Broadcast vs Troweled Decorative Quartz Flooring. What's the Difference?

What is the difference between broadcast vs troweled decorative quartz flooring?

Let’s first answer that question by explaining what a decorative quartz flooring system is. Decorative Quartz flooring is any system in which quartz aggregate is embedded in a resinous coating, which could be epoxy, polyurethane, MMA or Polyaspartic polyurea. The result is an attractive and highly durable finish that is perfect for large expanses of flooring where a rugged floor is needed. This system is often the first consideration for high traffic areas such as warehouse flooring, showrooms and garages. In residential settings it is useful in kitchens or bathrooms. For commercial applications, the uses are practically endless. Consider this rugged but beautiful flooring for hospitals, restaurants, wineries, breweries, schools and many other applications.

There are two ways to apply quartz flooring. One is to broadcast it while the other is to trowel it on. Most contractors who offer quartz flooring will offer both applications. Either way it is applied you will end up with the same result: a seamless, durable floor that can be almost any color or style.

Broadcast quartz flooring means that the applicator manually tosses the quartz aggregate onto a floor that is coated with wet epoxy. Troweled quartz flooring means that the quartz aggregate is mixed with the wet epoxy and the epoxy is applied by hand with a trowel. Over large expanses, a power trowel can be used. Because of the edge of the trowel applying the epoxy mortar, the trowel method results in a slightly smoother finished floor. When the quartz aggregate is tossed on, it sticks out of the epoxy mortar just slightly.

There are some other slight differences as well. The aggregate in the trowel application is larger, so whatever color is chosen for the quartz aggregate in the troweled-on application will be more noticeable and eye-catching. Broadcast aggregate can still be colorful, but it is smaller and therefore slightly less eye-catching.

The troweling results in more of the aggregate being covered up or embedded more fully in the epoxy mortar. This results in a look that is more speckled. Broadcasting results in more of the aggregate surface being exposed, so the look shows off more of the aggregate color and has a more single-color look as opposed to speckling.

Troweling is also a more durable option, which might be better if your floor area will have forklift traffic or other heavy use such as an automobile showroom or garage. Because the broadcast system is slightly “bumpier” on the surface, the long-term abrasion resistance is slightly less on the broadcast application than with a troweled application. Troweled on applications are generally applied thicker, at a rate of 1/4-inch to 3/16-inch as opposed to 1/8-inch thick for broadcast systems. This thickness also contributes to troweled-on applications being more durable.

Still, despite these differences, the methods are very similar in the end result and you will get a durable floor either way. If endurance is of primary importance to your project, choose troweled on.

Remember also, that the floor coating that goes over this quartz flooring system has a great deal to offer the durability of the final project. The floors can be finished with specially formulated coatings to be resistant to chemicals, mildew and ultraviolet light. The coating can offer slip-resistance in variable levels.

To prepare a floor for a troweled quartz flooring system, the floor should be prepped by grinding or shotblasting so the surface is clean of any contaminants as well as roughened. The rough surface will be ready to accept the epoxy primer. Then, when the floor is ready, the quartz is mixed with the epoxy, to form the epoxy mortar. This has the consistency of heavy wet sand and is then applied to the floor by hand using a hand trowel.

It is generally a faster installation process to apply quartz by trowel. This is because the epoxy mortar and the quartz aggregate are applied in one step. Also, adding designs into the mortar is usually easier with a troweled on application, because of the thickness. Another reason is that it is easier to get a more solid delineation between colors with a troweled-on application than with the tossing method of broadcasting.

The difficulty in the installation of a troweled-on floor is that the thickness of the floor must be kept level across the entire floor even though it is being done by hand. This takes some skill and experience. If you have several people troweling across a large area, you will likely see some unevenness in the final finished floor. This can be resolved by using a power trowel over a large area rather than hand-troweling.

Prep for a broadcast quartz floor system is similar to that of the troweled-on finish. However, once the primer is applied, then a binder resin is applied. The quartz aggregate is then tossed on (the applicator is wearing special shoes with spikes to allow them to walk on the floor without leaving marks) until it is completely coated. After this dries overnight, excess aggregate will be removed with a broom and vacuum. A second application may be applied in the same way, with the excess vacuumed up again. The finished application is then protected with a top coat of sealer.

Duraamen Industrial and Polished Concrete Flooring Products are designed to provide labor saving and long lasting flooring solutions. Talk to an expert about your flooring challenges call +1 973-230-1301 or email us.

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