FLOORING COLOURS through AGES

Post 698 –by Gautam Shah

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Stone-Paved Street at Dougga

For built environment Flooring Colour, is the most important element of experience. It primarily determines the level of brightness in a room, but has many other subtle affectations.

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The experience of colour, relates to both, Visual and Tactile aspects. The visual component consists of colour, texture and patterns. The tactile component has two relates, the actual feel and the visual recognition.

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The Colours of the Floorings emerge from> the extent, gradient and contours (steps, edges, drops, slopes) of the flooring, angle and tinge (stained or grisaille glass) of illumination and texture (gloss-dull), the expanse and colour of the joints.

Colour and black-and-white

The Patterns in the Floorings derive from> set motifs (images, patterns), recognizable geometry, grain-veins in the floor materials and the composition of joints.

Dark coloured floors cut off bottom-up reflection of radiation, and so are ideal in open-to-sky spaces like Chowks, on window sills, and spaces in front of doors, verandahs. Dark floors, however absorb more radiant heat due to the low reflectivity and get very warm. Dark floors are not preferred in walkways, balconies or on terraces (in tropical climates). A dark floor in water pool heightens the feeling of depth, but can increase the rate of water evaporation due to greater absorption of heat radiation. Very dark and shiny floors show off dust and require frequent cleaning. Dark coloured sills increase the radiant heat inside the rooms. Dark sills in cellars (low illumination areas) reduce the level of reflected component of natural light.

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Light-coloured floors substantially reduce the heat absorption, provided these are maintained clean. Light-coloured floors provide lightness and enhance the space size. White floors have a natural association with aseptic conditions, so are preferred in food preparation zones, health facilities and in sanctimonious areas (temples).

Akshardham Temple New Delhi India

Coloured floors are used for livening up monotonous or drab spaces (very large halls like departmental stores, plazas, courtyards). Coloured floors are used in industrial plants, schools, hospitals etc. to indicate routes and movement areas for goods, vehicles and people.

Salle des Hôtes - Mont St Michel

Historically Flooring colour has been monochrome where good building stones were available. Earliest colouring elements were the mosaics of marble, ceramic and glass. Flooring colours have been exploited in sparsely occupied sections of the building such as corridors, passages, plazas, etc.

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West Asiatic architecture had monochrome flooring of building stone and in some cases of terracotta units. Greeks used only white marbles, but used mosaics to create images on the floors.

Romans began to use colourful marbles as inlay pieces to create borders and central patterns. Thermaes (bathhouses) were perhaps the most garish of all places in terms of flooring colour schemes.

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Byzantine period saw reuse of Roman marble debris. Cut pieces of coloured marbles of Roman columns were used for flooring bands. Contrast and pattern definition was their only intention, rather than a balanced colour scheme.

In Gothic architecture, the colour through the stained glass window was so strong that flooring colour was almost subordinated. The quality of laying and finishing were very refined. Granites were used sparingly, only as part of patterns. Wherever high colour effect was, required floors were covered with carpets, rugs and floor spreads.

English mediaeval period saw the use alternatively placed light and dark shades (black-white) of flooring materials to form diagonal checker board flooring.

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Post Gothic period windows’ glass became light hued, interiors were much more illuminated, interior elements were painted and often gilded. These required a highly polished (glossy- dazzling surface) and a balanced colour scheme.

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Renaissance saw painters and sculptors becoming builders and architects, who were very adapt in use of colour. Marbles were selected in terms of the interior colour scheme. Veins or grain patterns of Marbles and other stones were exploited by selection of the cut section, and their orientation to accentuate the patterns.

Versailles Flooring of Mixed stone colours but well planned pattern

French Versailles had marble and stone floors, but required on one hand frequent scrubbing and polishing and replacement due to the moisture from under-floors. Wood was preferred as a floor finish. Wood was a local flooring material for many years. 15th C onward Europe had supplies of exotic woods of Asiatic origin, later from African and American locations (North and Latin). Rare woods, were appreciated for their wonderful colours, grains and hardness but used conservatively. The woods were veneered thin sections and backed with boards of low-cost local woods, to form a surfacing material.

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Blog Links on FLOORS and FLOORINGS

Post 626 –by Gautam Shah

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These are few links on Blog articles relating to Floors, Floorings, Patterns, Colours, Joints, and Finishes

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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….’

