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Terrazzo: Resin Vs. Cement

The origins of terrazzo are attributed to the 15th century where Italians used scrub marble fragments from the palaces in Venice and from the quarries in the area and placed them in clay mortar based for the flooring of their terraces (“terrazzo”). Ever since it has become a highly sought after finish for both commercial and residential floorings, large or small. 

Today terrazzo is used for a wider range of applications: from flooring to wall cladding, from countertops to furniture. Regardless the application, there are 2 types of terrazzo, depending on the bonding agent: resin and cement. With these two options to consider when selecting your terrazzo finish, what is the difference?

A cement-based binder is traditionally white or grey, with colour built up through the addition of its stone aggregates, often resulting in an earthy aesthetics in the background. Today, pigments can be added to the mix to achieve a wider variety of colours, although the selection is quite limited and usually within the light and pastel tones.

Cement terrazzo is extremely durable: one example for all, the terrazzo tiles at George Washington’s house in the USA are still intact after 280 years. With that said, regular sealing is required to guard it against staining. Because of its durability and composition, cement can be used for both indoor and outdoor applications – whilst resin is prone to UV damage.

Cement terrazzo contains low volatile organic compounds (VOCs), promoting healthier indoor air quality, and is filled with recycled aggregates, making it one of the most eco-sustainable materials.

Resin  binders are available in a wider and brighter range of shades, allowing for more flexibility when it comes to design and colour choices.

Resin terrazzo has a great resistance to heavy footfall as well as its ability to withstand stains. The resin binder and sealer create a less porous finish than its cementitious alternative, making it easier to clean and maintain.

The lighter weight of resin makes it compelling choice for a wide range of applications that need to factor in weight limits. Because of its lightness, it would also produce less carbon footprint in transportation. 

Both cementitious and resin terrazzo are durable and will offer upwards of 25 years’ service with appropriate maintenance, minimising the need for frequent significant repairs – or even rip-out and replacement – and reducing the volume of materials sent to landfill. 

So whether your project is big or small, commercial or residential, traditional or contemporary, we hope this guide will steer you in the direction to make informed decisions. If you require further information, please do reach out to us.

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With over 15 years of experience within the industry, Paolo is an expert consultant of stone, tiles and wood flooring. Driven by the passion of what is aesthetically pleasant and practical at the same time, Paolo has a strong voice within the marketplace and he is not afraid to use it.