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Without a doubt one of the hottest materials in design at the moment is terrazzo.
We’re seeing terrazzo used everywhere from kitchen bench tops, to furniture, and of course tiles.
There are plenty of options when it comes to terrazzo tiles. Watch the short video below where we explain the main differences between real terrazzo vs terrazzo-look tiles and things you should know.
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Real vs faux terrazzo tiles
The key thing to be aware of when looking at using terrazzo tiles is deciding whether to go with real terrazzo or a terrazzo-look tile (aka ‘faux terrazzo’ that’s generally made of porcelain).
Real terrazzo is made from a mix of chips, such as marble and glass chips, that are held together with a composite. It’s generally much thicker, around 20mm, to prevent it from cracking.
A faux terrazzo is a terrazzo pattern that’s applied onto a porcelain tile (or we’ve also seen it applied onto cement encaustic tiles). Technology has come a long way and many faux tiles are incredibly realistic — but it’s hard to beat the natural beauty of real terrazzo.
Pros and cons of terrazzo
There are a few downsides to real terrazzo though. Price is a big one — it generally costs between $120m2 and $250m2, whereas terrazzo-look tiles can be found for around $35m2 to $85m2. You also need to consider the cost of installation as the cost of installing real terrazzo is likely to be more expensive than terrazzo-look porcelain tiles too.
The thickness can be another downside, as it needs to be planned and allowed for from the start of a project so floors can be level. In renovations, it may not be possible to use real terrazzo on the floor if it merges into another space, or otherwise an angle or other product may be needed to prevent a trip hazard.
Maintenance is probably the biggest factor to be aware of. Most real terrazzo tiles are porous, and even when sealed they can be unsuitable for areas like a shower.
When using real terrazzo, you should ideally seal it before being installed to protect the surface from grout staining and for ease of grout clean up. Once installed, after it has been grouted and cleaned, you should seal it with a high-quality terrazzo or penetrating sealer to protect the surface from staining and to make ongoing maintenance easier. It’s also important to note that when cleaning real terrazzo, you should use a quality PH neutral cleaner to preserve its beauty and integrity.
Due to the sensitive nature of terrazzo, many designers tend to steer away from it in bathrooms, or at least in showers, and choose a terrazzo-look tile instead. Alternatively, you could use real terrazzo in a different place in the bathroom such as as the vanity top.
Colour and pattern
Whether you opt for natural terrazzo or a lookalike tile, you’ll find there are plenty of colours and patterns to choose from.
In warm brown tones, cool and contemporary whites, or a few punches of colour.
You can also find terrazzo with oversized chips or smaller flecks, depending on how dramatic you want to go.
Traditionally, terrazzo has been manufactured in 400 x 400 x 16mm and 600 x 600 x 20mm formats. These days, with enough time, suppliers are able to manufacture in virtually any format and even in different shapes — such as chevron pattern.
Keep an eye out for plenty more terrazzo options on the market over the coming years.
Do you have any questions about real terrazzo vs terrazzo-look tiles we didn’t answer? Pop them in the comments below and we’ll get back to you asap!