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FLOORINGS (March 2016) >

https://interiordesignassist.wordpress.com/2016/03/01/floorings/

FLOORING SYSTEMS (June 2015) >

https://interiordesignassist.wordpress.com/2015/06/18/flooring-systems/

FLOOR PAINTS (March 2015) >

https://interiordesignassist.wordpress.com/2015/03/21/floor-paints/

FLOOR SPREADS -TYPES, SIZES and SHAPES (Dec 2014) > https://interiordesignassist.wordpress.com/2014/12/23/floor-spreads-types-sizes-and-shapes/

ROOFS and FLOORS (July 2014) >

https://interiordesignassist.wordpress.com/2014/07/17/roofs-and-floors/

FLOORING COLOUR (June 2014) >

https://interiordesignassist.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/flooring-colour/

PATTERNS in FLOORINGS (June 2014) >

https://interiordesignassist.wordpress.com/2014/06/21/patterns-in-floorings/

JOINTS in SURFACE FINISHES (July 2015) >

https://interiordesignassist.wordpress.com/2015/07/09/joints-in-surface-finishes/

GLOSS (Sept 2014) >

https://interiordesignassist.wordpress.com/2014/09/20/gloss/

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FLOORINGS

Post 586 by Gautam Shah

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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.

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Velodrome for cycling > Doubly curved flooring surface  > Wikipedia image by Nicola

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Cycle skating ramps > Wikipedia image Joshua Sherurcij at en.wikipedia

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.

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Pavement of Praca de Pedro IV in Lisbon > Wikipedia image by Roede

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.

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Brick pavement in Piazza del Campo Siena > Wikipedia image by Zyance

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.

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Stone ballast-packing against railway track > Wikipedia image by LooiNL

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.

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Clay court for tennis > Wikipedia image by sk4t

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Cobble stone floor Place de la Bastille Paris > Wikipedia image by Tangopaso

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.

Lloyds of London Image Portfolio Feb2011

Gravity laid carpeting in Lloyds Building > Wikipedia image by Lloyd’s of London

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.

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Operation theatre Flooring coating > Wikipedia image by Pfree2014

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.

Dull - glossy floorings

Dull and glossy floors > Pixabay image by Pashminu

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.

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Spray-on composite flooring > Wikipedia image by Maurits90

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FLOORING COLOUR

Terracotta soil of the Château de Chambord

 

Flooring, by virtue of its sheer extent and visual effectuality is the most prominent component of an interior space. Flooring, unlike a wall finish or a ceiling, is a very tactile component. It is used for movement of people and goods, sleeping, resting, bathing, washing, storing, food preparation, and handling and processing of materials.

 

Floorings provide a horizontal surfaceparallel to the gravity, for conducting tasks, placing facilities, amenities, utilities and other elements. Floors are required to absorb, filter or reflect the sound, air, light, heat, cold, dust, infections, moisture, radiations, etc. Some flooring systems, though play exactly an opposite role, i.e. to allow such elements to selectively pass through.

 

Like all other interior elements, flooring’s sensual aspects like colour, hue, etc. are of course important, but its tactile aspects like texture, feeling of warmth, cold, hardness or softness, etc., are even more important.

 

Floorings take-on a very prominent role: in sparsely furnished and lightly occupied rooms and corridors, rooms with high height ceilings, invisible ceilings, unimpressive or non interesting ceilings and in rooms with slopes or levels going upward (allowing larger floor area to be visible), rooms with slopes or levels going downwards (allowing a commanding bird eye view). Floorings sloping away or towards the viewer, do not permit perception of true colours or the visual textures. Floorings, which provide a pleasant experience and enhanced comfort, affect us more.

 

Floor finish of a flooring system is a tactile and sensorially affective aspect. It can be broadly classified as: hard or resilient, soft or scratch resistant, temporary or permanent, smooth or textured, dark or light coloured, hot or cold, opaque or transparent, absorbent or reflective, etc.

 

Colour of Flooring affects the spatial qualities of a built space. It primarily determines the level of brightness in a room.

 

Dark floors cut off bottom up reflection of radiation, and so are ideal in Open to sky spaces like Chowks, on window sills and spaces in front of windows, doors, verandahs. However, dark floors absorb more radiant heat due to the low reflectivity and get very warm. Dark floors are not preferred in walk areas, balconies or on terraces of occupied rooms in tropical climates. A dark floor in water pool heightens the feeling of depth, but can increase the rate of water evaporation due to grater absorption of heat radiation. Very dark and shiny floors show off dust and require frequent cleaning. Dark colours sills in windows increase the radiant heat inside the rooms. Dark sills on cellar windows (or such low natural illumination areas) reduce the level of reflected component of natural light.

