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We are keen on using Italian marble in our drawing room, but we have...

Vandna Narain

Posted: May 18, 2007 at 1739 hrs IST

...heard that it is a very soft stone and that it can develop cracks. Please guide us as to what we should look for while purchasing the stone in terms of quality and dimensions. Also, please give us an idea of the price range for granite, ceramic and vitrified tiles of a size of 2ft x 2 ft, and laminate flooring.
Raghuveer Mehta, New Delhi.
Since you are planning to use Italian marble in your drawing room, ideally you should look out for a stone that does not have a net stuck on its rear surface. These stones are relatively stronger than those having a net stuck behind them. Stones used for flooring should have a minimum thickness of 20mm and a size not greater than 2ft x 2ft or 600mm x 600mm. Ensure that once the stone is laid the masons on site tap the surface of the floor with a wooden mallet immediately and listen for a hollow sound. Any stone piece that has not been securely fixed to the mortar will give out a hollow sound. The stone piece can be safely removed and re-laid after repairing its base mortar, while its joints are still fresh.

A top coating of an epoxy compound with a matching colour pigment can hide and marginally reduce the development of surface cracks. This epoxy compound coating has a dual role to play and it also seals the pores of the stone and prevents it from retaining stains. This coating is applied after the first few grinding cycles of stone. Ideally you should allow the epoxy compound to harden for a few days and fuse with the top surface, before machine polishing.

Now regarding the second part of your query: granite costs in the range of Rs.90 and Rs.200 per sq ft depending on the various varieties. Ceramic and vitrified flooring tiles of the size of 2ft x 2ft, cost in the range of Rs 40 and Rs 140 per sq ft. These come in both matt and glazed finish and darker the colour higher the price. The matt tiles have scratch resistant and anti-skid properties. Laminate flooring falls in the range of Rs 85 and Rs 120 per sq ft. These are approximate price ranges I would advise you to do a market survey before making a final selection of the choice of material for flooring.

We have moved into our ancestral home which we are planning to renovate. This house is about 50 years old. We would like to know what are the things we should take care of while living in such an old house and what all to do for the maintenance and upkeep of the house.
Sarabjeet, Chandigarh.
For the maintenance and upkeep of an old house, look out for the following. Firstly, paint the exterior of the building every five years. Nowadays many waterproof emulsions are available, with these old structures can be well protected. Check for structural weaknesses every four to six years, incase you discover any problem engage a professional i.e. an architect or structural engineer to look into the problem. Even if there are small repairs to be done, attend to them quickly before they develop into a bigger problem.

Before you start the renovation of the house, ideally you should get its structural adaptability checked from a professional. In case you are planning to conceal external wiring and plumbing, once again check for structural implications. While rewiring, invest in a good wiring system such as copper wiring. Copper wiring is expensive but would last at least 20 years. Look out for termites and woodborers and get an anti-termite treatment done inside the house and in the external areas by a professional agency. If there are any leakages get them fixed before moving into the house. These are the basic tips for the maintenance of an old house and things to take care of before renovating and moving into the house.

What kinds of mattresses are available in the market? We need to buy mattresses for a double and single bed.
Shelly,Mumbai
The various mattresses available in the market are: Rubberised coir mattress — These have a combination of jute and foam. They cost approximately between Rs 3,000 and 4,000.

Pocketed spring mattress — Their high coil count increases bounce. These are approximately priced Rs 8,000 upwards.

Bonnell Spring mattress — These have firm springs that are good for the back. These are approximately priced Rs 7,000 upwards.

Orthopedic Mattress — Its special foam and jute layer is good for the back. These are approximately priced Rs 6,000 upwards.

These prices are for standard companies and not for locally manufactured mattresses.
The author is an architect

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