primer will dry to the touch in around 2 hours and can be walked on while you are waiting for it to cure completely. Just make sure that you do not track dirt on the surface while it is hardening.
Step 4 - Painting the Terrazzo Tiles
After curing the primer, you can paint the terrazzo floor using any water based paint for the floor that is of good quality. Many of these paints can be tinted so you can make a faux finish if you want.