Post 451 -by Gautam Shah


Edge seamed Carpets

A flooring system can be task functional or serving a specific sensuous purpose. Flooring is used for postural activities like walking, running, sitting, sleeping, etc. and for tasks like cooking, bathing, storage, crafts work, praying. Floors serve sensuous aims through colour, texture, gloss, pattern, hardness vs softness, tactility, sound absorbency vs reflectivity, etc.

Sod Turf harvesting for Golf Park Wikipedia Image by Max Wahrhaftig

Flooring are broadly classified as: hard or resilient, soft or scratch resistant, heavy duty, temporary or permanent, smooth or textured, dark or light coloured, hot or cold, opaque or transparent, absorbent or reflective, etc. These terms are subjective descriptions used synonymously. The floors are laid as parallel or inclined to gravity, in a straight gradient or variable gradient, and moulded to single curvature or double curvatures. Flooring are also discussed as exterior, interior, heavy duty outdoors like roads, wet areas like swimming pool sides, marine decks, toilets, kitchens, auto service areas, hygienic like hospitals and pharmaceutical plants, joint-less for sterile areas, technical areas like electronic plants, etc.

Typical opus alexandrinum guilloche floor in Cosmati style from the Cathedral at Terracina. Wikipedia Image by MM

Floors finishes are made of Natural materials, Processed natural materials, Synthetic mono and composite materials, and Composed of multi layer flooring systems.

Natural materials include: clays, soils, sands, stones, gravels, stone chips, pebbles, boulders, minerals, pozzolana, animal excreta and plant decompositions, wood, twigs, grass, leaves, etc.

Tatami Flooring, Japan Tamatsukuri Onsen in Matsue, Shimane prefecture, Japan Wikipedia Image by 663highland 

Processed natural materials include: products processed out of natural materials like baked or fired clay products, ceramics, vitrified materials, paper, textiles, timbers, plywood, tar, creosotes, gums, resins, metals, alloys, glass, etc.

Wooden Plank floor Fixed with nails San Juan Ancestral House in Santa Ana, Manila Wikipedia Image by Robby dela vega

Synthetic materials are mono or composites, and include: Metal and alloy sheets, foils, sections, organic and inorganic particulate or layered composites, polymers and elastomeric products. These are generally produced from elements rather than natural products. Often a material cannot provide a suitable finish or body-mass that can be applied as a floor finish.

Composed of multi layer flooring systems: A floor-finish itself becomes a combination system or a layered composite mass. The top layer works as the floor finish layer. The intermediate layers provide the necessary stiffness, strength or the body, side layers or the edge creates required connectivity to similar floor finishes or structural systems. The bottom layer is designed for suitable interaction with the substrate and the bonding media.

Technical floor -raised base Wikipedia Image by Photographer: Jonathan Lamb

Type of Floor Finish systems:

  • simply laid on
  • mechanically keyed
  • adhesive bonded
  • cast in site

Simply laid-on Flooring systems: These flooring systems remain stay-put due to the gravity. The units of floorings are broad based, and their sheer packing (tight conglomerations of several pieces) provides the stability. Such floorings do not work properly on sloping gradients and in vibratory (high traffic conditions) conditions. Thin or low mass blocks come off due to moving traffic or may get blown off by winds. Some gravity stayed floors (e.g. carpets by cleats, zippers, Velcro, etc.) are fixed or keyed by mechanical fixers. In some instances backing materials like rubberized coating also improve staying by increased friction.

Examples of Gravity stayed floors 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.

Pebbles floor Li Jiang Guesthouse Wikipedia Image by L-Bit 

Mechanically keyed Flooring systems: In this case the floor finish is incapable of staying in place due to the thin mass, law weight, absence of gravity (inclined, vertical or upside down surfaces), presence of other pulling forces, small extent or spread. Floor finish is mechanically keyed to the substrate or the structure. Mechanical fastening is achieved by systems, like nut-bolt, nails, screws, rivets, seams formation, stitching, etc. and also through: friction, suction surface tension, magnetic pull, electro static attraction, etc.

Examples of Mechanically keyed Flooring are: bus floors, stage wood floors, cladding, panelling, stair carpets,

Adhesive bonded floor systems: Floor finish is stayed by affixing in Three distinct ways: 1 several small units of floor finish are affixed edge to edge to create a larger unit, so that it can due to sheer extent stay-put in a place, 2 many different materials are layered, 3 the floor finish is affixed to the substrate or structure.

