A Brief and Rich History of Terrazzo Flooring
Terrazzo floors are created by smaller pieces of material like quartz, marble, glass, granite, or any other colorful, hard material. Though terrazzo is very commonly seen today, its existence dates back thousands of years.
Terrazzo floors date back more than 1,500 years ago, but became much more widely used in the 15th century, as Venetian marble workers began looking for alternative uses for irregular shaped marble pieces and chips.
They would take these irregular pieces, leftover from the custom marble works popular at the time, and use them to surface their terraces and living spaces. Terrazzo, in fact, is the Italian word for terrace. When set in clay, however, the surfaces were jagged – not exactly the most comfortable terrace to walk on. To fix the problem, the workers took hand stones to their marble floors and smoothed the surfaces until they were level.
Eventually, the workers developed a tool, known as a galera, so that they could smooth the marble surfaces while standing up. The galera helped the workers achieve a much smoother surface, but the process of terrazzo restoration and polishing was tedious. Not only that, but they still could not produce the color marble that they wanted.
After using a number of remedies, the workers found that the milk from their goats proved to be the best preserver of natural marble color. Even when dry, the color still remained.
In the late 1700s, skilled workers brought the terrazzo concept to the U.S., where it would be used in monuments as well as the floors of George Washington’s home in Mount Vernon.
In order to create more unique looks, workers laid wood panels between the terrazzo, waiting for the floors to dry. They would then lift the panels and fill the space with additional flooring material, sometimes a different color terrazzo filler, to create patterns along the floors.
In the 1920s, the electric grinder finally replaced the galera, allowing much smoother surfaces to be achieved in a fraction of the time.
Some of the terrazzo floors we see today date back to the early 20th century, when these methods of production were first developed. Terrazzo flooring has a rich history, and if you are so lucky as to have it in your home, you should always consider terrazzo floor restoration before replacing it with hardwood or carpeting.
After decades of wear and tear, your terrazzo floors may not shine quite like they used to, so you may not recognize their true beauty. Bay Shore Cleaning and Restoration specializes in tile cleaning and restoring in Tampa Bay, and we can aid in your terrazzo floor restoration process.
“It looks as if we have a brand new floor.” We had David level out the uneven edges on our Travertine tile floor and polish it. He was on time every day and very professional. Actually a delightful guy. We have been having many updates done on our home recently and he is the first one that we thoroughly enjoyed and that didn’t have to come back to complete the job to our specifications. The tile came out wonderfully and exactly like we wanted. I would highly recommend David. We plan on having him back every year for maintenance of the floor. It looks as if we have a brand new floor – BEAUTIFUL!!! Thank you SO MUCH David !! – Mary Anthony Tile & Grout.