Pros and Cons of Terrazzo Flooring

Terrazzo flooring is a fantastic choice for sprucing up both homes and businesses. It’s crafted by mixing marble or stone chips with concrete or epoxy, making it chic and durable. Depending on your needs, it can be used indoors or outdoors. Sometimes, it’s poured in place, like cement, or you can go for pre-made terrazzo tiles. You might also come across a similar style known as “Granito” among encaustic concrete tiles.

This material is enjoying a resurgence in popularity lately, but they’ve been around since ancient Egypt. While there are numerous advantages to terrazzo flooring, it’s also essential to be aware of any potential drawbacks when making your flooring decision.

Here, we’ll delve into the pros and cons of opting for terrazzo floors:

Advantages of Terrazzo Flooring 

an airport with terrazzo flooring

1. Adds Visual Appeal

Terrazzo flooring is an excellent alternative to plain concrete floors. It offers the same industrial-chic style but with an added layer of intrigue and texture. When it comes to achieving a high-end and opulent look for your flooring, nothing quite matches the elegance of terrazzo.

If you appreciate a minimalist or industrial look and want to soften it slightly, terrazzo is the ideal choice. But suppose you want a more noticeable design. In that case, thankfully, the tiny specks of recycled materials in our terrazzo tiles create a neutral backdrop that serves as the perfect canvas for innovative pattern designs.

Plus, remember that you can customize your terrazzo extensively. From the installation method and color to the aggregates and texture, you have a multitude of options to explore! It adds beauty and a touch of uniqueness to your space.

2. Offers Endless Design Possibilities

Terrazzo’s charm lies in its versatility since it’s created by blending different elements together. Terrazzo offers infinite design options, thanks to its limitless color palette and cutting-edge water jet cutting techniques. Because of this, you have the freedom to select nearly any design or flooring concept for your project. This means architects can incorporate abstract decorative patterns, seals, logos, and various designs when installing terrazzo.

Whether your style is modern and minimal or bohemian and maximalist, terrazzo can be paired with a wide range of designs and aesthetics. With terrazzo, you gain the added advantage of adaptability. Whether you’re aiming to reinforce specific themes or provide navigation hints throughout a building, color transitions, and design elements can make an immediate impact on guests.

3. Exceptionally Durable

Terrazzo goes beyond aesthetics; it has a reputation for durability – boasting an average lifespan of 75 years! With such an extended life expectancy, the demand for terrazzo diminishes, reducing the resources and energy needed for manufacturing, transportation, and installation.

Terrazzo is among the most resilient flooring options available. Once it’s properly sealed, it becomes impervious to water and stains. Even if it shows signs of wear and tear over time, terrazzo can be refinished and polished to look brand new again. Comparatively, terrazzo far outlasts carpet, wood, or even marble in terms of durability.

Because of its durability, terrazzo is an excellent flooring choice for high-traffic areas, whether it’s a residential or business establishment. This material is highly suitable and preferable in facilities where the smooth and quiet movement of rolling carts, wheelchairs, gurneys, and luggage is needed – all while maintaining a strong design impact and creative flair.

Whether your project calls for vibrant colors or the integration of logos directly into the flooring, terrazzo can bring your vision to life without the need for grout joints. It’s a flooring choice that stands the test of time, ensuring you get the most out of your investment.

4. Hygienic and Easy to Maintain

When terrazzo is correctly sealed, whether poured or tiled, it becomes a surface that’s resistant to microorganisms and mold. Terrazzo’s composition naturally prevents the buildup of moisture, making it inhospitable to microbial growth. This key feature helps maintain a mold-free environment and ensures good air quality. This means you’re getting a truly clean environment in your home, as it’s non-porous and ensures that dirt and germs have no place to hide when you clean it.

It also offers an added safety benefit—it contains absolutely no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are gases or vapors emitted by certain materials, like solvents or preservatives, which can deteriorate indoor air quality and pose health risks. Opting for a sustainable tile like terrazzo ensures you’re not putting your health or your home at risk.

Cleaning terrazzo is a breeze, requiring only an environmentally friendly, neutral pH cleanser that won’t irritate sensitive eyes, lungs, or noses. You’ll find yourself doing nothing more than sweeping and occasional mopping to keep it looking pristine.

5. Offers Value for Money

While the upfront cost of creating terrazzo floors may seem higher, it often results in cost savings in the long run. The initial expense of installing terrazzo can be higher when compared to some other flooring options because terrazzo combines two premium materials, such as marble or stone, and sets them in concrete or resin. Additionally, the professional installation process adds to the cost, distinguishing it from materials like marble, granite, or concrete, which may be more DIY-friendly.

However, it’s essential to view terrazzo as a valuable investment that pays off in the long run due to its longevity, durability, and minimal repair requirements. Unlike many other flooring materials, maintaining terrazzo tiles is a breeze. Regular sweeping and mopping are all it takes to keep your terrazzo floor looking its best. In the event of damage or wear, terrazzo can typically be repaired and refurbished at a fraction of the cost of complete flooring replacement.

