You probably want to consider Terrazzo tile flooring to improve the look of your house and its vibe. The tiles are attractive in their own appeal.
You can be sure that they will dramatically boost the feel, look, and atmosphere of the house without even trying too hard!
The floor is currently experiencing a boost of popularity and it happens for many good reasons.
About Terrazzo Flooring
If you think that Terrazzo tile flooring is new, then you don’t know the history. The floor has actually been around for centuries. Yes, the floor has been found to exist in ancient Egyptian time, especially in the mosaics.
Over the centuries, the floor has been used all over the world. And then, the floor has experienced modern incarnation, starting in Venice, in the 18th century.
At that time, Terrazo floor was used for workers’ home decoration because it was considered the cheaper option to marble.
And then, the floor reached its peak popularity moment in Europe, in the 20th century, mostly because of the inexpensive cost. The tile was used during reconstruction period of 1920s to 1930s as well as the period of 1950s to the 1970s.
The 1920s showed technology advancement that resulted in better production and tools. That’s why Terrazzo tile and floor were the popular options in America back in those days.
Those flooring options were often included in the Moderne and Art Deco upmarket designs.
Terrazzo tiles were often installed for institutional and commercial settings instead of residential spaces.
However, as everything in fashion, what’s outdated is now a trendy thing again. In several years back, home designers have seen Terrazzo’s potential as appealing alternative to busy tiles and cold stone flooring.
Terrazzo somehow shares the similar streamlined minimalistic appeal of concrete, but it has an added appeal and texture within its profile.
And today’s Terrazzo tiles are coming in many beautiful colors, which are another appealing factor about the floor.
That’s why the floor is considered the best option for unfussy, sleek, but visually appealing floor that stands out within its unique trait.
Understanding More about Terrazzo Tiles
So, what should you know about Terrazzo tile flooring, really?
- Terrazzo is basically a construction composite material that is constructed from aggregates chips (like stone or marble) with either epoxy-resin or concrete.
- Terrazzo has versatile usage. It can be installed indoors as well as outdoors, depending on the materials types being used.
- To have Terrazzo at home, you can either use the tiles or pour it within the site. The latter one is similar to the concrete.
Just so you know, there is an encaustic cement tile style referred as Granito. This is made through the similar technique of making Terrazzo. This is also the reason why Granito may also be called as Terrazzo tile.
Different Types (and Installation) of Terrazzo
When installing Terrazzo tile flooring, there are actually several options available. The epoxy binding or concrete material is pigmented, which allows limitless color options.
Different types of aggregates can also be used within the mixture, like chips of abalone shells, mother of pearl, metal, or even glass.
Not to mention that contemporary (Terrazzo) designers are getting creative with the types of aggregates used, creating one-of-a-kind and unique bold statement effect for the floor and entire vibe of the house.
The mix can be poured into situ (or set into molds) or set into panels or tiles. When poured into molds, the mix can be used for custom-installation, like kitchen countertops, bathtubs, or outdoor.
When the mix is poured into situ on bigger floor areas, divider strips or metal expansion would be used so it can delineate the floor to sections.
It will avoid cracking because the strips would be laid within floor parts with bigger possibility of cracking.
In this way, it ‘forces’ a crack to happen but along the join instead of the center (of the section).
The divider strips are also handy when you want to create Terrazzo floor with various colors. The strips would define different sections for different colors.
Whether you want to have the pre-made flooring tiles or the poured Terrazzo, the professional and expert installer will finish the floor by sanding it.
They will then polish and seal it in order to create a seamless and smooth floor. The grout (between tiles) should be level completely with the tiles.
The Installation Methods
The installation for Terrazzo tile flooring isn’t a DIY friendly, especially if you choose pouring the mix into situ.
You will need to hire a professional installer, especially the experienced one. Experienced installers should know different techniques and methods that would be suitable for your needs.
Here are the different in-situ pouring methods:
- Thinset Terrazzo
This is basically the layer of Terrazzo from epoxy-resin material in 3/8 thickness that is poured over the concrete substrate.
This would be considered the lightest Terrazzo (in terms of weight) and it can be installed over the existing plywood or concrete subfloor. It comes with greatest color ranges.
The possibility of cracking is pretty slim because the epoxy resin would increase the flexibility. Unfortunately, this layer can only be implemented and used indoors only.
The top layer is easily peeled off when exposed too much to the light. Moreover, the solvents (in the epoxy) may result in allergic reactions for some people.
- Sand-Cushion Terrazzo
This is the traditional method. Cement base should be laid first, and then another layer of sand would be applied on the top side of the cement.
And then finally, the Terrazzo mix (with cement-based content) would be poured. The sand layer enables movement which would minimize cracking possibility.
Unfortunately, this method creates an extremely thick and happy floor. This method is only suitable for new structure and construction because you need to incorporate concrete base for the construction.
This is also a suitable method for interior settings.
- Monolithic Terrazzo
This Terrazzo floor is coming with cement-based content that would be straightly poured over the concrete subfloor.
This is a method perfect for exterior as well as interior settings, for the existing concrete subfloors.
However, the subfloor needs to be in good condition and level. This is a method for ground or single-storey building.
And it isn’t the best option for construction with cracking possibility, such as above grade construction.
In-situ poured Terrazzo includes other methods, known as Bonded Terrazzo, Rustic Terrazzo, and Polyacrylate Terrazzo. Bonded Terrazzo shares similar method like sand-cushion method.
Polyacrylate Terrazzo is useful when the epoxy-based type won’t adhere. For Rustic Terrazzo, it is used for exterior setting where more rugged texture is needed.
