Terrazzo is a mix of different materials such as chips of marble, quartz, onyx, aggregates, granite or glass that is poured into a cement/concrete or epoxy base. The base can be in any color and/or color combination. There are infinite possibilities when it comes to terrazzo; the final product is up to your imagination.
Even though some sources link terrazzo to ancient Egypt mosaics, it would be safe to say it was originated in Italy. In mosaics, you have consciously and deliberately made patterns whereas terrazzo is more of a chaotic act. Terrazzo literally means “terrace” in Italian by the way and the technique can be traced back to 18th Century Venetian pavements. Even though it is named by the Venetians, archaeologists have found evidence of terrazzo floors with crushed lime stones and colored red in ruins in Çayönü, Turkey dating back to 9,000–8,000 BC. Similar terrazzo floors discovered in Nevalı Çori and Göbekli Tepe archeological site in Turkey. Since then, it was used universally for flooring. The Industrial Revolution and machinery made it possible to turn this technique into tile form to be applied in any floor. However, the technique gone beyond being floor type and today its unique patterns became almost applicable to any space/surface.
How is it made?
There are multiple techniques that can be applied depending on the desired result. Cement based terrazzo is known to be the most durable, waterproof and crack-proof version. The steps of production -for example to make a terrazzo countertop or table slab- are as follows:
(Disclaimer: This is not a DIY project, those are the actual steps that masons use. If you want to build your terrazzo from scratch you should reach out to professionals for the best result.)
1. First step is choosing the stones and glasses to be used in terrazzo. In this step large pieces of marble can be broken and brought to the desired dimensions, the colors are decided, and you are good to go.
2. Then a frame in exact measurements of the final product should be build. The mixture will go on into this frame.
3. It is time to prepare the cement base. There are many different options available when it comes to make terrazzo but most used ingredients to achieve this artsy cocktail of a surface are marble chips, onyx chips, shards of glass and other stones of choice, white cement and marble powder. Mix them with water- preferably in a cement mixer- and then pour the mixture into the frame.
4. To produce long, continuous surfaces steel reinforcement bars should be placed into the frame to prevent terrazzo from breaking. This step can be applied before or after the cement-based mixture is poured into the frame.
5. Smooth and level the mixture and brush away the excess cement to achieve homogeneous surface. At this step you can add additional colored chips and glasses to *spice* your terrazzo up.
6. And everybody’s favorite step, GRINDING. Oh, it is so satisfying to watch. For this step you can use an industrial grinder if you have access to one, or you can use a portable grinder machine to scrape off the top layer and meet your terrazzo pattern for the first time.
7. Now you can polish your terrazzo with a sanding machine for that shining effect. If you want to use your terrazzo surface for a long time you should also apply a sealer. And it is done!
In addition to being durable and budget-friendly, terrazzo has so much more to offer. It brings fun, color and raw material feeling to the surfaces it has been applied to. This is the exact reason of its universal revival, it is colorful and fun. Terrazzo pattern brightens up a surface with a modern twist and adds a little party without being too loud. Here are some of our favorite examples showing terrazzo’s versatility:
So, what do you think? Do you want a terrazzo countertop for your kitchen or want to start with something small, such as terrazzo coasters? Regardless of the extent of your commitment to terrazzo, it is a pattern originated thousands of years ago and it is still on trend, you simply cannot go wrong with it.
If you want to use terrazzo patterns on your projects you can purchase our seamless vector pattern set with 9 different terrazzo, click on the link: