Developed in the 15th Century, marble terrazzo made use of scraps of marble by traditionally bonding them with clay, and sealing them with goat's milk. The resulting flooring was then ground and polished smooth, then finished with wax, linseed oil, and turpentine. Terrazzo flooring was often used on outdoor terraces ( ‘terrassa’ in Italian), where this technique got its name.
A decorative technique was developed, where wooden strips were laid into the amalgam, and later removed, leaving channels for colorful marble dust, and later, 3/4 inch colorful marble cubes, known as Mosaic Tessarae.
Terrazzo glass tile – a new variant of an age-old technique.
In the modern era, clay has been replaced by Portland cement. Coupled with the development of industrial grinders, this flooring technique has become more cost effective and commonplace. More recently, there has been new interest in glass surfaces, and the development of modern epoxies, polyesters, latex and acrylics have made it possible for manufacturers to introduce glass into new surfaces. Now terrazzo is available using recycled glass, instead of marble. Glass terrazzo is now available for any number of institutional settings, and is also used as a residential floor surface.
Modern glass tile manufacturers have built on the traditional terrazzo techniques to develop looks that make full use of glass' unique ability to deepen color and reflect light.
These tiles are very durable, and are used in high traffic areas in both institutional and residential installations.
Cement can crack in freeze-thaw conditions. But terrazzo glass tiles, when bound and sealed using new methods, are outdoor rated tiles.