March 10, 2007

Chip off the block

Love the look of marble but hate its porosity? Choose terrazzo - this lookalike is made from marble chips

By Sophie Kho, sophie's choice

GO TERRAZZO: It's easier to care for and even has that retro look.

I LOVE the look of marble floors, but I don't want wine or curry stains and dirt damaging its porous surface. How can I eliminate these problems?

Marble is naturally porous and there is no way you can seal its surface efficiently.

Some marble sealants end up masking the stone's texture, making it feel like plastic. They may yellow after some years and discolour the floor.

The other option is terrazzo. A close marble alternative, it is made from marble chips randomly mixed with an epoxy binder.

Once they harden, the surface is ground down to a smooth, durable finish that resembles natural marble but without its weaknesses.

Terrazzo comes in many patterns and colours, involving mono and mixed marble as well as random glass chips. The size of the marble chips used - from large marble chunks to tiny marble pebbles - also creates interesting patterns.

It used to be very popular here in the 1950s and 1960s, so speckled marble patterns in grey or rust can look very retro.

The trend now is to mix in glass or pearlescent chips to add a glamorous glitter underfoot that is ideal for halls and living rooms.