- Terrazzo Tile Floor
Another way to install Terrazzo is by using the Terrazzo tile flooring. The installation requires adhesive application as well as grout system, similar to porcelain or ceramic tiles.
Expert installers would apply a sealed and sanded finish to create and design a seamless appearance, which is the same as the poured Terrazzo.
The Pros and Cons
Whatever installation method you want to consider, including with Terrazzo tile flooring, the floor has its own positive and also negative aspects.
The main advantages include:
- Aesthetic look and appeal. It is a great option when compared to the plain concrete floor. You will get yourself the same quasi-industrial and slick style, and yet it comes with extra interest and texture that is similar to the carpet. If you want to, image the Terrazzo as concrete carpet. If you want industrial look with minimal touch and yet you also want to create softer effect to the hard edges, Terrazzo would be the best option.
- Cutting edge style and coolness. Terrazzo is a cool flooring material, so if you want to create a trendy look, this would be the perfect fit.
- Unlimited custom ability. Terrazzo is available in myriad options of colors. Not to mention that it can be easily turned into custom designs and styles. In the end, you should be able to create unique design, style, and floor of your choice.
- Greater versatility. Terrazzo can be made into many custom designs as well as being molded into panels (like the ones for staircases) or custom shapes (like countertops, stone-like furniture, sink, and bathtubs).
- Underfloor heating support and friendly. It is great when combined with hydronic or radiant underfloor (heating) systems, which means that it retains heat very well.
- Healthy. When Terrazzo is sealed properly, it will lead to non-porous floor that is resistant to mold and microbes. It creates safe, clean, and hygienic flooring surface.
- Easy care and maintenance. Caring for the floor is relatively easy. You only need to use a regular broom to sweep it and mop to clean it off completely.
- Environmentally-friendly. Many of the manufacturers would make use of the recycled materials in order to create aggregate, especially recycled metals, porcelain, and glass.
- Durable. This is another reason why Terrazzo tile flooring is used in both commercial and residential settings.
However, the floor still has some of the downsides, and they include:
- Trend trap. Terrazzo isn’t exactly the timeless flooring option. It’s great for a particular period of time, but it’s not always the case. Whereas it may be trendy and popular today, it may not be the case tomorrow. If your purpose is to do a fixer-upper project for re-sale purpose, then it may not be the perfect option. Moreover, contemporary Terrazzo has a minimalist feel to it, so you need to make sure that your interior décor is matching.
- Cracks. This is the biggest issue, especially if you don’t install it properly. Although you can deal with cracks, but it isn’t cheap and it isn’t easy. You need to choose the proper installer as well as proper method for the project.
- Hard and cold. Terrazzo tile flooring can be cold, especially in winter, if you don’t have any underfloor heating. Moreover, the floor can be quite hard too, which can be an issue for some people.
- Cost and price. Despite the beauty, the floor can be quite costly.
Price and Cost
The type of aggregate would determine the cost of the material. If you go with simple stone aggregates, the floor would be inexpensive.
However, if you prefer the big marble or quartz chips, it is definitely going to cost you quite a lot.
Aside from the material, you also need to consider professional installer. If you want to, you may need to have pre-installed prep work (done to your subfloor) to get the best outcome.
Be ready to pay from $20 to $100 a square feet for poured in-situ Terrazzo installation. The Terrazzo tile flooring is cheaper, with overall cost between $15 a square foot to $30 a square foot.
The Brands and Where to Buy the Floor
Porcelain tiles and hardwood have their own specific brands. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with Terrazzo floor.
Instead of brands, there are many professional installation contractors or manufacturers that offer services in Terrazzo line.
If you want to start, a good point would be National Mosaic and Terrazzo Association site.
You need to have the proper budget for the floor. If you especially want specialist Terrazzo options, like Terrazzo with big marble shards, you will have to spend a fortune.
For Terrazzo tile flooring, Trend Terrazzo comes with their own bold colored and gorgeous tiles, included in Origina/Trend Q collection. If you want Granito Terrazzo tiles, you can check Pacifico collection at Cement Tile Shop.
They have showrooms in Scottsdale and Tampa. And they provide shipping options to Europe and America.
There are also other international designers. Lindsey Laing, for instance, is UK-based designed specializing in modern Granito tiles.
She doesn’t mind organizing shipments to America. Mosaic del Sur, another company with showrooms in Europe and in the UK has Granito tiles with traditional style.
Several Examples on Decorating with Terrazzo Floor
As it was mentioned before, contemporary Terrazzo may go well with semi-industrialist, minimalist, or sleek décor style. And there are several examples on how to incorporate the Terrazzo with your design.
For instance, Terrazzo with simple color and clean lines will look great to create simple and clean look.
If you are bold and daring, Terrazzo floor with bold colors, textures, and shapes may be able to create striking visual appeal, but it may not be for everyone.
But if you are into such style, you can opt for extra big (aggregate) chips or even bold pigmentation. It definitely creates even larger and bolder statement.
If you prefer the natural and classic style, neutral Terrazzo that is paired with Mid-Century or Scandinavian Modern décor will highlight the natural finishes, like exposed bricks, shag rugs, natural fibers, and wood furniture.
If you want more patterns and textures, you can choose the Granito, featuring geometric and intrinsic patterns and many vibrant colors.
You need to ask yourself whether Terrazzo floor is the perfect option for you or not.
If you want to create subtle look, small aggregate may be the perfect option. But if you want bolder look, then bigger aggregate in colors would be the right pick.
The Terrazzo tile flooring may be the best option if you aren’t really sure about poured in type or the solid one but make sure that you have made up your mind.