About Terrazzo: History & Composition
Terrazzo is a man made stone, created using natural stone pieces. It is basically a floor surface made from stone chips which are set into a cement or epoxy medium.
Terrazzo comes from the Italian word ‘Terrazza’ meaning terrace and refers to the 15th century Venetian mosaic workers who used bits of left over marble chips to surface the terraces where they lived. Historical evidence suggests these surfaces were left rough until it was figured out that rubbing them with stones would create a more attractive and smooth floor.
Goats milk was used as an enhancing sealer in order to preserve the stone and give it a glossier appearance. The use of stone chips in flooring probably pre-dates the 15th century by thousands of years and there is also evidence that it was used in Roman times.
In the early 1900’s Terrazzo floors were made in situ at a ratio of 70% stone chips to 30% cement. Borders and other sections were partitioned to create a contrasting finish with different colours. Finally the surface would be ground smooth and sealed with hot linseed oil or a wax, linseed oil and turpentine mix.
Today terrazzo is more commonly used in the form of pre-fabricated tiles making installation quicker and easier. Also, epoxy resin is favoured for the stone to be set in. This creates a more durable surface which is practically impermeable, allows for a more varied selection of colours to be used and reduces the risk of cracking or loose chippings.
Uses & Attributes: Why is Terrazzo so popular?
Most people will be familiar with a terrazzo floor. Places you are likely to see include supermarkets, indoor shopping centres, hospitals, train stations and many other areas that experience a high level of foot traffic.
- Epoxy resin Terrazzo is extremely durable, much more so than most natural stones.
- Its durability makes it easy to maintain and very cost effective in a commercial environment
- Terrazzo can be produced in many different designs and colours. This gives the flexibility to create a floor that compliments its surroundings while being truly unique.
- It is crafted using natural stone and is very attractive making it more appealing than ceramic tiles
Restoration, Repair and Maintenance:
Terrazzo floors are extremely durable however old examples can need extensive repair work in order to restore them to their former beauty. Holes or pits where stone chippings have come loose may need filling and a loss of lustre will demand the need for diamond grinding and polishing.
Terrazzo is an excellent surface to restore as its combination of high durability and attractive appearance make it a very worthwhile task. Because it contains natural stone, usually marble, it can be polished to a high shine and then treated with a penetrative sealer in order to protect it from staining and discolouration.
Once fully restored, it can be maintained very easily with regular dry and wet mopping, or as is more common in commercial environments, scrubber-drying. It is important to remember however that the presence of calcite based aggregates, such as marble, in most Terrazzo floors makes it susceptible to etching. It is important therefore that acid spills are wiped up promptly to avoid the severity of the etching and loss of shine to the floor.
If your Terrazzo floor is looking dull, is damaged or hasn’t been re-sealed for many years, please contact us for free advice and a no-obligation survey. Please see our testimonials page for assurances of the quality of our workmanship and browse our Amazing Photos page to see what great results you can expect.