Wondering why you keep hearing about terrazzo? It’s one of those design trends that you’ve always known by look, but perhaps never by name! Remember that speckled flooring you see in some hotel lobbies, restaurants, airports and corporate buildings – does it ring any bells? That’s ‘terrazzo floor’, a water-repellent indoor and outdoor flooring material that’s been around for decades, mainly associated with commercial settings that get a lot of foot traffic. This old standby style has been given new life by recent interior trends and is not a major must-have for stylish homes with a little retro flair!
Tile Club's new Terrazzo tiles in blue porcelain are a gorgeous way to add this Mid-Century inspired trend to your bathroom vanity backsplash!
Although terrazzo flooring was first introduced to United States residents in the 1890’s, it only became popular during the 1920’s with Art Deco style driving design and architecture - The Hollywood Walk of Fame and George Washington’s Mt. Vernon home were among the first places to install this style of floor in the country! Soon it was an architecture fixture that could be found in banks, hospitals, schools, airports, government buildings and many homes.
The speckled pattern has seen a major resurgence in the last few years, this time with a bit of a modern twist! It’s back and better than ever - not only used as a construction material for flooring but also as a design style that’s printed on everything - from clothing to furniture and décor accents, terrazzo-inspired products have become the hottest design on almost anything!
You know it’s a major trend when Anthropologie offers must-have statement pieces like this terrazzo patterned lamp! The boho chic home decor store combines earthenware trends with a familiar pattern to create this fun accent piece!
It’s even made appearances outside of the interior world, like this patterned wedding cake backdrop by Amorology!
This fabulous modern boho bathroom with terrazzo tile walls by Tim Neve helps illustrate why this eye-catching interior trend has risen in popularity recently!
What is Terrazzo, really?
Terrazzo is by definition a composite material that is poured in place or precast, mainly used for flooring, wall treatments and even countertops and backsplashes. A piece of Terrazzo tile is made from specks of marble, granite, glass or even shell chips, mixed with a cement or epoxy binder. The result is a sleek surface with glittering chips that can be interchanged to match the surrounding aesthetic!
When it comes to the materials, color, and quantity of chips, terrazzo has almost limitless design options for the boldest and most interesting styles!
From Venetians to the Present
The idea of Terrazzo flooring dates back to the 15th century’s beautiful Italian city of Venice. The patterned flooring that we all know and love today was first invented by Italian construction workers when they decided to reuse scrap marble fragments that they saved from their construction jobs to design their own terraces. They came up with the name ‘terrazzo’, meaning ‘terrace’ in Italian for the method, which was basically placing leftover marble pieces next to each other with a clay mortar base to build inexpensive terraces in workmen's homes.
The terrazzo industry has evolved over the centuries, of course. Creating this old world style became much easier in the late 1920’s, with the invention of electric grinders and other power tools. Finally, the 1960s’ and 1970’s brought the epoxy based terrazzo to the scene. This modern method provided more variety in color, a different thickness, and a faster install compared to the traditional cement based terrazzo.
Fast forward to today: this retro pattern had a major comeback after a British materials company named Dzek developed a product in 2014 that resembled the old-terrazzo traditional with a colorful modern finish. This engineered marble product was called ‘marmoreal’, which soon became an inspiration for designers around the U.S. and Europe to use terrazzo tiles once again for the floors, walls and counters in bathrooms, kitchens and other living spaces!
The last couple of years have shown a full-on explosion of terrazzo in the tile world, with fresh takes elevating the classic design concept. In fact, this originally devised as a simple, affordable type of flooring is now a hand-crafted luxury in today’s designs. From Mandy Moore’s bathroom to famous architecture and designs, get ready to find out why terrazzo tiles have taken over homes and hearts in one breath!
Mandy Moore’s bathroom as seen in Architectural Digest - she combined a terrazzo floor with a custom brass inlay to give it a metallic and geometric upgrade!
Terrazzo Fits Any Style
The main appeal of terrazzo today is that it has truly limitless design possibilities!
This gorgeous bathroom by Home at Number 11 amps up the relaxing factor with a soaking view of a chic terrazzo tile wall!
This design flexibility of terrazzo widened after the epoxy method was introduced in the 1970s - breaking away from the traditional neutral grey we were used to seeing on the cement-based design. Compared to cement terrazzo, epoxy based surfaces brought an exciting new wave of terrazzo looks, developing into unique styles that offer a truly unlimited color palette. Epoxy tiles allow you to choose the epoxy resin in the paint color of your choice –you can use any color from the Sherwin Williams color palette, for example- and then complement it with your desired selection of aggregates such as chips of glass, marble, mother of pearl or even abalone shells and various types of metal to create visually appealing surfaces!
