A Brief History of Terrazzo

We’ve written on numerous occasions about why people might choose to use terrazzo in their projects. Not once, however, have we spoken on the subject of its origin. Today we will focus on the history of terrazzo.

Who invented terrazzo?

And why?

It’s time to take a journey about 600 years into the past.

Origins of Terrazzo

As you can surely discover on the NTMA website, the history of terrazzo started with Venetian workers who began taking the marble pieces that remained after cutting custom marble slabs and using them to surface the terraces in their own homes.



Yes, there’s a reason they sound so similar.

Early Tools Used in Terrazzo Flooring

The workers set the marble pieces into a clay surface and rubbed the resulting material with hand-stones to smooth & flatten it. No one likes a rough, uneven terrace, after all.

Over time, this technique became more and more advanced, starting with the addition of a weighted handle they attached to the rubbing stones. This tool, known as the Galera, made the process more comfortable but also allowed the workers to take advantage of their own body weight to add pressure and finish the surface much more quickly.

They also introduced the very first terrazzo sealer: goat milk.  Goat milk? It may seem odd at first, but when goat milk was applied to the terrazzo surface and allowed to dry, this allowed the true, vibrant nature of the marble to shine through.

Advancements in Terrazzo Flooring Tools and Techniques

It wasn’t until the 1700s, nearly 300 years after its initial conception, that terrazzo made it to America and began the evolution into the versatile and unique product that it is today, and the methods for preparing, installing, and maintaining terrazzo are still being perfected to this day. For example, the 1920s saw the rise of electric grinders that led to faster installations. Another example is the introduction of epoxy resins in the 1970s. This gave way to bolder and brighter color selections and offering a more durable surface at a 3/8″ thickness.

Epoxy Terrazzo

The history of terrazzo is fascinating. We encourage you to learn more about terrazzo and how architects have used terrazzo into their architectural designs.

We have plenty of information to share.

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