From Carpet to Terrazzo

Design Conservation with Ease of Maintenance for Colorado Church

A few years ago, the situation at Our Lady of Loreto Catholic Church had reached a crisis level. Its gorgeous carpet runners, custom-designed with religious symbols and rich colors of the liturgical seasons, were pulling apart and shredding. The parish was facing the future with over $140,000 budgeted to completely replace the carpets every 15 years. Travertine tile was also literally crumbling underfoot.

A better option had to be found.

“We had to do something,” reported Gery Myhre, a parishioner-turned-maintenance supervisor at the Foxfield, CO, parish.

To avoid those costs and to ensure the permanence of the original design intent, the parish decided to go with terrazzo for both of the failing floorings. When the pastor presented the problem and the plan to the parish, one generous member stepped up to pick up the entire tab.

“That parishioner saved us more than he thought, because we no longer had to face that recurring cost long term,” Myhre said. “If someday the parish were to be short of cash, we could have lost the original design of the church. The beauty of going with terrazzo is that we know that we will hold on to it past a lot of lifetimes. It’ll be there when I’m gone—literally.”


Paradise Lost


Our-Lady-of-Loreto 3

The carpet was always an issue at the church built in 2004 and inspired by the design of the Basilica of St. Ambrose in Milan, Italy. Keeping it clean from dripping candles and constant traffic, especially in the white areas, was a losing battle. As the carpets deteriorated, maintaining them demanded ever more effort and time. The carpet in the entry alone was replaced to the tune of $25,000.

The travertine tile originally installed was unsuitable for high traffic, and moisture had built up, said Myhre, who had had a long career in the construction industry.

“It had more patch than tile on it,” he said.

Searching for solutions, Myhre noticed the terrazzo floors while walking through the Denver International Airport. He wondered whether such a finish was within reach for the church.

Conserving the Original Design


The parish team concluded that terrazzo should replace the tile, but wondered if the color and design of the carpet could be replicated. They turned the question over to Colorado Design Tile & Terrazzo of Denver, a contractor member of the National Terrazzo & Mosaic Association (NTMA).

Starting from old prints of the original drawings and an old CAD file of the carpet, they precisely matched the carpet’s patterns and colors with epoxy terrazzo. The divider strip pattern was waterjet cut and welded to 18 four-by-five-foot wire mesh sheets. Terrazzo was then poured onsite to form the design.

The project closed the church for a month. Keeping construction dust off the high ceilings was quite a challenge, but the installation came through on budget and on time.


Closeuo of terrazzo details

Paradise Regained


What is church maintenance like now with the terrazzo installed?

“It’s been really, really great, like night and day,” Myhre said. “Upkeep involves a dry mop and a run-through with a scrubber after Sunday services. Then, periodically, a polish with a light buffer pad returns it to its original sheen.”

Slippage was a concern before the installation but hasn’t been an issue, he reported, crediting the 200-grit final polish of the floor.

The consensus at the church is that the light-reflecting surface is even more traditional and elegant in the space than the carpets, even when they were still in good condition.

“It’s beautiful and amazing,” Myhre said. “When the sun hits it at certain times and the light shimmers through, it’s like a sea of glass.”

The new floor was awarded a 2022 Honor Award from the NTMA. The annual Honor Award program recognizes outstanding terrazzo projects installed by its members and is dedicated to promoting member contractors as the sole qualified resource for terrazzo installations that meet the highest industry standards. Entries are judged on creativity, design, and quality of craftsmanship.

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