While you may have never heard the term ‘Terrazzo,’ chances are you have walked upon terrazzo floors at some point in your life. Commonly used in hotels, schools, and office buildings throughout Ottawa and throughout the last century, Terrazzo floors are beautiful, elegant, and incredibly durable and long lasting. Michelangelo used Terrazzo floors in St. Peter’s Basilica, and George Washington used them at Mt. Vernon, but these days, at an affordable cose, the rest of us can also experience the luxury of Terrazzo floors! At All Stone Restoration, we pride ourselves on our ability to bring specialty flooring to you, so in this post we detail everything you need to know about Terrazzo floors.
What is Terrazzo Flooring?
Terrazzo flooring is made of chips of marble, granite, quartz, glass, and other aggregate materials, that are held together in a composite with a binder such as epoxy or cement. This material is then cured and ground smooth before being polished to a high gloss. The look of terrazzo can vary drastically based on the color and variety of aggregate material used. From monochromatic minimalism, to brilliantly hued and extravagant patterns and mosaics, terrazzo is incredibly versatile. There are three layers that make up terrazzo flooring, a concrete foundation, a layer of sandy concrete, and a final surface layer with the marble chip mix.
- The terrazzo matrix is the binding material, either epoxy resin or cement, that bonds to the underlying structure. The matrix contributes to the overall color.
- Terrazzo can contain a large variety of chips or aggregates including marble, granite, and glass. It can also include decorative glass, shell, or metal items. The aggregate provides texture, color, and depth.
- Divider Strips
- Divider strips are made of various metals. They are used for both function and decoration.
- Functional: Required spacers to keep terrazzo from cracking based on cement slab movement.
- Decorative: Provide separation between terrazzo sections to create design.
- Top Finish
- The top finish is a sealer or method of finishing terrazzo that provides varying degrees of durability, shine, and color. Terrazzo can be finished with a variety of surface finishing systems that process the surface mechanically and/or chemically.
The History of Terrazzo Flooring
Terrazzo was invented in the 15th century, when Italian artisans would sweep the marble waste from high-end projects out onto the terrace (terrazzi), where the surface would become smooth as they walked on it. This process graduated into an early version of terrazzo when they began to set the marble chips with clay and goat’s milk before polishing the floors with heavy stones. This terrazzo flooring method began to catch on, and, as we mentioned, by the early 1500’s it was being used by the likes of Michelangelo in renaissance architecture. Throughout the 20th century terrazzo was a very popular commercial flooring material, both for its beauty as well as its durability. Modernist architects such as Richard Neutra reveled in the use of terrazzo flooring throughout the 1950’s. Unfortunately, terrazzo was used more sparingly as the cost of materials rose, but today it is a relatively affordable high-end floor covering, and undoubtedly a solid flooring investment.
Appearance of Terrazzo Flooring
Terrazzo flooring is a dream material for artistic interior designers looking to spread their creative wings. There are so many possibilities open to those who use terrazzo, due to the diversity of materials that can be used as the aggregate. A plain white terrazzo or an intricately patterned, sparkling design are both equally suited to terrazzo flooring. Whether your home or commercial space is industrial and utilitarian, or flourishing with traditional elements, terrazzo will offer you the full breadth of design options. The characteristic look of shiny chips on the polished surface will bring a touch of elegance to any room. You can stick with the characteristic and timeless look of solid marble chips, or get creative with materials as diverse as sea glass and natural stone.
All Stone Restoration can restore your concrete floor or add in a new, sparkling one. Whether you need help deciding on the finish or decorative style. We have over 47 years of hands-on experience in all phases of stone and concrete restoration. Contact us today to get your free on-site estimate.