Get floored says Varsha Trehan with the fantastic new products now available in the Flooring market.
The floor space has a new identity. Interiors are literally moving from floor up not only structurally, but also as a major consideration in the overall design, aesthetics and usability. And why not, when options in flooring are widening to fit in everything from custom finishes to solutions for every kind of use? There was a phase when products like vitrified tiles were a great as an affordable and easy maintenance option over cement mosaic or natural stone. This was especially required as work spaces needed to be dust controlled as they turned towards automation. Moving up the value chain flooring products now innovatively meet the aspirations of variations in texture and color in homes and offices.
Modern flooring has developed to match the aesthetic values of texture and appearance of natural materials and much more. Raw materials include everything from natural clay, stone mining waste and polymers resulting in sophisticated yet easy to install product lines. The blend of the traditional and new has ironed out installation and life cycle concerns. The modular nature of most products also allows for 'patch repair' in most situations, putting the customer at ease.
Boom timeTalking about the driving forces in the market, Mr Sudhir Malesha, CEO RAK India says, "India is experiencing a construction boom which has resulted in a surge in demand for tiles for the ever growing middle class. It's the golden period for Indian tiles industry and the buying consumers in particular. With ultra thin tiles, digitally printed and large format tiles being constantly available in the market, the competition is increasingly benefiting the consumer."
"The Indian tiles market is of nearly Rs.15,000 crore and growing robustly by about 30% every year. It is largely unorganized with only 25% organized and 15% semi-organized manufacturers. There are different types of floorings included in these such as marble, ceramic, vitrified, etc. Within 10 years in Indian market, we currently have around 7 percent of the total market share and increasing every year," says Mr Malesha.
As the construction industry rises to meet the demand for quality and quantity in every area, flooring manufacturers are coming out with constantly improved offerings to satiate their customers. There is also a demand for niche products like floor coverings and carpet tiles. "Preference of flooring option depends upon certain parameters such as durability, functionality, hygiene, aesthetics etc. Commercial Projects related to healthcare, education, pharmaceuticals would prefer resilient flooring (linoleum, pvc and rubber flooring) where Forbo is one of the global players. The requirements for these application areas would be bacteriostatic properties, hygiene, durability, sustainability etc. Forbo Marmoleum is a preferred choice in healthcare projects because of its eco- friendly and bacteriostatic properties, not forgetting that this is an extremely durable floor covering. Residential and housing projects would prefer marble, granite, vitrified tiles and now laminated flooring," says Mr Hardeep Singh, Country Manager, Forbo India.
"All kinds of establishments reflect the living styles, for which customization has always remained as the front-runner. The excitement begins with modular format; which empowers you to mix & merge different sizes and colors to make very interesting, imaginative, vivid, subtle and colorful creations. Besides this, mixing of two or more sizes does not change the joint gap between the mosaics! As a result, this trend setting concept is gaining popularity worldwide and is already a part of lifestyle in developed markets. Our Piccolo porcelain mosaics are finished products & not cut to the size thereby giving your spaces a very decorative & smart look," says Mr. Pawan Poddar, Director, Italia Group.
"Consumers have started looking beyond the conventional stone and marble floors and slowly accepting maintenance free vitrified tiles. Virtually every design is now available in high gloss polish, lapato, satin and rustic finishes giving an enviable choice to consumers. Though the market is still largely unorganized (contributing nearly 55%), with the entry of big brands including some international brands, it is slowly changing by the day. Even the non-residential sector is switching to use tiles as it gives a rich and luxurious look to the ambience. Right from restaurants to resorts & hotels to hospitals, all the sectors are doing quite a bit to add to the look and feel of their ambience and thus having high quality and durable wall and floor tiles and add to its luxurious abode" attests Mr Malesha. "Digital printed in matt & glossy mainly in vitrified & porcelain are among the most popular choices trending now," informs Mr Dharmendrabhai Maganbhai Patel, Marketing Director, Century Tiles.
Freshness intactAs with any development, every element of a project is checked for its sustainability and the environment support it offers. The primary strength of the floor tile comes from their increasing acceptance over natural products. Once installed these low maintenance finishes add to the green value of the building. The next area of scoring is the manufacturing process and the recycling of raw materials, by products and waste. Engineered materials like stone and wood composite products are another step in the right direction. "For decades, natural marble was a preferred choice for flooring options both at commercial and residential projects but due to the invention of engineered products – like Kalingastone, which are manufactured from the powder of smaller pieces that are left at quarries post the excavation of marble. Thus, the water and air pollution that the powder would have created is converted into a good cause of manufacturing engineered marble and quartz. Apart from which, all the applications where only natural would have been used leading to increased amount of quarrying have also brought in control as engineered products like Kalingastone share the same aesthetics and better strength then natural products. Thus, it collectively leads to increasing more than one green values of a project" elaborates Mr Subodh Shah, Director, Classic Marble Company.
