Longevity Meets Beauty

Longevity Meets Beauty

Longevity Meets Beauty

If a project’s ideal floor is long-lasting and aesthetically pleasing, the traditional craftsmanship and artistry of the design offered by terrazzo fills the bill. Terrazzo can be used to render gorgeous designs that can outlast the buildings themselves.

The intricate and elegant construction in the convent of the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, for instance, shows how a beautiful floor can stand the test of time.

Longevity Meets Beauty

Six Decades Later, Terrazzo Still Inspires

The sisters of St. Francis Convent in Mishawaka, Indiana, have been singing, congregating, and praying on the same terrazzo floors since the convent’s construction in 1950. Even with minimal maintenance, the terrazzo floors in the lobby, corridors, convent chapel, and main chapel are as awe-inspiring today as they were more than 60 years ago when they were first installed.

Designed in the tradition of the old cathedrals found in Assisi, Italy, the architecture and terrazzo flooring of St. Francis unite in a harmony of strength and beauty. The installation was a cement matrix in lieu of epoxy, and the vibrant colors—not often achieved with cement—are a testament to the many possibilities terrazzo has to offer. Within the main chapel, terrazzo continues to lead sisters along the pews and to the altar over a soft color palette accentuated with precise right angles.

Longevity Meets Beauty

Defining Terrazzo: What makes terrazzo?

Defining Terrazzo: What makes terrazzo?

Defining Terrazzo:

What makes terrazzo?

Terrazzo flooring has a long and rich history that dates back over 1,500 years. The word terrazzo originated from the Italian word for “terrace,” and it was created by Venetian marble workers discovering new uses for discarded marble chips.

With today’s building technologies, terrazzo designs can now offer a nearly limitless array of colors, with enough flexibility to accommodate designs from very simple and classic to extremely intricate and complex. All while retaining terrazzo’s durability, sustainability, and low maintenance costs.

But what makes terrazzo?


The terrazzo matrix is the binding material, either epoxy resin or cement, that bonds to the underlying structure. The matrix contributes to the overall color.



Terrazzo can contain a large variety of chips or aggregates including marble, granite, and glass. It can also include decorative glass, shell, or metal items. The aggregate provides texture, color, and depth.


Divider Strips

Divider strips are made of various metals. They are used for both function and decoration.
Functional: Required spacers to keep terrazzo from cracking based on cement slab movement.
Decorative: Provide separation between terrazzo sections to create design.


Top Finish

The top finish is a sealer or method of finishing terrazzo that provides varying degrees of durability, shine, and color. Terrazzo can be finished with a variety of surface finishing systems that process the surface mechanically and/or chemically.


Contact the NCTA to schedule a Lunch & Learn for continued education credits.

Epoxy Terrazzo or Cement Terrazzo: What’s the difference?

Epoxy Terrazzo or Cement Terrazzo: What's the difference?

Epoxy Terrazzo or Cement Terrazzo:

What's the difference?

Recently, we’ve noticed one repeating question from designers: What’s the difference between Epoxy Terrazzo and Cement Terrazzo? Knowing that these are two great choices, we’re going to answer that burning question and provide reasons why you might choose one over the other.

Terrazzo is one of the oldest and most versatile sustainable flooring options. It is defined as a composite material poured in place or precast, consisting of marble chips and/or other aggregates combined within a binder material, which is ground and polished to a beautiful finish. Terrazzo today covers a limitless array of colors, and is known for being durable, sustainable, and flexible enough to accommodate designs from very simple and classic to extremely intricate and complex. From the royal palaces and serene bath houses of ancient times to today’s international airports, hospitals, and schools, terrazzo is a flooring canvas with infinite possibilities.

Epoxy Terrazzo Muny

Epoxy Terrazzo uses an epoxy matrix to bind the aggregates and is one of the best thin-set systems. Because this system uses a resin composite, it has a rise of only 3/8″ above the concrete slab, which means it’s also lighter than other terrazzo systems. Other great benefits include the vast array of color and pattern possibilities, durability, and chemical resistance.


Cement Terrazzo uses a cement matrix and describes multiple terrazzo systems including sand cushion, bonded, monolithic, polyacrylate, and rustic. These floors use a cement-based mix with the aggregate (chips) to form the terrazzo top. They are often thicker and heavier than an epoxy system. Also, although they offer a wide color palette, choices are slightly less than epoxy terrazzo, but create beautiful earthy tones and some can be used outdoors.

