From types and styles to designs and patterns, we get down to the basics of flooring. Here’s the best from the market peppered with insight from industry experts.
Great flooring can visually impact the decor of any room. However, with a multitude of choices available today, one can get easily carried away and there are high chances of overlooking the practical aspects that need to be taken into consideration while selecting the right flooring. By default, floors are subject to incredible use and therefore need to be able to endure knocks, spills and furniture dents; basically, any kind of footfalls. “The right flooring will impact how one feels about it for years as Indians change decor of thier homes (read, interiors), but rarely the floors,” architect Ankkur Khosla points out. These surfaces are a versatile element defining spaces without additional architectural augmentation, help impact scale, and can be a fun element when various textures/colours/patterns are used.
But, of course, selection can be daunting. There are so many contributing factors affecting your decision such as a room’s function, traffic and location, as well as budgets. There’s a gamut of options available, from ceramic, hardwood, marble and mosaics. There are locally produced variants and also merchandise from the bigwigs across the globe. Each type has evolved over a period of time and manufacturers today come out with the most stylish, sturdy and discerning choices. Let us embark on this fascinating flooring journey…
Tile is manufactured from a variety of materials such as clay, stone, metal, terrazzo and quartz. Each has its own defining characteristics. Pocket-friendly, sturdy, easy to install and long lasting, tiles can magnificently change any part of your home. “In terms of designs, natural soothing colours and rustic textures that bring in a subtle touch of minimalistic style to interiors are in demand. Tiles that have wood, stone, slate and marble effects are preferred due to their resemblance to nature,” informs Ashok Goyal, CEO, Nitco. Therefore, the company’s Magnified, Trulife and Naturoc products are showing a great demand owing to their natural appeal.
“High definition digital printing technology is the latest breakthrough in the Indian tile market,” points out Sudhir Malesha, CEO, RAK India. “Digital printing ensures high-resolution, multilayer printing as fine as nanometer grade on flat as well as curved or textured surfaces. The technology also ensures uniform, edge-to-edge printing thus creating a seamless look. We use this technology for both vitrified-and ceramic-based tiles with our brands Nanopix and Venezia DG Pix, respectively,” he adds.
Generally speaking, ceramic, vitrified and handmade are the most commonly used types of tile flooring.
Most commonly used in homes today, the ceramic tile is created from clay materials that are quarried, prepared and then formed into a mould. Thanks to technological innovations, today ceramic tiles are available in various colours, textures and finishes. The range in the market goes from designer or artistic ones, to hand-painted varieties, ones that look like marble, granite and even leather. FCML India is a brand to reckon with as far as designer variants are concerned. Alabrasti, Horn and Matouche are some exquisite options on offer. “One can find an array of wall tiles, floor tiles, underwater tiles and textured ceramic tiles along with their eco-friendly, pure leather and decor versions,” says Abhinav Khandelwal, managing director, FCML India.
H&R Johnson’s innovative range called the SSR (Scratch and Stain-Resistant tiles) combine style and strength. This eco-friendly product line provides optimum grip even in wet conditions with a protective anti-skid shield, making it ideal for bathrooms or high-traffic areas in the house. Constantly endeavouring to give consumers the best, Somany Ceramics’ R&D department designs technologically impressive and aesthetically appealing products. “Our VeilCraft (VC) Shield technology, a high abrasion-resistant glaze composition not only gives the perfect aesthetics for one’s space but also lifelong protection to the floor,” says Abhishek Somany, joint managing director,
For the unruly, rustic and inconsistent look, handmade tiles are the best option. No tile will replicate another one. With blemishes and marks on their surface, they have differentiation either on the edge, shape or in colour, which when put together look stunning.
However, unlike the machine-made ones, handmade tiles are much more expensive (` 350 to ` 450 per sq ft against ` 30 per sq ft for ceramic or vitrified tiles). Global major Bisazza and Palladio manufacture delicate handmade tiles (ceramic, terracotta) as well as glamorous mosaic ones (crafted out of glass and ceramic). Brillante, Shining and Vitreo are some of the stunning mosaics launched by Palladio. Its Aureo range comprises handcrafted gold mosaics. The 2 cm x 2 cm tiles consist of a pure 24-karat gold leaf placed on a base plate of thick glass.
Unlike ceramic tiles that are only made of clay, vitrified one are composed of a mixture containing clay and other elements like silica, quartz and feldspar. Made using “vitrification” (the process of making glass and similar substances), these tiles are known for their capacity to absorb water and resistance to stains. Specially used for flooring, it is a popular choice with architects and designers due to its sparkling look.