6. Environmentally Responsible

As sustainability practices become more prevalent, terrazzo manufacturers are increasingly turning to post-consumer recycled materials like glass and plastic to craft their products.

Terrazzo production often incorporates recycled materials in its aggregates, including recycled porcelain, glass, and metals. This environmentally friendly material contributes to the creation of sustainable buildings. By using recycled materials, terrazzo helps conserve valuable resources and has a positive impact on both people and the environment.

Epoxy resins contain zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs), reducing the release of harmful gases into the air and enhancing overall air quality. Architects and designers are drawn to terrazzo not only for its durability and design versatility but also for its potential to earn LEED points. Thanks to its innovative nature, utilization of recycled materials, and availability from local sources, terrazzo plays a significant role in shaping the field of architecture in an eco-friendly way.

7. Versatile for Both Indoors and Outdoors

Terrazzo can be applied in various settings, whether indoors or outdoors. Note that epoxy terrazzo is best suited for indoor use, while cement terrazzo is the choice for outdoor applications.

Today, you’ll find this flooring material in high-traffic areas like lobbies, hallways, and stairways. Its ability to repel water and stains also makes terrazzo an excellent choice for countertops, showers, baths, and even swimming pools. Whether you opt for thin-set epoxy for indoor projects or robust terrazzo for

8. Has Multiple Installation Options

You have a variety of installation choices, each tailored to enhance specific qualities. Thinset, for instance, is lightweight and remarkably resistant to cracking. Sand cushions, on the other hand, are exceptionally durable and can be poured directly onto a concrete subfloor using a monolithic installation method. Alternatively, you can opt for terrazzo tiles, which precisely control the desired look and finish.

Drawbacks of Terrazzo Flooring

1. May Look Outdated

While terrazzo is gaining popularity today, it was once predominantly found in commercial spaces and institutions during the 1980s. If you’re not careful with your design choices, your space could end up looking like an 80s mall or high school. The good news is that the wide range of terrazzo tile designs available today provides ample opportunities to steer clear of this outdated appearance.

Also, if you’re renovating and seeing a resale in the future, remember that not everyone may appreciate this type of flooring. Since trends come and go, you might want to think twice about using terrazzo, as its popularity may wane.

2. High Upfront Cost

Terrazzo flooring can be expensive, especially when compared to other flooring options like vinyl or laminate. The labor costs also increase, as it can be tricky to install, and you will need the help of professional contractors.

While certain terrazzo designs are reasonably priced, the overall cost can gradually increase when covering larger areas. The final price depends on the specific materials used in the terrazzo, which can vary. For those working within a tight budget, this initial expense might make terrazzo seem less appealing for their projects.

3. Professional Installation Needed

Terrazzo floors are intricate to install, and even a minor mistake can lead to significant problems in the long run. This makes it an unsuitable project for DIY enthusiasts. For this reason, it is strongly advised to enlist the services of a professional terrazzo installation company to ensure the job is done correctly. You can find a list of certified terrazzo installers on NTMA.com, each of whom possesses the expertise to ensure a flawless installation.

4. Hard and Chilly

Being cold and hard is a distinctive trait of terrazzo floors, which can make it uncomfortable to stand or walk on for extended periods. It may not be the best choice for areas where comfort is a priority, such as bedrooms. Terrazzo does not provide much insulation in terms of heat or sound, so additional measures may be needed for temperature and noise control.

Its limited ability to retain warmth, especially during the winter months, can result in a somewhat cold sensation when walking on the floor. Unless there’s an insulating layer beneath the terrazzo, it might be uncomfortable for those who go barefoot.

5. Cracking Concerns

One primary structural concern is the potential for cracking or splitting if the installation isn’t done correctly. But remember – while terrazzo is durable, it is not entirely immune to cracking, especially if the subfloor experiences movement or settlement.

Cracks can be addressed, but it’s neither a quick nor a budget-friendly fix. To avoid such issues and lessen the risk of potential problems, make sure you select a qualified installer and the appropriate installation method for your specific project. Properly installed expansion joints can help mitigate this issue.

Terrazzo Flooring Expenses

The cost of your terrazzo floor hinges on several factors, primarily the type of aggregate you choose. Basic stone aggregates are relatively budget-friendly, but if you opt for larger marble or quartz chips, the price will rise significantly.

Beyond materials, you’ll need a professional contractor and possibly some subfloor preparation. For poured terrazzo flooring, expect to budget between $20 and $100 per square foot. Terrazzo tile installation typically falls in the range of $15 to $30 per square foot.

Conclusion

Terrazzo flooring offers a beautiful and durable option for a variety of settings, but it comes with a higher initial cost and some potential drawbacks, particularly its complex installation. Before choosing terrazzo, you must consider your specific needs and budget to determine if it’s the right flooring choice for your space.