Terrazzo flooring has been around for a long time. As far back as the Roman days Terrazzo like floors were being installed in prestigious buildings and over the years terrazzo has continued to be the flooring of choice for people concerned with beauty, longevity and ease of maintenance. During the Renaissance Michelangelo used terrazzo floors in St Peter's Basilica and today terrazzo floors are used in up scale office buildings,airports, hospitals, schools and increasingly in homes.
What exactly is terrazzo?
Terrazzo (from the Italian word for terraces) is a natural product generally felt to have been invented several hundred years ago in northern Italy when mosaic artisans threw away marble chips onto their terraces. Over time, people walking on the stone chips embedded them in the ground and they became polished from the foot traffic. Eventually workers learned how to embed the marble chips into a more stable clay base as well as developed techniques for polishing them, and terrazzo flooring was born.
How do we make terrazzo now?
- Modern terrazzo is not all that different from the original. It's still most commonly made from small pieces of marble mixed with Portland cement in a ratio of about two to one. However, there are some differences, since modern terrazzo can also made using materials other than marble chips - granite, onyx, glass, pieces of metal or mother of pearl have all been used to provide a unique appearance.
- As well, epoxy resins rather than cement is sometimes used, again to provide a slightly different appearance. Whichever, materials are used the final steps to making the terrazzo remains grinding the surface smooth then polishing, cleaning and finally sealing the surface.
Why would someone install a terrazzo floor?
- The obvious advantage to terrazzo (besides it's beauty) is the fact it will last for centuries. However, there are a number of other good reason to choose terrazzo floors.
- Terrazzo is 'green' - terrazzo is the original 'green' flooring. Since it;s made from all natural materials, there are no volatile organic compounds (VOC's) in terrazzo and because it's usually made from stone chips and scraps it also has a high percentage of recycled material.
- Terrazzo is versatile - You can install terrazzo inside or outside. It was originally used in outdoor terraces and it can still be used to provide a beautiful patio or pool deck. Inside, the fact that it's waterproof makes it a good choice for installation in a bathroom or kitchen and it's ability to withstand heavy foot traffic makes it ideal for entrances.
- Terrazzo is healthy - since it's made primarily from stone, terrazzo is bacteria resistant. As well, being stone, it's easy to clean without using any potentially hazardous chemicals, warm water and a little soap will keep it looking great for years.
- Terrazzo has unlimited design possibilities - Most terrazzo floors are poured on site so the choice of colors, as well as the actual floor shape and design can be customized to satisfy even the most demanding architect or home owner. Every terrazzo floor is unique, so there is never a need to worry about another terrazzo floor looking the same as yours.
Murray Anderson is an experienced freelance writer over 600 articles published on the web as well as in print magazines and newspapers in both the United States and Canada. He writes on a wide range of topics and is a regular contributor to DoItYourself.com. He can be contacted at [email protected].