The biggest players in this flooring segment are Hindware, Nitco and RAK India. Glazed Vitrified Tiles, Multi Charge Vitrified Tiles and Soluble Salt Vitrified Tiles are the latest entrants in Hindware’s portfolio. The glazed tiles uses high-definition digital printing and is available in metallic lapato, wooden, stone, matt, satin, polished finishes; while the multicharge tiles uses micronized granule technology. The advanced nano technology gives the surface a superior gloss, making tiles virtually maintenance-free. Available in elegant marble and granite patterns in varied colours, these stain-free products add natural glaze to your floor.
Nitco’s Magnified collection comprises large-format glazed vitrified tiles that create the illusion of space. It has been introduced in three different variants: Stellar Stone, Marble Mammoth and Wondrous Wood. A collection called Nanopix from RAK India are digitally-printed vitrified tiles and slabs that are lightweight, easy to handle and designed for fast and accurate installations. FCML India has recently introduced the Murano Glass range using the water jet cut out technique resulting in beautiful coloured options tiles.
These tiles are handmade, decorative, colourful and have been attracting the attention of architects and designers for large commercial projects. On the other hand, homebuilders and consumers have also contributed to the growing market of cement tiles in India. Reinstating this current trend and reason for popularity, Sonal says, “These tiles are appealing as they can be customized.” A leading player in this sector is Bharat Floorings’ Heritage tiles which are popularly used for high-traffic areas as they are unaffected by extreme climatic changes. Plus, they are thicker than ceramic tiles. Also, each piece is handmade, and therefore offers the possibility to custom design one’s floor based on the ideas and themes of the project. The Pescara cement terrazzo tiles launched by Keramos are one such product available. The tiles are precast with composite materials such as marble, quartz, granite, glass or other suitable chips and bound cement of any colour.
Providing a warm and natural look, wood flooring has always had great appeal. Abhinav believes that “Herringbone, chevron and patterned floors are timeless. New age shapes such as hexagonal pattern and leather (that can be clad on the walls too), adds a touch of edgy modernity while retaining an old-world charm.” Today, the varieties of wood flooring that have long been in use still enjoy popularity for residences and commercial spaces — traditional solid hardwood floors made from oak, cherry, maple, ash and walnut among other species. But technology, innovation and imagination have expanded the choices to a greater degree. Reclaimed pine floors and cork flooring, with their unique aesthetics and impressive durability have come forth as significantly attractive and environmental-friendly alternatives.
One of the most beautiful options available, hardwood, instantly makes a space charmingly bucolic. Renowned for its natural beauty and durability, its classic good looks harmonize with any design theme. But this flooring can also wear out in high-traffic areas like the living room, especially if you have pets. Therefore, sanding and refinishing it every few years is advised.
Notion has come out with engineered hardwood flooring, which is actually real hardwood — where the word engineered just refers to production process. Adding further about this type of wood Akash Saini, director at Notion says, “This offers several advantages over the classical floorings like tiles, marbles, etc. These floors are said to lend a sense of permanence to an interior and remain to be the most popular flooring choice for those who value tradition the most. Engineered wood flooring works well in kitchens, basements and bathrooms where light moisture might be present. Though, it is more expensive than laminate, it provides better value in the long run because it can be periodically sanded to revive the wood grain and erase scratches.”
Engineered wood typically features a top veneer of real wood backed by layers of cheaper plywood. This construction makes the flooring more stable and much less susceptible to changes in temperature and humidity than solid wood. The cost too is dramatically less compared to hardwood, as it requires only a thin slice of the desired natural material. Apart from that, the flooring can be stapled, glued or floated, depending on the product one chooses. Floating floors are the easiest to install and can go directly over an existing floor. It is a good choice for kitchens and basements, as well as for in-floor heating system installations.
Laminated wooden flooring has taken the world of surface coverings by storm. It is a compressed fibreboard plank covered by a photographic image of wood, stone or tile with a protective overlay. The photo-realism technology that’s used produces look-alike finishes indistinguishable from real wood and other materials such as stone, ceramic tile and even stained concrete.
Versatile, easy to maintain, and reasonably priced, it is considered a super material and is available in a variety of styles, colours and patterns. Luxus Laminated wood flooring is the latest range introduced by Squarefoot that is available in 244-millimetre wide planks with a surface texture and finish similar to its real counterparts. “So you have a product which is available for ` 155 per square foot, which visually and tactically looks and feels the same as a floor which is available for ` 800 per square foot. Now. if that’s not a deal, I don’t know what is,” exclaims Abhishek Saraf, joint managing director, Squarefoot.
World leader in laminated flooring Pergo has competitive variations and ranges in laminates with innumerable patents to their credit. “The TitanXTM advanced coating and innovative PerfectFold 3.0 click system are the latest,” informs Naresh Maheshwari, CEO, Pergo India. “The PerfectFold 3.0 click system makes installation easy with the help of a few clicks. One can also dismantle and reinstall the planks in a jiffy, if required. Exotic and Vintage are the ranges which are the latest trends in floorings as of now,” he adds further.
