architecture
Feb 074 min read

From Earth to Art: Exploring Traditional Flooring types in India

written by

Shivani Chougula

India's Traditional Flooring: Mud, Kota Stone, Oxide, Athangudi Tiles


Traditional flooring in India is a reflection of the country's rich cultural diversity and heritage. Over centuries, different regions have developed unique flooring techniques using locally available materials and traditional craftsmanship. From the earthy charm of mud flooring to the vibrant hues of athangudi tiles, each type carries its own story and significance.


1. Mud Flooring:

floor1.pngCredits - Shivani Chougula


Mud flooring, also known as 'kaccha floors,' is one of the oldest and most traditional flooring types in India. It involves mixing clay, sand, and water to create a smooth, earthen surface.

Material Composition: Mud flooring primarily consists of clay, sand, and water. Sometimes, additives like straw or cow dung are mixed in to enhance durability.

Regional Significance: Mud flooring is prevalent in rural areas across India, especially in regions with hot and arid climates. It's also commonly found in traditional village homes and eco-friendly establishments.

Installation: Mud flooring is typically installed by spreading the mud mixture evenly across the floor surface and allowing it to dry naturally. The surface may be polished or coated with linseed oil for added durability.

Advantages:

  • Environmentally friendly and sustainable.

  • Provides natural insulation, keeping interiors cool in hot weather.

  • Easy and inexpensive to install.

Disadvantages:

  • Susceptible to erosion and water damage.

  • Requires regular maintenance and reapplication of protective coatings.

  • Not suitable for high-traffic areas or wet environments.


2. Kota Stone Flooring:

floor2.pngCredits - Shivani Chougula


Kota stone is a type of limestone that is quarried in the Kota region of Rajasthan, India. It is renowned for its rugged texture, natural variations, and durability.

Material Composition: Kota stone is primarily composed of calcium carbonate and other minerals. It is known for its distinctive blue-gray color and smooth finish.

Regional Significance: Kota stone flooring is widely used in residential and commercial buildings across India, especially in the northern and western regions where it is abundant.

Installation: Kota stone flooring is installed by cutting the stone into uniform tiles or slabs and then fixing them to the floor using adhesive or mortar. The surface may be polished or left unpolished, depending on the desired finish.

Advantages:

  • Highly durable and long-lasting.

  • Resistant to scratches, stains, and wear.

  • Easy to clean and maintain.

  • Suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.

Disadvantages:

  • Can be costly compared to other types of flooring.

  • Requires professional installation due to the hardness of the stone.

  • Prone to chipping if not handled properly during installation.


3. Oxide Flooring:

floor3.png

Credits - Shivani Chougula


Oxide flooring, also known as 'red oxide flooring,' is a traditional flooring technique that involves mixing iron oxide pigments with cement to create vibrant, colored floors.

Material Composition: Oxide flooring consists of cement, sand, water, and iron oxide pigments. The pigments are available in various colors, including red, yellow, green, and black.

Regional Significance: Oxide flooring is commonly found in South India, particularly in states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. It is often used in traditional homes, temples, and public buildings.

Installation: Oxide flooring is installed by mixing the pigments with wet cement and then applying the mixture to the prepared floor surface. The surface is leveled and smoothed before it dries to create a seamless finish.

Advantages:

  • Offers a wide range of color options to suit different design preferences.

  • Durable and resistant to wear and tear.

  • Provides a smooth and seamless surface.

  • Can be easily cleaned and maintained.

Disadvantages:

  • Requires skilled labor for proper installation.

  • Susceptible to cracking if not laid properly.

  • Colors may fade over time with exposure to sunlight.


4. Athangudi Tile Flooring:

floor4.png

Credits - Shivani Chougula


Athangudi tiles are handmade terracotta tiles that originated in the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu, India. They are known for their intricate patterns, vibrant colors, and unique craftsmanship.

Material Composition: Athangudi tiles are made from a mixture of local clay, sand, and natural dyes. The tiles are molded by hand and sun-dried before being fired in kilns to harden.

Regional Significance: Athangudi tile flooring is a hallmark of traditional Chettinadu architecture and is commonly found in heritage homes, palaces, and mansions across Tamil Nadu.

Installation: Athangudi tiles are installed by laying them in a pattern on the prepared floor surface and grouting the gaps between tiles with a cement-sand mixture. The surface is then polished to enhance the shine and finish.

Advantages:

  • Adds a touch of traditional elegance and charm to interiors.

  • Durable and resistant to wear and tear.

  • Available in a wide range of colors and patterns.

  • Helps maintain a cool temperature in hot climates.

Disadvantages:

  • Requires skilled artisans for tile laying and grouting.

  • Can be costly compared to other types of flooring.

  • Prone to cracking if not handled or installed properly.


In conclusion, traditional flooring types in India offer a glimpse into the country's rich cultural heritage and architectural legacy. From the simplicity of mud flooring to the intricate designs of Athangudi tiles, each type carries its own unique beauty and significance. Understanding the characteristics, materials, and installation methods of these traditional flooring types can help homeowners and designers make informed choices that reflect India's diverse culture.


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Shivani Chougula

Shivani Chougula

An architect navigating the intersection of Art and Architecture.