With the preponderance of mid-century modern furniture and furnishings dominating the design scene over the past few years, it would make sense that other trends from that era would also come back around. And while everyone was falling in love quartz countertops and subway tile backsplashes, terrazzo has been rising from underfoot, today dressing some of the chicest countertops around.
"Terrazzo is made from a concrete base with decorative aggregates added to the mix," said Houzz. "After the mix cures, it's polished to a high sheen with a grinding wheel. The polishing is what makes terrazzo. Terrazzo's been used as a flooring material for the last 100 or so years; its leap up onto the counters is still relatively new."
According to Improvenet, terrazzo countertops will cost you between $47-98 per square foot. "Although terrazzo looks fantastic, it can sometimes cost more than entire marble slabs," they said. "Plus, buying an entire slab or half-slab of terrazzo for countertops is exceptionally heavy, which can increase shipping costs in certain areas."
Terrazzo typically uses recycled materials mixed into the concrete, so it's potentially a greener product than many other countertop materials. Companies like The Venice Art Terrazzo Company make terrazzo flooring and countertops, creating custom options with a "variety of colored resin marble aggregate blends" and allowing customers "to incorporate glass, mirror, or mother of pearl in your selected mix. Many of these glass products are sourced from either post-industrial or post-consumer recycled materials."
There are more color choices than ever for terrazzo countertops, which means you can go as subtle or bold as you want. You can also choose to go more traditional with small pieces or chunkier, which is the current trend. "Terrazzo countertops are not much different than terrazzo floors in how they are made," said Terrazco. "Designers and owners have the option of choosing any terrazzo mix design by selecting any matrix color and picking a chip formula from our wide array of terrazzo aggregates. Terrazzo is the only material that allows for this level of design flexibility when choosing a counter or bar top."
Another way terrazzo can look different is by trading out the cement that typically houses the chunks for resin. An advantage to using resin is that it's not porous like cememt, so it doesn't need to be sealed, but it may end up being a more expensive process.
You can't go to the Home Depot and order terrazzo the way you can quartz or granite. They may be more widely available someday, but, for now, you'll have to visit a company who offers the product and works with qualified artisans - and the more experience they have, the better. You want to make sure the person creating your terrazzo is familiar with the product for the best results. The last thing you want is cracking or aggregate that doesn't meet your expectations.
"The biggest advantage of installing terrazzo countertops in the home is their beauty and unique appearance," said Improvenet. "Because there is not one solid color throughout the material, it can look beautiful in a variety of different settings. While terrazzo has historic roots and has been used as far back as neolithic times in Asia, it is associated both with mid-century modern design and contemporary styles."
If you're turned off by the maintenance involved in caring for marble, you probably won't be keen on taking care of terrazzo. While it's extremely durable, terrazzo requires regular maintenance. Without proper cleaning and sealing, they can become damaged, get scratched or have their color fade in certain spots.