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2 Golden Rules for Specifying Terrazzo Table Tops

Omar's Place © Nicholas Worley

Terrazzo is becoming a popular material for hospitality design, mostly because the attractive range of colours it's available in allow for an impressive appearance at a lower cost than higher-end marbles.

Omar's Place, designed by Sella Concept & pictured above, is a great example of terrazzo in restaurant and bar design as it features both terrazzo table tops and a terrazzo bar. (View more images here. Photo by Nicholas Worley.)

What is terrazzo?

Terrazzo is made from around 70% marble chips, set in roughly 30% cement. Terrazzo is not a new material and can even be traced back to the mosaics of ancient Egypt, though it is most closely associated with Venetian pavements from the 18th Century. Its popularity as a flooring material increased in the 1920s when new techniques were developed to prevent cracking that allowed the material greater space to expand and shrink after installation. This allowed for larger scale installations; one of the most famous of which is is the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Terrazzo table tops however, are relatively new on the market and it remains to be seen exactly how suitable they are for contract use.

Terrazzo vs marble

Terrazzo table tops tend to be cheaper than more expensive marble tops like Arabescato but of a similar price to Carrara marble. As terrazzo is mostly composed of marble chippings it behaves in much the same way as a marble table top. However, if comparing the two in a testing environment, marble would fare better, and resist damage at greater weights because the concrete that the terrazzo is set in is softer and marble is a denser material overall.

Terrazzo, like marble, will etch, so the same guidance should be applied as in our marble and stone care guidelines.

However this is not to say that terrazzo is inappropriate for contract use. As long as you specify the right colour you will minimise the impact of the staining and maximise lifespan.

Watch our acid etching video for a quick demonstration of how vulnerable terrazzo is to acids like lemon.

The golden rule for specifying terrazzo and marble is choose a colour based on the daily use

Acid etching will occur from acids in foods such as tomato, mustard, fruit juices and wines. However, using a white shade of marble or terrazzo in these circumstances can form a not undesirable patina. Consider it in the same way as an aged leather or a patinated brass. However, acid etching on dark terrazzo or grigio carnico marble will be more obvious and should therefore be avoided.

Liquids spilled from ill pouring pots (ie teapots) will cause stains too, as the heat forces the liquid into the porous surface. On lighter shades of terrazzo and marble like calacatta, this will be extremely visible and will leave an unseemly brown stain.

So, a good rule of thumb is: whites & lights for acid based venues, wine bars and restaurants. While dark shades work better for coffee shops or fine dining venues that are going to be using metal tea pots. An alternative idea is to always use mats to prevent the vacuum occurring, but if you can't guarantee that the venue will follow this rule, play it safe and specify a suitable colour.

The second golden rule for specifying terrazzo

Another consideration when specifying terrazzo is that the sheets we source only come in 3m x 1.20m. So the maximum size for a table top will be 1.20 round. 70cmx60cm is a good size and price, and you can choose from 20 finishes.

Cleaning

On a daily basis use hot soapy water or Relay Spray to remove dried on foodstuffs etc.

Deep Cleaning

If there are stubborn marks then use something like white spirit which is a good release agent. While white spirit is not recommended for use on concrete only tops, using it on terrazzo will not make the cement go to soggy Weetabix!

For ingrained stains like tea or coffee that have been caused by a hot pot forcing the liquid into the terrazzo it's best to use a descalent . The terrazzo top will need resealing after this.
Applying a penetrating seal is the most effective way to protect a terrazzo or marble surface. We recommend using a product such as sealers by Premium Stone at least once a season, following product instructions.

Terrazzo colours

Below are just a sample of the 20+ colours that terrazzo table tops are available in. For rough guide prices view our terrazzo table tops here.

Whibla

Whibla

Selva Grey

Selva Grey

Breccia Aurora

Breccia Aurora

Giallo Oro

Giallo Oro

Rosso Rubino

Rosso Rubino

Rosso Corallo

Rosso Corallo

Topics: Tables, Specification tips

By Paula Stanbridge-Faircloth Paula Stanbridge-Faircloth on 14/05/18 12:13
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