In the last article, we had discussed different aspects of marble flooring and vitrified tile flooring. Let’s have a look at features and qualities of wooden flooring and terrazzo flooring before deciding our choice of flooring.
Basically, there are two types of wooden flooring. One is wooden laminate flooring, in which wooden laminates are laid over a perfectly level concrete floor by providing a foam underlay for the laminates. Second is engineering wood flooring, in which solid wooden veneers are used. Engineering wood flooring is quite sturdy, heavy and costly. In houses, only wooden laminate flooring is used. It can be chosen only for select area of the house and not for the whole flooring.
Grade, thickness and composition: There are three grades of wooden laminates — AC3, AC4 and AC5. AC5 grade laminates are the best, strongest but costlier and for commercial use. AC4 grade laminates are suitable for houses. Thickness of laminates varies from 8 mm to 12 mm. For residential use, 9 mm thick laminates are suitable. Structural composition wise, wooden laminates are three-layered structures, having a high density fibre (HDF) board as their core material. It should be checked that the core is in HDF and not in MDF.
Dimensions, shades and properties: Wooden laminates are commonly available in 1200 mm and 2050 mm lengths and 190 mm or 205 mm width. Shades available include teak, oak, oak white, tiger wood, walnut, beech, cherry, pine, maple, birch, mahogany look and so on. Dark shades look better and more graceful. Dirt doesn’t shine on them. If the room size is small, light shades give the room a bigger look. The choice can be for glossy, mat or textured finish.
Check IAQ and VOC emissions: Wooden floorings need to be IAQ friendly with their VOC emissions within permissible limits. VOCs cause liver and kidney disorders, irritation to eyes and skin rashes. Glues used in laminates shouldn’t be Formaldehyde or such resins that emit odours and fumes causing difficulty in breathing. Check Floorscore or Greenguard stamp or manufacturers’ catalogue showing emissions falling under E1 category.
Once popular choice for houses, terrazzo flooring has almost vanished now. In terrazzo flooring, a mix of cement and chips is laid over a concrete floor in a grid of glass, plastic or metal strips over it. Use of white cement is preferred. Colour pigment is added to the mix for flooring of desired colour. Ivory, light green and light blue colour is often preferred. The chips are of single or multiple colours. If marble powder is added, a mix of 3 parts cement, 1 part marble powder and 7 parts chips is used.
Size, colour, availability: Chips used in terrazzo has sizes varying from minus zero to 2B and above. Minus zero is the smallest with bigger sizes denoted as 0, 1, 2, 2A, 2B and above. Colours available are white, black, yellow, green and red. Black chips are from Chittor and blood red chips from Jodhpur. Good quality of chips can be available in Dehradun, Narnaul and Kishanganj in Rajasthan.
Grinding & polishing: Terrazzo flooring needs grinding and polishing. Carborundum stones are used for it. When the flooring hardens, first cutting is done with 60 No. Stone, followed by grinding cycles with 120 No. and 320 No. stones. Finally, oxalic acid polishing is done to achieve a mirror like finish.
Properties: Terrazzo flooring is strikingly uniform, perfectly level, non-porous and cheaper than marble and tile floorings. When laid in the right manner, results are excellent. It has now been written off due to the advent of new materials, not because of any technical or performance faults. Its shine can be restored through polishing after a few years. It offers anti-slipping floors even under wet and soapy conditions unless one is too careless.
Keeping in view the basic requirements that flooring must look beautiful, be durable, maintenance free, cost effective and non-slippery, terrazzo should be the choice. Terrazzo flooring with right combination of colour pigment, chips sizes and colours looks most pleasing to the eyes. White terrazzo laid in white chips can put any marble flooring to shade. However, one has to move as per the things in vogue. These days, house builders prefer multiple types of floorings for their house. Right combination will be to choose wooden laminate flooring for bedrooms and vitrified tiles flooring for other areas of the house and anti-skid tiles treated with anti-slip treatment for bathrooms. For those preferring marble flooring, better will be to choose marble-look vitrified tiles of large size. Top quality Italian marble slabs like bottochino are very costly, in range of Rs700 per square foot while exactly similar looking vitrified tiles cost much lesser.
— The writer is former HoD & Chief, Civil Engineering Department in a Punjab PSU
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