The sheer beauty of modern terrazzo. Floors, countertops, stairs
The whole world got the terrazzo fever. Do you think it is here to stay for a long time?
Terrazzo stands for Italian “terrace” is a material used for finishing floors. It consists of aggregate (marble, granite, basalt), which is poured with a layer of concrete and sanded and polished once dried. It can be rough or smooth like a mirror pane, finished to a high gloss.
Terrazzo comes from the Venice region, hence its another name – Venetian flooring (“pavimento alla Veneziana”). Although nowadays terrazzo has quite a luxury feel to it, terrazzo was invented about 500 years ago as a cheap flooring solution. To keep costs down, Venetian construction workers took crushed marble chips and stuffed them into clay – rather than lining the entire floor with expensive marble slabs. In many northern Italian cities, we find terrazzo on the floors and terraces of palaces or tenement houses. Its peak popularity falls in the period from the 1930s to the 1970s.
In Europe, terrazzo has gained popularity in the Eastern bloc. And this is due to its durability, ease of maintenance and relatively low production cost. During the times of the People’s Republic of Poland, terrazzo was most often used in public buildings, e.g. in churches, theaters or schools – in many places it is still functioning and the binding looks quite good.
Terrazzo in a modern interior
In the world of modern contemporary interior design terrazzo has made a come back. It has become a favorite among interior decorators as it gives a unique character to each project. Designers who dare to experiment with trends find a lot of joy in working with terrazzo. Unusual, elegant look that makes the interior look luxurious and classic.
Originally terrazzo was mainly made from left over pieces of marble. Terrazzo from 2oth century was usually available in shades of gray, today we can choose from a variety of colors. Today designers are also experimenting with different materials such as quartz, granite, recycled glass, porcelain, and metal aggregates. They promote shades of pink, red, white, beige.
You might know terrazzo from the floor in your local railway station, town hall, or your grandma’s kitchen. Nowadays it’s used on bathroom floors, kitchen tops, coffee tables and staircases. But where back in the days terrazzo was mainly applied as a flooring solution or other surfaces, the contemporary terrazzo patterns can have many outcomes.
Advantages and disadvantages of terrazzo
The undoubted advantage of terrazzo is its extraordinary durability and resistance to abrasion and mechanical damage. Therefore, it is perfect for areas exposed to increased pedestrian traffic or in staircases. Terrazzo is the perfect replacement for stone countertops. It is equally durable, effective and at the same time cheaper than natural stone. Terrazzo comes in a very wide range of colors, giving unlimited design possibilities. So many advantages of terrazzo. There is one major drawback, however. The minimum thickness of the floor is 6 mm, and its installation requires heavy equipment (trowels, concrete grinders, polishers). That is why they are used in large areas. Smaller surfaces (say less than 60 m2) require the use of manual grinders and much greater precision, which of course increases the costs. As an alternative, instead of the original poured terrazzo, we can choose tiles or other products imitating this material. Another important aspect to keep in mind is that terrazzo – like any other concrete floor – must be dilated, that is, incised at regular intervals. Otherwise it will crack.