It's time to get floored

New trends

It's time to get floored

Flooring is an important design decision as it lends the home decor a touch of class. Bindu Gopal Rao gives us a low-down on the flooring market that’s abuzz with new products and innovations.

Arguably the most used part of your home is your floor. Well, it bears the weight of you and your furniture, so naturally, flooring must be strong, sturdy and practical. The flooring market is abuzz with new products and innovations that seek your attention.

Now trending

Flooring is a very important part of any space and perhaps the most intimate of all the surfaces. It is the first thing our feet step down on in the morning and the last thing we lift off before climbing into bed each night. “Thus, the tactile and aesthetic effect that the floor will have on the space can also extend to the subconscious psyche of the person inhabiting it, making this a particularly important design decision. Finding the best material requires one to evaluate the options based on a number of different criteria.

Some of these may be obvious, such as the feel of the floor, or how it looks. With the advent of green buildings and the importance of sustainable architecture, environmental concerns are also considered when choosing a product. The importance of these elements is based on the person who builds the area who will be using materials as per the requirements and taste of the people who will use the space,” opines Flooring Expert Harsh Bhutani. The new trend is the use of inlays in flooring. “The inlays can be the mother of pearl motifs, brass inlays and tiles. Poured cement floors or ‘Koba’, which was used in the olden days, is gaining popularity, especially in farmhouses. The use of Italian marble is always a universal and safe option, but natural stones like yellow Jaisalmer, silver slate, lime stone and flamed granites can be used in outdoor and semi-outdoor spaces to add informality to the interior. Sisal, made from the leaves of Agave plant, is versatile and eco-friendly and can vary in weave and colours. This can be used in most areas of the house, except in kitchens and bathrooms, as water causes the fibre to expand,” says interior designer and architect Alpana Kirloskar.

Material matters

Though wood and stone remain the most popular flooring options, restrictions in marble mining has caused a decline in its use and manufacturers are becoming more adept at reproducing the look of natural stone or wood in laminate and resilient flooring versions. We see a lot of new-age materials gaining prominence in the construction and interiors market as the whole concept of design and architecture is changing. “International exposure has made an Indian buyer a lot more conscious and demanding and they want to experiment with such materials for their homes and offices. Another change we see is in the kind of tiles used in flooring. Earlier, ceramic tiles were used which were clay tiles with a ceramic coating of about 80 microns thick.

This type of flooring is easy to maintain but the coating wears away over a period of time. The new-age version of such tiles is the man-made vitrified tiles which are just as easy to maintain and do not fade with time. These are the strongest among the manmade tiles and are scratch-resistant. They also have a glossy finish,” says Bhutani. With the rapid change in technology, we find new radical products emerging every day. One such innovation is the digital tiling in which High Definition printing on the tiles helps create any form of design the buyer wants. Though it is used more in adding effect to the walls, it is often used to create a feel of space and beauty to the floors as well. Another new, or rather, new-old materials is the cement encaustic tile. Once found in many old homes, the product faded into history when the modern industrial age approached. “The patterns on the tiles, however, lasted long enough to provoke a revival, and indeed, a revitalisation of this age-old product, into a new avatar. Cement encaustic tiles, far from being used in restoration projects, are nowadays finding use in the hippest restaurants and hotels.

Another product finding favour these days is the terrazzo tile, again in a new avatar, which is eco-friendly. Terrazzo tiles have always been around, but new designers are learning to mix recycled materials into the tiles so that they can be environmentally-friendly,” says Firadus Variava, another flooring expert. Terrazzo has the advantage that virtually any hard material can be crushed up and incorporated into the surface as chips, and then bound with cement.

Take care

Sanjay Bahadur, construction chemical expert, says, “The best way to maintain your floor tiles is to prevent them from fungus, ants and bacterial attack. Always use a grout for filling tile joints in kitchen and bathroom areas which is stain-resistant, antibacterial, non-cracking, and above all, should be CFTRI-approved for its food grade quality.” Tile joints should be installed with a gap of minimum 2mm. To prevent leakages in dry walls and to protect water splash areas, use waterproof adhesive beneath tiles and do not adhere it with cement. Cement tends to get settled and hence cause cracking of tiles, hollow sound and debonding. When moving heavy furniture, do not slide it on the flooring. It is best to pick up the furniture completely to prevent scratches. Avoid harsh chemicals on tiles to remove stains or dirt and to maintain the sheen.

Design expert Amrita Guha advices, “One must keep a proper budget for flooring and should not compromise by choosing low quality flooring. The right kind of flooring for the right room/place is important as every flooring option has its properties and is fit for a certain place only.”

Flooring is an important part of construction and the conventional way of flooring is the use of stone, marble and tiles, but the problem is that these floors tends to get cold in winters and hot in summers. “The new eco-friendly flooring solutions that have come up these days — synthetic flooring and laminated wooden flooring — are easier and faster to lay and also absorb heat and help maintain a moderate temperature in the homes,” says Manu Garg, realty expert.

Going green

Adds Parushni Aggarwal, interiors expert, “Wine and beer bottles that are shipped to the recycler are converted to beautiful glass tiles. This renewable source is fast becoming a wonderful option for floors as well as bathroom and kitchen walls. Glass is non-absorptive, easy to maintain, satin-proof and won’t mildew or mold in damp environment. Unused, waste tires usually found at the local gym or the neighbourhood playground are molded into beautiful rubber flooring.” Bamboo is amazingly durable and is much harder than traditional timber flooring. Another interesting and unusual material is cork, which is gaining popularity now. The cork itself is filled with millions of tiny air bubbles, which serve to insulate the bedroom against both heat and noise. It is also naturally anti-microbial and anti-static.

High quality natural rubber, which is made from the sap of a tropical rubber plant, and industrial rubber are also being used as eco-friendly options for flooring. Linoleum, which is extremely durable, water-resistant and easy to clean and durable is made from all renewable materials including linseed oil, pigments and pine flour with a natural jute backing. It sure is time to get floored!

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