It is not always easy to identify if a terrazzo floor is composed of epoxy or cement, but it is important to know which terrazzo you are working with and maintaining. If you are not sure, see if you can ask the installer or you may need to do a little testing on your own.
(Hint: if the terrazzo floor is an usual color such as red or vibrant blue, it is most likely epoxy.)
Natural shine is the best shine
Whichever type of terrazzo you have, don’t cover it up with a wax or topical sealer. It is fairly common practice for installers to apply a coating over the terrazzo floor during the construction process in order to protect the material from building construction; however, I highly recommend that you have a restoration company like International Stoneworks come back after construction has wrapped up to strip the floor and naturally polish the terrazzo. (Caution: some terrazzo installers use a solvent-based sealer which cannot be stripped with conventional wax strippers.)
Why do I recommend this extra step? A few reasons: first, a natural polish finish is easier to maintain in the the long run: no constant stripping, buffing, waxing, stripping, buffing…. You get the point! Coatings require a lot of maintenance because scuff marks and yellowing are a constant struggle.
With a natural polish finish, you never have to strip the floor again. Traffic areas can be maintained with a non-acid polishing compound such as Ver Glow #2 that even regular janitorial companies can use. In time, a diamond-grinding restoration of the major traffic areas on epoxy and cement terrazzo may be necessary.
To seal or not to seal: That is the question!
I recommend sealing cement terrazzo floors with a penetrating/ impregnator sealer such as Seal & Go® S. This sealer will help reduce stains from organic and oil-based products (Note: no penetrating sealer prevents acid etching.)
For epoxy terrazzo floors, some may disagree, but I do not believe it is necessary to seal this type of terrazzo floor due to the epoxy, non-porous matrix.
The right terrazzo cleaning method
Don’t forget that even if the matrix of the terrazzo is made of epoxy, the chips in the terrazzo floor can most likely be made of marble. Why is this an important fact? Because marble reacts to acid cleaning products, make sure that your daily cleaning of all types of terrazzo floors is with a neutral stone cleaner such as Lavenet. Lavenet allows you to safely clean the terrazzo floor without acid etching the floor.
Also, if the terrazzo floor carries into the restrooms, make sure you use NABC (Non-Acid Bowl Cleaner). This product allows you to disinfect the toilet bowls and if some of the cleaner spills on the terrazzo, no worries. The NABC will not acid etch the floor.
Whether you are maintaining an epoxy terrazzo or cement terrazzo floor, keep these tips in mind. Terrazzo floors are an investment and you don’t want them to look old, waxy and tired. Terrazzo floors can really shine if you care for them properly.