Examples of Adhesive bonded floors are: Natural stones (Marble, Granite, Slate, Sand stone), Cast material (cement blocks, mosaic tiles, IPS, Ironite) synthetic tiles (PVC, linoleum, Glass fibre), Ceramic tiles (bricks, terracotta, baked clay, glazed, porcelain, highly vitrified) and films, foils.

Cast on site floor systems: These provide a flooring system that is uniform in quality and very extensive so almost joint-less in nature. Such systems are usually designed to develop a bond with the substrate as the surface is formed by processes such as curing, evaporative drying, cooling, oxidation, calcification, chemical bonding, polymerization, heat, radiation and moisture induced changes.

Examples of Cast on site floor systems are: cement concrete floorings. Cement cast floors (IPS), cow dung, Surkhi and lime combinations, synthetic or culture marble systems, fibre glass and other resin+fibre matrix spraying composites, Organo plastics, tar-bituminous materials, Paints (Enamels, Cyclized rubbers, Lacquers, Epoxies, Polyurethane, etc.).

Warehouse heavy duty floor Wikipedia Image by AGVExpertJS 



Post 350 – by Gautam Shah 




First preparation for leather begins when raw hides are washed to clean the blood and other tissue materials. After the tanning, the leather is treated for specific surface qualities. The leather passes through several wet processes for colouring and oiling. After drying the hide is mechanically processed for specific look or feel.

Suede Leather

Commercially available leathers are of basic four classes.

1 Full-grain leather is a hide without sanding, buffing, etc., nominally employed to remove or level out the natural surface imperfections. The grain structure nearly remains intact allowing to breathe while retaining the strength and durability. Some furniture upholstery, shoe soles, leather shuttle buffers (such as in weaving looms), belting, etc. use the full-grain leather.



2 Top-grain leather Many of the hides are split and shaved (at certain sections) to level out the surface to even thickness, before and after tanning, but for better quality the process is redone. The repeat process makes the leather thin, soft and pliable. Its surface may have less breath-ability.


3 Imprinted grain leather is a product over which grains are embossed or pressed. The surface imperfections are corrected by splitting, sanding, and then grains are embossed. After these processes the leather is dyed. Heavy pigmentation also cover up micro irregularities of the surface.


4 Split leather is created by separating the layers (process similar to veneering of wood) of leather. The top layer, if too thin, the bottom is reinforced with synthetic materials, woven or knitted fabrics or other splits of leathers. The splits are also top layered with synthetic polymer products. Splits are also used to create suede leathers. By-cast leather is a split leather with a layer of polyurethane lamination that is then embossed. It is a leather in only look aspect (and not the feel); otherwise, its surface is completely layered in plastic.

Textures on Leather

Uses of Leather during the past Century


Heavy leathers are finished by coating the grain surface with a finishing compound, and finally by brushing it under a revolving, brush-covered cylinder. The grain surface of light leathers is buffed, or sandpapered, to correct imperfections in the skin. Buffing the flesh side of leather raises the nap and produces the popular leather known as suede. For smooth finishes, most light-leather is seasoned, or treated with a mixture of such materials as waxes, shellac or emulsified synthetic resins, dyes, and pigments. Pigments are used sparingly to avoid a painted look.

rawhide consisting of rough untanned skin

Leathers are surface treated in many different ways. Impregnation is achieved by padding, dipping, brushes coating, spraying, rolling, screen printing etc. Impregnation systems are water or solvent based, and help strengthen the crust while saturating the colouring and coating. Fillers are also water and solvent based, used to for achieving surface uniformity of colour and gloss while adjusting the feel. Auxiliaries are many different types, used to optimize the performance of the finishing systems and for special effects. Modifiers improvise the feel quality of leathers, while altering physical qualities of the leather. Dulling agents help adjust the gloss at the top coat. Topcoats are surface covering systems applied to leathers to impart specific transparent, translucent or opaque (solid) colour, shade, or decorative (metal, pearl, etc.) effects.

Book Binding with coloured embossed Morocco leather.


Leathers are surface altered by chemical and mechanical treatments. Chemical surface treatments include bleaching, staining, and other coatings. Leathers are infused with such materials as Epsom salts, oils, and then lubricated with hot emulsions of soap, grease, and sometimes wax. Mechanical surface treatments are: pressing -for leveling and compacting, rolling -for firmness and gloss, and embossing -to achieve granular or wrinkled textures.

