History of Terrazzo Stone

Terrazzo stone is one of the most sought-after materials for architecture. It adds flavor and art to buildings, homes and other establishments. This article we will be discussing the history of terrazzo stone and how it shaped modern architecture as we know it.

Where the Terrazzo Word Came from?
Archaeologists have adopted the term terrazzo to describe the floors of early neolitic buildings, 9,000–8,000 BC in Western Asia(Turkey). It was constructed of burnt lime and clay, colored red with ochreand polished. The embedded crushed limestone gives it a slightly mottled appearance.

The use of fire to produce burnt lime, which was also used for the hafting of implements. It predates production of fired pottery by almost a thousand years.

In the early Neolithic settlement of Cayönü in eastern Turkey. 90 m² of terrazzo floors have been unearthened. The floors of the settlement of Nevali Cori measure about 80 m². They are 15 cm thick and contain about 10–15% lime.

Founders of Terrazzo

Terrazzo found its roots from Venice around 1500-1600 AD. This was used by construction workers as a low-cost flooring material for patios of their dwellings. The original terrazzo consists of clay, marble chips and goat clay.

Modern Progress of Terrazzo

Terrazzo production flourished in the 1920s. The introduction of electric industrial grinders improved the material. More establishments have started embracing it.

Artisans create walls, patios and floors by exposing marble chips and other fine aggregates on the surface of concrete and epoxy resin. The process is very much similar to their stone mason counterparts.

In the 18th century, the United States has adopted terrazzo. It usage flourished since the US has alot of marbles. Alot of the monuments and historical sites used terrazzo flooring. This include the home of George Washington in Mt Vernon.

In the 1970s, the chemistry of terrazzo evolved. The polymer-based terrazzo was first introduced. This was referred to as thin-set terrazzo back then. Initially polyester and vinyl ester resins were used as binder resin.  Today, most of the terrazzo installed are epoxy terrazzo.

The advantages of this material over cement terrazzo are the following: a wider selection of colors,  14 inch to  38 inch installation thickness, lighter weight, faster installation, impermeable finish, higher strength, and less susceptibility to cracking. The disadvantage of epoxy resin–based terrazzo is that it can only be used for interior, not exterior, applications.

Epoxy-based terrazzo will lose its color and slightly peel when used outdoors, whereas cement-based terrazzo will not. In addition to marble aggregate blends, other aggregates have been used, such as mother of pearl and abalone shell. Recycled aggregates include: glass, porcelain, concrete, and metal. Shapes and medallions can be fabricated on site by bending divider strips, or off site by waterjet.

When the terrazzo is thoroughly cured, helpers grind it with a terrazzo grinder, which is somewhat like a floor polisher only much heavier. Slight depressions left by the grinding are filled with a matching grout material and hand-troweled for a smooth, uniform surface; it is then cleaned, polished, and sealed

Historical sites using Terrazzo

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