Leading manufacturers of carpet tiles Interface was one of the first companies to publicly commit to sustainability. Mr Raj Menon, Country Manager, Interface-India explains the vision. "Flooring can contribute to the green quotient of the office space by contribution to LEED points. Interface is committed to sustainability and this has been a part of our philosophy since 1994. During the mid nineties, our founder and chairman, Ray Anderson, put the company on track to becoming the first sustainable company by 2020. Now defined as Mission Zero, this is our drive to achieve a zero environmental footprint and is a central part of the organization's ethos and culture. The carpets we bring to market are also driven by this philosophy and we have made several advances on this front. For example, today, we have carpets made from 100% recycled yarn. In terms of how this help the green quotient of the office space, our carpet contributes towards LEED certification and can help earn upto 6 LEED points and sometimes even beyond that. Some of the areas are under low emitting materials, low emitting adhesives, innovation points, recycled content etc. The latest addition to this is an additional possible point for using Interface carpet tile that has EPD. This is the current breakthrough in green products and stands for Environmental Product Declaration. We are the only carpet tile manufacturer to provide EPDs for our products."
"Commercial buildings use almost 40% of total energy and are responsible for 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. Flooring is an integral part of the building interiors and it contributes to aesthetics, functionality and indoor air quality. A floor covering that is made of rapidly renewable raw materials, has recycled content, bio degradable at the end of life, is low on VOC content and has gone through the product life cycle analysis, would be a preferred flooring solution as it would add to the Green value of the project. For example, Forbo Marmoleum is a natural product made from 97% natural raw materials, 67% of Marmoleum's raw materials are renewable, that is, harvestable within 10 years of planting. The energy used to manufacture Marmoleum in our factories is 98% renewable energy (solar and wind energy) thus reducing the impact on environment," informs Mr Hardeep Singh. "If flooring choice is anti-bacterial or dust resistant type will save water if in glossy & light colors will save light due to reflection properties. Vitrified tiles are as strong as granite slab and due to alumu-silica body are fire resistant non absorbent are durable and free of all types of maintenance cost. These can be fixed easily on any flat surface," simplifies Mr Patel.
"Vitrified tiles are environment-friendly due to the use of natural products such as clay and the type of manufacturing process. It can be easily chosen over wooden flooring variants as the same designs can be obtained in digitally printed vitrified tiles and not be that harmful to the environment. The manufacturing process we use generates virtually no byproducts and the waste is recycled back into the manufacturing process for the next batch of tiles, thus minimizing the adverse effects to the environment. Keeping up with the global concern of protecting the environment, RAK's manufacturing plant is based on green concept and the company is one of the founding members in Indian Green Building Council with the objective to protect the nature and save earth. For this, we have been following recycling process for raw material input, reutilizing waste water, keeping emissions in control as per norms and apart from this, we are also under process to implement ISO 14000 and ISO 18000. Very good green development, along with good housekeeping can be seen maintaining a hygienic environment in and around the manufacturing factory," vouches Mr Malesha.
Technology effectAs in other product segments, technology in flooring products is giving a huge lift in maintaining uniformity in textural patterns thus increasing repeatability. It is also closely matching man-made options to the offerings of nature, in this case stone and wood finishes, thereby keeping those wanting the nostalgia of traditional finishes in their interiors. Ratifying the benefits of developing technology, Mr Malesha says, "High definition digital printing technology is the latest breakthrough in the Indian tile market. Conventional screen and rotary printing technologies allow only 60 & 120 dpi resolution printing on tiles, whereas high definition digital printing technology enables to work on 300 dpi resolution resulting in finer and realistic natural textual patterns. Digital printing ensures high-resolution, multi layer printing as fine as nanometer grade on flat as well as curved or textured tile surfaces. The technology also ensures uniform, edge-to-edge printing on tile surface thus creating seamless look for the floors. We are currently using this technology for Nanopix, in which the randomness of vein patterns achieved on tiles takes it closer to imitating the natural stone texture."
"Engineered stone is earning an impressive reputation as an ideal choice in flooring and wall cladding applications, thanks to its vast array of versatile design patterns, textures and strength in comparison to other available options. Engineered stone is easily available, easy to install and maintain. Since the stone is engineered, it does not suffer for design or pattern inconsistencies. The stone is available in wide range of colors, textures and finishes," offers Mr Shah.
Explaining the benefits of technology in keeping their products close to natural product finishes, Mr Hardeep Singh says "Marmoleum is made out of natural raw materials and our floor coverings are very indigenous in designs, close to nature yet functional, one of our collections is called Unexpected Nature inspired by the unmanipulated images of real landscapes, this collection sets out to trigger our curiosity and share the joy of nature's palette in all its glory."