What is terrazzo?

Historically, terrazzo floors were synonymous with public spaces, but today we are seeing a resurgence in its use in both residential and commercial buildings.

What is terrazzo?
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What is Terrazzo: Unveiling the Timeless Flooring Choice

Terrazzo is a versatile and enduring flooring and wall treatment material that has been used for centuries. Our fascination with terrazzo comes from its beauty and composite nature, which can incorporate marble, quartz, granite, or glass chips embedded in a cement or polymeric binder. This marriage of materials results in a highly durable surface that is both functional and decorative.

Historically, terrazzo floors were synonymous with public spaces, but today we are seeing a resurgence in its use in both residential and commercial interiors. Our appreciation for terrazzo lies in its ability to offer a myriad of colors and intricate designs. Not only does it serve as a robust foundation for high-traffic areas, but it also provides us with an aesthetic quality that does not wane with time.

As a flooring option, terrazzo is lauded for our ability to customize it to fit various design preferences, making it a sought-after choice for those of us looking to create unique and visually striking environments. Additionally, terrazzo's low maintenance requirements and longevity make it a practical investment for long-term infrastructure projects and home renovations alike.

History of Terrazzo

In this section, we explore the deep-rooted history of terrazzo, from its ancient beginnings to its status as a modern flooring material of choice.


Terrazzo, a composite material, predates many contemporary flooring choices, with its earliest forms appearing around 9,000 BCE in what is now the Middle East. This initial conception of terrazzo saw Neolithic peoples creating floors from clay embedded with crushed limestone.

Evolution and Modern Use

As techniques evolved, Venetian artisans in 16th-century Italy innovated terrazzo using marble chips set into clay and then ground and polished for a smooth finish. Commonly referred to as "pavimento alla Veneziana", this method became the stepping stone for terrazzo's use in architecture and art.

In modern times, we have witnessed an adaptation of terrazzo, now incorporating a variety of aggregates such as quartz, glass, granite, or even metal shavings mixed with either a polymeric or cement-based binder. Current-day terrazzo is valued not only for its aesthetic appeal but also for its durability and sustainability, making it a popular choice for a wide span of projects, from commercial spaces to bespoke furniture.

Composition of Terrazzo

Terrazzo is a versatile and durable composite material. It is crafted from a mix of aggregates bound together with a matrix, resulting in a unique and seamless surface.

Materials Used

The primary ingredients in terrazzo include:

  • Aggregates:
  • Marble
  • Quartz
  • Granite
  • Glass
  • Other suitable materials
  • Binders:
  • Cementitious binder for chemical binding
  • Polymeric binder for physical binding
  • Epoxy-resin binder

Types of Terrazzo

Terrazzo can be categorized based on the method of installation and the type of binder used:

  • Cement-Based Terrazzo:
  • Poured in place
  • Pre-cast
  • Epoxy Terrazzo:
  • Superior durability
  • Greater design flexibility

Manufacturing Process

In this section, we'll explore how terrazzo is meticulously crafted from mix to finish. We focus specifically on the initial combination of materials and the final steps of curing and detailing that give terrazzo its renowned durability and finish.

Mixing the Components

To create terrazzo, we begin with the mixing process. This involves combining a cement-based or epoxy binder with aggregate materials such as:

  • Marble
  • Granite
  • Quartz
  • Glass

These components can vary widely, sometimes incorporating recycled materials to create unique color and texture blends. The precise mixture ratios are vital and are selected to create the desired aesthetic and physical properties of the final product.

Curing and Polishing

Once the terrazzo mix is prepared, it undergoes a curing process. During this phase, attention to detail is essential to ensure a uniform and quality surface. The steps are:

  1. Pouring: The mix is poured over the prepped surface, leveled to the necessary thickness.
  2. Curing: The material is then left to harden. The duration of curing can vary based on the binder used; cementitious terrazzo requires a longer period than epoxy terrazzo.
  3. Grinding: After curing, we grind the surface with specialized equipment to achieve a flat plane.

The final touch is polishing the terrazzo to a high shine, accentuating its intricate details and color palette. Finishing treatments may also be applied to enhance durability and stain resistance.

Installation and Application

We will explore the meticulous process of installing terrazzo, a composite material used for floors and walls that involves layers and precise workmanship for a finished product that is both durable and aesthetically pleasing.


The initial step in installing terrazzo is ensuring the foundation is ready to support the material. We start with a thorough cleaning of the concrete slab, ensuring it's free from debris. For new installations, we check that the slab is completely cured. Any cracks or inconsistencies are rectified.

  • Surface Cleaning: Remove all dirt and debris.
  • Slab Inspection: Check for cracks and levelness.

Laying Techniques

Laying terrazzo requires a systematic approach where we first select a binder—either cementitious or epoxy-based. The chosen aggregate, like crushed stone or glass, is then mixed with the binder. We carefully spread the mixture, which is generally about half an inch thick, over the prepared surface.

  • Select Binder: Choose cementitious or epoxy-based.
  • Mix Aggregate and Binder: Combine to achieve a uniform consistency.
  • Apply Mixture: Spread uniformly over the surface to the desired thickness.

Finishing Touches

Once the terrazzo is laid, finishing is a multi-step process. We grind the surface to smooth out any irregularities and then polish it to achieve the characteristic sheen of terrazzo. The final step is sealing the terrazzo to protect it from stains and extend its longevity.

  • Grinding: Smooth the surface for uniformity.
  • Polishing: Achieve the desired shine.
  • Sealing: Apply sealant for protection.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, we address some of the most common inquiries regarding terrazzo flooring, offering clear and concise answers to help you better understand this flooring option.

How is terrazzo flooring composed?

Terrazzo is a composite material consisting of chips of marble, granite, glass, or quartz that are embedded in a cementitious binder or epoxy resin. These aggregates are then polished to create a smooth, durable surface.

What are the benefits and disadvantages of terrazzo?

The benefits of terrazzo flooring include its durability, long lifespan, and the virtually limitless design options it offers. However, terrazzo can be more expensive than some other flooring options and might be uncomfortable to stand on for long periods due to its hardness.

How is terrazzo installed for flooring applications?

The installation process of terrazzo involves laying down a concrete or epoxy base, pressing the aggregate mixture into it, and then grinding and polishing the surface once it has set and cured. The installation should be carried out by professionals to ensure quality and longevity.

What makes terrazzo an environmentally friendly material?

Terrazzo is considered environmentally friendly because it often incorporates recycled materials like glass and stone. Additionally, its durability means it does not require frequent replacement, resulting in less waste over time.

What are the key differences between epoxy and traditional terrazzo?

Epoxy terrazzo typically has a more extensive color palette and can achieve a higher gloss finish compared to traditional cement-based terrazzo. Epoxy terrazzo is also lighter, and it sets and cures faster, making it suitable for multi-story applications.

How should terrazzo be properly maintained?

To maintain terrazzo flooring, sweep and damp-mop regularly to prevent grit from scratching the surface. Avoid acidic cleaners and use neutral floor cleaners designed for terrazzo. Polishing and sealant reapplication may be needed periodically to maintain its luster.