With a large variety of flooring options available—from hardwood to tile—terrazzo flooring takes the spotlight with its eye-catching chips of marble embedded in tinted cement. To really highlight its features, keeping your terrazzo floor clean lets its polished, shiny finish show. Even though it's a relatively low-maintenance and durable flooring option, you do need to be careful about your cleaning methods, as some common cleaning substances can damage the surface.
Just like any flooring material, your terrazzo floor needs regular cleaning to keep it free of dust and debris that can dull or scratch the surface. Sweep the floor at least once per day or as needed when general household dust or dirt begin to build up. If you recently had your floors installed, you may need to clean them a little more often than normal until all of the construction dust is gone.
Scrub or wet mop your terrazzo floors at least once or twice each week. Choose a soft cloth or mop, so it doesn't scratch the surface. Be sure to choose a neutral cleaner designed specifically for terrazzo floors to prevent any damage or loss of shine. Rinse the floor well with clean water after mopping to get rid of any residue. Wet terrazzo is very slippery, so use caution while cleaning and let others know when the floor is wet.
If something spills on your terrazzo floor, wipe it up immediately. Spills that sit on terrazzo may stain or damage the surface. Use a soft cloth to absorb the spill without hurting the finish.
Cleaning Products to Avoid
Despite being made of durable concrete, terrazzo flooring can be damaged if you use the wrong type of product to clean. Terrazzo requires products with a neutral pH to keep the finish looking like new. Avoid alkaline or acidic cleaners or products. All-purpose cleaners can also be harmful, especially if they contain water-soluble inorganic or crystallizing salts.
Vinegar is another commonly used cleaner that should never be used on terrazzo. Because of its high acidity, vinegar can cause etching in the surface of terrazzo. It also tends to dull the finish. Damage to the floor's surface may require restoration, which can be expensive.
Skip any type of abrasive cleaner on your terrazzo. Abrasive cleaners or cleaning tools can dig into the top wax layer of the flooring, causing it to look dull.
Sealing for Protection
Sealing your terrazzo floor gives it an invisible layer of protection and makes cleanup easier. A new terrazzo floor usually needs at least two initial coats of sealant. Choose a sealant designed for terrazzo for the best results. Surface waxes or all-purpose sealers can make the flooring very slippery. Sealants designed for terrazzo can add a little slip resistance to the floor and also helps maintain its shine.
If you handle the sealing process yourself, make sure the floor is completely clean before applying the sealant. Any dirt or residue left on the terrazzo gets trapped in the sealant. If you're not comfortable sealing the floor yourself, hire a pro who specializes in this type of flooring.
Shelley Frost combines her love of DIY and writing in her freelance career. She has first-hand experience with tiling, painting, refinishing hardwood floors, installing lighting, roofing and many other home improvement projects. She keeps her DIY skills fresh with regular projects around the house and extensive writing work on the topic.