The growing environmental awareness is revamping the material choices of the contemporary bathroom. The emphasis now is on natural and organic wall finishes, light, and airy colours and clean, large-format floors. While, the trendy and green wall finishes can include eco wallpaper, faux finish, eco paint, ceramic tile and engineered stone, to name a few, the floor covering alternatives range from polished concrete, recycled glass to reclaimed wood, rubber and terrazzo among others.
Bath flooring endures splashed water, wet feet, spills and stains on regular basis, so durability and hygiene are of paramount importance. However, that doesn’t have to mean compromising on style and design.
Ceramic tile is the most eco-friendly and versatile material either for floor or walls. It is made from 100% natural and plentiful raw material. Also, its manufacturing process recycles most of the raw material and water wastes back into the production thereby reducing wastage. Ceramic tiles do not absorb or emit pollutants, when used with non toxic cement-based setting and grouting materials. It also inhibits the growth of mold, mildew, fungus and viruses and can be cleaned easily with pH-neutral cleaners. Morby, Kajaria, Euro Ceramics among others provide ceramic anti slip floor tiles in range of finishes like rustic, metallic and wood for bath floors. Vitrified tile made from clay and silica is even more non porous, scratch and stain resistant flooring option. Vitrified tiles are machine-made products with consistent shades and thickness and much superior to natural marble or granite. They are available in large sizes and provide a paper thin joint to offer large format flooring. Vitrified tile from Nitco, Marbito, HR Johnson and Regent Granito is the material of choice where glossy and sparkling floor surface is required to set the mood of the interiors.
Another material, substituting natural stone in high-end bathrooms is eco-friendly engineered or reconstituted stone from companies like Asian Granito and Classic Marbles. It is manufactured from 90%–95% of natural stone granulates and 5%–10% combined bonding agents, special additives and pigments. Because of its hardness, low water absorption and resistance to cracking and warpage, the material is ideal for bath floors as well as walls. Unlike, natural stone, it does not need to be polished, is free of cavities and there is no risk of cracking veins. Quartz, limestone, marble and granite are the popular finishes in engineered stone.
Alternatively, concrete used as both the finished material and the structural floor, forms smart looking, efficient and sustainable flooring for baths. Concrete can be polished, painted or tinted as per the modern or rustic interior décor, can be given a tiled effect with different colours or inlayed with other materials such as glass to offer an extravagant bath floor. Concrete with recycled aggregates such as glass, porcelain or coal fly ash is sustainable, extremely durable and easy to clean. BGSB polished no-wax concrete flooring and Bomanite stamped concrete floors are some of the examples of stylish concrete flooring. Likewise, Terrazzo is a popular choice for minimalist bathroom as it adds character to the floor to complement clean straight lines of fittings and fixtures. Terrazzo made of chips of marble or granite, low-VOC sealers and low-impact aggregates such as recycled glass score high for sustainability. Companies like Neocrete and Bharat flooring offer terrazzo floors with endless coloured blends, textures and finishes to suit designer aesthetics for luxury bath.
If its traditional hardwood floor that you require for the bath-suite, then reclaimed wood, salvaged wood or wood from FSC certified forests is the greener option. Besides, engineered hardwood that incorporates real wood as a veneer layer, reinforced with high-density fibreboard core, offers similar natural wood appearance without swelling, warping or rotting. Laminated wood planks, a multi-layer synthetic flooring product fused together with a lamination process available in various wood finishes too is a great option for a bathroom since it can be stained in a variety of colours and works well with any bathroom décor. Armstrong, Pergo, Ego floor and KHARS are some of the manufacturers of engineered and laminated wood floors.
Lending a spa like quality to the bath area is pebbles flooring tile of smooth white riverside stones. The flooring, mostly used in and around shower areas offers underfoot gentle massage to tired feet and adds beauty without harming the environment. Similarly, recycled glass tile, with its jewel like qualities and horde of colour options, makes bathroom a fun place. Ranging from one inch to eighteen inches in size, glass tiles catch the light and add sparkle to the interiors. Moreover, they are non-absorptive, won’t mildew or mold in damp environments, are easy to maintain and do not stain.
