Although it is one of the most significant elements of interior design, most people don’t notice the floor until their attention is directed towards it. This is probably because most homeowners only pay attention to its functionality and choose to make it as simple as possible.
However, some types of flooring can achieve both simplicity and functionality while still enhancing interior design significantly, and one of these is terrazzo.
Over the years, trends in floor materials have come and gone. This cycle has paved the way for terrazzo to hit the stride once again as the new decade begins.
If you want to learn more, read on about the most important facts homeowners, interior designers, and builders must know about terrazzo, including what it’s made of, the different variants, and benefits it can offer.
What is Terrazzo?
Typically made from resin, terrazzo is a flooring design material that can provide a high level of elegance to any space. It makes use of pieces of granite, quartz, glass, marble, or any other rock and mineral of varying shapes and sizes embedded into epoxy or concrete surfaces.
Basically, this building material is composed of cross-sections of rock chips that have been polished to achieve a decorative appearance. Chips of the chosen material can also be either sprinkled onto a binder mixture, which can be chemical (like epoxy), cement-like, or a mixture of both.
In some cases, terrazzo is finished to produce a uniformly textured surface. This style is usually used in high-traffic areas and those that require traction, like landscape walkways, terraces, decks, poolsides, and other outdoor spaces.
4 Most Common Types of Terrazzo Flooring
Although epoxy is the most popular, there are three more kinds of terrazzo commonly used in buildings and homes today. Each type is described in detail below:
1. Epoxy Terrazzo
Epoxy terrazzo is arguably the crowd favorite out of the four types of terrazzo. As a flooring material, it has the lowest maintenance requirements. It is also considered the most versatile since it can be used both on the floors and countertops, and offers a lot more in terms of design because of the number of colors and aggregate materials it can hold.
The only drawback is that epoxy terrazzo is not suitable for outdoor use because it doesn’t do well under harsh weather conditions.
2. Cement Terrazzo
Cement terrazzo can weather high traffic areas such as airport terminals, malls, and universities. It can also be a versatile and cost-effective option in terms of design.
However, cementitious terrazzo must be installed during recommended weather conditions. Otherwise, it is at risk of cracking. Careful mixing is also crucial for this type of material to make it last as long as six decades.
3. Sand Cushion Terrazzo
With its basic construction, sand cushion terrazzo is made up of several layers of different materials like sand, isolation sheets, and wire mesh for reinforcement. This allows for minor defects and prevents mirroring that can be useful in spaces where high-color designs such as logos and artworks need to be placed.
4. Rustic Terrazzo
Much like epoxy, rustic terrazzo has a marble-like finish. However, it is more suitable to use outdoors because of its textured slip-resistant surface. This is why rustic terrazzo is often placed in exterior areas of malls, hotels, townhouses, and many commercial establishments that have pools, fountains, and other water features.
5 Vital Facts About Epoxy Terrazzo
Because of its mosaic-like appearance, terrazzo is an appealing flooring option for residential and commercial spaces alike. The concept originated from ancient Egypt, with rock and mineral chips originally embedded in a clay surface.
However, the terrazzo now used in modern building and interior design projects are developed by builders from Venice, Italy. If you intend to use this low-cost flooring option in your next remodeling or building project, you must first know about the five most important facts about epoxy terrazzo:
1. Flexible Aesthetics
One of the many benefits of epoxy terrazzo is its flexibility in design. The specs of minerals embedded in polished epoxy can help create a gorgeous textured surface akin to that of quartz, marble, and any other high-end flooring material. It even has the same reflective appearance that these expensive flooring materials can offer.
There’s very little you can’t do with terrazzo, regardless of the type. However, epoxy terrazzo has a wider color range compared to its cementitious counterpart. In fact, you can even have the entire floor of a building painted with a vast mural or divided into sections with different designs to help delineate various areas.
Because of this, epoxy terrazzo is considered one of the least expensive aesthetically pleasing flooring options that are most accessible to more people.
When it comes to environmentally friendly flooring materials, terrazzo is also a favorite choice.
Venetian workers developed terrazzo flooring from recycled materials like waste chips produced during the processing of marble slabs. Today, this method of creating terrazzo still entails the use of recycled marble, glass, granite, and other rocks or minerals, making it a sustainable option.
Since terrazzo is made from naturally-occurring materials, it serves as a way to maximize some of the Earth’s most precious resources. Even the 25 to 30 percent binding agent it contains is made without the use of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). This means that the flooring system produces little to no off-gassing during the entirety of its cured life.
Plus, its smooth, non-porous finish works best in preventing moisture and microbial growth.
3. Reliable Durability
Green construction is impossible with durability. After all, there will be less wasted resources if people aren’t forced to replace flooring materials altogether.
Between the timelessness of the design and its physical durability, terrazzo is definitely a structure that’s built to last.
With terrazzo, you’ll only need to refinish your flooring and reuse existing materials. Plus, the process of restoration to bring back its original gleam only costs a fraction. Proof of this is the century-old floors in museums, government buildings, and old churches with terrazzo flooring.
4. Easy and Low-Cost Maintenance
Another major perk you’ll get to enjoy with epoxy terrazzo is easy and low-cost maintenance. Thanks to its smooth surface, you’ll only need to perform dry and damp mopping to get rid of dirt. Occasionally, you may also need to do some spray buffing to restore its luster and perform annual resealing and stripping using water-based products.
Some might see epoxy terrazzo as an impractical flooring option, mainly because of the cost of installation. However, considering its flexibility, durability, and other benefits, there’s a high probability that you’ll be able to get the most out of what you pay for and fewer headaches due to floor repairs in the future.
Before You Decide
Although its roots are ancient, terrazzo remains a favorite option for many different types of interior design. Before you make a decision, though, be sure to check out paint and flooring showrooms to see all the options available to you.
Ralph El Eid is the Business Development Manager at COLORTEK – Wall & Floor Fashion. EQUIPAINT is the franchise owner of COLORTEK in Dubai (U.A.E.) and Doha (Qatar); an international paints manufacturer specializing in the widest range of decorative paints and seamless concrete & resin flooring, with a unique showroom concept, and thus an ideal destination for homeowners, consultants, architects, interior designers and paint applicators.