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The Indian flooring market – worth Rs 300 million – is seeing rapid changes in terms of new designs, materials, innovations and technologies. Laminate flooring is still one of the most sought-after floor coverings today and will remain so in the coming time, believes Naresh Mahe...

The Indian flooring market – worth Rs 300 million – is seeing rapid changes in terms of new designs, materials, innovations and technologies. Laminate flooring is still one of the most sought-after floor coverings today and will remain so in the coming time, believes Naresh Maheshwari, CEO, Pergo India. “Its realistic visuals mimicking traditional, exotic, reclaimed and vintage woods, as well as natural tone, keep consumers coming back for more. Now, the latest technologies, such as AquaSafe, deeper embossing and pressed bevels, enhance the productivity and characteristics of laminate flooring.” Engineered wood flooring is increasingly used in residential and commercial structures to enhance aesthetics but since laminate flooring continues to improve in both performance and appearance, more people are choosing laminate over other flooring options. All for development Pergo achieved name and fame by inventing a brand new flooring category, the laminate floor. “And we never left the drawing board,” says Maheshwari with pride. “Whether it is a new click system to speed up installation (PerfectFold™), an all-in-one multipurpose profile (Incizo®) or a protective surface layer (TitanX™ and TitanV™), we are always on the lookout for the next development.” The firm keeps upscaling performances by adding unique techniques. For example, the ‘Embossed in Register’ technique is bringing design to a realistic look and feel, very close to original wood. If we talk about wood floors, the challenges faced are varying levels of atmospheric humidity, also called relative humidity or RH; dust; and lifestyle and food habits. “Our R&D is focussed on solutions that handle such real-life situations and offer suitable products to the Indian market,” says Satinder Chawla, Managing Director, Span Floors. Meanwhile, Shaw Contract’s products undergo rigorous third-party testing for human and environmental sustainability through the Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Products Program, which it has participated in for over 20 years. New launches With aesthetics being extremely important for the luxury residential segment Span Floors caters to, its new launches focus on either improving the aesthetic or technical aspects. For instance, says Chawla, “We have recently introduced an engineered wood floor that is 17 per cent more stable than our previous best. Similarly, we have launched our latest line of laminate floors that are much more water-resistant.” The AquaSafe technology in Pergo’s Sensation range laminate flooring can resist water like never before. The firm is also introducing some new colours and design in its other ranges of laminate flooring. “We are also introducing Saltholm, a new herringbone pattern range, in the engineered wood flooring category,” shares Maheshwari. Shaw Contract continues to introduce exciting new collections to the Indian market including Canopy, a carpet tile inspired by the vibrant balconies of the forest that helps designers create comforting sanctuaries, says Todd Jarvis, Global Marketing Direct, Shaw Contract. “Pathway+Promenade, our latest LVT [luxury vinyl tile’ collection, conjures images of the world’s great boulevards and walkways such as the MG Roads in every Indian city.” Insigne Carpets has introduced a range of organic rugs with the aim to introduce beauty within the realm of sustainability. Explaining the creative process, Asif Rahman, Managing Director, says, “We wanted to bring back the versatile possibilities of natural fibre, easily available in India. The rugs are woven on a pit loom—an ancient loom following an ancient weaving technique. The result: a 100 per cent biodegradable carpet, naturally resourced raw material, production without usage of electricity, avoiding the dyeing process, simply to encourage our ancient weaving skills and promote our rich heritage.” Sustainable solutions Modern interior concepts now espouse sustainability and an eco-friendly approach; therefore, one can anticipate an increase in demand for affordable, sustainable flooring products. The majority of end-user brands and A+D firms are focusing on the WELL Building Standard and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). “As a genuine sustainable and human-centric brand, we will continue to manufacture and advocate the use of safe and sustainable flooring products and designs,” avers Jarvis. The most interesting trend being noticed in 2021 is the impact of floor design on health. “Shaw Contract desires to share knowledge in this area with our Indian customers through our sponsorship of the World Green Building Council’s new ‘Health and Wellbeing Framework’,” he adds. “The framework presents the latest global thinking on six principles for a healthy, sustainable built environment.” Insigne Carpets’ primary goal is to avoid VOC emissions and supply GLP (Green Level Plus) certified products across the globe,” says Rahman. “Our carpets reduce environmental impact, liability and carbon footprint; contribute to LEED points; demonstrate social responsibility; and position us as a responsible industry leader.” Indeed, sustainable flooring is catching all eyes! RESIDENTIAL Project: Sky Belvedere Size: 4,000 sq ft Type of flooring: Wooden with brass inserts Flooring cost (per sq ft): Rs 1,200 Innovations applied in flooring solutions: Brass incorporated with wood in a beautiful and skilful fashion The den at Sky Belvedere was envisioned as a classic English library. “It has a dramatic wooden floor with brass inserts,” share Poonam Mehta and Akash Mehta, Principal Designers, AMPM Designs. “The detailed unit that holds the library and TV is accentuated with quirky accessories. The classic green study is the highlight of the room.” The flooring in the den adds to the warmth and luxury of the space; the seamless inserts of brass speak of its finish. When asked why this type of flooring is popular for residential projects, they tell us: “A fusion of two materials as a floor is the most interesting design. It is innovative and brings so much excitement to the space.” COMMERCIAL Project: The Developer’s Office Size: 10,000 sq ft Type of flooring: Marble and wood Flooring cost (per sq ft): Marble - Rs 450; Wood - Rs 400 A dark brown, marble, Armani