We have been getting queries about various types of flooring available and how to make the right choice. There was a time when there was no choice but to go in for terrazzo flooring, commonly known as chips floor. Today, however, different types of flooring options are available, and thus the question arises.
Umpteen options available
There are many options available in flooring today. These are marble, vitrified tiles, ceramic tiles, wooden, granite, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), terrazzo tile and terrazzo. Among these, marble and vitrified flooring are the most popular while wooden flooring and ceramic tiles come next. PVC flooring and PVC tiles are used selectively while terrazzo has nearly been wiped out of the scene.
Getting the basics right
When one goes for flooring, here’s a look at the basic requirements: The flooring should look trendy, aesthetic, have durability, should be maintenance free, cost-effective, non-slippery and dirt-resistant. Also it shouldn’t get dirty due to the accumulation of deposits of dust on it over time. Since all these qualities are not easily available in any single type of flooring, the choice becomes difficult. Here’s a look at these aspects for each type of flooring.
White marble: Its appeal endures
Despite many new alternatives coming in, the charm of marble flooring hasn’t faded and it continues to remain a favourite. The availability of good quality, white and flawless marble, however, is becoming difficult. A good quality lot, if available, is very costly. The cost of Italian marble has gone quite high. Since it a made of natural material, marble’s behaviour over the years of use can be unpredictable. Often there have been reports of the colour of marble changing to marble going yellow after some years or pitting in it.
Quality, finish & cost: Italian marble is considered the ultimate choice by the user though it is much porous, frail and costlier than other varieties of marble. White Makrana marble is no more available Dungri marble is either not available or very expensive. The user has to depend much on the word of the supplier about the quality and strength of marble lot chosen by him. The whitest possible marble, free of streaks in black, green or grey is preferred but its non-availability leads to looking out for other options.
Grinding & polishing: Marble has to undergo many operations of grinding and polishing before the mirror-like finish is achieved and the floors are ready to use. Grinding and polishing of marble flooring is a messy job. It often interferes with the activity of painting and finishing of walls. Diamond polishing is quite expensive and people don’t want to settle for less. Often, one has to tiptoe on it to avoid slipping.
Vitrified tiles: Lay, grout, ready
Tile production has undergone a massive change. Vitrified tiles, which are quite popular these days, are durable, impervious and available in marble look. Non-availability of good quality marble often forces users to switch over to marble-look vitrified tiles. No grinding or polishing is required in case of vitrified tiles. The floor gets ready for use as soon as the tiles are laid and grouted.
Quality & finish: There are varieties of vitrified tiles like soluble salt tiles, double-charged tiles and full body vitrified tiles. Full body tiles are preferred because of better durability. A mind-boggling range of finishes is available in tiles, printed with different methods like flat screen printing, roto colour printing and digital colour printing. Light colours are preferred by people to make the rooms look bigger and shining. The finishes available include marble and granite finishes and polished and unpolished surfaces. Their perfect finish makes it difficult to differentiate whether tiles or marble has been used in flooring. The uniformity in colour and finish make the floor look very attractive.
Pre-polishing: Vitrified tiles are pre-polished. Their non-grinding and polishing is a major factor behind choosing. Not only considerable time but good cost is saved in tiles as grinding and polishing of marble has become very expensive. Finishes like high gloss, semi-gloss and matt are available. While laying tiles, one has to take care that no voids or air cavities are left below. The mantra is to make some extra effort during the laying of tiles and lay them well by driving out all air and to have solid and durable flooring. Cost wise, bigger is the size of tiles you choose, more is the cost. So one can choose the tile size as per his budget for flooring work.
Take a break! In the next column, we will discuss qualities and suitability of wooden and terrazzo to zero in on the final choice of flooring.
— The writer is a former HoD and Engineer-in-Chief, Civil Engineering Department in a Punjab PSU
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