September 17, 2020
Beautiful, stylish and robust – few building materials are as versatile and sumptuous as terrazzo.
Although it has been around for thousands of years the use of terrazzo was first made popular in 18th Century Italy where it remains ubiquitous till this day. Terrazzo was first introduced in the UK for institutional buildings during the Art Deco era, between the 1920s and 40s. Advances in laying terrazzo as well as the prevention of cracking (by introducing expansion joints) made the flooring and wall cladding material more practical and affordable. Public buildings like hospitals, shops, religious buildings and schools made widespread use of terrazzo because of its hard wearing and decorative qualities, not forgetting its easy maintenance.
Today terrazzo is undergoing a surge in popularity again with the terrazzo tile, its limitless possibilities and no-nonsense performance making it a material perfectly suited to contemporary décor. This article looks at the terrazzo effect tile, which represents another evolutionary step forward for fans of terrazzo. An affordable and practical material that is aesthetically pleasing and seriously hard wearing.
Terrazzo is a composite material which means it is composed of different elements combined together rather than being monolithic. Marble chips (or quartz, granite, glass or similar) are mixed with a binding agent, usually concrete, to achieve chemical and physical binding.
Then after curing the entire surface is subjected to grinding and a final polishing to achieve the smooth and homogeneous finish that we know as terrazzo.
Terrazzo has a palpable texture, a random pattern of shards of marble, stone and glass that appear to have been suspended in aspic, sliced and polished.
This organic quality can be customised depending on the additives, the colour (both of the pieces and the bonding compound) and the size of the pieces which all affect the final result. It has a beguiling and almost hypnotic effect when used well in construction and decoration projects.
While terrazzo is a finish that requires laying in-situ, for flooring specifically, the development of the terrazzo tile represents an evolutionary leap. The undeniable beauty of terrazzo with its sensual qualities that evoke the golden age of Art Deco architecture are made more affordable and easier to use as a tile.
The terrazzo tile can be as varied, colourful and hard wearing as traditional laid terrazzo. With the terrazzo effect tile the aesthetic effect is artfully recreated combined with a much more robust ceramic material. The best of both worlds, so to speak.
To make life simple for fans of the material the terrazzo effect tile is a hassle free way of introducing terrazzo into home décor. The practical advantages are matched by its subtle beauty. Terrazzo effect tile is a ceramic material and because of that its resistance to moisture and humidity is superior to other finishes in the home.
The hallway and entrance of a home are places where making a good impression matters. There is no better material than terrazzo to make a statement at the threshold of the home. Its easy maintenance also makes it an attractive option. It looks like elegant and expensive but yet is really easy to keep clean which is a very important consideration for entrances.
If combined with a terrazzo tile skirting the effect is even more impressive.
If there is one room in the home made for showcasing terrazzo tile it’s the bathroom, think of the great interiors of 1920s Hollywood bathrooms, like The Great Gatsby or The Shining.
Luxurious, glamorous and elegant, terrazzo lends colour, texture and performance to bathroom surfaces. To make terrazzo contemporary clad walls and floors with the same tiles, using the same colour grouting, but be mindful to follow manufacturers’ instructions regarding adhesives and grout for wet / humid areas.
Use terrazzo effect tile on the walls for shower cubicles with a rain-effect shower head for an extra luxurious shower experience.
To capture continental flare in the kitchen recalling the cuisine of the Mediterranean use terrazzo tile for flooring or wall cladding or indeed both. The effect is instant chic, conjuring up the atmosphere of cultures that are built around the appreciation and sharing of food. The terrazzo effect tile surface is easily wiped down or cleaned.
The collage-like finish with a three-dimensional effect works best with monochrome kitchen cabinets, especially high gloss that creates a foil with the matt tile finish.
Although sometimes associated with institutional and larger scale interiors the terrazzo tile makes it ideal for the living room. As a surround for a gas or paraffin fireplace terrazzo creates a focal point for a room.
Terrazzo effect tile is suitable for a panel of flooring combined with timber parquet creating a ‘rug’ like effect.
Because it is so hard wearing and resistant the use of terrazzo tile for the outdoors is also very practical. Around pools, garden features, on terraces or patios the matt finish terrazzo tile provides a stylish frame for decking areas and courtyards.
Keeping terrazzo tiles dust free is important, so regular brushing is recommended. For localised stains use a non-abrasive damp nylon brush dipped in water. Clean in circular movements.
Avoid using harsh cleaning products with ceramic as the surface will get damaged over time. Use a non abrasive cleaning fluid for floors and always remember to dry and polish afterwards to ensure long life and optimum finish.
The terrazzo tile is affordable. It is resistant to moisture and extraordinarily hard wearing which makes it suitable for public buildings and areas with greater foot fall.
Marble chips predominantly combined with a myriad of other possibilities that depend on the desired effect. The ingredient that makes the material possible is the binding agent, a cementitious binder to chemically bind the various elements and polymer for physical binding.