bronze at the entrance, flowing into the reception and waiting area, accentuated with wide brass inlays defining the transition from the lobby into the reception, with a complementing fluid ceiling—this defines the sense of arrival into the space, says Kanhai Gandhi, Partner, KNS Architects. “As it is a builder’s office, people tend to judge on the basis of the office environment they are stepping into. So, the wooden flooring gives a sense of home to people walking in. The rest of the office was designed with wooden flooring.” Along with marble and wood, carpets and artworks have been used to define spaces and interiors. Carpets with abstract floral design and colours were used. The carpets hold the space together and band the furniture, the walls and floors. A cohesive look has been achieved with the help of a small element like a carpet. “Our primary idea was to have a space full of warmth and designated areas rather than the earlier open format, with a touch of glamour and elegant comfort,” says Gandhi. “It was designed like a luxurious residence, redefining the look of an office space that would emanate a feeling of home. HEALTHCARE Project: Symbiosis University Hospital and Research Centre (SUHRC) Size: Site area – 96,100 sq m; Built-up area of Phase 1 – 41,800 sq m Type of flooring: Vinyl hospital-grade flooring, vitrified flooring, granite flooring Brands: GER Flor (vinyl hospital-grade flooring); Kajaria/NITCO (vitrified flooring); granite (Somany) Flooring cost (per sq ft): Vinyl hospital-grade flooring: Rs 175-300 (with installation); vitrified flooring – Rs 150-200 (with installation); granite flooring – Rs 350-500 (with installation) A carefully curated selection of flooring was used in specific areas of the hospital to achieve ideal health and sanitation standards, functional requirements as well as cost-effectiveness. Moreover, appropriate surface finishes and coatings were used to ensure anti-bacterial qualities. “While vinyl hospital-grade flooring was used in zones such as ICUs, operation theatres and other silent zones, a combination of vitrified and granite flooring was adopted for OPDs, offices, administrative departments, entrance lobbies, cafes and other circulation areas,” says Nithin Hosabettu, Design Director, IMK Architects. He shares more on why these three types of flooring were chosen for this project: Vinyl hospital-grade flooring: Especially designed for the healthcare sector, it offers jointless flooring solutions as it comes in a roll form of size 2 m × 20 m (approximately). Free of crevices, this jointless flooring does not allow any micro-organisms or dust to settle on its surface. The skirtings are provided with special profiles that curve at the 90° joint between the floor and wall, thus creating a smooth surface that can easily be cleaned with a mop. This prevents corner edges from collecting dust. The flooring is also specially treated to avoid stains from medicine or chemicals. Vinyls have anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal qualities that are not offered by most other flooring types. The surface is hard enough to resist the wear and tear of hospitals stretchers, wheelchairs and trolley movements. The inherent properties of the material allow minor absorption of the sounds of trolleys and stretchers. Vinyl hospital-grade flooring is manufactured in three types: anti-static, dissipative and conductive. Vitrified flooring: A good solution in areas where hard surface flooring is needed, it offers extensive varieties in design, texture and sizes unlike granite or other stone floorings. It can be used in less critical areas like OPDs, offices, administrative departments, entrance lobbies, cafes, etc. Vitrified tiles are available with a special coating over the tiles that resists abrasion and prevents surface scratches. Many companies are now coming up with innovations that help resist germs and micro-organisms through a surface coating. Vitrified tiles that have an acid-free finish that prevents any stains from the chemicals normally used in hospitals. Granite flooring: It can be used in lobbies and other non-critical areas that require hard surfaces. It has been used in the project in combination with vitrified tiles to serve functional requirements and create aesthetic appeal. Granite is a better cladding material compared to vitrified as making mouldings and edge polishing is easier. It also offers minimal undulation in joints, making it a better option than vitrified in terms of cleaning, maintenance and dust collection on crevices of joints. HOSPITALITY Project: Tipsy Gypsy Size: 3,500 sq ft restaurant Type of flooring: River-washed black granite with mirror polished white statuario marble laid to pattern Flooring cost (per sq ft): Rs 400 For this project, the flooring idea concept was black and white. “As a studio, we believe in using natural materials, so the obvious choice was Indian black granite with classical Italian statuario,” shares Priyank Mehta, Principal Designer, Studio PM. “The opposite matte and gloss polish enhance the contrasts created with black and white. Owing to cost constraints, instead of going for the more expensive floor sealers or floor guards, we used a home-grown solution for the same. We used large quantities of coconut oil and applied it thrice over the black granite. It sounds unconventional but worked amazingly well and the granite is as black even today.” The floor adds a very classy yet whimsical vibe to the space. Because of good workmanship and top finishes, it still retains its sheen and looks new. “Natural materials retain their colour much better than tiles; thus they will always be a more popular choice,” he adds. RETAIL Project: Retail Store for Hands Carpets Size: 13,000 sq ft Type of flooring: Tiles 600 mm x 300 mm Brand: Somany Flooring cost (per sq ft): Rs 90 In retail projects, the flooring becomes the backdrop so that the products on display can take centre-stage. “Hence, factors such as a matte finish become significant to avoid gloss and reflection of light that pulls the eye towards the floor,” says Rachna Agarwal, Founder & Design Ideator, Studio IAAD. “The flooring type was chosen for its timeless appeal and aesthetics, blending harmoniously with the theme of the project. The pricing, too, is right, with ease of application and no fuss.” The longevity of the flooring finish and cost are also crucial factors that determine their efficiency, in turn determining their popularity in the market. - SERAPHINA D’SOUZA

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