Is Polished Concrete The Same as Terrazzo?

Transform a plain concrete surface into something stylish with professional grinding and polishing. Your original concrete floor could never have guessed that someday, someone could use a diamond grit floor grinder to remove its dull layers, exposing the artfulness of its hidden aggregate. 

 

It is common to wonder whether a polished concrete floor is the same as a terrazzo floor. After all, they have many shared qualities. 

Ontario Specialty Coatings in London, Ontario, is experienced in polishing both concrete and terrazzo flooring. We protect your terrazzo with the same epoxy finishing coat, offering the same benefits as a concrete finish coat. An epoxy binder and an epoxy finish coating are now popular for new terrazzo flooring.

 

  • The most significant difference between a polished concrete surface and terrazzo is the ratio of cement to aggregate. Terrazzo was, and always will be, about the aggregate; the cement binder existed only to hold chip aggregate together. A 70% chip to 30% cement matrix is standard.
  • The type of aggregate used is different. Concrete flooring is a mixture of cement binders with mostly granite and quartz aggregate. At the same time, the original terrazzo developed in Italy used a lot of marble aggregate because it occurs naturally, and Canada does not have many areas of natural marble.
  • Terrazzo and concrete floors were perceived very differently from their outset. Rome, Italy, was founded in 753 BC. Italy reached a peak for its artistic evolution through the Renaissance periods; Giotto, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael from the 1300s to the 1600s. Although terrazzo floors were meant for everyday use, they became a source of artistic pride that lives on today. Polished concrete is a poor cousin to natural terrazzo; however, the aggregate exposed through the grinding of a concrete floor is beautiful, and we’ll take what we can get in Canada.
  • Traditional artistic features abound in terrazzo. Terrazzo is often shown with mosaic patterns in its flooring, an elevated styling compared to the contemporary chic boho look of polished concrete.
  • The degree of compaction is inherently not the same. There is typically more repair required on the ground concrete. A concrete floor is poured more thickly than terrazzo, and this makes it harder to ensure compaction. We level out holes and cracks with an epoxy mix.

 

 

There are further options, even if your existing concrete cannot be polished.

 

The aggregate hidden within your concrete will mimic the dimensionality and artistry of a terrazzo floor. Still, first, the concrete floor must be assessed to know if it is healthy enough to withstand the required grinding. 

If it is particularly damaged and has extensive repair, it may be a better idea to opt for one of Ontario Specialty Coatings’ other concrete refinishing options. Please read our post, ‘Why Professional Installation of Epoxy Flooring is Important.’ 

Epoxy is a creative and beautiful way to upgrade an existing damaged concrete floor and turn it into a head-turner. If you’d like to read more about its different finishes, jump to our Epoxy Flooring page. If you are a capable Do-it-Yourself type, you’re also in luck. 

We’ve made our Epoxy System available for the experienced and the professional alike. Shop here. Please read our post for application tips and details ‘Can I DIY an Epoxy Floor?’

 

Four levels of aggregate exposure are standard in the concrete polishing process:

 

The preliminary grinding process is a tactile and satisfying one. The concrete remains a dusty surface until numerous passes of the diamond blade grinder are complete, and each action afterward exposes its eventual beauty. Read our post, ‘Surface Preparation- Why is it Important?’

 

  • Level One: The cutting depth is minor, and little or no aggregate is exposed.
  • Level Two: The cutting depth is approximately 1/16th of an inch, exposing fine aggregates. Clusters of small aggregate are typical in a poured concrete floor.
  • Level Three: The cutting depth is 1/8th of an inch that exposes more medium-sized aggregates and parts of the larger aggregates. 
  • Level Four: The cutting depth is approximately ¼ of an inch and exposes large aggregates. The general look of the is one of consistent uniformity of large mid and small aggregates.

 

Our clear epoxy coating protects the surface, offering several benefits:

The process of grinding and sealing makes a polished concrete floor a perfect choice for any commercial, industrial or residential floor. 

 

Water-resistance is the most significant benefit of an epoxy coating. It is impossible to pour a concrete mixture with its varied sizes of aggregates without many fissures and pockets of air, so it is highly porous. 

Stain resistance is a matter of mixing certain additives into the epoxy coating. Read more about specific additives available in our post ‘Epoxy Flooring: Five Things to Help You Decide’ Scroll to the additive section. 

Slip resistance is also easily achieved with an additive, and this is especially important for many applications where foot traffic is high.

Gloss reduction may be an attractive look depending on the overall design of the space. It’s always helpful to ask the advice of your designer.

 

Ontario Specialty Coatings specializes in the resurfacing of concrete, rubber surfacing installation, and epoxy surfacing products and installation. 

Whether for your home, pool deck, garage, or industrial space, we’re here to help you with your surfacing vision.

Please call our friendly staff at (519) 203 8800 or reach us online.