Why would I choose one over the other? If you…
– want bright, brilliant, limitless colors, use epoxy terrazzo
– want a thin-set floor, use epoxy terrazzo
– want a chemical-resistant floor, use epoxy terrazzo
– want to match or duplicate a classic space, use cement terrazzo
– are concerned with moisture vapor transmission, use cement terrazzo
– want terrazzo outdoors, use rustic terrazzo (cement)
– want a beautiful, resilient, easy-to-maintain floor, use terrazzo.

Contact the NCTA to schedule a Lunch & Learn for continued education credits.


Reflecting our DNA with Design

Reflecting our DNA with Design

Reflecting our DNA with Design

Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

There is no design more pure and beautiful than that of the human body. When Michigan State University looked to build their new bio-engineering facility terrazzo flooring was a natural choice – like the human body it provides perfect form and function. The project won a 2017 Honor Award from the National Terrazzo and Mosaic Association (NTMA), as well as a 2017 AIA Michigan Interiors Award.

The new 130,000-square-foot installation spans over four floors, including a stairwell that resembles an immense, colorful DNA strand. The floor design incorporates a total of 10,000 square feet of epoxy terrazzo with a starburst node pattern in five sizes scattered in a two-color pallet. The staircase, the focal point of the open atrium, consists of 168 sections of pre-cast terrazzo tread-and-riser combinations.

The artistic nature of the facility, particularly showcased in the DNA-like staircase, is designed to attract the next generation of biomedical scientists and help cultivate them into leading researchers. The building is purposefully open to inspire students to collaborate and conduct research that could change the world.

Reflecting our DNA with Design
Reflecting our DNA with Design

PROJECT NAME: Michigan State University Bio-Engineering Facility
OWNER/CLIENT: Michigan State University (Lansing, MI)
TERRAZZO CONTRACTOR: Michielutti Bros, Inc. (Eastpointe, MI)
ARCHITECT: Integrated Design Solutions (Troy, MI)
GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Clark Construction Company (Lansing, MI)
TERRAZZO MATERIAL SUPPLIER: Terrazzo & Marble Supply Co. (Wheeling, IL)
DIVIDER STRIP SUPPLIER: Manhattan American (Staley, NC)
PRECAST TREADS: Wausau Tile (Rothschild, WI)

Three Tips for Project Success: Terrazzo design and installation


Three Tips for Project Success

Terrazzo design and installation

Terrazzo flooring presents a unique blend of aesthetic choices, functional considerations, and practical applications. Designers and architects who find the near perfect blend in creating a beautiful and functional floor keep these three things in mind during a project.

Coordinate the concrete.
Pulling together a meeting between the general contractor and the terrazzo and concrete contractors will help avoid unpleasant surprises with the concrete substrate and the placement of strips in your design. To cut down on unnecessary disruption to the floor process, the design, engineering, and concrete teams need to work together to properly coordinate the pattern with substrate joints.

StVincent_terr pics0002

Understand floor sealers and finishes. Contractors often have a preferred sealer they use, and owners generally have a finish in mind. Learn how the contractor finishes a floor and get everyone on the same page.


Design for the timeless. Modern epoxy terrazzo presents limitless possibilities for color and aggregate choices, but remember it’s built to last. Classic, timeless, elegant designs work best for the long term and ensure a beautiful and easy-to-maintain result.


Terrazzo Tales: Floors that tell stories

Frazier Arms Museum 040_EDITED

Terrazzo Tales

Floors that tell stories

Terrazzo tells stories. With the rich color selection and freedom of design, terrazzo lets you create visual narratives that last through time.

This can be seen in the design for Frazier History Museum in Louisville, Kentucky. The museum, located in the city’s Museum Row, has a terrazzo flooring that features a map of the Midwest, weaving together the story of colonial America.

The design for the Richard and Barbara Silverman Hall for Molecular Therapeutics and Diagnostics takes the storytelling capabilities of terrazzo to new heights. The building was named after the legendary Northwestern University professor and developer of the Lyrica drug. To pay homage to Silverman’s creation, the terrazzo flooring features the periodic table, single-strand helices, and the molecular makeup of Lyrica.

Terrazzo can do more than simply make an eye-catching floor. It can enlighten visitors to the history of a building, honor a structure’s legacy, and carry its narrative long into the future.

Wayfinding: Designs that Guide

terrazzo flooring design adventist amita cancer institute


Designs that Guide

Wayfinding systems guide people—they provide a visual experience to make complex spaces easier to navigate.

Terrazzo is especially suited for helping patients orient to large healthcare facilities, students navigate from one classroom to another, and travelers find their way in airports.

Adventist Cancer Institute is a case in point. Its poured in place terrazzo floor features a “compass of meaning” and “ribbons of hope” mentioned in the Institute’s mission statement.

