What is Terrazzo? Get to Know This Durable and Chic Material

Terrazzo kitchen countertop and island.

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If your favorite genre when combing Zillow is "mid-century masterpiece," you are most likely already obsessed with terrazzo tile, even if you’ve never heard the name before. Terrazzo brings the look of cost-prohibitive materials to budget-friendly design by mixing chips of expensive materials like granite, quartz, and marble into an inexpensive binder made from cement. And, unlike many of those pricer flooring options, terrazzo has the sort of durability that will last for decades under even the most punishing of conditions.

Take a look at the floor the next time you visit a high-trafficked place like an airport, the lobby of a busy office building, or even the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and you’ll see terrazzo in action. If it can persevere in those sorts of environments, you can be sure it is a lifetime investment that’s well worth the price for your home.

What is Terrazzo?

Terrazzo is a composite material used as flooring, countertops, and other custom projects. Terrazzo combines chips of marble, granite, quartz, glass, shell or other suitable materials with cement or an epoxy.

The History of Terrazzo

Terrazzo tiled shower stall.

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Though terrazzo is a classic material that dates back to the late 19th century, it’s almost as if it was designed for modern times. Because it’s made by blending shards of other materials together, terrazzo can be made from “imperfect” and scrap materials in the building industry, making it one of the more beautiful ways to recycle goods. Because of its inherently sustainable design, modern terrazzo can incorporate all sorts of materials aside from traditional stone, thanks to the addition of epoxy resin.

Today, you can find terrazzo made with shards of metal, glass, rubber, plastic, and more. With a world of materials at its disposal, terrazzo’s aesthetic possibilities are quite possibly endless, which has not only endeared it to designers of all sorts, but allowed for new ways to bring it into the home without the need for a contractor.

Durability and Uses In the Home

Terrazzo side table next to bed.

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Terrazzo is not only extremely durable, but also water, mold, and stain-resistant—meaning it’s an excellent option for flooring in kitchens, bathrooms, mudrooms, and outdoor spaces. But, why limit yourself to the floor? Terrazzo can be used in places you ordinarily might ordinarily associate with fragile ceramic tile, like showers, bathtubs, and swimming pools.

Fantasizing of marble or granite countertops but your bank account is holding you back? Terrazzo can not only save the day, but with it’s seemingly endless variety of colors and designs, you’ll have much more aesthetic freedom when it comes to designing your dream kitchen. In fact, you can create your own customized terrazzo tiles, which could be a worthwhile splurge if you’re planning on looking at your terrazzo installation for decades to come.

Another bonus: cleaning terrazzo is an absolute breeze and doesn’t require any harsh chemicals or special treatment. That’s the sort of quality that might incentivize you to install terrazzo on any surface. 

If you rent or are not planning any sort of substantial home remodeling, you can still incorporate the look into your space with terrazzo furniture, like tables, or decorative accents like vases and planters. 

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