but don't call the whole thing off! terrazzo is the new hot thing!
Though archaeologists in Turkey have discovered evidence of terrazzo-like floors that may be as many as eight to ten thousand years old, “terrazzo” comes from the Italian word for terrace and is popularly believed to have been developed in 15th century Italy by marble workers who surfaced the terraces surrounding their homes with discarded marble chips set in clay. The initial result was uncomfortable to walk on, and methods were quickly developed to grind the rough surface to a smoother finish, which was not only pleasant to walk on, but also durable and attractive. In the late 17th century European craftsmen brought the art of terrazzo to America, where it grew and developed.
Popular in the 1950’s and 60’s, terrazzo as a residential flooring fell out of favor in the 70’s when carpeting, particularly shag carpeting, became all the rage. Nevertheless, terrazzo persisted as a flooring of choice in both Historic and Commercial/Monumental architecture, and materials and methods continued to evolve.
Currently, terrazzo is making a comeback with homeowners, many of whom have discovered terrazzo under their current flooring and are choosing to restore it to its original glory. Terrazzo is also recognized as a “green” choice by many commercial, educational and public institutions. Finished terrazzo is non-porous, does not support microbial growth, and contains zero VOC materials, making it an excellent choice in support of good indoor air quality.
Today’s equipment and materials make terrazzo floors even easier to restore and maintain and offer virtually limitless design choices for new installations. Available in a traditional mix of Portland cement and marble aggregate, terrazzo can also be created using an epoxy binder which offers a broader color selection and additional benefits such as resistance to hot-tire- and common chemical-spill- or oil- damage. Both mixes can make use of modern aggregate materials like recycled glass and plastics, providing a wide range of looks and color choices. Terrazzo is also available as tiles which can be installed just like any other tile — often a more convenient choice than an in-place slab installation.
The versatility, restorability and recyclability of terrazzo is quickly making it a flooring of choice for artists and institutions alike in today’s environmentally conscious world.