Today, terrazzo chips are derived from mined marble, granite, quartzite, quartz or silica pebbles. These chips are added to a cementitious mixing compound that acts as a binder, holding the suspended chips in place.
As substitutes for the cement compound, newer mixing compounds have been developed such as latexes, vinyls, rubbers, epoxies and polyesters, which are all less sustainable than the cement.
When the mixture is hardened, the surface is ground, polished and sealed. Components of conventional sealers, primers and resins are generally derived from petrochemicals. More sustainable and most inert are sodium-silicate sealers, referred to as water glass. Water based acrylic sealers are also available.
Sustainability issues can include mining of the raw materials, which has generally moved underground, reducing most environmental issues of soil erosion, pollutant runoff and habitat loss. Terrazzo flooring products made from recycled glass stone and glass aggregate are the most sustainable options. Manufacturers of these more sustainable options are included here on GreenSage.com. You can access their information simply by clicking the Sources link above.
When curing is complete, most terrazzo is basically inert, does not offgas and contributes to a heathier Indoor Air Quality. The results are a very hard surface which performs well and requires only periodic maintenance.
Installation requires dividers which separate and accent the mixture. Traditionally these dividers have been metal. Today, vinyl (PVC) is often used. GreenSage does not recommend PVC. You can request that your installer use metal. Installation over some surfaces may require chemical bonding agents.