Along with the rise of concrete as a beautiful, as well as functional, surface for the home, terrazzo is also becoming a firm favourite of interior designers and architects alike. No longer reserved for grand old hotel lobbies, terrazzo has had an update with an injection of bright colours, textures and even customisable crystals and stones. It’s great for floors and works well on walls and countertops too. But before you go sprinkling terrazzo all over your home like confetti, there are a few things you need to know.
What exactly is terrazzo?
The terrazzo effect is created by mixing concrete, sand and stones to form an aggregate that is sanded to reveal the stone beneath and finally polished. You can buy it in pre-cast slab or have it poured in-situ, and both have pros and cons.
What are the benefits?
Terrazzo has come a long way since its initial creation. If you opt for a poured version, which is most common, you can add brightly coloured dyes and individually selected your jewels and stone. You can also make it as reflective as you want, bringing it a high shine or keeping it matte.
Poured terrazzo also doesn’t require any joint lines. It’s is also ideal for under-floor heating and, aside from avoiding any harsh bleaches; it requires minimal upkeep and lasts a long time.
Terrazzo in the bathrooms of Breac .House. Photo: Al Higgins
What do I need to know about it?
First off, pouring terrazzo requires expert knowledge. Talk to your builder and see if they have any experience in it and if not head for a terrazzo expert like Fegan Terrazzo & Polished Concrete Flooring, who installed the dark speckled floor of Breac.House, above.
Architect Gearoid Carvill of abgc advises that you make sure you establish exactly what you want before you begin. “With all of these variations, the key is to agree on samples,” he explains. Ask your builder to try a sample slab so you know just want to expect when you begin the sanding process. “We achieved a white concrete effect in the Dublin clothing store Nowhere [below] by using white sand, white cement and white marble aggregate.”
White terrazzo flooring and island unit and counter. Photo: Paul Tierney
If you’d prefer to know exactly what you’re getting, pre-cast slabs in different sizes are available to purchase, like these ones from Kaza. They also come in a range of colours, textures and styles so you can stick with a classic option or go wild with this hot pink option. However, these will require seams, unlike the poured version.
A sample of Kaza’s pink terrazzo.
What if I like the look but can’t commit?
If you would absolutely love the terrazzo floor but you either can’t afford it or it’s not practical for your project, there are plenty of cheaper, lighter options. Borien Design Studio wanted to create a glamorous 1960s vibe for this Airstream camper, but due to weight restrictions and balance, actual terrazzo wasn’t an option. Instead, they settled on a pink vinyl floor to set off the jewel-tones in the rest of the space.
Inside the Airstream that Borien Studio renovated and redesign. Photo: Sayer Danforth/Robin Waite.
Featured image: Mandarin Stone terrazzo tiles.