How to Restore Terrazzo Floors

Lead Image
  • 6-8 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 400-700
What You'll Need
Surface grinder
Wet vacuum
Medium diamond grinding brick
Medium stone brick
Fine stone brick
Angle grinder with sander converter
24, 36 and 50 grit sanding paper
Dremel tool for cement or carpet adhesive
Thin set mortar
Buffer and pads
800, 1500 and 2000 grit polishing powder
Waterproof covering

Terrazzo floors are an ancient type of floor created by stone masons from the Venetian period. Those that began producing terrazzo flooring used chips of marble that they saved from jobs done for wealthy clients. The marble chips are floated atop a layer of clay or concrete, creating a form of mosaic. Floors, patios, counters, and walkways can all be made from this low-cost alternative to actual marble. The current trend of terrazzo is to use glass chips so that the terrazzo floors can easily and inexpensively be made in many colors. Once the floor is dry they are sanded down with a grinder and then grouted, sealed, polished and cleaned to maintain the look of marble. Terrazzo floors, like many others, will see much use over the years and may need to be restored at some point. The following article will show you how.

Step 1 - Prepare

In order to restore a terrazzo floor you first need to prepare the area. Remove everything from the terrazzo floor. At this time you should remove any furniture and accessories from the room. Also take up any carpet, tiling, or wood you may have installed over the years. You can use the Dremel tool to help remove the adhesive. Use tape and place waterproof covering along the walls that touch the terrazzo floor. If you rented a surface grinder with a hose attachment you can connect it now. If not, coat the room with an inch of water.

Step 2 - Grind

If your terrazzo floor is cement-based then you'll want to install the diamond brick on the surface grinder. Turn the surface grinder on and slowly move across the surface. The water will begin to get muddy. Continue grinding until you have covered the entire floor. Use the vacuum to remove the muddy water and check your progress. The surface should be visibly cleaner and more detailed. When you are satisfied you will then switch to the medium grit grinder and make a pass, clean with the water, and vacuum and repeat again with the fine grit. Use the angle grinder with attachment and the Dremel to get into tight areas.

Step 3 - Patch

If you have voids left by nails, screws, or carpet then patch them with thin-set mortar. Use a grinder to smooth the mortar once it is dry.

Step 4 - Polish

terrazzo flooring

This step will give the terrazzo floor that shine it once had when first installed. Apply the 800 grit polishing powder to the floor and use the buffer to work it into the terrazzo surface. Overlap your work as you polish. Rinse the surface with water and then suck it up with the vacuum. Repeat this entire process with the 1500 grit powder and once more with the 2000 grit. Towel dry and apply the sealer for your final step.