Embossed leather


Leather Substitutes, are synthetic substances that look, feel or behave like a leather due to its one of the dominant qualitative advantage, cost, uniformity or easy availability. Replacement products are also used by people who do not wish to use an animal product. These synthetics include such plastics as polyvinyl chloride and non woven fiber impregnated with binders. These materials lack leather’s porous quality, pliable nature, and resilience.




Post 340 –by Gautam Shah



An enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, in the form a cover on the teeth, consisting chiefly of calcium salts. Substances similar in hardness were produced through a glass-ceramic route. The word enamel derives from smelting or smelzan (German) or smalto (Italian), email (French and German), and enamel (English). Smelting as a process is very old, used for extracting metal by heat processing the mineral ore. Enamelling uses similar processes of material conversion.

10th C gold and enamel Byzantine icon of St Michael, St Mark Basilica

Enamel, is defined as a vitreous, glass like coating fused on to a metallic base. Through the history, enamels have been applied on gold, silver, copper, bronze and iron surfaces. The term is also used for many other applications that provide tough and a glossy surface such as the fusing of glass over glass, fired ceramics, and paints.

Enamel is formed from substance known as flux, frit or fondant. For enamelling the paste consisting of mixture of silica (from quartz or sand), soda or potash, and lead are deposited on to metal objects such as jewellery, small metal boxes, utensils, ceramics or glass, and fused by heat. The resultant surface is chemically identical to glass or highly vitrified ceramic, almost clear, with a slightly bluish or greenish tinge. The surface can be made opaque and coloured by the addition of other metallic oxides. When the temperature to fuse the materials is very high, the enamel formed is hard. Soft enamels are easy to produce and are more conventional.

Enamelled Signage

The brilliance of an enamel depends on the perfect combination of its ingredients and temperature. The colour is achieved by a change in the proportion of the ingredients of the flux than by an increase in quantity of the oxide.

Enamel Watch dial

The earliest known enamelled objects were made during the Mycenaean period during 13th C BC. Since then through history jewellery had applique colours of enamels. Arms’ handles and armour cases, mirrors, furniture handles, decorative dishes and bowls were embellished with enamel. Ceilings’ and doors’ metal panels were enamelled. Religious ceremony items such as cups, bowls, caskets, crosiers, were enamelled. Dials of table, pocket and wall clocks were adorned with enamelled numbers. In India jewellery and small boxes were enamelled, known as Minakari work.


White Enamel ware Image from Public Pictures Domains.net



With the onset of 18th C., Cast iron vessels for home and other uses began to be used. These enamelware were with little colour or patterns. The vessels with white enamel coating were known as white-ware. Hospital-ware such as gandy, urine pot, kidney tray, instruments’ tray, camping-ware and army-ware like tumbler, bowls, dishes, and public signages were made with enamelling. The white vitreous enamel linings, was also called porcelain. It was used for lining cooking stoves tops, oven doors, sinks and washbasin.

Stove -White Enamel goods


There are two main methods of applying enamel to metal. Champlevé, in which hollows made in the metal surface are filled with enamel, and Cloisonné, in which strips of metal are applied to the metal surface, forming cells, which are then filled with enamel. With these two basic methods Six types of enamelling techniques have developed: These are Champlevé, Cloisonné, Basse-taille, Plique-à-jour, Encrusted, and Painted enamel.

Champlevé type 12th C armlet, so showing chased recesses for the enamel

1 Champlevé (French= raised field) enamels are done by scratching or etching a metal surface, usually copper, leaving hollows or troughs with raised lines between them. The hollows are filled with pulverized enamel and then fired. The hard-finished enamel is subsequently filed down until the glossy surface and the metal surface can be polished simultaneously, with crocus powder and jeweller’s rouge.

Cloisonné enamel plaque, Byzantine Empire, ca. 1100

2 Cloisonné (French= partitioned) processes, uses very small partitions, or cloisons, consisting of thin metal strips, built up on the surface of the metal. They may present a pattern and are fixed to the surface by the enamel. The Cloisonné technique is usually applied to silver, although gold or copper may also be used as bases. Cloisonné techniques originated in 4000 BC.