 

Light-coloured floors substantially reduce the heat absorption, provided these are maintained clean. Light-coloured floors provide lightness and enhance the space size. White floors have a natural association with aseptic conditions, so are preferred in food preparation zones, health facilities and in sanctimonious areas (temples). White floors add to the space size or extent.

 

Coloured floors are used for livening up monotonous or drab spaces (very large halls like departmental stores, plazas, courtyards). Coloured floors are used in industrial plants, schools, hospitals etc. to indicate routes and movement areas for goods, vehicles and people.

City Palace Jaipur India

 

● Historically Flooring colour has been monochrome where good building stones were available. Earliest exotic colouring elements were mosaics of marble, ceramic and glass. Flooring colours have been exploited in sparsely occupied sections of the building such as corridors, passages, plazas. etc. West Asiatic architecture had monochrome flooring of building stone, and in some cases of terracotta units. Greeks used only white marbles. Greeks used mosaics to create images on the floor. Romans exploited the vast varieties of colourful marbles as inlay pieces, to create borders and central patterns. These pieces of variegated marbles were mainly sourced from debris of old buildings. Byzantine period also reused cut pieces of marbles of Roman columns. Byzantinian only intention was to create contrast and pattern definition, rather than a grand unitary or balanced colour scheme.

Roman use of debris

Herculaneum Floor rhombic tiles

 

● In Gothic architecture the colour through the stained glass window was so strong in the interior space that flooring colour was almost subordinated. However, the quality of laying and finishing were becoming very refined. Granites were used sparingly, only as part of patterns. Where high colour effect was, required floors were covered with carpets, rugs and floor spreads.

 

 

 

Carpet colour swatches

 

● English mediaeval period saw the use alternatively placed light and dark shades of flooring materials to form diagonal checker board flooring. In Post Gothic period windows’ glass became light hued, interiors were much more illuminated, the interior elements were painted and often gilded. These required a highly polished (glossy- dazzling surface) and a balanced colour scheme with intricate patterning for flooring. Italian business houses, which began commissioning very large buildings had greater daring and allowed large scale use of exotic flooring materials (imported from far-off regions). Renaissance saw painters and sculptors becoming builders and architects, who were very adapt in use of colour. Marbles and stones were selected in terms of not only the colour but their veins or grain patterns. The grain directions were exploited by selection of the cut profile to accentuate the pattern.

 

● Till 19th century a variety of baked clay materials -terracotta were produced. These had a range of oxide based natural colours of the constituent clays and whites of kaolin. The surface was fragile, porous and difficult to clean. Gazing by salt spraying was very common to make the surfaces impervious. Glazed tiles in variety of colours, ‘slip’ embossed textures, hand-painted and screen-printed patterns, embellishing with glass pieces were produced. For all these the chief fuel was wood, restricting the large scale production. Post 19th C. the Industrial Revolution period there was greater understanding of raw materials and manufacturing processes. The scale of production was very large as the Ceramics began to be produced with mineral coal. Quality was far superior and the range of colours was very large. High pressure casting, continuous kilns and precision cutting equipment helped in perfectly flat and sized flooring products.

 

● 20th C saw use of graded raw materials, better compaction techniques and controlled vitrification allowing production of highly vitrified flooring slabs that were as good as the natural granite, but with a range of lighter shades including whites.

 

● Wood Flooring: Wood was a local flooring material for many years. However 14th C Europe imported exotic woods of Asiatic origin, later from African and American locations (North and Latin). Rare woods, appreciated for their wonderful colours, grains and hardness, were used conservatively. The woods were veneered thin to form a surfacing material and backed with boards of low-cost local woods, or used as inlay material.

 

In 20 th century low-cost wood veneers of extra ordinary thinness were available. These are often grain composed, colour stained, bleached, screen or roll printed and embossed. Laminated flooring units (of paper boards) are replacing the veneer-based wood floors. Low quality wood pieces and chips are re-composed and impregnated with resins to form composite wood floor boards.

wood floor staining

 

Wood staining with water, oil or solvent soluble dyes is in use for several centuries as a primary and rejuvenating finish for wood floorings. High quality wood staining compounds based on dissoluble dyes helped overcoming the grain and colour equalization problem. Today many proprietary materials such as the melamine, polyurethane, silicone and epoxy-based floor stains are available. Wood bleaching to lighten its colour or of patches has been a craft, used for equalising the colour of wood floorings.

Epoxy coated floors for Industrial workshop

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