An entire generation of homeowners is “discovering” a versatile floor covering called terrazzo. A material recognized for both modern and traditional uses. It first went into Madison WI buildings in the 1970s and its many uses are gaining popularity again in 2020. It’s a unique material that works for kitchen and bathroom floors. Not limited to floors it has wide appeal. It is a viable choice for almost anything from floors to countertop and shower walls. Texture, color and character come inside this flecked material.
So what, exactly is this timeless material? A composite material poured in place or precast into tiles for floors, walls, stair treads, countertop and whatever your imagination can come up with. The composite contains chips of marble, granite, quartz, glass, shells or other materials of your choice. The elements hold firm with either a cement agent of epoxy. In most installations metal strips divide the sections to allow for color transitions, decorative patterns and even special logos – a perfect way to create a UW Motion W, right? The divider strips are usually aluminum (for epoxy only), zinc, brass or plastic.
Chips within the mix make up the aggregate. Different sized aggregate provides different looks for floors, walls and countertops.
Common Uses For Terrazzo
Often chosen for its stunning blend of colors, you can also create special textures and visual effects. In a kitchen or bathroom with flat-front cabinetry and painted walls add subtle textures on the floor or shower walls. You can go subtle or you can strive for the ultimate “wow” factor. Your mixes of aggregate and color are almost endless.
While standard tiles are not popular as countertops, this option adds another choice. The surface has a similar look and feel plus the strength and durability of quartz. It works in kitchens and bathrooms. Complement it with designer fixtures for a real winning combination.
The backsplash has become a major design element in modern kitchens and again, this creative material offers a new perspective. It’s versatile and a material readily shaped for custom shapes and spaces.
If you’re looking for examples of installations like this, you can see it in national landmarks like George Washinton’s Mt. Vernon home, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and New York’s Guggenheim Museum of art designed by Wisconsin’s Frank Lloyd Wright. Obviously a technique accepted for a long time and widely accepted.
Used as flooring, it makes a splash and showcases style in corporate offices. It can be both calming and inviting. Add in its durability and it’s a proven winner in a business setting.
It’s at home in your home, too. Homeowners look to it for customized solutions almost anywhere in the house. As a building material it outlasts most alternatives and requires very little maintenance. Investing in a unique style that’s rugged, long-lasting and needs little upkeep makes sense, right?
More Than One Flooring System
There are two basic configurations for installation: cementitious and thin-set epoxy resin.
Thin-set systems are the most common for commercial installations today. It includes:
- Epoxy resin or polyacrylate as the binding agent to provide high compression strength and impact resistance.
- Installation to a maximum of 3/8-inch thickness
- More color options than other systems
- Exotic aggregates including things like Mother of Pearl, mirrors and plastic chips
- Light weight
- Fast installation
- Resists cracking
Within the cementitious system are several variations, including:
- Monolithic – where a ½-inch composite topping bonds itself to a concrete slab. Final composite panels poured within a metal a framework.
- Sand Cushion – poured over wire-reinforced 2 ½-inch to 3-inch mixture of cement and sand forming a mud bed (called low slump). Creating detail with metal dividers imbeded in the mud wherever there’s a color change.
- Rustic – also called Washed, typically used outdoors for slip-resistant surfaces on porches, patios or around pools. The textured surface doesn’t require grinding or polishing. An impressive marble- granite- or quartz-look finish is possible.
As a man-made material, this multi-facet material ideally complements a variety of natural materials. Wooden cabinetry stands out among the multi-colored flooring or countertop finish for a warm appeal. Natural stone adds a rich and bold complement.
Terrazzo Installation Takes Skill
While some flooring and tiles are candidates for projects worth considering by a capable do-it-yourselfer, installing this unique material isn’t one of them. The blending of elements and preparation of the base beneath the application takes specialized training, tools and experience. When you’re investing in an installation as dramatic as this it doesn’t make sense to risk the outcome, does it?
If you’re convince you want to explore this unusual form, or just want to learn more consult the professionals at Molony Tile. Molony’s professionals provide materials, tools and expertise to contractors and do-it-yourselfers throughout Dane County. And have been the go-to resource for more than 70 years.
Explore our unmatched selection of natural stone and tiles. Take advantage of our sound advice based on years of hands-on experience. Call or email Molony Tile, 608-268-8453 and see how our expert installation pros can create a unique terrazzo experience in your Madison WI home.