Basse-Taille type enamel Royal Gold Cup, 236 high x 178 across 14 C

3 Basse-Taille (French= low cutting) process is a kind of Champlevé but is applied to silver or gold. The metal is engraved or hammered to various depths according to the design. The depressions are then filled with translucent enamel, through which the design beneath it can be seen.

Silver-gilt set with plique á jour enamel plaques, and gold cell-work

4 Plique-à-jour (French=open braids) enamelling resembles cloisonne, but differs from it in that the partitions are soldered to each other rather than to the metal base, which is removed after firing. The remaining shell of translucent enamel gives the effect of stained glass. Plique-à-jour enamel is exceptionally fragile because it has no metal base.

Gold, encrusted (en ronde bosse) enamelling 1517

5 Encrusted Enamel or enamel en ronde bosse, involves the spreading of an opaque enamel paste over the slightly roughened surfaces of objects such as small figures.

Pocket Watch, 1750-1800, painted enamel portrait

6 Painted Enamels resemble small oil paintings. A metal plaque is covered with a layer of white enamel and fired. The design in coloured enamels, is then applied to the white ground, by painting, spraying, screen printing, or block printing, separate firing may be required for each colour because each may fuse at a different temperature. Painted enamelled miniature portraits were popular in Renaissance period.



Post by Gautam Shah



Greece stairs white houses.
Lime or Whitewash
is one of the oldest and cheapest methods of coating exterior and interior surfaces. It is created from Slacked Lime. Slack Lime has good opacity and so covering property. It is a non-convertible coating (does not change to any permanent product and so removable) best suited for conservation.

Santorini Cyclades GreeceLime stones (CaCO3), are heated to temperature (above 825 °C) to form Quick Lime (CaO) which is then quenched by adding water to form Calcium Hydroxide (slaked lime-CaOH2). Lime bearing materials are lime-stones, marbles, chalk, sea shells.



A lime-wash of slaked lime or CaOH2, on evaporation of water has very little binding property. A lime wash for first fortnight has almost no strength, however, over few days of atmospheric exposure it begins to absorb CO2 from air and converts itself to CaCO3 – a reaction called carbonation.


A white wash retains 85 % of its original reflectivity for consecutive 120 to 180 non rainfall days. However, the operative life may stretch more than one monsoon season on exteriors and possibly two or more monsoon seasons in the interiors.



A hydrated Lime often contains impurities like magnesium carbonate, calcium sulphate, chalk. The quenching or mixing water may also contain soluble salts and sediments. Both the types of impurities increase the chances of flaking (poor surface adhesion). To improve the adhesion materials like Casein (a milk protein), gums, glues, cooked starches, molasses, sugar, alum, common salt, oils, tallow, fats have been used. In modern age polymers (emulsions) are added. All these old and new additives supposedly improve the adhesion in the shorter run. These substances invariably hamper re-coating after ageing.

Additives to Lime Wash may provide little more water repellancy but they always reduce the process of carbonation of the material, resulting in chalking on the surface. For extra brightness ultramarine blue colour is added, and for other colour alkali resistant pigments like iron oxides are used. If the pigment additive is not alkali resistant, it will get faded out.


Colors Blue Street The Walls Of The Morocco

A Lime wash is considered air purifying treatment. It removes stench and rancidity of the enclosed spaces. American barns were regularly white washed with lime for the antimicrobial properties that provide hygienic and sanitary atmosphere. Limes washes, were used over tree trunks for their anti bacterial properties. Indian houses’ kitchens were re plastered  with mud plaster that was lighter in colour (natural alkaline soils or addition of lime). The process was called “Chauka” a purification rite after death in the house, menstrual cycle and festivals like Diwali, new year day, etc. Chauka removes oil-grease stains, smoke and shoot and refreshes the air.

1 Limewash_and_slate,_Glyn-gath_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1227199

To day Lime-wash is considered ideal restoration-conservation coating as it does not harm the masonry surfaces. It is also a sustainable product.A lime wash can easily be scrapped off the surface. It is recoatable treatment that is available cheaply in all parts of the world.





Post -by Gautam Shah



8664613983_104777299f_zWall Panellings are very similar to partition walls, except that panellings are wall dependent systems, so do not need lateral stability, and are useful on one side only. Panelling differs from cladding system as the latter ones are fixed with no cavity with the wall. A small cavity between the cavity and the panelling serves manifold purposes: service or utility space, insulation against heat, reduced sound or vibration transfer, level adjustments (cover a rough wall or create a curve or surface undulations).


