How to Refinish Terrazzo Floors

Sharon Sweeny

Many homes built in the early 20th Century have terrazzo entryway or kitchen floors. Homeowners are realizing the beauty and ease of maintenance terrazzo floors offer. Many are installing them in their homes or refinishing their terrazzo to restore it to its former glory.

The do-it-yourself homeowner can refinish terrazzo floors much easier than hardwood floors. The only tool you need is an electric floor buffer, available at rental centers everywhere.

  1. Clean well. Use a neutral cleaner, neither acid nor alkaline. Use a commercial cleaner that is specially formulated for terrazzo floors. Mix 1 cup of cleaner to 3 gallons of water. Mop floor using a dripping-wet mop. Allow the mixture to sit on the floor for several minutes. This will loosen the dirt and grime. Mop up the dirty cleaning solution with a clean mop and water, changing the water often. Do not allow the dirty cleaning solution to dry on the floor; dirt and grime will be drawn back into the terrazzo.

  2. Remove the old wax and/or other clear-coat finishes. Use a commercial floor stripper. Apply the stripper to a small area of the floor at a time. Allow it to dissolve the wax and/or sealer and remove it with a damp mop and clean water. Change water frequently.

  3. Polish. Use an electric floor buffer with a lamb’s wool pad. Run the buffer over the floor. Keep it moving at all times to keep the finish consistent and avoid damaging the terrazzo.

  4. Apply a clear-coat finish, such as polyurethane, to protect the terrazzo from dirt and stains. Use a lamb’s wool paint roller with a long handle and roll the finish on the floor. Take care not to roll over areas where you already have applied the finish, to avoid streaks and ridges in the finish.

  5. Wax. Apply several thin coats of good quality floor wax. Whether using liquid or paste wax, follow manufacturer’s instructions when applying. Allow the wax to dry between coats.

  6. Buff floor again with an electric floor buffer, if a high-gloss finish is desired.


The best way to keep your terrazzo floor shiny and stain-free is to sweep or vacuum it regularly. Dirt and sand act like sandpaper and wear down the wax and/or clear coat finish. Cleaner and stripper specially formulated for terrazzo floors are available at home-improvement centers.