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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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