With the option to create virtually any color combination, you're sure to find a match for your existing or planned décor! You can choose from monochrome colors for a simple and modern look, or go with mosaics or patterns with your own design, such as the unique interlocking floor in this living room. These qualities make terrazzo fit with almost any style, such as rustic country homes, Victorian aesthetics, or shabby chic styles, for instance. If you seek a distinctive flooring style, no two terrazzo surfaces are alike; each showcases a subtly different pattern and material!
Terrazzo is More than Just Flooring
If you take a closer look at places you visit daily, including offices, hospitals, airports or hotels, terrazzo has been in commercial spaces for ages, but its current rise has been primarily in residential homes. Depending on personal preferences and the circumstances of the space, terrazzo may be poured or used as tiles.
This design was developed as a flooring material, but it has returned stronger than ever before and we’re seeing it on other surfaces such as walls and countertops too! Slab backsplashes are a big trend right now – custom shaped slab tiles can create a strong architectural appeal! Terrazzo also has similar strength and durability compared to quartz countertops, with even greater possibilities for customization and colors, making it a great countertop investment for homes. In the next few years, get ready to see terrazzo as the star of kitchens with many design possibilities even including a waterfall edge like this one!
Consider it a Long-Term Investment
Did you know that terrazzo surfaces can last anywhere from 75 to 100 years? While custom installation often costs more per square foot than other flooring materials – due to the added cost for the labor-intensive work – there’s no doubt that terrazzo is a great investment for your money over time. Due to the durable materials available for commercial and residential flooring, it can easily last for decades - or even centuries - with proper care!
Jess at Eclectic Creative in Melbourne, Australia, used this stunning pattern on a bathroom floor to blend old and new styles in a recent renovation!
Due to its great shock resistance and ability to withstand constant pressure, terrazzo surfaces are extraordinarily hard-wearing with unparalleled quality. While it generally lasts a lifetime, it’s important to note that resin improves the durability of the surface. For that reason, epoxy terrazzo is less susceptible to mold and cracks, which usually results in a longer life. However, epoxy is not suitable for outdoor use, so keep in mind that only a cement base design is suitable for outdoor floors.
Terrazzo is Cost-Effective to Maintain
Bathroom and kitchen floors are excellent choices when it comes to installing this style, as they’re simple to clean and resist bacteria when properly sealed, unlike other bathroom flooring options such as hardwood or carpet. If you’re wondering how to clean terrazzo floors, occasionally sweeping and mopping is really all you need in order to keep them in great shape! Check out this post for tips on how to make terrazzo floors shine!
Although the initial costs of designing and installing may seem high, over a 40-year period, the cost of terrazzo is significantly less than most other floor finishes. Terrazzo tiles will last the lifetime of a building with little maintenance, so its sustainable credentials are outstanding— a big plus for homeowners!
A Chic and Sustainable Building Material
Did you know that Terrazzo became the world’s first “green” flooring material when it was created in Italy during the 15th century?
You’re looking at one of the most sustainable and environmentally–friendly materials because it’s composed of at least 20% recycled material! If you favor eco-friendly products in your home, terrazzo tiles can feature aggregates of recycled products like glass, porcelain, marble, and even beer bottles! More often than not, they are scraps leftover from other projects, so this makes them an extremely sustainable and environmentally-friendly choice. Pair them with our recycled glass tiles for your wall or tub surround, and you’ve got a great ‘green’ interior!
A terrazzo wall like this may incorporate even 100 percent recycled glass aggregate and contain as much as 75 percent recycled raw material by volume! Today, recycled and low VOC materials are key components of terrazzo floors and walls, so using these surfaces is a great way to contribute to the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) credits towards a LEED certification for ‘green’ buildings.
Creative and Customizable
When we refer to terrazzo as having endless design possibilities, we really mean it! Not only does it offer a range of aggregates and epoxy resin colors but also offer the option to create custom designs that feature logos, artistic shapes and much more. Whether that be a corporate logo, mural-like art or any type of figure you want to display on floors or walls, the sky's the limit with terrazzo!
If you want to create a terrazzo floor with custom shapes or include different colors, then divider strips are used to define the different colored sections. These strips give the designers the ability to plan complex patterns - a terrazzo floor project can use anywhere from two colors to more than twenty colors when designing a custom terrazzo work!
This retro fabulous pink bathroom made the recent top trends from Domino Mag!
What do you think of the comeback of terrazzo tiles in floor and wall designs? Given the amazing features and stylish varieties of this stylish trend, we think it’s easy to see why this speckled stone is growing in popularity. “It is so vast and varied and lasts a lifetime,” says New York–based Australian interior designer Tali Roth.
This Italian art definitely has flowed throughout the centuries and is expected to keep growing at a significant rate over the decade. Let’s see for how many more centuries it will remain part of the design cycle.
What do you think of the resurgence of this trend? Would you get terrazzo tiles installed in your home? Share your ideas with us in the comment section below!