How Terrazzo Works

Polyacrylate Terrazzo

Different types of terrazzo
Different types of terrazzo

This type of terrazzo has several advantages over old-school terrazzo. The chips aren't just set into a thick cement -- they're laid in a matrix, or mixture, that's a combination of cement and latex. The latex strengthens the concrete, allowing the terrazzo topping to be spread as thinly as three-eighths of an inch. Instead of floating over the cement sub-floor on a cushion of sand, it's bonded directly to the concrete sub-layer below. Polyacrylate terrazzo systems cure quickly in comparison to traditional terrazzo -- often it can be installed in a single day -- especially because they're usually bonded to an existing concrete slab.

Because of the quick cure, they require less work and less product, so polyacrylate terrazzo floors are less expensive. If you wanted to put terrazzo in your home, it could be a good choice if you already have a level slab. Level is key -- since there's no sand cushion, a polyacrylate terrazzo floor can't be laid on an uneven floor. The existing concrete floor must have joints placed at specific distances (which vary depending on the size of the floor), and you have to put dividers over these joints. You can put more dividers if you want more color changes in the flooring, but unless they're over joints, they don't help prevent the floor from cracking. That's because the terrazzo topping layer is so incredibly thin. It weighs about four and a half pounds per square foot.

Since polyacrylate terrazzo is breathable, you can have it installed outside, too. And unlike cementitious terrazzo, some formulations of polyacrylate terrazzo allow you to include glass and mirrored chips -- including recycled glass. The aggregate can also be different sizes. Polyacrylate can be dyed to match just about any color, and in brighter colors than old-school cementitious terrazzo. People often use it on walls and other applications since it's so thin and cures quickly. If I could, I'd have polyacrylate terrazzo flooring in my house. It doesn't require any smelly solvents, either...unlike some types of epoxy terrazzo. But that has its own perks, too. Read on to find out why it's the most popular terrazzo installed today.