“The colors of the ribbons correspond with the colors of the points on the compass, which represent peace, hope, faith, and love,” said Abby Weilmuenster, senior interior designer at Earl Swensson Associates. “And while they’re decorative, they’re also wayfinding (guides) for visitors and patients.”

The design at the Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens drew inspiration from the winding Rock River. Designer and artist Linda Beaumont describes how the design brings each visitor on a journey. “The composition of the entire floor suggests water, with additional sinuous lines of river currents adding color and rhythm. The bits and pieces of glass bring a presence of the movement of the river, swirling and pulling all the different shapes through the Conservatory lobby, and into the magical world of exotic plants seen in the distance.”

Terrazzo “takes your design factor to another level,” says Kenny Stanfield, partner at Sherman Carter Barnhart, architects for Brooks Elementary. With the design freedom and vast color palette of terrazzo, designers and architects can create wayfinding to direct wherever they want visitors to go.

Winning Designs

terrazzo flooring design st. ignatius chicago

Winning Designs:

Highlights of beauty and quality

We proudly highlight some of the past National Terrazzo and Mosaic Association (NTMA) honor award winners within the North Central Terrazzo Association (NCTA), to show the breadth, beauty and versatility of terrazzo flooring. Award-winning designs and installations from NCTA contractors include hospitals, colleges, research centers, sports arenas, transportation hubs, and churches.

The NTMA judges submissions of terrazzo installations each year and awards only the top projects in craftsmanship, scope and design. Founded in 1923, the NTMA establishes national standards for terrazzo installation. All members meet rigid proficiency standards while participating in continuing educational seminars. The NTMA generously provides complete specifications, color palettes and general information to architects and designers at no cost.

Updating, while honoring the past

terrazzo flooring design joliet central high school

It’s the time of year when we reflect on the past and charge ahead into the future. With that in mind, we’ve chosen to feature the historic Joliet Central High School’s new student center. While the school’s central campus was added to the National Register of Historic places in August 1982, its student center features inspired terrazzo designs that pay homage to the original gothic architecture.

The student center is a 43,000-square-foot addition to the school’s main building and adds a new main entrance to the school. Given that marble and terrazzo were used in the original building and the later additions, using terrazzo in the student center not only offers durability and a wider color selection, it also fit in with the school’s overall design elements, said Justin Illg, the Wight & Co. architect who oversaw the project.

Notice the floor’s cross designs? They mirror columns stretching across the ceiling. The shades of gray are similar to those in the existing original building. The matrix also reflects the original building’s floors, offering a smooth transition between the old and new spaces.

“We thought carrying terrazzo into the new space would help with continuity,” Illg added. “We tried to stay true to the collegiate gothic architecture and in some ways modernize it. Terrazzo is one of the few materials where you can have the durability but also the freedom of expression.”

terrazzo flooring design joliet central high school
terrazzo flooring design joliet central high school

This project is a recipient of a 2017 NTMA Honor Award and has been recognized as Engineering News Record’s Best K-12 Education Project in the Midwest for 2016. Details of the project and the award were published in the November ENR Midwest edition.

PROJECT NAME: Joliet Central High School
OWNER/CLIENT: Joliet Township High School District 204 (Joliet, IL)
TERRAZZO CONTRACTOR: Menconi Terrazzo (Bensenville, IL)
ARCHITECT: Wight and Company (Chicago, IL)
TERRAZZO MATERIAL SUPPLIER: Terrazzo and Marble Supply Co (Wheeling, IL)
DIVIDER STRIP SUPPLIER: Manhattan American (Staley, NC)
PRECAST TREADS: Wausau Tile (Rothschild, WI)
PHOTOGRAPHY: Mike Fetro, Terrazzo and Marble supply

Planes, Trains, and Terrazzo

terrazzo floor

Planes, Trains, and Terrazzo


Where there’s travel, there’s great terrazzo!

With its easy clean up and time-tested durability, terrazzo is the perfect material for airports and train stations. The wide color selection and material flexibility of terrazzo give designers the freedom to craft the best designs to welcome passengers as they board and exit. Not to mention that the smoothness of gleaming, polished terrazzo floors makes pulling luggage a whole lot easier.

From the rich, multi-colored nature designs at the Cleveland airport to the iconic storytelling designs of the Uptown train station in Normal, Illinois, to the vibrant, colorful flooring at the Lambert-St. Louis international airport, we’ve rounded-up some of the most captivating terrazzo travel creations that the Midwest has to offer. We hope our video will spark ideas for your next airport or train station design. We wish you happy holiday season!