What is Terrazzo?
Terrazzo is a composite stone, made from a mixture containing chips of recycled glass as well materials like marble, granite and quartz, all held together by a cementitious binder. Available in an almost limitless array of colours, it comes in various types including terrazzo tiles, monolithic terrazzo, sand cushioned terrazzo, and thinset terrazzo.
Terrazzo has a long history. It originated in ancient Egypt, where it was used to create mosaics. Later in the 18th Century, the material was used in Italy, then made its way to the U.S. in the late 1890s. It achieved popularity in that country with Art Deco and Moderne styles from the 1920s to the 1940s and is currently experiencing a new wave of popularity.
These days, Terrazzo is used on much more than Terrazzo flooring, not just in the major cities like Sydney and Melbourne, but around Australia. It is popular in bathrooms, kitchens, as an outdoor material and has even found its way to the of graphic design world!
The pros and cons of Terrazzo
Terrazzo’s major attraction is its aesthetic appeal. Compared to, say, ceramic tiles it delivers a real earthiness and sense of warmth.
Manufactured using high compressive strength, Terrazzo is durable and long lasting. It is suitable for high traffic areas and has a lifespan of 75-100 years. Because it is made from recycled aggregates and its production doesn’t involve any volatile organic compounds (VOC), it is an environmentally friendly material.
On top of that, it is available in an almost limitless number of colours and design options. It is resistant to heat and therefore it is suitable for kitchen countertops and backsplashes that are near to ovens, kettles, and so forth.
Apart from being easy to clean, Terrazzo is resistant to mould, water, stains, and other microbes. In the case of terrazzo floor tiles, cleaning is a simple matter of sweeping or mopping.
All these advantages apply to high quality, well-produced Terrazzo. Unfortunately, there are some poor-quality products on the market, which are brittle and can lose their colour easily. Also, it is quite slippery and requires a non-slip coating.
Apart from that, while Terrazzo is enjoying popularity right now, that may not always be the case. It’s worth remembering that not too long ago the material was considered kitsch. While there’s no way of knowing one way or the other, it could well be consigned again to that status. If that were to happen, the value of having a surface with a 75-year lifespan becomes redundant.
Colours & Types of Terrazzo
There are several types of the material available. Terrazzo concrete is poured, in situ, like regular concrete; and consumers can also choose between terrazzo tiles, monolithic terrazzo, sand cushioned terrazzo, and thinset terrazzo.
One of Terrazzo’s major selling points is the vast array of colours possible. Because it is an aggregate material, colour choice is only limited by the colours of the chips and cements available.
Where can Terrazzo be installed
Terrazzo was originally considered a flooring material, but things have changed. New technologies and techniques have expanded its possible uses.
Today terrazzo slabs (of a minimum 30mm thick) can be used to make a Terrazzo benchtop in a kitchen or a Terrazzo tiles bathroom. It is also used for splashbacks, table surfaces, shower stalls, feature walls, staircases and as wall cladding. Because it is heat and UV resistant, it is great choice as an outdoor paving material or a replacement for concrete look tiles.
While installing Terrazzo tiles involves adhesives and grout they are trickier to install than ceramic tiles because they are more likely to crack. Care must be taken and must be done by professionals. In other words, this is not a DIY job.
Cost is another downside of Terrazzo tiles. At between $90 / m2 and $250 / m2, they are expensive. Because of this, there are many Terrazzo look alike tiles available for around $35 / m2 to $85 / m2.
The best Terrazzo tiles available in Australia
1) Innovation Terrazzo Mixed Terrazzo tile
Consists of real terrazzo embedded on a porcelain base making it a lighter and thinner product at 11mm thick.
Price: $187 / m2
2) Verona Ivory Vitrified Terrazzo Porcelain
A collection that guarantees an eclectic, versatile design, channelling up-to-the minute style trends. The Verona Collection is premium Vitrified Italian Porcelain which has been processed in 10 various colours.
Price: $104.00 / m2
3) Galaxy White Honed HD Terrazzo
The only Class A Terrazzo on the market in this country, Galaxy White Honed HD Terrazzo does not require pre-sealing or a fast-setting adhesive.
Price: $138.60 / m2
4) Elegante Terrazzo Pebble Honed
Made in Italy to last a lifetime, Elegante Terrazzo boasts specks of real marble that come to life under lights.
Price: $139.95 / m2
5) Verona Blue Vitrified Terrazzo Porcelain
A distinctive blue colour, this tile is part of the Verona Collection. Made from premium Vitrified Italian Porcelain which has been processed in 10 various colours to serve various design tastes.
Price: $139.00 / m2
6) Terrazzo Grigio Venato Bush Hammered Tile
A cement base embedded with recycled pieces of marble give this impressive Terrazzo flooring material a cool industrial look ideal for commercial use or modern residential living.
Price: $99 / m2
7) Salt & Pepper Italian Terrazzo
RMS Traders Terrazzo Tiles / Pavers are designed for external and internal areas. Straight from Italy this Terrazzo range is premium quality and consists of four colours.
Price: $89.00 / m2
8) White Terrazzo
Price: $185 / m2
9) Verona Green Vitrified Terrazzo Porcelain
Price: $139.00 / m2
10) Elegante Terrazzo Smoke Honed
Price: 139.95 / m2