Over the past years terrazzo has know a renaissance. Maybe you have seen it often used now in restaurants, hotels, residential projects and think it is a very modern material. But it can be traced back to the mosaics traditions of ancient Egypt.
So lets take a look on what terrazzo exactly is.
Terrazzo, a traditional material from the Venetian area, found its roots in 15th-century Italy. The floor laying was at that time a craft done by the terrazzieri and was handed down from father to son. What started as scrap marble chips set in clay became more decorative and rich in the 18th century. They would make designs with flowers, animals.
The story goes as following: the marble workers would take the crumbs of the marble, which would be thrown away, with them home. They mixed them with cement to finish the terraces of their homes.
“It became a popular flooring material in the palaces [during the Republic of Venice],” says Elisabetta Rizzato, a Venice-based interior designer. “It was easier and cheaper to lay down than mosaics.”
The classical terrazzo is a mixture of marble pieces which can vary in size, they are called aggregate. They will be mixed with a binder which can be lime or cement. The one made with lime is the most ancient. Lime requires more experience and is more expensive.
Individual pieces of marble are put in a decorative pattern to create the mosaic. For terrazzo small pieces are thrown in the base to create a more uniform surface.
Terrazzo can be poured-in-place or laid in manufactured tiles. The advantage of the poured-in-place terrazzo is that it creates a seamless floor which is easier in maintenance than the tiles with their grout joints. A marble powder is added to the lime or cement to give it a color, otherwise it would be just grey.
Poured-in-place terrazzo floor need to be ground and finished on-site, done by experienced craftworkers. When the budget is limited you should go for terrazzo tiles which requires less time for installation and is easier, similar to installation ceramic tiles. There exist a wide variety of tile options for color and size.
A poured-in-place terrazzo floor is quite a long process. Each floor will be different. First the architect or designer should choose the colors of marble. The terrazzieri will start preparing to install the floor. Some additional chips will be tossed in when the mixture is still wet. Than they will use a very heavy roller over the entire surface to flatten it. When the terrazzo is well cured the workers will come with a terrazzo grinder to grind the floor. Small imperfections which will appear at that moment will be filled with a matching grout. Than it is ready to be cleaned, polished and sealed
But attention, the poured-in-place terrazzo could crack when installed with concrete, whereas epoxy-based terrazzo can span a bigger surface. These days 90 percent of terrazzo is being installed with an epoxy base. The epoxy is easier to work with, goes quicker and the terrazzo can be thinner than with cement. Metal dividers, which will prevent the terrazzo from cracking, can bring a decorative element.
After David Chipperfield designed the Valentino flagship store in New York, architects and designers started to propose more and more terrazzo to their clients. They love to work with terrazzo because its endless possibilities.
David Chipperfield choose again terrazzo for this time for the Neues Museum in Berlin. Terrazzo is a perfect fit for different architectural buildings.
Because of it endless possibilities we can see now terrazzo used in very colorful combination in the most trendy restaurants, bars and hotels. And this not only on the floor, because it can be manufactured in tiles or bigger slabs it can be also installed on the walls end even the ceiling.
Terrazzo is a perfect choice for the bathroom. It was often used in the 30s of last centuries even for the washbasins. It looks very contemporary in combination with brass faucets. Wood can give it a more rustic touch.
We have seen it since decades, even centuries, on the floor in the kitchen. Now terrazzo is a perfect choice for the countertop and backsplash. A complet island will look amazing in terrazzo. Terrazzo can very well be combined with ceramic tiles and glass tiles.
Recently we will see more colorful combinations, even more and more experiments are done with non-marble aggregates. Such as colored glass, recycled materials or even metal pieces.
Terrazzo is been used these days not only for the floors, kitchen and bathroom. More and more designers will work with terrazzo for furniture pieces. You can find a nice selection of small tables to give your home a very trendy look.
Terrazzo continues to be a popular. How to add this look to your home without changing the floor? You can find a lot of small accessories made in terrazzo, designed by young designers
And not only that, you can see the impact of this trend all over. Wallpaper manufacturers, fabric editors are getting inspired by terrazzo.
How to maintain terrazzo? It should be sealed to prevent stains. Than just clean it with a wet mop using plain water and a neutral cleaner.
Terrazzo offers a lot of possibilities
can be personalized
fitting different styles
easy to maintain
can be used indoors and outdoors
good for high traffic
I love terrazzo, what about you?