Being the single largest visual element, the floors connect various functional spaces and help set the mood of the interiors. Floor tiles the current favourite, apart from the impressive range of new designs and materials, have made substantial technological and sustainable strides. Here’s a round-up of some of the dominant trends in porcelain, ceramic and vitrified tiles as the avant-garde surfacing material.
Contemporary open plan offices and homes present a challenge when specifying flooring. While installing the same flooring material and colour through the entire house creates a seamless look, it can also result in an uninspiring interior. Not surprisingly, the trend today is to mix and match materials such as stone with tiles, wood and carpet and so on. While, this creates visual interest it also demarcates functions in the open plan built-up space. Interior Designer Bhavna Lal illustrates, “For instance, the kitchen ceramic floor tiles blends with the adjoining dining area vitrified tile or marble stone floor which in turn touches the laminated or carpet flooring of the living room. An important aspect is the maintenance of the floor in a particular area according to which floor materials and finishes are chosen. A popular route to take for stone or wood floors is the tile version. Natural wood and stone can be expensive, difficult to maintain and finish and texture varies. Tiles on the other hand, are available in large sizes with consistent colour and patterns and are easily maintainable.”
Patterned tiles continue to be popular this year as also the vintage look and ceramic tiles which imitate natural stone. Another interesting option is the porcelain tiles masquerading as wooden flooring. Stone imitation tiles, such as travertine or limestone tiles in softened tones use muted colours and bold colour tiles with glazed finish offer warm and welcoming atmosphere. Subway-style tile, big rectangular tiles and tiles in warm tones like camel and champagne are emerging in residential settings. One also sees purple and blue tones and metallic like copper, in tiles.
Tiles in formats larger than the standard 12 x12 inches are prevalent, as also the digital prints like laminate and vinyl on ceramic tiles. The biggest trend is toward rectangular tiles of 12 x 24-inch sizes. The finishes vary from wood, marble, slate to concrete and encaustic or inlaid tiles. Ashok Kajaria, Chief Managing Director, Kajaria Ceramics, said, “A common perception amongst consumers, when it comes to tiles, is that bigger is better. This is because larger tiles lend a more roomy appearance to the interiors and looks very premium. However, given the limitation of space in metros, big tiles are being seen as a less practical alternative. Kajaria Ceramics has therefore introduced the 25 x 75cm digital ceramic tile range whose unique size will provide the same sophisticated and elegant aura, plus an open and breathable ambience to any room without overshooting one’s budget.”
Also, taking tiles in a new direction is an array of surface treatments like tiles with folded, twisted and stretched surfaces as well as many featuring micro-patterns, basket-weave, quilted leather, embroidered lace motifs and wallpaper-like textures. Moreover, new technological advancements in tile has resulted in superior finishes like antibacterial ceramic tiles, Veil Craft (VC) shield tiles, nano polished glazed vitrified tiles and the production of slim tiles which are thinner and lighter and can be applied directly over existing tiles to update a room while minimizing environmental impact.
Another sought after option is the digitally printed tiles with boundless design possibilities, sharper finishes and high resolution. Tiles with the natural finish of marble and wood are most preferred. Marble design tiles have a super glossy finish that gives a marble like feel to the surface. For luxury interiors, tiles with metallic textures and patterns embossed in gold, silver, bronze, copper or steel add the glam and rich quotient. Architect Atul Shetty says, “Digital tiles are joint free which refers to a perfect cut tile that gives a complete joint free look. These tiles can make a small room look bigger and are a practical way to add personal touch and a style quotient. Alternatively, small size tiles in coloured glass are apt for patios and outdoors lending pop up colours. Ceramic tiles are all about bold colours and patterns and wood-inspired tiles are the perfect way to be eco-friendly. Tile manufacturers are now making tiles that look exactly like all kinds of different stones at more affordable prices and the manufacturing of these tiles is easier on the environment than the quarrying of real stone.”
