Wednesday, September 26, 2007

More than just a polished stone...

Not just the variety in flooring material, it is the choice of finishes that can come in handy to suit your living space and decor.

Apart from marbles and granite, there are 20 types of stones available in India for flooring purposes.
THERE ARE some things like clothing that you expect will last for a year, and some things like your computers and electronics that is expected to last for 5 years, and your cars to last for 10 years, and... your house to last for a life time! The house obviously has to be planned for the future and built with materials that have a long life and durable finish.
The finishes are very important when it comes to living spaces from wall paints, floor tiles and wood finishes... all you need to have is a long life and a refreshing character to it.
When it comes to the choice of floor finish, many know only marbles and granites, but there are more than 20 types of stones available just from India. The choice of stones available is from a range of hand made natural tiles, synthetic tiles and natural stones which can be polished, to natural stones that are difficult to polish.
Hand made tiles

These tiles are made with crude mechanical devices, with clay or ceramic materials, like the terracotta tiles and the Gujarat glazed tiles. Tiles of this type usually have undulations (characteristic of handmade work) and are uneven. They are available in a range from Rs.20 to Rs.30 and can be used for kitchen walls, exterior landscaping and terracing. Hand made tiles cannot be polished.
Synthetic tiles

Can range from ordinary ceramic tiles to vitrified tiles (Rs.20 to Rs. 40 sq.ft), they are now available even in sizes like 3' x 3' (Rs. 60 to Rs.300 per sq.ft)
Stones that take polish
Stones like marble, kotah and cuddapah, which are soft and permeable, can be re-polished easily. Though these stones are prone to stains, they also are more affordable.

Hard stones

Granite is a natural stone that is hard and can be polished only at the cutting factory. They are costly and so is the process of re-polishing. Some shades of granites can cost as much as Rs. 550 per sq.ft
Exploring various options in the way the flooring slabs could be used itself can make a world of difference. A renowned art director's washroom has a glass flooring and golden fish pond! There are many finishes possible with the same stone material. For example, stones like kotah or pathancharla can be polished and placed or can be reversed and placed for a rough texture. The polished finish can be used to create a soft and more orderly space, like in living rooms and entrance. While the rough textured finishes can be employed for outdoor areas.
Known materials in unknown forms create novelty in architecture. Various styles such as the Japanese and Zen architecture have created architecture based on stones, and in the way they are used. Dry landscaped courts with white pebbles or granite can be tried following these styles. Rough textured, flame finished granite or mirror finished marble or granite are all the varieties which could be tried out.
Natural stone cuddapah, which was conventionally used only for the kitchen counter, has been used these days even for floor finishes, not to mention the exterior wall finishes.
Other ways of articulating the flooring is to have a different flooring material put together. Textured aluminium plates, wooden planks (can be sleeper wood too) glass, metal and carpets could be used in combination with conventional stone tiles.
Flooring inlays are an interesting way of creating interesting patterns. Fine geometric patterns can be formed even after laying the stones in place. To increase the life of the Italian marble, it can be protected with a clear polyurethane coating (Rs.100) which nearly doubles the life of the stone by keeping it scratch-proof. All these enhancements done for the flooring is not just to augment the look of the said space, but also to lend character by linking spaces.
(The author is the chief architect of Murali Architects, Chennai)

1 comment:

kalyani peddada said...

Hello Sir, Very informative article for fresh architects like me, who would like to know not only what kind of stones are available in the country, but also the cost of the same. thank u..