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Property Plus — Chennai

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Stepping beyond form and function

R. Vivekanandan

Don't get floored by the barrage of variety available in flooring today... for, your choice should be based on specific needs that your interior demands.

FLOORING has evolved incredibly since those cement-finish days when form and function were nothing more than just basic. If you ever wondered why the cement flooring couldn't be left as it were or deliberated about the specific features of floor finish materials, here are some answers.

Be it a show room or a living room, each has a precise demand in terms of flooring. For instance, while designing a showroom, pedestrian traffic will play a vital part in defining the floor type. Similarly, for bathrooms that the elderly might frequent, it is advisable to go for anti-skid flooring. And for labs or processing plants, flooring that is acid/chemical resistant is the answer. Smooth surfaces could give walking comfort, especially in areas where you might have to walk barefoot.

The building materials market is today barrage d by choices, thanks to the rapidly changing tastes of the consumer. Now, it's not just the local manufacturers who offer exciting choices. There's plenty on offer through imports as well. With consumers approaching design with open minds and designers ready to experiment, can there be any leash on creativity? But wait... a lot of thought has to go into the selection of the right flooring material, given the wide assortment in terms of colour, finish, size, thickness etc. that's available in the market.

To understand the nuances of these, one has to have an idea of the range that's broadly classified as:

Polished surface: Marble, granite, mosaic, kotah, Shahabad, vitrified etc.

Natural surface: Granolithic, slates, terracotta, red oxide, stone, mud, brick etc.

Ceramic surface: Tile surface with smooth, textured or rugged finishes.

Special surface: Toughened glass, wood, laminated, vinyl, metal, chemical resistant, carpet, glass mosaic, flamed stone etc.

Before making your choice, it's important to consider some fundamental aspects - the purpose of the space, circulation pattern, type of users, size and shape of the room, furniture arrangement, wet and dry area, natural and artificial lighting conditions, scale and proportion, basic theme, style and concept of the interior.

The next step is to analyse the complete character of the materials available - porosity, thickness, scratch-resistance, sizes, colours and patters that create specific moods, fixing method, time and of course the cost. It doesn't stop here. One has to go beyond and look deeply at the strengths and weaknesses of the materials as well.

This sequence of logical reasoning will result in ideal flooring solutions for particular spaces. Mindset relating to sentiments, status symbol, personal taste or others' opinion might interfere with good design. Remember, fine flooring is not just about aesthetics; it's about function as well.

(The author is chief architect and interior designer, Vivek & Associates, Chennai.)

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