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Give it the right mix of tones

M.U.Aswath
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There are many options for flooring but picking the right one depends on factors like smoothness and fire resistance

ON THE FLOOR:Red Oxide finish gives the home an elegant look
ON THE FLOOR:Red Oxide finish gives the home an elegant look

If the building has to have the right look and finish then floors matter a lot. And selection of flooring must have a touch of imagination.

Floors add a unique character to spaces. Selecting the right flooring is therefore important for giving a building the look and feel we desire. The choices are many: mud, muram, brick, flag stone, tiled, cement concrete, red oxide, granolithic, terrazzo, mosaic, marble, granite, timber, asphalt, rubber, linoleum, acid-proof, glass, plastic or PVC Flooring…

The following points could be carefully consideredbefore making the final selection of the floor and floor covering: initial cost, appearance, cleanliness, durability, damp resistance, sound insulationor noiselessness, thermal insulation, smoothness, hardness, comfort criteria, fire resistance and maintenance.

Each type of floor has its own merits and serves different purposes in different types of buildings. It is a well known fact that red oxide flooring is not easy to create. I think we are in a transition period and adopting the same old flooring concept in its true form may be difficult. For example, to use the traditional cane and wooden furniture we need people who make the furniture in that style and it is difficult to get them and many have discontinued the trade because of economic unviability.

If red oxide flooring is to be done in the traditional method, it has to be polished with husk and egg shells. Some people say jaggery was also used in some form. Because of the scarcity of traditionally trained masons we need to adopt new technologies to create such floorings. A concerted effort is needed to preserve the traditional skills and crafts. However, red oxide flooring can be done with standard methods with effective supervision.

New ways

Cement concrete floors with colouring and pattern techniques are becoming more popular these days. The most widely used techniques are staining, painting, stamping, stenciling and creating graphics on concrete floors.

Stained concrete combines the best of both beauty and functionality. Concrete staining imparts a luxurious richness. Stains can be applied to most existing concrete, making it an ideal solution for revitalising the surfaces. The combination of chemical stains and concrete dyes is a perfect solution. Using stains and dyes we can achieve vibrant tones which are not possible with stains alone. Stamped concrete, commonly referred to as patterned concrete or imprinted concrete, is designed to resemble brick, slate, flagstone, stone, tile and even wood.

Stamped concrete can be used to beautify pool decks, driveways, entries, courtyards, patios and even interiors.

Construction

A floor consists of subfloor /base course/sub-base which imparts strength and stability to support floor covering and all other superimposed loads, and floor covering or flooring, which provides a clean, smooth, impervious, durable and wear-resisting surface. Proper treatment should be given to take care of different soil types and soil water table.

In places where the water table is low, a 40 to 100 mm thick layer of coarse sand is spread over the entire area of flooring on the prepared bed of rammed earth. Alternatively this layer can comprise stone soling with voids filled with smaller stone chips or crushed stone powder.

A 40 to 100 mm thick layer of concrete 1:3:6 or 1:4:8 mix is laid over the base course. This forms the base for the floor topping which may comprise tiles, stone or cement concrete.

In places where the sub-soil water table is high or in damp or humid areas, where there is possibility of moisture rising up in the floors, it is necessary to provide a membrane damp proof course of flexible material like bitumen felt over the entire area of flooring. After properly compacting and preparing the base course, cement slurry is prepared and applied over the base floor and properly plastered. Lines are marked for the required designs of red oxide floor. Red oxide and white cement should be mixed for the required colour using water and the pigment paste is applied using brush. The colour oxide/red oxide and cement (grey or white) are mixed in the ratio 1:3 to 1:5 by weight/volume. The floor is finished with trowel by an expert mason and the floor is allowed to dry for one day. It is then cured for a minimum of seven days. Alternatively use coloured/decorative concrete over the sub-base and finish as per the required shade and graphic design.

M.U.Aswath

[The author is Professor at Bangalore Institute of Technology and Secretary General, Association of Consulting Civil Engineers (I)]


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