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Flooring is an important part of the civil work. Some general comments: Flooring is almost impossible to change once you start living in your house. So its best to get it done before you move in. Also, its something that will improve the overall look of your house so even if you are tight on the budget, I would suggest that you definitely do the flooring well, and then cut down on furniture items that can always be added later. Also, try to give more leeway on the budget for good flooring, because it needs to last long, and cannot be easily changed later.

There are two main choices for flooring: (1) Natural stone such as marble or kota, or (2) Tiles. We laid tiles in our home so I am going to focus on them. But I will add some quick points about choosing a natural stone like marble.

Marble (Natural Stone)

It may seem that marble will be expensive compared to tiles which is mostly true. However with the advent of a plethora of imported tiles in the market, this is not always true. We looked at some different types of marble as follows:
  • Indian Rajasthan: Makrana was a popular Indian white marble a few years ago but it hard to find good Makrana marble now at reasonable rates as the mines have been extensively mined. Banswada looks white and good but it is known to get dark spots after the marble has been laid.
  • Abree from the Middle East (Oman): This is a cream colored marble which is not very expensive. It costs between Rs. 250/sq.ft and Rs. 350/sq.ft. Its been around for about 5-10 years so not sure of the long-term looks and sustainability.
  • Australian White: As the name suggests, its a white marble from Australia. It costs upwards of Rs. 300/sq.ft. and it is very white! There are other varieties of white too (for example, from Vietnam) which start at the same base range but can go up to Rs. 700/sq.ft.
  • Italian: This marble is clearly the most prized. Its looks really nice but its expensive starting at Rs. 700/sq.ft. and the sky is the limit. Some examples of Italian marbles are Dyna (Diana), Travertino, and Carrara.
Remember that there are extra costs involved with laying marble as compared to tiles.
  1. Unloading of marble to the site costs much more than tiles, especially if you live on a higher floor.
  2. Laying the marble is more tricky than tiles so its more costly. It costs around Rs. 100-120/sq.ft. to lay marble compared to Rs. 25-30 to lay big tiles. Laying Italian marble is even more expensive. It seems that (if you choose marble) everyone can quickly tell that you have a lot of money to spend on your home and will charge you even more for it ;). Also note that the laying has to be done well if there is some design on your marble otherwise it will look bad. This is clearly not a problem with tiles.
  3. Polishing the marble will cost around Rs. 40/sq.ft. and it is not required for tiles.


Tiles have to be selected for multiple locations in the house such as:
  • Main flooring
  • Bathroom walls (called Dado tiles)
  • Bathroom flooring
  • Kitchen walls and flooring
  • Balcony and Terrace (Outdoor) flooring
  • Staircase

Tile Costs

There are multiple costs involved in changing the tiles as follows:
  • Dismantling the existing tiles:
    • Breaking tiles: Tiles laid out on the carpet area as well as the skirting have to be broken. The labor rates vary from Rs. 15 to Rs. 25/sq.ft.
    • Bringing the tile debris down to the ground floor: If you live on a higher floor, and the society does not allow elevators for debris collection, you will have to pay extra money per sq.ft. We paid Rs. 5/sq.ft. extra to bring down the debris from the third floor.
    • Clearing the debris from the site: Tempos will come to collect the debris away. For our 3-bedroom flat where we dismantled our entire flooring, we needed four rounds of debris collection, each costing around Rs. 1600.
  • New tiles: There is a very very wide range of tiles, starting from Rs. 50/sq.ft. to Rs. 1000+/sq.ft. for basic floor and wall tiles. In addition, you can put some special highlighter tiles (e.g. in bathrooms) which can cost any where up to Rs. 10,000/sq.ft. As a general rule of thumb, Indian tiles are cheaper compared to imported tiles as there are less transport and import duty costs.
  • Material to lay tiles: Sand and cement are required to lay the new tiles. This cost is around Rs. 40-50/sq.ft.
  • Labor to lay tiles: Labor costs around Rs. 25-35/sq.ft. to lay the tiles and the skirting. The bigger the tile size, the higher the labor cost to lay it.
  • Labor to cover the tiles: Once the tiles are laid out, they need to be covered with PVC sheets or Plaster of Paris so that they do not get spoiled while other work in the house goes on. This will cost around Rs. 10/sq.ft.
So overall you can easily add Rs. 95-125/sq.ft. to change tiles in addition the actual cost of the tiles themselves.

Types of tiles

The most popular choice for floor tiles is Glazed Vitrified Tiles (GVT). These are durable tiles for home usage. Most GVT tiles are made in Morbi, Gujarat. A lot of tiles are also imported, mostly from Europe. The different types of GVT are:
  • Soluble salt: The cheapest variety used by builders; should not be seriously considered unless cost is a huge factor.
  • Single charge: The basic tile body has a single charge of the tile design imprinted on the tile.
  • Double charge: Same as the single-charge tiles but two charges of the tiles design are applied, thus giving the tile more durability. For home usage, it does not matter if you use single-charge or double-charge tiles. Commercial spaces can use double-charge tiles so that they do not wear too much.
  • Nano print: These tiles have fancy digital prints on them. They are quite expensive but you can get really nice designs.
  • Full-body vitrified: Here the design of the tiles is applied in the entire tile body so it is extremely durable; there is no notion of the tile chipping away and the design coming off. Mostly such tiles are used in parking lots and other heavy traffic areas.

