Material Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Terrazzo

By Jennifer Baum Lagdameo
Although the origins of terrazzo go back to ancient Egypt, the material as we know it today was developed by builders in Venice, Italy, as a low-cost flooring option.

During the midcentury era, terrazzo became a popular flooring and could be found in commercial spaces including airports, cultural institutions, schools, and hotels. While it was loved for its durability and low-maintenance, it was also easily customizable and could be poured into different patterns and shapes. 

The international transit lounge at Gander International Airport in Gander, Newfoundland, and Labrador, Canada, has retained its midcentury, Mondrian-esque terrazzo floor. 

The international transit lounge at Gander International Airport in Gander, Newfoundland, and Labrador, Canada, has retained its midcentury, Mondrian-esque terrazzo floor. 

Recently, terrazzo has seen a major resurgence, but with a bit of a modern twist. Bolder and brighter colorways are being employed, larger pieces of stone are being used as aggregates, and it's now being used to make furnishings and home accessories. It's important to note that the process presents the chance to incorporate color—a fact that modern-day manufacturers have been taking advantage of. 

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The main living area of this home features Venetian terrazzo flooring.

The main living area of this home features Venetian terrazzo flooring.

What is terrazzo and how is it made? 

Terrazzo, which is Italian for terrace, is the name it was given by the Italians who developed it. It's a composite material made of chips of marble, quartz, granite, glass, or other stone, and is held together with a concrete or epoxy-resin binder. A weighted roller finishes the material, and the terrazzo is ground and polished to produce a smooth surface. 

Today, most terrazzo is epoxy terrazzo, which allows for a wider selection of colors, faster installation, and a stronger, thinner material with an impermeable finish, making it less susceptible to cracking. 

For Vienna Design Week, QWSTION asked Terrazzo Project (TP) and Schoenstaub to create a coordinated collection of tables and carpets. 

For Vienna Design Week, QWSTION asked Terrazzo Project (TP) and Schoenstaub to create a coordinated collection of tables and carpets. 

Where is terrazzo installed? 

Although terrazzo is currently considered to be a luxury finish, it was actually created to be a budget-friendly solution. Current technological advances have taken terrazzo beyond just flooring and into countertops and backsplashes—a logical extension. 

The use of terrazzo flooring creates a slightly retro-glam look.

The use of terrazzo flooring creates a slightly retro-glam look.