Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means we receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we have recommended. Please check out our disclosure policy for more details.
Out with the old, in with the new … or is it? Among the numerous dated home trends that are reemerging with modern flairs is terrazzo, a composite material used for flooring and other surfaces and made with chips of marble, quartz, glass, granite and stones.
Terrazzo, which means “terrace” in Italian, was originally used in public spaces for its durability and low maintenance but was eventually found to be easily customizable and chic.
If you think it only belongs on the floors of ancient churches or elementary school hallways, think again. This trendy tile is rapidly taking over the architectural and interior design world in more ways than you might think.
We talked to designers and home experts across the country to find the best ways to modernize terrazzo to fit your home’s style.
The History Behind Terrazzo And How It’s Made
Though it dates back to ancient Egypt, terrazzo was developed in Venice, Italy, as a low-cost alternative to traditional flooring. Workers would place pieces of marble next to each other in a mortar base and add larger marble fragments to it before sealing the surface of the cement with polish. This 18thcentury pavement technique became an iconic and historic staple of Venice.
“Terrazzo evokes the charm of Old-World Italy,” said Erin Davis, lead designer and owner of Mosaik Design & Remodeling. “Think decorative walkways and terraces.”
The material first debuted in the United States in the late 1890s. However, it did not become popular in the United States until the 1920s when Art Deco and Modern styles were widespread.
Beginning in the 1930s, terrazzo became a common flooring feature in commercial spaces such as airports, schools and hotels. One of the most famous uses of terrazzo is the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which was established in 1958.
Today, the most common type of terrazzo is epoxy terrazzo, which means the marble is sealed with an epoxy-resin binder instead of concrete. Epoxy terrazzo allows for a faster installation, a variety of colors and a stronger, thinner surface with fewer chances of cracking.
Davis remarked that she doesn’t think terrazzo ever went out of style, but it’s now being interpreted in different ways. “The beauty of terrazzo is that it’s versatile and is only limited by the imagination,” Davis said.
Modern Uses Of Terrazzo
While flooring is the most traditional use of the material, designers are seeing a rise in terrazzo countertops, backsplashes, wall tile, furniture, lighting and decor.
Rather than just having one traditional use, designers and homeowners are now choosing to incorporate as much or as little terrazzo into their homes as they want.
“I like the versatility and durability of terrazzo,” said Davis. “It can be subtle or statement-making.”
A modern terrazzo application Davis suggests is using it as a slab countertop or a tabletop. Substituting terrazzo for a less vibrant countertop can add a pop of color and spice up a boring room while giving it more character.
Designer Becky Beach said she has been getting many requests to incorporate it in her clients’ homes. She even decided to install terrazzo tile in her own home.
Beach said she thinks it’s becoming popular again because its quality has increased while the price has not. “It looks almost like the real thing at half the cost,” she added.
To modernize her home’s tiles, Beach said she chose blue and gray pieces to match the décor in her house.
“If you color-coordinate it, then it can be quite trendy,” Beach said. “In the past, most terrazzo was neutral tones, but jewel tones are quite popular now.”
What To Consider Before Installing Terrazzo
Because terrazzo is not your basic, everyday tile, it’s important to decide if it’s for you before you commit to putting it in your house. Below, Dawn Totty of Dawn D. Totty Interior Designs weighed the pros and cons of installing the material.
Aside from being trendy and customizable, Totty said that terrazzo is very practical. She added that its durability is sustainable compared to most standard tile products, and it has long-lasting power.
“Terrazzo can withstand the test of time,” Totty said. “In fact, it has been known to maintain its luster 20 years after installation.”
She said the natural polish applied to the stone provides a dense surface that offers great resistance to staining and abrasions. It’s also easy to clean and low maintenance. “A quick sweep and light mopping will do the trick,” Totty added.
As if it couldn’t get better, terrazzo is also very eco-friendly. It’s made with at least 20% recycled materials with a base of either resin or concrete and has chips of either marble, glass, granite or quartz, mentioned Totty.
You might not think that there are any downsides to installing terrazzo in your house, but there are some factors that you should take into account.
Though terrazzo is visually appealing, Totty warned that the shiny surface can be a serious slipping hazard. She advises homeowners with kids to apply a non-slip product to the surface to help reduce the slickness.
Totty also advised that terrazzo tile can have a slightly higher price point than other materials. However, she said the price depends on which type of stone is used. Terrazzo tile generally costs about $15 – $30 per square foot installed.
It’s also important to note that because of its intricacy, the material is not a do-it-yourself project and should be installed by professionals
Finally, you should make sure you keep your terrazzo trendy and chic. You don’t want it to end up looking like something out of an 80s movie!
Get The Look
- Terrazzo Table Lamp – $68
- Terrazzo Side Table – $150
- Terrazzo Bath Collection – $28
- Terrazzo Sideboard – $750
- Terrazzo Sculpture – $48
- Terrazzo Throw Pillow – $37
- Terrazzo Round Coffee Table – $137
- Terrazzo Desk Set – $85
- Terrazzo Bench – $420
- Terrazzo Planter – $12
Have you installed terrazzo in your house? Let us know what you think of it below!
If so, subscribe now for tips on home, money, and life delivered straight to your inbox.