For about as long as the human race has existed, people have had some kind of shelter above their head. However, it wasn’t until around 8000 BC that we started to create special surface areas to maximise convenience and comfort for people’s feet. Large pits were dug in the ground and then topped with smooth layers of mud. During the first half of the final BC millennium, Greece developed floors that began using something like stone or coal, which were layered with a mix of clay, sand and fibre.

Since then, flooring has moved leagues ahead: transcend-ing the merely utilitarian, it has stepped into the realm of functional beauty. Marble, tiles, wood and laminate flooring, it’s all out there for architects and clients to choose. Hardeep Singh, managing director, Forbo Flooring, states, “Flooring is an intrinsic aspect of any building space; hence the choice of floor coverings becomes more crucial – and this is gener-ally influenced by factors like durability, hygiene, aesthetics and functionality. While these factors are being considered, designers focus on overall look and finish of the place.”

”Flooring serves as the backdrop to an interior design scheme and, therefore, becomes integral to the ‘style’ of a space. While marble is an evergreen choice for the classic look it renders, tiles remain popular for the variety they offer in terms of material, colour, shape and size.

While talking about size, the large presence of oversized tiles in the market can be attributed to the desire for a smooth finish with minimum joints in most contemporary homes and offices. Firdaus Variava, vice chairman, Bharat Flooring, says, “Tiles as large as 36 inches x 36 inches are popular now. Another trending look for flooring tiles is shapes: octagonal tiles, free-form varieties (which may be custom-ordered), and mosaic-style detailing that adds visual appeal to a bathroom or entranceway.” For a unique floor, patterned tiles, too, are the preferred choice – as they inject personality into a room and can make ‘plain’ rooms (which are predominantly of one colour) look bright and bold instantly. Hard-wearing, modern and striking concrete flooring has been quite a rage, too, as also are wood floors for their sophisticated warmth. However, perfect laying (in the first case) and installation (in the second) is a must for a well-finished look.

While vitrified tiles and marble have been the obvious choices for the masses, wooden floors and laminate wooden flooring, which have been hitherto popular with a select group of users, are seeing increased popularity (especially the laminate segment) given the availability of affordable options in the category. Shankho Chowdhury, executive business head, Decoratives, Century Ply, believes, “When it comes to investing in a new wooden floor, many home owners or architects now have myriad choices. Patterns and shapes are catching the fancy of consumers – and squares, herringbone, chevron and rhombus are bringing a new level of freshness to the market in terms of plank design and size.”

The colours are also moving towards lighter pastels and greys, giving a fresh breath to interior design. But the all-time favourites are the plank designs, with oak stained in walnut tones being the most popular wood species and colour. Brushed (open grained) textures find the most acceptance from designers and consumers alike.

Satinder Chawla, managing director, Span Floors, observes, “The latest design trend in wood floors is new design patterns in shapes other than the conventional linear plank design. As regards the construction of planks, engineered plank construction in real wood floors is definitely gaining more acceptance due to its inherent stability (less expansion and contraction with respect to changes to atmospheric humidity). The matte oiled finish is also gaining traction, as it brings out the naturalness of wood in more detail. In laminate floor-ing, the trend is towards extremely realistic looks that make it difficult to distinguish between a real wood floor and the imitation laminate floors.”

People, today, are also considering engineered wood — the midground between hardwood and laminate flooring — as an attractive option for flooring, as there is a wide variety of choice. Naresh Maheshwari, CEO Pergo India, states, “It is not only a material that offers a wide variety of natural looks, but also different surface treatments as well as [different] finishes.”



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