Furthermore, tile manufacturing companies have started using recycled content in their products such as recycled ceramic tiles that contain a substantial portion of recycled material. The content of recycled material varies in type and percentage ranging from 20-70 percent of recycled content. Generally a product is considered green if it contains at least 40% postindustrial recycled material or at least 20% post-consumer recycled material. Any waste in terms of raw material like clay, glaze, frit or semi-furnished material would be recycled content. The waste heat and energy is also recycled.
According to designers some of the consideration while laying a tile floor is tiles variations in terms of strength, porosity and slip resistance. Another important factor is the space function, usage and maintenance to choose from slip-resistant, non-porous, well-sealed or highly polished tiles. It is important to make sure the base of the floor is strong and inflexible as tiles will crack if they’re not properly grouting colour should be matched to the tiles for a seamless look
Vitrified tiles undergo a process of vitrification that gives it an extremely low porosity, low water absorption and stain resistance. The tiles are hard and strong and score over natural marble or granite tiles. These are available in a plethora of designs and patterns and are used for floors of varied domestic and industrial structures. Sandip Somany, JMD, HSIL Limited adds, “Nowadays vitrified tiles are available with a glazed surface on top that enables infinite design & finish possibilities. Hindware has introduced ‘High Definition Glazed Vitrified Tile (GVT)’ in 18 different shades of white, cream, grey, copper brown, rust and beige and textures like wooden, bamboo, slate and stone finishes in matt, polish, wooden and stone.”
Tile Style 2014
• Oversized and over scaled tiles
• Tiles made with recycled materials
• ‘Timber look’ ceramic floor tiles
• Concrete floor tiles
• Bold accent colours such as electric blue, olive green and charcoal grey
In fact, as the formats are growing larger, vitrified tiles are not just confined to the kitchens and bathrooms, but are also preferred in areas like living rooms, bedrooms, restaurants, malls and offices. “With the properties such as high gloss surface, dirt resistance, hygiene and low maintenance, demand for these tiles will only escalate. Today, we have tiles which specialize in various aspects such as slip-resistance for bathrooms and swimming pool areas, anti-bacterial properties for outdoors especially in humid regions and scratch-resistant properties that are suitable for high traffic areas. These specific properties of tiles make them a necessity without compromising on the visual appeal.” Concurs architect & designer Menka Sehgal and gives an example of one of her projects, “While, marble has taken a backseat, carpeted floors was not an option since Delhi’s weather doesn’t permit, so vitrified tiles were the ultimate choice. To lend a spacious look living room and lounge were done with Italian marble finish tiles, children’s room and kitchen in antiskid tiles for safety and to create a different ambience in master bedroom, wooden finish dark brown vitrified tiles were installed that look stunning in any weather.”
There is so much going on in the field of tile flooring, designers agree. Tiles, ceramic, porcelain, glass or vitrified can be used to create personalized pattern or mosaic and the color options are unlimited. Stone, wood, metal finish tiles add dramatic touch. Bamboo, grass, fabric and leather effect tiles are soft and warm up your interiors. While, specialized tiles like inlaid or encaustic and concrete bring heritage or rustic charm to the space. Ashok Goyal, CEO, Nitco Tiles said, “Consumers are looking for modern interior options that offer elegance as well as traditional home comfort. Our natural stone and marble look tile designs are modern trends that create the look and feel of traditional homes. The designs inspired by leather, textile and geometry look luxurious and unique and add an ethnic flavor to modern home interiors.”
As a matter of fact, tiled floors have become a highly valued option with unconventional tile designs like subway tiles, beehive, hex shapes and the herringbone pattern taking center stage. According to designers, mixed flooring are really trendy now. In a kitchen and adjoing dining space, the wooden tiles when cut, to fit into the ceramic tile pieces, contrast the warm wood and cooler ceramic colors for a surreal feel. Kitchens and bathrooms are ideal to combine stone tile and patterned tile flooring to add movement as also match counters and cabinets. And then you have the ‘high traffic’ areas such as passages, hallways and entrances where large format vitrified tiles and mosaic border tiles are not only a trend but a practical solution too.