Terrazzo vs Tile for Abuse & Heavy Loads: The Rest of the Story

Some dozen years ago, one of our member contractors had a conversation with the owners of a convention center about their flooring.

They wanted to install 24×48-inch tile in a 7,500-square-foot open area. He tried to convince them that terrazzo was a better choice. The floor was going to cost about $200,000; terrazzo would have been about 10 percent more, but the contractor offered to do it for the same price. The architect preferred the look of the large format tiles, though, so that’s what was installed.

Recently the contractor, Bob Michielutti of Michielutti Brothers Tile, Terrazzo, & Marble in Eastpointe, MI, had another conversation with the convention center owners about that floor. They had warehoused a substantial back stock of the tiles, but so much of it has broken that now the stock is exhausted. They tried to get their hands on more of it, but that tile is no longer produced.

Like Glass vs. Plastic

Gary French, National Terrazzo and Mosaic Association’s Technical Director, explained why epoxy terrazzo has much better resistance to falling objects and heavy loads than tile. The tiles may be breaking more because of brittleness than a lack of compressive or tensile strength, he said.

“Basically, the tile is like glass as compared to an epoxy that is a plastic,” said Mr. French, a 40-year veteran of the flooring industry.

“Tile has its place, and you can do a lot with it,” Mr. Michielutti noted. “But it depends on how the floor is used. Regardless of how well tile is installed, terrazzo is absolutely much better with handling stress and impacts.”


Share This

Read Similar Articles