Terrazzo is a colorful patchwork-like combination used to create unique tiles and other ceramic-style items throughout the home. Originally developed in 16th century Italy, terrazzo involves combining a cement-style base with off-cuts from other projects. The appeal of terrazzo is that any material can be used to create interesting mottled effect tiles. If you’re looking for a way to make your home stand out from the crowd, or introduce some character, you might want to start looking for some terrazzo tiles for your kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, or even flooring. We’ve outlined some pros and cons of terrazzo tiles so that you can make the most informed choice for your home. A great place to start is to check out the different designs of terrazzo tiles and find a material combination that works for you and your look.
With a rich history of use and evidence of terrazzo in Ancient Egypt, the composite material that we see today was developed in 16th century Venice, Italy. The name comes from the fact that artists began mixing concrete and marble chippings together and pouring it onto their front terraces. Once set, they would then sand it down and enjoy their unique look. The trend soon took off, and examples of early terrazzo can be found in the flooring of St. Peter’s Basilica. Following the mass immigration of the 1900s, the US saw a boom in highly skilled terrazzo artisans. Popularity then began to grow with the post-war Art Deco movement. Thanks to modern chemistry, new ranges of colors and textures can be included in the unique designs.
How is it made?
There are two ways in which terrazzo is made, and these methods haven’t changed much over the years. Pour-in-Place is made when the chip/binder compound is poured into the desired location directly. Metal strips can then be used to divide color and add dimension. This is highly common for flooring and is the more traditional method of terrazzo. Precast is made by cutting a larger terrazzo slab into the desired shape. The whole thing is then ground down to reveal the colors inside and to achieve the desired thickness. This method is cheaper and offers more versatility because artists have more options for different shapes and textures. This is a great option for people who want to experiment with designs and create furniture with them.
These are some benefits of choosing a terrazzo compound for your next home project.
- Design freedom- you have seemingly unlimited color choices, textures, and combinations to choose from. Fragments could be anything such as quartz, marble, glass, or metal. Whether you are looking for more of a subtle effect, or want to use several colors in one, terrazzo enables more creative freedom than any other compound. Different textures can be used in the mixture, from metals to marble. Find what really encapsulates your home.
- Hard-wearing- when done correctly, terrazzo can be a very durable material that offers perfect flooring for heavy traffic areas while incorporating some of your home’s character.
- Sustainable- because the tradition of terrazzo tiles comes from the concept of using off-cuts of other materials, the process is beneficial for the environment because it doesn’t necessarily mean that new materials are needed. If you want to take it one step further and be even more conscious, why not try sourcing your own material off-cuts that you want to try in terrazzo. This would save materials from the landfill, and offer you a creative outlet at the same time. Because organic materials are typically used, there is no need to worry about harmful substances because the product itself is relatively natural.
- Versatile- you can create a feature wall of terrazzo tiles, change the flooring, or even make your kitchen countertop from the unique compound. Terrazzo can be used to make furniture as well as surfaces. The range of this material is unmatched in the home design game, and it’s no wonder why it has become so fashionable in the last decade.
- Warmth- aside from adding an Italian welcoming feel to your home, terrazzo offers a great material that pairs well with underfloor heating. This is sure to add a sense of coziness and warmth that your home might be in need of.
- Lightweight- the versatile material can weigh up to 50% less than other materials. This is great because it makes it easier to use and offers a lot more versatility than other materials.
These are some of the drawbacks that come with using the unique compound.
- Terrazzo is typically more prone to cracking than regular slabs because they can be made a lot thinner and tend to be lighter than other materials. Solutions include using a resin compound within the traditional mixture, creating a smoother finish and more resistance to cracks.
- Expensive- Terrazzo is usually more expensive than the average compound, but using the reinforced resin can bring the price up even higher. This is especially the case with flooring bases because it is a much more involved process with a whole team needed.
- Not DIY friendly- professional installation is essential. In order to prevent cracking and any preventable damage, you will need a professional to advise you and do the installation. This is another reason why terrazzo can be a lot more expensive.
- Thin and cold- without underfloor heating, terrazzo flooring can be very cold in the winter months, especially if you live in a colder climate.
- Slippery- if you have children, you will need to seriously consider the risks of terrazzo or other hard floors in your home. Slippery floors are obvious hazards and, even for clumsier adults, can cause serious injury.
To summarize, terrazzo tiles are completely customizable and a great way to include some traditional Italian textures into your home. Of course, there are risks associated with using new material. This is why it’s important to do your own research and make your own decision on what textures will look best in your home and how forgiving the budget can be.