The Ortech laminate wooden flooring has an AC4 surface that is easy to clean and provides protection from stains, fading or wear and tear. Launched by Singapore Sourcing & Technology Pvt Ltd (SSTPL), its printing technology creates realistic, clear and vibrant floor designs. The print inks used in design layer contain UV inhibitors that provide sunlight protection as well.
Natural, beautiful, and always stylish, natural stone tile is produced from organic materials that are quarried, slabbed, finished, and cut to size. Common types used as flooring include granite, marble, limestone (including travertine) and slate. The appearance of stone varies from tile to tile due to veining, natural imperfections and even fossils. Colour palettes also vary by the type of stone and location of the quarry.
This naturally cool and hard surface is ideal for warm climates and does not harbour dust or allergens. The amount and size of pores in a stone, referred to as porosity, affects its strength and stain resistance. If you plan to install stone in a high-traffic area, such as a kitchen or powder room, you’ll want to choose a harder and denser variant that is nonporous, such as granite or slate. Softer, more porous stones, such as marble, limestone, and travertine, require regular applications of sealants and frequent cleaning to prevent staining and pitting.
If elegance and sophistication is what you’re aiming for then marble flooring is your best bet. With a rich history supporting it, this kind of flooring is quarried from mountain ranges in countries around the world. It’s also available in a number of different finishes, sizes, and colours. When asked about marble as a flooring option, Ashok said “One of Mother Nature’s beautiful creations it has charmed human beings, generation after generation with its stunning beauty. Nitco knows this perfectly and offers exclusive variety of imported marble, which is processed at its state-of-the-art processing plant at Silvassa using the Breton technology (Italy).”
A type of igneous rock that is very dense and hard, granite has a distinctive appearance due to speckled minerals found within, its unique veining and the thousands of available colours. Granite is nearly impervious and once it is polished, resists scratching. An excellent choice for flooring in kitchens and high-traffic areas, but it is also expensive than other flooring.
Limestone tiles make a unique decorative statement in a variety of settings, and for different purposes too. Popular in the medieval period for the construction of castles, forts, and cathedrals (many of which stand today); limestone has been a workhorse in a reliable building material for thousands of years. Rugged, durable, with a refined beauty, limestone tile is gaining popularity as a flooring option and for use in exterior facades. It lends an old-world appeal to residences and commercial property much in the same way as its close cousin travertine does. Less dense than granite and marble, it can be easily stained and is also prone to scratching. It is not recommended for high-traffic areas.
Apart for the ones mentioned above, the market offers other types of floorings as well. Rubber, vinyl, cork, tile carpets are some interesting and unique options that are becoming popular.
Pergo’s vinyl flooring has 14 different designs in two quality levels ie Optimum & Premium. The products in the former range belong to Class-33 with glue down laying system which is preferred for commercial areas. Class-32 Premium range products have PerfectFold 3.0 installation system, made for residential use. The PUR (Polyurethane) coating over the top surface makes Pergo Vinyl flooring so tough that it can withstand years of use and still look beautiful.
Generally used in gyms or hospitals due to its resilience and slip resistant properties, rubber flooring is becoming common in residences. Interface’s tile carpets are innovative, eco-friendly and inspiring. Human Nature, Interlay and Net Effect are some of its product ranges.
With a plethora of options available, choosing the right flooring for the home (as well as each room) can be a bit overwhelming. However, if you have your priorities, budget and taste in place, taking a decision gets easier. Now all you got to do is narrow down your selection and find the flooring that’s just right for you!
Flooring Tips and Tricks
Aesthetics: Before laying the floor, both short-term and long-term looks of the end product should be considered.
Budget: One should keep in mind both final finished cost as well as life cycle cost of the flooring.
Maintenance: The type of flooring one selects will determine the frequency of cycle [cleaning, buffing, polish] as well perennial problems [i.e. scratches, chipping, pitting, cracks, discoloration, oil or food stains, termites, fire or water retardant, etc].
Comfort and safety: While laying the floor, one should consider the climatic conditions, whether the flooring causes slipperiness, how rough it is, if it causes strong reflections and are there any accident prone incorrect slopes or levels.
Hygiene: Joints, groves, edges in laying ceramic or natural stone tiles should be decided smartly as they may lead to collection of dirt, algae, bacteria etc.
Architect Navneet Malhotra
Advantages of wooden flooring
1. Good quality hardwood floors that are kiln-dried, manufactured, installed and finished to certain standards can last for generations.
2. Wood floors are easier to clean as a simple brush or light vacuum keeps them looking great.
3. Deemed a costly option, modern production methods have resulted in some types that are easier on the pocket and also beautiful.
4. They give an elegant aesthetic and high-end look, and never goes out of style. Also, they create the illusion of space.
5. These floors are a healthy choice for interior environments without fibres, grout lines or embossing that can trap dust, pollen, particles, animal dander and allergens.
Some more images…