I recently received a question from one of the readers of this blog on flooring options and recommendations and realised that this is a subject that I have not dwelled upon in my posts…so here goes

Flooring options literally can floor home makers (pun intended) with the breadth and depth of choices available, however if one looks closely, the different options can be classified under the following 4 categories

  1. Tiles – These can be Vitrified or Ceramic
  2. Stone – This can be Marble (Italian/ Indian or from anywhere else), Granite, Engineered or Artificial Stone
  3. Wooden: Laminate floors to engineered wood and pure hardwood will come under this head
  4. Other Exotic types: Mosaic, Red Oxide, Vinyl and specialty flooring (Safety Floors/ Sports Surfaces etc.)

Let’s now go through each in details and discuss the pros and cons

1. Vitrified Tiles: 

Nowadays this is really the big daddy when it comes to flooring. Vitrified keeps adding new finishes each season. Just to give you an idea, you get vitrified tiles in finishes such as Terracotta, Stone, Granite, Marble, Wood, Stacking Stone, Bamboo, Glass, 3D and more…and as I said this list grows every 3 months. In addition, tiles of size 8 by 4 feet have recently been introduced. With these there is little difference that an untrained eye can make between real stone/ marble & tile

The only thing where Vitrified tiles don’t score well is 1) Bragging Rights – what that means is that vitrified tiles are not cool. In a ‘mine is bigger than yours” debate vitrified will be outright defeated and downed by Natural Stone, Italian Marble and the likes. That’s why while you will find many builder advertisements emphasising that they have used Italian marble flooring, you will find no advertising going gaga over Vitrified Tiling. Secondly vitrified tiling by nature is HARD, hence if you are looking to do kids’/ toddler rooms or play areas then wooden or vinyl may be better options.

The use of Ceramic tiles has considerably reduced since the onslaught of Vitrified. One of the main reasons for it is the fact that they are difficult to maintain and gather dust and muck easily. While ceramic tiles are great for rustic and vintage type looks, you get better options for the same in vitrified tiles. Hand made and made to order designs in ceramic tiles however are in vogue in high end homes nowadays. While these are expensive, they help give your home have a one of a kind look.

2. Stone: 

As mentioned above, natural stone has the maximum bragging value. And the more the distance between the Indian border and the place where the stone has been imported from, the more the bragging value. Hence Italian Marble retain its title as the favourite. It may also be so because of the many shades and colours in which Italian marble is available. On the other hand, Granite, which is considered cool (and expensive) in the west is seen a notch below Italian Marble here in India. I’m sure it is my theory on the “the bragging value being directly proportional to the distance of import” at work here.

Whatever be the case, stone does give that solid “well made” feel to the home. Personally, I do think that this is not just due to how it looks but how stone “feels” under the bare foot – psychologically it’s like walking in a place of worship or somewhere pristine.

While Granite is a great choice, it comes in limited colours. There is imported granite being sold nowadays that adds to the colour choices but that too is fairly limited and definitely not as extensive as what you get in Italian marble. It is due to this colour limitation that Engineered or Artificial stone is starting to find favour with customers. Engineered stone is available from AGL, Kalinga, Johnson and some others here in Bangalore. Engineered stone offers higher colour choices and a price point that is lower than imported marble. In terms of durability, ease of laying and life it is similar to natural stone, however you cannot say that for its psychological effect and bragging value.

3. Wooden Flooring: 

This is one market that is booming today and nearly everyone wants to have some space in their home done with a wooden flooring. Wood by its nature brings a feeling of warmth and comfort to a space. However, it is important to merge wooden flooring with the theme of the particular room where wooden flooring is being used else the space may feel unbalanced. As an example, see the image below where we used rope partitions to create the theme (natural & woody) of the room along with the wooden flooring.

In wood, there is immense choice when it comes to finishes, colour and price. While pure wood flooring costs the highest, laminated MDF floors are the cheapest. The bragging value theorem again works here with wooden flooring imported from China considered cheaper than its counterpart from Europe. In real both are made in China J but are different in quality and sold at separate price points and to different audiences (Budget or Luxury).

I have found wooden flooring great to partition spaces. Using a patch of a wooden floor in a large room instead of vertical partition retains the “space-ness” of the room that otherwise would have looked cramped due to the vertical partition. An example of this would be having a small family area or a toddler crawling area done up with a wooden floor within a large living room that has a vitrified floor.

The other good thing about wooden floors is that they can be laid on top of the existing floor, something that is not possible in stone & vitrified tiles (though nowadays there are ways to stick tiles on top of tiles, there still are some limitations – but that is a separate topic of discussion)

4. Other Exotic Flooring: 

Had we been writing this article 30 years back no one would have imagined Red Oxide or Mosaic flooring mentioned under Exotic floors. Even floors in villages used to have red oxide floors those days & most city homes were done with mosaic flooring. I still vividly remember the effort it used to take to just get the undulations and the slope right in laying mosaic floors. Like all good things both Red Oxide and Mosaic have made a dramatic come-back in a much refined and exclusive avatar – reminds one of the wars between Dabur Lal Dant Manjan and Colgate tooth powder and how Colgate killed the Aurvedic tooth powder competitors with superior advertising. Fast forward to now & Colgate itself advertises the advantages of its Swarna Vedashakti toothpaste.

Coming back to the floor – both Mosaic and Red Oxide are heavyweights and NEED the theme of the home to be created in a way that it is in synergy and does not clash with the floor. Such floors go well in a villa or outhouse and are not recommended for apartments unless it is above 3000 square feet at a min.

In the “Other” category you also have vinyl floors which, while being popular in commercial spaces, find specialty applications in the residential segment. For example, if you are looking to make a bathroom safe for the elderly then vinyl can be a good option. Or, if you have a dedicated entertainment room, dance room or a media room then vinyl will be a good option as it is soft and provides good sound insulation.

Ok that does it for the floors. As always if you have a question then do feel free to write in. Also, if there is another topic that you feel I have missed on my blog then do let me know and I will make my best effort to pen something down to the best of my knowledge.

Signing off