A mosaic flooring or paving consisting of small pieces of marble, glass, or granite set in mortar or epoxy and given a high polish.
Terrazzo (tuh-raz-oh) is a composite material, poured in place or precast, which is used for floors, counters, and wall treatments. It consists of chips of marble, quartz, granite, glass, or other suitable material, poured with a cementitious binder (for chemical binding), polymeric (for physical binding), or a combination of both. Once the terrazzo has hardened, it is ground down to expose the interior of the chips within the colored matrix.
Terrazzo varies according to its matrices, aggregates, substructure, appearance, and texture. Depending on the existing floor, owner preferences or architectural design, there are many suitable options available that will yield a beautiful flooring system.
One of the most popular and versatile types, it’s smooth even surface, and low maintenance makes it a stunning choice for interior countertops and flooring. Available in most any color and with a vast array of aggregate additives possible, epoxy terrazzo offers almost limitless design potential.
Because of its durability, cost-effectiveness and design versatility, this type of terrazzo is particularly well-suited for areas with high foot traffic like malls, airport terminals, and hospitals. Mixed and laid out properly, cement terrazzo can be expected to last for 60 years or longer.
Rustic terrazzo has a rough, textured surface that is slip resistant and can give an outdoor area the look and elegance of an indoor space. It is commonly found in the outdoor areas of hotels, malls, museums, townhouses and most commercial establishments with water features like pools, fountains and man-made waterfalls.
Sand Cushion Terrazzo
The most prominent characteristic of this type of terrazzo is its basic construction. Sand cushion terrazzo is made up of different layers of material – such as wire meshes or reinforcing, isolation sheets and layers of sand. These layers allow for minor defects while also preventing mirroring on the surface which makes it perfect for incorporating designs such as logos and works of art with multiple colors.
An extremely versatile material, terrazzo is probably the most widely used of all hard flooring, particularly in heavily trafficked areas. It is found in shopping malls, airports, railway and underground stations, hospitals and supermarkets.
The History of Terrazzo
Originating in Europe around the 15th century, terrazzo was once used exclusively in churches, libraries, government and commercial buildings. Terrazzo was created when resourceful Venetian mosaic workers discovered a way to reuse marble remnants by setting the odd-sized chips in clay to create floors. The texture was naturally rough, so the men rubbed the surface with hand stones until a smoother, flat area was revealed. Later a long-handled, weighted grinding stone, called a galero, was invented.
It wasn’t until the 18th century that the terrazzo concept came to America, thanks to George Washington and the construction of his beautiful home, Mount Vernon. Because of the abundance of marble in the United States, craftsmen flocked here and devised several innovative methods of installation, polishing, and sealing.
The invention of the electric grinder in 1924 allowed for a smoother finish, greater speed, and accuracy and lowered costs, which contributed to the spread of terrazzo across the US. Another mid-20s advance in terrazzo came with the availability of brass divider strips, which made possible the creation of highly artistic and intricate patterns and designs in terrazzo floors.
Since then, the discovery of new construction substances, methods of pigmentation and cementing, and the creation of chemical cleaning agents have catapulted the terrazzo industry into the 21st century. Today, terrazzo remains a contemporary, beautiful and eco-friendly material for floors, walls or counter-tops in commercial and residential buildings and outdoor spaces.
Watch this video showing the versatility and beauty of terrazzo flooring in action. The David Allen Company is a client of ours and this video features an installation of theirs at the North Carolina State University School Of Design.
Versatile & Attractive
Terrazzo is the ideal flooring substance. Its hard, durable consistency allows it to hold its integrity and design despite being placed in high traffic areas. Terrazzo is versatile enough to be used in any conditions. Since there are several different types of terrazzo flooring, it’s important to select the right type for indoor, outdoors, or multiple purposes. Terrazzo is also versatile enough to be able to take on any design. It can be molded into any shape, come in any color, and have additives, such as glass, shells, and stone, that give it a beautiful, lustrous shine that cannot be achieved with any other flooring material.
While terrazzo is extremely durable and beautiful, it’s also easy to clean and maintain. It’s made mostly from recycled materials and by-products of the stone cutting industry, which makes terrazzo one of the mast environmentally friendly materials available for any purpose. Terrazzo is the perfect indoor flooring because of its smooth surface and elegant, marble appearance. This also leads to it being very easy to clean when put in a large, open space, compared to carpet or other types of tile. However, in outdoor situations, a smooth surface is the last thing an architect wants to use, because of the exposure to the weather, and lack of slip resistance. That is why there is rustic terrazzo. Rustic terrazzo has a rough, textured surface that is slip resistant, and can give an outdoor space, the elegance of an indoor appearance.
Stone is a hard material that is naturally shock-absorbent. Unfortunately, in large sheets or sections it can become brittle, especially following exposure to elemental forces and human weathering. Terrazzo’s structural characteristics, however, combine stone’s benefits with the elasticity of softer, long-lasting materials like epoxies, polyacrylates and resins. Terrazzo’s hybrid approach to protecting floors and feet has many enticing results. While forward-thinking aesthetic appeal, comfort and ease of maintenance are certainly among its positive features, Terrazzo’s endurance is what really draws people in. Like Roman roads of ancient, modern terrazzo relies on an interchangeable mix of varying types of substances.