640px-Berlin-_Jewish_Museum_-_3068Fixing panelling requires design considerations. Framing for the panelling, visible or concealed, its divisions must follow the fixing geometry. Panellings are fixed with localized spacers or studs (in vertical, horizontal or both directions). For studs in vertical direction 400 mm spacing is most common. For local spacers 200 x 400 grids are used.




For the past 400 years, wood planks, wood veneered boards, gypsum plaster on a lathe, gypsum boards have been materials for panelling. Today extruded plastic sections, pre-coated metal sections, and composite boards are widely used. Modern day panelling systems are factory-finished so require no post fitting finishing or painting. Prefab panels are usually demountable and reusable. Pre-fab panel systems are designed with concerns such as acoustic and insulation properties, impact resistance, allergic properties, fire escape time, pollution hazards, disposal systems and demountability.


Classical panelling consisted of large pieces of marble with engraving, wood and cast metal panels with inlay, engravings or other treatment fixed into specifically designed niche or alcove spaces formed within a design grid. The niches were made emphatic by surrounds, edge borders, half or full pillars, rustication, reveals, mouldings, pediment or eaves, bracketed sill shelves. In place of marble or mosaic design paintings or statuettes were also placed.



Later in Medieval period wood became the chief material for panelling. Oak was the common wood. Panelling occurred as small as a skirting band of 200 to 400 mm height at floor level. The skirting band was a plain-finished covering stripe, except for the top edge moulding. The band skirted around the floor touching elements like niches, alcoves, windows and doors, accentuating the contours by chamfered edge junctions of the moulding. The Skirting band later had a projecting out mouldings at the bottom edge.


The Skirting edge was extended to the sill of the windows or work top. It was called Wainscot (from Middle Dutch waghen-scot= wagon plank). The French equivalent for wainscot is boiserie. Boiserie is profusely decorated panelling that commonly covers the wall up to the ceiling and may also be painted, gilded, or, in some instances, inlaid. It was often carved in low relief, of the 17th and 18th C. in France.


Wainscots are like the extended skirting bends but also accommodated fixed furniture items like lower level cabinets, dressing units, secretary cabinets, chests and fireplaces. Wainscots were later extended a little beyond the top level of doors and windows and became panelling systems. The door or window lintel level panelling systems had top level continuous capping band. But unlike the skirting band, these were ‘wholly moulded and projecting out entities’. These top band were met by the curved down ceilings. Full wall panelling systems enforced a distinct regimen in Architectural designing and Interior space planning, as all the sizes had to be modulated. Window and Door placement had to be classical or formally balanced. These also forced designers to articulate and coordinate interiors and exteriors.

Dynamic Panelling as changing projection

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/172745960″>Terrell Place, Washington DC, by ESI Design</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/esidesign”>ESI Design</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>



Post -by Gautam Shah


grinder for Metal

Forming Surface Finishes

Surface Finish is a comparatively thin component. It occurs as ‘finishing treatment’ or the outermost layer on an object. Many surface finishes are fashioned out of the objects own material, are Self finishes. On the other hand, Applied finishes are of the same material as the objects, or are of completely different materials. The application of a finish over an object involves some form of material joining system. Applied finish systems are of two types. In the first case a continuous surface layer is formed by depositing one surfacing forming material, and in the other case, several surfacing components are joined to form an extensive surface layer.

Engraved Surface as Self Finish

Applied Finish

Applying a Surface Finish

An applied surface finish in the form of one continuous layer, is a coating. A coating is a thin surfacing, that normally forms a surface through conversion from Liquid to Solid phase. (The liquid phase may derive from Gas or Solid phase, or a transition from high viscosity to an applicable grade viscosity.)

Applied finish of some types require joining with the base material. The joining is created mainly by Adhesion, Fusion or Mechanical holding. ‘Joining’ or surface holding is also achieved through gravity and electrical charges.

Complex Objects

The joining as bonding or fastening occurs at two distinct levels: One, when the surfacing component attaches to the base material, and Two, when the surface components form edges to edge or ends joints. In the second case the surfacing components apparently enlarges the extent of the assembly. Edge joints of surface systems emerge or are created as per design. Though there are many surface situations (cobble stone or brick flooring) where edge to edge positions do occur, but no joining materials are used.

castle door knocker rivet wood