How to Design Terrazzo Colors
Updated: Jan 19
In today's post, we're going to be discussing designing with terrazzo, specifically the sample creation process. You've determined you'd like to use terrazzo for your project. Now it's time to some to select colors. It's a pretty easy process that I'd like to walk you through.
When you look at terrazzo, there are basically two core components: The resin color and the aggregate color.
In the title picture, the resin color is changing from a light gray to a dark gray. However, the aggregates are actually staying the same. The aggregates featured in these samples are clear glass along with a touch of mother of pearl.
I always like to start by selecting a resin color which may also be referred to as the background, base or binder color. The beauty of epoxy terrazzo is we can match the resin color to any paint color or pantone color.
However, terrazzo suppliers typically prefer to work with paint colors over pantones as they tend to be more accurate. We work with all paint manufacturers so grab your preferred color fan deck and select some colors. As you’ll see below this will set the overall tone for whatever color we're working with.
The other nice thing is the resin color you select does not affect the price of the terrazzo.
Now that you’ve selected the resin colors we can build the aggregate mix to compliment. The aggregate may also be referred to as chips or flecks. There are numerous types of aggregates available to choose from. Most commonly we are working with crushed natural stone such as marble or sometimes granite. There is also a host of recycled aggregates (both pre and post- consumer), such as glass, porcelain, or metal.
Additionally you may opt to use crushed shells or even plastic aggregates. We have several aggregate boxes and a chip brochure that we offer for the A&D community. Please feel free to request these design tools by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Aggregates are offered in different size gradations. The terrazzo industry uses a screening system where aggregate is passed over a gauged screen, some will pass through and some is retained. The terrazzo industry uses a progressive scale of increasing numbers 0 - 8. With this scale the aggregate size increases ⅛” larger as it goes from one number to the next. For example if you refer to the sizing image below, you'll see a 100% number zeros. This is a fine aggregate approximately ⅛” in diameter. Next you’ll see 100% number 1s which is to be approximately a ¼” in diameter. To conclude the standard terrazzo aggregate range is number 2s, these are approximately ⅜”in diameter. As long as you select aggregate in the standard range of numbers 0,1,2 there will not be a premium associated with your terrazzo mix size.
However, remember the scale continues from numbers 3 - 8, which is referred to as Venetian terrazzo. When specifying these large aggregate terrazzo sizes the overall terrazzo thickness must also increase to accommodate the size of the larger aggregates, thus increasing the cost of the terrazzo.
You can also select the aggregate ratios and percentages to fully customize your terrazzo mix design. This works in a total of 100%. For example, starting with 10 percent of the white aggregate and the remaining balance is 90 percent of the grey aggregate. So it equals one hundred percent. The diagram below just shows 10 percent increments of the white chip increasing to give you an idea of different percentages.
As you can see the process is very customizable. Let's put the whole process together and show you here. Start out selecting the epoxy color simply by referencing the paint color. Then selecting the aggregate type and percentage. Remember it must total 100%. I’ve put two examples below.
You also notice a few other components such as the grit, filler and sealer that we can customize. The grit refers to the level of polish. Higher levels of polish will increase depth of color, floor reflectivity and ultimately the cost as it is more labor intensive. More on that in our polishing terrazzo blog post. The filler is a fine aggregate that is added to the mix to adjust the trowel-ability for the installing contractor by thickening the consistency of the mix. It also has aesthetic implications to the terrazzo mix. There are several fillers offered in the terrazzo industry. They will vary in coarseness and material type such as crushed marble, limestone or glass fines. If you like to have neat resin resin between aggregates we suggest using Marble 200 as its a fine powdery filler that is absorbed by the resin. Some designers prefer a sandy or grainy feel in the resin, in this case we recommend something such as microblend base. Lastly, if you are designing a black sample we recommend the use of a black marble filler so you are not introducing a white color to a dark mix. If you are still unsure of the filler don't worry we can help you select the correct filler for the look you'd like to achieve. Lastly, you can select the type of sealer to be applied. When selecting the sealer you should consider the working environment and the overall sheen you'd like. If you environment will have chemicals we recommend a urethane sealer or a hybrid urethane such as TRx as they are more chemically resistant. If you are only concerned about the overall floor finish just inform your terrazzo rep that you'd like a matte, satin, gloss or high gloss finish. Again we can help here if you have questions. Hopefully this helps you understand the terrazzo sample design process.
Sometimes this process is a bit overwhelming to designers so we have a few other options for you to consider. First, I'd recommend you exploring the bradhedgessamples.com site. We’ve built this site with you in mind, making it easy to browse samples in collections or by using filters. Furthermore, if the color has been used in a project that project will be featured along with the sample so you can see what the color looks like installed. We’ve also allowed you to filter by price using the group 1 - 5, group 1 being the most affordable and group 5 being the most expensive. Lastly you can simply add whatever samples you like to the cart and place your order.
Generally the samples are made to order and it takes about 2 weeks to produce and ship the samples. If you are in need of samples in the immediate time frame you can please visit us on Material Bank. These samples can be shipped overnight for next day delivery.
Another option to consider is the T&M Website. Here you will see some additional samples. You can actually search by resin color or chip color.
If you are looking for creative ideas or just want to browse terrazzo projects we recommend visiting our photo gallery. I've got this sorted out by a different market segment and also different lines we represent.
You can see different examples of the projects here. These feature high-quality photos and lots of different images of the same projects to get different design inspiration ideas or color ideas. Let me know if you see anything you like as we have the formulas for these on file and can remake.
Finally if you find any samples in your office or online that you like we can match or modify them to your preference.
I hope this helps you better understand the terrazzo design process. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. Thanks