There are few building materials as flexible, beautiful yet strong as terrazzo, which is made of thousands of chips of granite, marble, quartz and glass mixed in with either a cement or an epoxy matrix to bind it all together, and then polished to a smooth and glossy finish.In addition to the use of aggregate chips and glass we are now seeing an increase of colored plastic chips usage. Plastic chips have limitless color choices. A colored epoxy embedded with the same color of plastic chip achieves the ultimate modern monochromatic look.
Terrazzo can either be poured in place or it can be precast or fabricated. While it is known for its incredible beauty, terrazzo is also known for its extreme durability, capable of outlasting just about any building it is put into. Let’s look at some unique facts about terrazzo that will help you understand why it is a top choice for use in design and architecture.
It’s Very Famous
One of the world’s most famous applications of terrazzo is the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where the stars embedded into the sidewalk are cast in different shades of terrazzo design, with bronze separators and lettering to finish it off.
It Doesn’t Have to Be Smooth
While terrazzo is commonly polished to a high gloss finish, it can also be polished to get a uniformly textured finish. This technique is sometimes used in outdoor areas where more grip might be required, such as around a swimming pool.
It Has Ancient Origins
Many will tell you that terrazzo originated in Italy around the 16th century, where marble chips and offcuts were collected and tossed into cement, poured onto sidewalks and then polished smooth once dry. However, terrazzo can actually be traced all the way back to ancient Egypt, where mosaic flooring and walling were done with chips of colorful stone.
Terrazzo Installers Won’t Use Stainless Steel
When terrazzo is installed, it is done using dividing strips that can either serve to separate terrazzo colors or simply just be used to strengthen the installation. The dividers are made from a variety of metals ‒ the most expensive option typically being brass. However, aluminum, zinc and even plastic are often used, but never stainless steel.
The reason installers don’t want to use stainless steel is because it is too hard and cannot be easily bent into the shapes and curves needed for high-end terrazzo applications. It is also far too expensive.