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Alternative floorings

What is alternate flooring-


A technique to make floors using cement, waste stone materials, or materials that have low embodied energy. IPS, China mosaic flooring, and Terrazzo flooring are a few examples. It is important that we be concerned about the flooring of our projects, as manufactured and processed products like tiles and artificial marbles consume lot of energy and emit carbon during the manufacturing process. Alternate floors are mostly made up of waste stones & cement; hence, they do not have any environmental impact. These techniques also help to reduce construction costs to a great extent.

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            IPS flooring         
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China mosaic flooring 
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Marble chip Terrazzo 
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Stone inlays Terrazzo

IPS Flooring

Indian patent stone, generally referred to as coba, is cement-based flooring that was traditionally used mostly in old Indian houses. It is one of the most cost-effective alternative floorings because it uses locally available sand and stone aggregate as a mixture. It is done in the thickness range of 50mm to 75mm. The flooring has a natural tendency to have surface cracks due to thermal expansion and contraction; hence, expansion joints are recommended at regular intervals to limit these cracks. Metal or glass strips can be used as expansion joints in the floor. The oxide pigments can be added to the mixture as a top layer to get the desired colors.

How to do it-


Substrates like PCC need to be leveled and cleaned. The metal or glass strips are fixed with the help of cement mortar to the spirit level. Once screed gets some strength, the mixture of cement, sand, and stone aggregates is poured manually to the top of these metal strips.

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The surface is to be levelled properly with the help of flats and trowels. To achieve its smooth appearance, 5 mm of cement slurry (with or without pigments) is spread after the base gets hard (generally 24 hours). This slurry is smoothened by using trowels. The floor should be cured for 7 days with the help of gunny bags or regular sprinklings of water. The floor can be polished with machines or hand grinders to achieve its shiny look. Sometimes wax or sealer coats can be applied to improve the aesthetics of the floor.


Nowadays many epoxy based products are available in the market which give the desired cement floor texture.  These artificial floors should not be called IPS floors.

China mosaic flooring

This flooring is generally done by using waste pieces of ceramic or vitrified tiles. The randomly shaped broken pieces are closely fixed to the cement substrate with or without patterns to make uniformly leveled flooring. Ideally, the sourcing of tile pieces should be done by collecting the waste tiles from other sites or from tile vendors. The technique upcycles waste tiles or pieces; hence, it is one of the good methods to make flooring cost-effective. Ideally, it is done for outdoor or semi-outdoor areas, as the broken edges of tiles provide a good anti-slip grip.

How to do it-


Broken pieces of tile should be sourced, cleaned, and segregated as a first step. The substrate is to be prepared at a uniform thickness or in slope using the cement screed. The surface should be roughened by using the steel wire brush. Allow the surface to dry for 24 hours.

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Tile pieces should be fixed by using the cement slurry from one corner to the end of the space. The grooves should be uniformly filled with cement grout parallelly while laying the tile chips. The cleaning of extra cement is to be done before the cement gets dry. Remember, this floor never gets polished; hence, cleaning the cement is very important while laying the broken tiles.

Terrazzo (with marble pieces & chips)

In this alternative flooring technique, waste pieces of stone get re-used by laying them in cement slurry and polishing them to make finished floors. It is an excellent technique for recycling the material and eventually making the project cost-effective. Any construction site or stone vendor always has a lot of waste of stones and marbles, which eventually goes waste in debris and landfills. Collecting such waste stone pieces and making patterned and aesthetically beautiful flooring brings sustainability to the projects.

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How to do it-


Substrate like PCC is to be corrected, levelled, and cleaned first. The overall thickness of the flooring is done little thicker than the stones that are being used for inlays, or up to 50 mm in the case of only marble chips being added to the cement mixture. The thickness reference of the flooring is to be marked with the help of cement mortar and strings. The broken pieces of stone or marble are to be arranged in patterns on a cementitious bed, which acts as a bonding layer.

Different patterns of Terrazzo
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The stone pieces are pressed properly for better bonding. There should be enough gaps between stones so that a cement mixture can be poured in the gaps. For marble chip flooring, the admixture of cement and chip is directly poured to the required thickness. The flooring should be manually levelled with the help of flats and trowels. The curing period for the flooring is approximately 14 days. The grinding and polishing of flooring is to be done with the help of machines and hand grinders. It is necessary to apply a sealer or wax coat for the durability of surfaces.

Terrazzo sample.jpg

Team members- Nikita Patil, Yash Prabhu, Srivibhu Viraj, Sakshi Waman, Kareena Shah, Gauri Satam, Tejesh Patil

Sketches- Sakshi Waman

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