Finally, the predominantly hard-surfaced bathroom floor can benefit from the soft texture of a rug or a bath mat. Reclaimed wool rugs made from yarn from old jumpers, carpets and rugs weaved into beautiful tweed rugs can be the highlight of a traditional bath interiors while woven inner tube bath mats made from reclaimed bicycle inner tubes can add an eclectic touch to modern style bath space.
Till few years ago, the term eco-friendly wall finishes evoked images of plain and austere surfaces. Today, designers and manufacturers are creating ingenious wall covering materials that are not only sustainable but also offer luxurious appeal.
Low or no VOC, mildew resistant decorative paints with semi gloss finish to keep moisture from penetrating through the walls, remain most popular for wall surfaces in bath spaces. Companies like Kansai Nerolac, Asian Paints, Berger and Jotun offer range of textured paint finishes. Also, Oikos metallic finish, gold and silver leafing technique with low environmental impact are in style for trendy bathrooms. In addition, adding a creative touch to painted walls are artfully applied faux finishes like sponged effect, three dimensional patterns, Mediterranean textured plaster look and European trompe l’oeil painting, enhancing the appearance of the luxe bath space.
Ceramic tiles made from 70 per cent recycled content are another popular bathroom wall finish. Tiles that look antiquated or like quarried stone, glazed and crackled like earthy stone, marble or aged terra-cotta add old world glamour to the luxury bath. Natural stone & gold finish tiles, honed surface and handcrafted tiles too are being combined to create stunning visuals with durable appeal. Nitco, HR Johnson, RAK Ceramics are some of the major players in this segment who have introduced innovations like digitally printed ceramic tiles and tiles with embossed effects and metallic sheen to offer distinctive character.
Adding an antique look is the Venetian plaster that uses a pre-coloured natural substrate and layering of natural materials onto a wall surface. This not only creates a three-dimensional effect with proven longevity but the thickness of the plaster also gives insulating properties. These plasters are non-dusting, mold and fade resistant, repairable and control moisture. Jotun and Valspar paints provide unique interior acrylic finish of rich, opaque colour with delicate tone-on-tone highlights.
Large vitrified tiles and engineered stone for floors are being employed as wall coverings too for their close resemblance to natural stone. When matched to the bathroom floor, the effect is of royal grandeur. Thus, vitrified tiles and engineered stones from Nitco, Asian Granito, Somany and Classic Marble are increasingly being used in high end bath project.
Likewise, recycled glass mosaic tiles add exuberance to modern bathrooms as they reflect other colours of the bath space. The transparent, semi-opaque and opaque tiles in size ¾” x ¾” tiles are available in finishes ranging from natural stone, textured, iridescent high gloss to enamel and coloured gold. The tiles create illusion of depth and make for eye-catching backsplash or vibrant shower enclosure. Bisazza and Palladio glamour collection glass mosaic tiles in imaginative patterns and designs are the highlight of any upscale bath-suite.
Evoking the feel of a spa retreat, wood grain finishes have become a popular trend in bathrooms. Elegant and inviting wood grain finish porcelain wall tiles such as from Grescasa and RAK Ceramics bring the spa experience home when combined with a calming paint hues, stone floor and luxurious furnishings. Conversely, woven natural bamboo panel is a good choice for wall covering in spa bathrooms. Bamboo does not shrink and swell like many other hardwoods or warp due to fluctuating air humidity.
What’s more, a technologically advanced range of wall coverings is the Ecoresin panels made from clear plastics, 40% of which are recycled. The texture of the natural materials added to the resin provides warmth, and works well as back-lit wall panels, basin splash back and shower walls. These dynamic translucent panels manufactured by 3form India are bound to bring nature within your bath space.