Post 586 –by Gautam Shah
Floorings, by virtue of their sheer extent are the most effective components of interior space definition. Floorings are important for visual and tactual appeal. Floorings are visually perceptible because the common sources of natural and other illuminations are from the top. Tactile appeal emerges when visual details of the floorings are not registered. And there are several circumstances when visual recognition fails to occur such as very vast extent, deficient illumination, uniformity of colour, pattern and texture, a higher floor from the eye-level and physiological deficiency of visual perception.
Floorings take on a very prominent role in: sparsely furnished and lightly occupied rooms, corridors and yards. Floorings are strikingly evident when observed from a higher elevation, such as upper level galleries, landings and platforms. Flooring pattern and colour become less evident on a very glossy surface. Reflections over a glossy surface of the flooring contribute to the height aspect of the space, but due to shortening of the depth aspect, add to the ambiguity. Floorings gain importance in tall spaces, rooms with invisible or non interesting ceilings (due to height, darkness and lack of captivating features), and in rooms with floors or levels rising upward (allowing larger floor area to be visible). Floorings provide some functional surfaces that are horizontal (parallel to gravity), in a straight gradient (ramps), variable gradients (roller skating), moulded to single curvature (ice skating) or double curvatures (Velodrome). Floorings in similar situations, however, could be ‘non-functional’ that is ‘decorative’. Such exceptional conditions occur in prosceniums, road verges, canal sides, faces of inclined walls or piers. Floorings are required to absorb or reflect energies like light, heat, sounds, vibrations etc.
Visual floors have colour, pattern and texture through body surface, joints, inclination and stepping. Floorings that provide a pleasant and novel visual experience affects us more. Visual characteristics are used for connecting various architectural entities (buildings abutting a street or plaza), uniting diverse architectonic elements (like columns, gaps, openings), to impose a matrix of scale or discipline, (create passages, marked paths, territorial definitions). Flooring patterns are used to form segregated lots for different levels of accesses or purposes. Floorings with graphic patterns, motifs and symbols become part of road signage systems.
Flooring is a very tactile component, unlike a wall finish or a ceiling. Tactile floors offer feeling of warmth, cold, hardness or softness. The presence or absence of texture makes for shiny or dull floors leading to safe, easier or difficult movement. Tactile flooring is used for movement of people and goods, sleeping, resting, bathing, washing, storing, food preparation, and handling and processing of materials.
Floorings are broadly classified for the degree of hardness, resiliency, resistance to scratching, staining and water or moisture absorption, capacity to conduct electrical charge, spark erosion etc.
Simplest floorings are the natural finish over the surface of the material. These may need, levelling, dressing, wetting, curing, cementing perhaps compacting such as in clay-soil courts, sports tracks, playgrounds, cricket pitches etc. Natural Materials include, clays, soils, sands, stones, gravels, Kankar, minerals, burnt ceramics (Surkhi), Pozzolana, animal excretes and plant decompositions. Cementing compounds are water, oils, bitumen, tars, pitches, synthetic polymer binders, lime and Portland cement.
Gravity laid floorings are simply laid, relying on the pull of gravity for stability. The largest and flat surface is placed touching the plane of gravity. In blocked or unitized floorings the stiffness, thickness and close fitments add to the stability. Examples of gravity laid floorings are: cobbles, brick lays, gravels, sand spreads, carpets, rugs, floor spreads, Daris, Chattais, woven mats, feet dusters, wooden boards, synthetic flooring mats, plastic and rubber tiles and rolls.
Cast in-situ floorings provide very extensive and a uniform surface. Cast in situ floorings are created by liquidized mass such as plasters, pastes, coatings and homogenization. The conversion processes are evaporative drying, oxidization, calcification, chemical bonding, polymerization, heat, radiation and moisture induced changes. Cast in-situ floorings are like concrete, cement cast floors (IPS), cow dung, Surkhi and lime combinations, synthetic or culture marble systems, fiber glass and other resin-fiber matrix spray-able composites, organo plastics, epoxy coats, PU coats, rubber coats, tar-bitumen roads.
Mechanically fixed floorings are keyed to the substrate or the structure. Usually when floor finishes are incapable of staying in place due to the thin mass, lighter weight, reduced gravity (on sloped surfaces), presence of other pulling forces, small extent or spread requires some mechanical or adhesive fixing. Mechanical fastening is achieved by nut-bolt, nails, screws, rivets, cleats and seam formation. It is also done with friction, suction, surface tension, magnetic pull, electro static attraction etc. Examples of tied floors are bus and boat decks, stage wood floors, claddings, panellings, stair carpets.
Adhered floorings, at a simple level are affixed to the substrate. At complex level a layered composite system is formed by multi-layering over a substrate. Adhered finishes are superior as the entire surface is affixed, and so allows greater distribution of uprooting stresses. Pozzolana, lime, cement, are traditional binders whereas modern age adhesives are polymer and elastomeric compounds. Coatings like paints, organosols and other liquidized compounds are used. Adhered floorings can be categorized into three types: 1 Coatings create an extensive surface, 2 Films and sheets offer large tracks of surface, and 3 Blocks and units form a larger unit. The adherent besides fixing may provide padding, resiliency, insulation, electrical discharge, green or tacky bonding for easy removal. Typical adhesive bonded floorings are, Woven and non woven carpets, fabrics, mats, ceramic, mosaic metal, and synthetic tiles, metal or polymer sheets and foils, paints and coating systems.