A guide to terrazzo

The sustainable flooring choice since the 16th-century, terrazzo is back in a big way. Find out how to use it in your home

Terrazzo tile by Dzek

The name terrazzo derives from the Latin word ‘terra’, meaning ground, and this ancient composite material gives any interior an artisanal, Mediterranean feel. Here’s our quick guide to using it in your home…

‘Marmoreal’ marble and resin terrazzo tile by Max Lamb for Dzek
‘Marmoreal’ marble and resin terrazzo tile by designer Max Lamb, from £300 per sq m, Dzek (dzekdzekdzek.com)

What is terrazzo? A composite material of marble chippings set into cement, terrazzo originated in 16th-century Italy as a way to reuse stone offcuts. It is either poured in situ by hand or precast into blocks that can be cut to size. You can also buy it as ready-made tiles, easy to apply straight to floors and walls.

Living room with terrazzo floor and mid-century furniture
This 1950s-built home in northern Italy’s Reggio Emilia still has the original poured terrazzo floor throughout. In pristine condition, it’s testament to the fact that this material stands the test of time.
Fabrizo Cicconi/Living Inside

Why choose terrazzo? There are virtually unlimited colour and material options – fragments could be anything from marble to quartz, glass and metal – and it is extremely hard-wearing. John Krause, managing director of stone specialist Diespeker, says that he is often called upon to restore terrazzo that’s more than 100 years old. Plus, given that it is made using offcuts, terrazzo is also a sustainable decorating option.

Contemporary black kitchen featuring white terrazzo slabs
An economical alternative to poured terrazzo, slabs are used in this north London kitchen extension. The owners and architect practice Bureau de Change sourced the slabs from London showroom In Opera, and they are laid with such precision that the joins are barely visible (in-opera.co.uk; b-de-c.com)
Anna Stathaki

Where can you use terrazzo? Once sealed to ensure water resistance, it can be applied to any interior wall or floor, including kitchens and bathrooms. Terrazzo retains warmth effectively, so it is a great choice for underfloor heating. In addition, it can be poured into any moulds, so it is now being used to create furniture and homeware.

Dining table, designed by Max Lamb for Dzek, made using slabs of terrazzo
Terrazzo dining table by Max Lamb, £9,600, Dzek

Is it easy to maintain? A simple steam mop or nylon scrubbing brush is all that is needed to clean it. Poured terrazzo, however, is more prone to cracking than slabs. To restore it, the floor will need to be re-ground and re-polished by a specialist.

Bathroom clad in grey terrazzo tiles with black details
Australian interior designer David Flack selected terrazzo to clad the bathroom floor and shower in this home near Melbourne. He opted for a ‘flamed’ textured tile by Australian brand Fibonacci Stone (fibonaccistone.com.au; flackstudio.com.au)
Photography: Brook Holme; Styling: Marsha Golemac

What are the latest innovations? Resin is now being used as well as the traditional cement to produce terrazzo. It is a more expensive option, but has a smoother finish and is also highly resistant to scratches and cracking.

Amethyst coloured resin terrazzo tile
‘RD065’ bespoke resin terrazzo tile, £450 per sq m, Diespeker (diespeker.co.uk)

How much does it cost? Standard tiles start at around £75 per square metre, while bespoke poured terrazzo will set you back £250 per square metre once it has been laid and polished.

Best terrazzo brands:

Diespeker: Best for bespoke resin-set terrazzo

Dzek: Best for architectural terrazzo and designer collaborations

In Opera: Best for high traffic cement-based terrazzo for facades and flooring

Mandarin Stone: Best for porcelain terrazzo effect tiles

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