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Terrazzo: Not Just for Floors

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Terrazzo is synonymous with flooring for good reason: the technique we know as terrazzo began in 18th century Vienna as a way to create vibrant flooring from leftover marble chips, and to this day, most people are familiar with terrazzo only in its flooring form. Floors give terrazzo’s chip-and-matrix color variability a chance to shine in a way that can really define a given space, while offering the durability and ease of cleaning often preferred in commercial settings. Floors are a no-brainer fit for terrazzo, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other perfectly lovely applications for use of this time-honored technique! Certain types of terrazzo, especially precast, can be used in many of the same ways as regular marble, and we’re seeing it pop up in unusual places more and more as modern designers draw inspiration from its limitless color applications, luxury finish, and environmentally-friend bonafides. Let’s walk through a few.

Walls

For many of the same reasons terrazzo makes a great floor, walls can make stunning use of the technique. In a commercial lobby, terrazzo walls can add the kind of gravitas you might otherwise use regular marble or mirrored metallics to achieve. Like any heavy wall material, terrazzo walls require a sturdy support structure, but there are many ways to customize a terrazzo look with precast options and variable finishes. Depending on color and material choices with your marble aggregates and matrix color, terrazzo walls can add a touch formality or whimsy to a room, and terrazzo’s multi-colored possibilities make it the perfect way to reinforce a color scheme.

Kitchen & Dining

 

Though terrazzo is traditionally used to cover larger areas such as floors or walls,we’re seeing it pop up more often as an accent technique in kitchens for a modern twist. It’s not just terrazzo’s design possibilities that make it desirable for kitchen use: terrazzo finish is actually bacteria-resistant, easily sanitized, and very durable. It’s a fantastic alternative to steel or ceramic for stand-out backsplash walls or countertops.

Though the material is durable, proper care for kitchen terrazzo is important for preventing water absorption and potential stains. Terrazzo sealant is a good preventative, and can vary depending on your needs, but no sealant is a permanent barrier to stains and absorption. It’s a good idea to clean spills as they happen, avoid cutting directly on terrazzo countertops, and take care with placing excessively hot items directly on terrazzo.

Bathrooms

Bathrooms are an excellent choice for any of the terrazzo uses already mentioned. Terrazzo makes for bathroom floors that are simple to clean, and the speckled color effect created by the marble chips resting in their matrix offer a helpful optical illusion that can hide any unsightly marks until the next cleaning. Terrazzo walls can add a glossy luxury finish to commercial bathrooms without resorting to the industrial effect often created by metallics or ceramic, and the smaller relative surface area of a bathroom can also make for a more affordable way to experiment with terrazzo walls than other commercial spaces.

One unusual option for terrazzo in bathrooms that makes for an instant focal point is: the sink! These are typically specially designed and molded by artisans, and great care should be taken to ensure the right sealant is applied and to avoid water absorption. If you choose this option, make sure to check with the manufacturer to ensure the right water or solvent-based impregnator sealer is used to keep your sink looking flawless. 

Traditional poured terrazzo is still best used for flooring, but advances in precast terrazzo options which can be made-to-measure make accent possibilities for terrazzo as limitless as your imagination. Virtually any flat surface can be a showcase for custom terrazzo, whether it’s used to accent a table top, a reception desk, fixtures, staircases, or anything else you can dream up--a terrazzo artisan can make it a reality. 

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