Terrazzo is a man-made stone, created using natural stone pieces. It is basically a floor surface made from stone chips which are set into a cement or epoxy medium.
Terrazzo comes from the Italian word ‘Terrazza’ meaning terrace and refers to the 15th century Venetian mosaic workers who used bits of left over marble chips to surface the terraces where they lived. Historical evidence suggests these surfaces were left rough until it was figured out that rubbing them with stones would create a more attractive and smooth floor.
Goat milk was used as an enhancing sealer in order to preserve the stone and give it a glossier appearance. The use of stone chips in flooring probably predates the 15th century by thousands of years and there is also evidence that it was used in Roman times.
In the early 1900’s Terrazzo floors were made in situ at a ratio of 70% stone chips to 30% cement. Borders and other sections were partitioned to create a contrasting finish with different colours. Finally the surface would be ground smooth and sealed with hot linseed oil or a wax, linseed oil and turpentine mix.
Today terrazzo is more commonly used in the form of prefabricated tiles making installation quicker and easier. Also, epoxy resin is favoured for the stone to be set in. This creates a more durable surface which is practically impermeable, allows for a more varied selection of colours to be used and reduces the risk of cracking or loose chipping.
Refinishing (polishing and honing)