You can quickly identify terrazzo tiles by their aggregates and their binder. Terrazzo divider strips are also an essential element of terrazzo tiles. In this blog, we will dive into the purpose of divider strips and look at some of the options available in helping you design your next terrazzo tiles project.
Traditional terrazzo tiles are laid over a concrete floor to provide a thickness of finishing material (1/2 to ¾) inch thick. Then, it is allowed to set, which is polished to give it its ultimate lustrous look. The polishing and grinding require several stages, and after each step, you have to take some and wait for the curing and setting. This will make the laying of traditional terrazzo tiles a reasonably time-consuming job.
Epoxy terrazzo tiles are laid with a minimal thickness but cure and harden in less than 24 hours, after which the grinding and polishing can be undertaken. This reduces the time for the flooring to be ready for use. However, epoxy is vulnerable to ultraviolet rays and, as a result, cannot be used in open spaces. Traditional terrazzo tiles have no such restriction. They are very durable. You can see these examples in their use in many areas and monuments that are centuries old.
Divider strips form the terrazzo tiles design layout. During the Installation, terrazzo contractors cut and place strips before pouring the epoxy terrazzo material in place.
Divider strips give designers and architects the ability to plan sophisticated patterns, logos, and other custom-made designs.
Divider strips give a color change in the terrazzo tiles design. Often terrazzo projects use anywhere from two colors to over twenty colors when completing a floor design. Typically, terrazzo tiles installers will mix each tile color one at a time and trowel the material between the strips according to the designer’s drawings. Question to know before buy terrazzo floor tiles online.
What are the divider strip options?
Divider strips can be selected based on the type of material. When designing terrazzo tiles, you can choose from various materials: aluminum, brass, zinc, and plastic strips. We will showcase some examples and discuss what to look out for when selecting each material.
Most epoxy terrazzo tiles will use aluminum divider strips. We recommend using aluminum strips for a couple of reasons: it’s affordable, is a good source of recycled content if LEED points are relevant to your project, and is easy to use on a project to create patterns.
Zinc is another material to consider. Zinc strips were often used in cement terrazzo installations but are less likely to be used in today’s epoxy terrazzo tiles. Why? Zinc looks similar to aluminum; however, we recommend that architects and designers select aluminum when specifying epoxy terrazzo to minimize cost and ease installation. Zinc will cost more than aluminum, and it is harder to grind over the strip during Installation. Click here to read about Terrazzo tiles Installation – Know the Basics.
Another option is brass. Brass strips are used as a vital design element in the aesthetic of cement and epoxy terrazzo tiles. The drawback is that it is high-end material; therefore, it costs more than aluminum and zinc. Be warned that the copper in brass strips can result in blue staining on or adjacent to the divider strips, noticeable in lightly colored matrixes. It is recommended to ask a terrazzo tiles manufacturer whether their epoxy resin is compatible with brass strips.
Plastic strips are another option to consider. Standard colors are white and black; however, custom colors are available as well. This may be good for accent colors to match a university’s color theme.
Sometimes architects ask us if they can design terrazzo outdoor tiles where the strips are hardly noticeable. With plastic strips, it is possible to match the epoxy colors and blend with the floor design.
Divider strips vary in size as well. A common term to know is a strip’s gauge. When selecting strips, ask yourself whether you want to strip to have a thin or thick appearance—a couple of options you can choose range from 1/16″, 1/8″, and 1/4″ thicknesses.
Divider strips are customizable to complement your terrazzo tiles. You have options to determine the thickness of the strip, the color or material of the strip, and whether you want the strip to be visible or hidden. Now that we’ve discussed how divider strips form the design of terrazzo tiles, we will now look into its function.
In addition to creating the layout of terrazzo tiles, divider strips play an essential role in controlling the cracking of the terrazzo topping.
Installers will place the specified divider strips, including all saw cuts and expansions areas, and secure them in place. We recommend that engineers identify areas where the floor may crack so that the installers can properly install each strip. Attention to these details can prevent future problems later in the flooring lifecycle and help building owners save on any repairs.
The thicknesses of dividers strips and their Installation
This is more a preference than any design or structural requirement. Thicknesses used are 1/16″, 1/8″, or 1/4″. The smaller thicknesses are more suitable for intricate patterns, making them easier to bend to conform to the design that is being laid. The higher thicknesses will support greater depths of terrazzo tiles, though the minimum thicknesses in epoxy terrazzo tiles do not require this to be considered. The thickness to be used is more dictated by the patterns laid down and the separation between panels that the designer finds necessary.
It is customary to lay down the dividers on the bare concrete floor to the required design and have it approved by the architect or designer before any terrazzo tiles are laid between them. The dividers have to be of a width equal to the thickness of the terrazzo tiles applied. They are then laid down and secured in cement mortar or other means to remain firm when the terrazzo tiles mixture is being poured into the mold created by the base concrete and the strips that act as sides to the mold. Where all panels are in straight lines, use is often made of aluminum angles of the required depth, with one side of the curve easier to nail down to the floor.