When it comes to flooring for your home, you have so many choices to confuse you. On the one hand you have a choice of vinyl flooring in the form of a continuous roll that can be laid out and affixed in place. There are vinyl tiles that resemble stone but are not. Then you have the age-old wooden parquet flooring. Vitreous tiles in mirror or dull finish are also gaining in popularity due to their hard wearing surface and easy to clean properties. Stone tiles or mineral blocks for flooring are also in use since millennia and can last for centuries with little maintenance, depending on the type used. Flooring can also be made using cork, laminates or linoleum. Of all these, age-old mineral flooring still has lasting qualities and environment friendly properties. With this ideabook, let us find out more about mineral flooring, its physical composition and charateristics, the associated health prospects etc.
Loosely termed, a mineral floor can be said to one made using natural minerals such as quartz, marble, slate, granite or even limestone in their natural state, cut to size and laid out. Some minerals such as marble, granite and quarts, can be polished to a mirror finish while limestone and slate may not take that high degree of polish. Mineral composites can be used to make tiles. A prime example is ceramic or vitreous files made using clay, covered with enamel that, when heat fired, forms a hard glaze. Another example is a mosaic tile made up of cement and sand mixed with pieces of stone and pressed in a hydraulic press under high pressure to form tiles that are laid out as flooring. A packed mud floor can also be said to be mineral floor, the mainstay of houses in poorer rural areas. A mixture of sand, cement and grit can be laid out to form a concrete floor.
Concrete is not compressed so, it sets to a hard mass and cannot be polished. Cement mosaic tiles are made using high pressure that compacts the mass and allows for polishing after installation. Cement is tough and durable. Marble is relatively soft and it is also vulnerable to chipping and chemical attacks. Marble can be pure white or colored and can be streaked with veins depending on the area from where it is mined and the degree of impurities inside. However, marble is cool to the touch and can take high polish. Granite is a tough igneous or basaltic rock that is extremely hard. It requires special tools to cut and work granite. It will last a lifetime and more and is not so easy to scratch. It can also take a high degree of polish. Vitreous ceramic tile: This mineral floor is made in factories to precise dimensions and shape. The glazing is extremely hard and the tile is strong to stay fresh for years. Any number of colors and designs are possible in the glazing. Designed by Dofine wall| Floor creations from Netherlands, this is a beautiful wall design from the project Glamm floors.
From the health perspective, mineral floors may be the safest. Vinyl and plastic tiles can give off gases as solvents inside the material evaporate. Some of these chemicals are carcinogenic. Mineral tiles are safe in that they do not emit any residual gases or volatile organic compounds (VOC) into the atmosphere and endanger occupants of the house. Most mineral flooring, made of granite or vitreous tiles or marble, usually have a closed smooth surface. This means bacteria or pathogens cannot enter the surface and multiply. The same closed smooth surfaces means that it is easy to clean these tiles and keep the area perfectly clean and hygienic for home occupants. Most mineral tiles can be cleaned with solvents or cleaning agents, which is not the case with PVC or plastic materials that may dissolve or corrode. Wood can harbor pests. Mineral floors, when sealed perfectly, do not permit entry of pests or harbor them.
Manufacture of mineral flooring material has a degree of impact on the environment. Manufacturing ceramic glazed tiles or vitreous tiles is an energy intensive process. The tile is baked in high temperature kilns and then the glazing also requires high temperature. This means more use of fuel and generation of effluents as well as greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Stones such as flagstones, limestone, granite and marble are obtained from mines. Quarrying is followed by cutting in huge machines. It is a power-intensive process and the dust as well as debris can pollute the environment. Cement consumes huge amounts of natural minerals extracted from quarries and also huge amount of power, translating to high impact on the environment.
For someone a budget cement mosaic tiles or a concrete flooring is perhaps the cheapest to use throughout the house. When cost is not a factor then the finest quality marble or granite will make a living loom look absolutely fantastic. However, vitreous mirror tiles are all the rage these days and the positive thing about these tiles is that they can be laid out quickly and are just as suitable for all rooms including bedrooms and kitchens, presenting a uniform look. If you have an outdoor patio or verandah perhaps you might find the use of flagstones, slate or limestone more appropriate. There is no limitation. Quartzite and Slate tiles, with their rustic look, suit all rooms. Slate, with its unique look and texture, can be used in conservatories, hallways and kitchens. Use of mineral floors inside is a reminder of nature.
Tiles and flooring, regardless of whether they are wood, plastic or mineral, need care and maintenance to ensure they look as good as new. Care depends on the type of mineral flooring installed in your house. Marble, for instance, is sensitive to acids and corrosive materials. It is also soft and can chip easily. Take care not to drop heavy objects or spill corrosive liquids. Granite is tough but that is no excuse to move sharp edged heavy objects across such flloors because it will scratch. Slate and limestone are durable yet softer than granite besides being vulnerable to acids. Mineral floors can be cleaned with most detergents and it is best to avoid use of acids, except in the case of vitreous tiles with their hard, impervious and inert glazing.
The best thing about natural mineral floor is the range of colors and textures these are available in. Granite is available in colors ranging from black to green to rust. Tiles in various colors can be cut into various shapes to form exquisite floor designs. Marble has a natural veined look. Still, one can mix black and white marble as well as green marble to create a mosaic that stands out as being unique. As for vitreous tiles, these are available in plain colors, in veined textures and in a breathtaking range of designs that will add a touch of colour and beauty to your interiors. Some might argue a plain mirror vitreous floor looks good since it reflects doors, furniture and windows. Others might opt for a textured vitreous mineral floor if they find light reflections to be distracting. With or without a carpet covering, the mineral floor can be the starting point that defines the style of the interior.
Mineral floor is a natural product and should be the first consideration over cork, wood or vinyl flooring due to its beauty, durability and environment-friendliness.
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