Regardless of your needs, a terrazzo can be made using components that will hold up. This affords modern architects and builders design options that would otherwise be completely inaccessible. In most cases, glass and other fine materials are wholly unwelcome in floors that might take some foot traffic. In terrazzo coatings, even fragile items such as beautiful recycled glass take part in amazing mosaic-like floor treatments. It’s simple to substitute synthetics or granite aggregates that will increase strength or add chemical resistance. Most terrazzo coatings are non-reactive. Labs and industrial centers constantly try to improve the visual feel of their work spaces, and terrazzo is an inexpensive, mar-resistant canvas. Remember, durability isn’t only a result of material choice. The application in which a material is used is just as critical as how it’s put together and Terrazzo is designed to abide.
Terrazzo is the flooring material that can be used for the creation of virtually any design. Practical or aesthetically-pleasing, minimalist or ornate – the floor pattern you are dreaming of can be created through the use of Terrazzo. Terrazzo brags a virtually unlimited color palette. The ability to form detailed designs combines with the richness of shades to create both visually impactful and practical floors. These floors are successfully used in hospitals. The patterns incorporate directions that help patients and staff get around effortlessly. Hospitals and units for children feature bright, animated and playful floors. Corporate lobbies can offer vibrant, rich designs as well. The tiles and molded Terrazzo shapes will create any realistic or dreamy visual that will enhance the interior design of the venue.
Facilities use Terrazzo floors to put emphasis on their heritage, corporate history, values and norms that regulate functioning and affect their professional appearance. Terrazzo offers the flexibility and visuals that make all these designs possible. The appearance of this flooring material gives a rich sensation, while the practical qualities of Terrazzo make it easy to maintain and keep its top quality over long periods of time. The unlimited color range and materials used to make Terrazzo floors set the tone, whether it is bold, calm, modern or aristocratic. Choose among mother-of-pearl, marble, recycled glass and even crushed glass. Name the sentiment that you want to achieve through your floor pattern – Terrazzo can be used to achieve it. Durability and sensational appearance will come together.
A Clean Environment
Sanitation simply becomes more effective when conditions work in our favor. Smooth, non-volatile surfacing is the best way to keep things clean, and terrazzo has both these characteristics in its favor. Spills, messes and contamination accidents happen. Not preparing your facilities is like asking to lose money in maintaining them, so think about terrazzo. Cleaning up is simple, a mop or regular floor cleaner should do and, though the substance spilled may very well make such methods impractical, it will never render terrazzo floors permanently damaged. When accidents do occur, their aftermath can wreak havoc far longer than their immediate duration but not with terrazzo, which remains impermeable to contaminants, regardless of whether they’re inanimate or living.
Microbes that feed off common contaminants and thrive on floor treatments that let them gain an easy foothold find themselves utterly homeless in terrazzo environments, and we shouldn’t feel bad for them. They can find some other place to spoil. Patrons of modern offices, retail centers and health care facilities shouldn’t have to deal with a germ-filled environment. Floor sanitation is of extreme concern in places frequented by large numbers of people. Local sanitation rules aside, common allergens can make a business unbearable and dirt often renders commerce unappealing. Help those who visit you feel welcome by creating a warm locale that doesn’t collect dirt. Terrazzo’s composition and our installation make sanitation a breeze. Our flooring eliminates messes by ensuring they never have the chance to build.
Floors collect a lot of dirt after long hours of being walked over by shoes which have themselves traveled miles. In almost all homes and facilities, floor cleaning is an unavoidable fact of life. Lowering the amount of work such cleaning takes is simple. Terrazzo floors keep foreign materials from settling by being extremely smooth. Solid flooring keeps dirt moving. While traction remains high, lightweight dust and even heavier debris can be easily brushed aside. Stains and spills, ever-present threats in the presence of carpets, are extremely improbable around terrazzo. In addition to being firmly non-absorbent, many of our floor coverings are chemically neutral. Their use in laboratories, factories and industrial manufacturing plants is thus just as natural as their inclusion at various facilities where bio-hazard handling is routine. Volatile substances and biological contaminants are indeed stain-causers, but they’re also unsanitary.
Because many floors are made of materials that can be damaged by these substances while absorbing them, post-accident cleanup is a nightmare. Terrazzo flooring makes cleanup fast and routine, ensuring that strict regulatory codes and practices can be adhered to flawlessly. Using stone and other hard materials suspended in a supportive matrix of elastic epoxies or resilient resins has convenient advantages. Seamless terrazzo installations with perfect fitting increase the simplicity of buildings whose floors cost a maintenance staff time and money. Try terrazzo today. After your emergency clean-up routine becomes just as easy as your regular mess-handling methods, you’ll understand exactly why so many builders use it.
The Green Factor
In recent years the construction industry has begun to focus on the environment impact of many construction materials. The evaluation of products in the “green movement” encompasses many elements, which must be weighed on a scale of relative importance. These elements include the longevity of the material, the composition, maintenance, recycled content, embodied energy, and the “cradle-to-grave” environment impact. Sustainable construction is at the core of green construction. Terrazzo floors have an outstanding record of durability and performance dating back over a thousand years. Both cement and thin set epoxy terrazzo floors have extremely low maintenance costs. Annual stripping and resealing can utilize environmentally friendly water-based products.
Routine maintenance includes dry and damp mopping with an occasional spray buffing. In comparison, carpet requires energy intensive daily vacuuming and periodic steam cleaning. Terrazzo is composed of naturally occurring aggregates, recycled glass or plastic and processed cement or epoxy binders. Several glass aggregate suppliers are currently providing post-consumer recycled glass to the marketplace. Terrazzo has long been valued for its life cycle characteristics: low maintenance, durability, and indoor air quality – with recycled content being and additional attractive feature. Terrazzo aggregates, binders and finished flooring systems can contribute to the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) credits, under the LEED-NC rating system, version 2.2.