Ceramic and vitrified tiles have successfully replaced natural stones such as marble and granite and also hardwood

A decade ago, fashioning an exotic flooring invariably meant reaching out to high-end natural stone varieties or expensive hardwood options. Essentially it spoke of opulence and a fat budget to indulge with. Cut to the present and the scene is totally different. With a range of exquisite, mind boggling tile varieties replicating so authentically natural stone, hardwood besides others, flooring options have never been more extensive.

Be it natural stone, semi-precious stone mosaic, rare hardwood varieties, antique handmade Spanish tiles, Moroccan prints or customised options, the range on offer in the ceramic and vitrified tiles is one that can only be imagined, conceptualised. While the varieties are stunning, making their choice a hard task, the tiles have also made the laying process as well as their later maintenance far easier than what the natural varieties had to offer.

Replacing natural stone

Says Shambu G. Chhabria, Managing Director of Chhabria Tiles, “Ceramic and vitrified tiles have successfully replaced natural stone such as marble, granite and also hardwood. The tiles come in a range of options where they offer an authentic replication of the grains, the feel of the natural material. What is more attractive is the range of finishes available, which are not available in the natural material. Besides, these tiles, unlike earlier, are now available in large sizes such as four feet by six feet and four feet by eight feet, very similar to natural stone.”

While these tiles are easier to lay, requiring far less skill and time, they are cost effective, within the reach of smaller budgets, he says. “Laying natural stone on a 1000 sq.ft space requires 15 days, while these tiles require merely two to three days”, explains Chhabria. “They are also light in weight and maintenance- free, detergent friendly. The range for each segment, be it marble, granite or wood variety, is enormous, something that cannot be matched by natural materials. The finishes on offer, such as rustic, matt, leather, lappato, and sugar, are likewise multiple, to suit the varied, myriad tastes of individual customers.”

No waste while laying

Given the uniformity in size and thickness of these tiles, there is far less wastage while laying them, adds Architect Gunjan Das of NG Associates. “Given the authentic replication in finish, textures, grains of the natural materials, be it wood or stone, it makes sense to opt for newer versions of ceramic and vitrified tiles as they come with the cost advantage as well as easier maintenance along with a larger range of options and finishes to choose from”, she says.

The range on offer also include the exquisite mosaic tiles with embedded semi-precious stones as well as antique artistic handmade tiles replicated to perfection, says Gunjan Das. In natural hardwood too, the various patterns such as strips, planks, herringbone are all authentically replicated in these tiles, she adds.

Concurring, Chhabria says, “The Moroccan tiles, because of their artistic, captivating motifs, are much is demand. The Terrazzo range of tiles is another set which is much sought after. These replicate the old mosaic tiles while lending a granite feel, with matt and rustic finishes.”

Green with exotic patterns

Pointing out that the current set of tiles available have moved away from the earlier plain varieties, offering now exotic patterns that replicate natural materials, Architect Akshay Heranjal of The Purple Ink Studio says, “This is also a greener option as it stems the erosion of natural resources which are fast running out.”

Indicating the easy to lay, easy to maintain feature of these tiles, Heranjal further adds, “The tiles are not confined to mere authentic replication of natural stone or hardwood combined with their range of spectacular finishes, they also come in customised options with many hand-printed tiles that are as exclusive and as expensive as natural stone varieties.” The colours, exquisite patterns and finishes that these tiles offer are also beyond what can naturally be obtained from natural stone, he says, “where these designs go beyond replicating”.

The ceramic and vitrified tiles are not confined to replicating only natural stone, hardwood, mosaic tiles or artistic patterns, but also the rustic concrete which is currently much in vogue. “Concrete when laid can develop cracks, the finish also may not be right. But the cement tiles that are currently available replicate concrete so perfectly and given the large sizes that each of these tiles come in, they lend a seamless feel akin to actual concrete without the imperfections. The end result is a spectacular finish to the floor”, says Heranjal.

While the options for a luxurious floor that offers the look and feel of the desired material chosen are aplenty, the factors that finally decide on what the right choice ultimately should be depend on the volume of the space that needs to be floored, the theme or décor opted, the functionality of the space and how it converges with the décor of the rest of the interiors.

Source: A look by Nandhini Sundar the hindu

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