Tile Size

Tiles come in many different sizes. In a regular-sized flat, a regular 2-feet square tile is good enough from a looks, durability, and cost perspective. Some common sizes are:
  • 300mm x 300mm
  • 600mm x 600mm
  • 800mm x 800mm
  • 1 metre x 1 metre
Tile Size
Small Tile (up to 600mm square) Big Tile (bigger than 600mm square)
Cheaper (price and labor) on a per sq.ft. basis Expensive (price and labor) on a per sq.ft. basis
Lighter Heavier to provide more stability
Lead to more grooves in the floor which looks untidy Fewer grooves; closer to a natural stone finish
No warpage Can lead to some warpage near the edges due to the large size
Lots of choices for design Limited choices, especially in the local Indian tiles

Highlighter tiles are used only in some areas to highlight that portion. They are of different sizes and they can be combined to form designs of different sizes.

Tile Finish

There are 4 main types of tile finish:
  1. Glossy: This is the most common type of finish in homes today. The tiles are very shiny.
  2. Lapatto/Satin: This finish is in the middle of glossy and matte finishes. It reflects less light and is less slippery compared to glossy. It is a new finish in the market. Lapatto is closer to glossy whereas satin is closer to matte.
  3. Matte: This is the dullest finish; it does not reflect any light and is least slippery. This tile finish actually has a slightly undulated surface which can make it a bit difficult to clean.
Tile Finish
Feature Glossy Lapatto/Satin Matte
Ease of Cleanliness Very easy Easy More work, especially with undulations
Design choice Highest variety Very limited Less design, more plain colors
Reflection Almost mirror-like Dull None whatsoever
Slipperiness Very high Medium Non-slippery, rough

Having installed glossy tiles at our place, I would recommend them. They look very nice and clean, and allow for more light reflection. Overall, a good choice for the home.

Staircase Tiling

Steps have two parts for tiling - the rise (vertical) and the tread (horizontal). You can use regular tiles for the rise but you need some stone for the tread as it needs to be smoothed and polished to avoid a dangerous rough edge that can cause injuries. You can use some natural stone or artificial marble or quartz which can be beveled. Choose a contrasting-colored stone with your tile to add a nice touch if you have the same tiles every where in the rest of the house. You also get ready-made staircase tiles which can be ordered on a per-piece basis depending on how many steps you need to tile. There are limited choices here and the size can also be a limitation. We have a winding staircase in our flat so the ready-made pieces did not match the size of our steps even after cutting them.

Tile Companies

There are many tile companies. In general, imported expensive tiles have nicer colors and better finishes. However they are in the ranges upwards of Rs. 300/sq.ft. You will get equally durable tiles made in India but the choice of designs may be more standard or limited. This mode is changing now as more Indian companies are getting up to speed with tile technology and are able to provide nice designs too. Most vendors seem to suggest that Chinese tiles may have some quality issues. Some companies such as RAK (from Dubai) have set up local plants in India so they are able to provide cheaper tiles comparable to the Indian tiles. But they too have limited design choices.
  • Indian
    • Kajaria
    • Asian
    • Nitco
    • Somany
    • Sympolo
  • Chinese
    • Monalisa
  • European
    • RAK (Dubai)
    • Grafitti
    • Gayafores
    • La Ventana

Our Experience

We decided to go with tiles instead of marble mainly due to budget considerations and an inability to decide the durability of newer qualities of marble in the market. We wanted the same look in the entire house; some people choose to put marble in the more common areas of the house such as the living and dining, and put tiles in the bedrooms. We just went with tiles every where and took a contrasting color on the steps of our duplex apartment.

We ordered Kajaria floor tiles - Kashmir Marfil which is a light beige marble finish glossy tile 800mmx800mm from the Sathe Tile Company. Here are the steps for ordering the tiles:
  1. Get a verbal estimate for the tile when you visit the shop. Do ask for potential discounts - around 15-20%.
  2. After you choose a tile, estimate how many you will need and add a little extra to account for wastage and breakages. Send this number (also called a purchase order) to the vendor.
  3. The vendor sends you a formal quotation adding all charges such as taxes, delivery, unloading, etc.
  4. Make a full payment to the vendor.
  5. After the payment is cleared, the tiles will be ordered and eventually delivered.
  6. Someone has to check the tiles upon delivery. Vendors will replace tiles that are damaged or broken up to the delivery point. Once delivered, the tile are your responsibility.
Most of the tile vendors in Pune do not keep ready stock of tiles. The best case is that the tiles are available in Mumbai and can be ordered in 2-3 days. In our case where our tiles came from Rajasthan, so it took almost two weeks for delivery. Upon delivery we checked and discovered that the tiles had a rough residue along the edges. It took a while to resolve the issue between Kajaria, Sathe, our designer, and us. Finally, the Kajaria folks came and cleaned the tiles with some solvent to remove the rough edges and then the tiles were laid. So the entire process from the time we picked the tiles to the time the laying began took one month!

We had extra boxes of main flooring tiles as we ran into no breakages, so the tile company took those boxes back and adjusted the price against other bathroom tiles we ordered. This was mainly possible because our designer had good relations with the tile shop owner Sathe.

We got bathroom tiles from Sonal Ceramics and Sathe. Sonal had some ready bathrooms on display that really helped us to choose tiles; we ended up picking two of our bathrooms from these displays. Since we were a bit more informed after our first tile delivery, we knew the process and the subsequent tile orders went smoothly.

Things to Keep in Mind

  • You have to order extra tiles (may be 10%) to account for breakages in transport, laying. etc.
  • If you order special tiles (e.g. imported ones), make sure that they are in stock. Delivery of tiles can take any where from 1-2 days if they are available locally, to several months if they have to be imported. If your project is time critical, make sure that the tiles you choose are available in plenty and can be re-ordered at short notice if you fall short in the initial order.
  • There is no scope for negotiation with tile vendors :(. They need a full advance payment before even placing the order, and there is no guarantee on the delivery time. However, make sure that they will replace the tiles that are broken at the time of delivery which means that the tiles have to be inspected when they are delivered. Once you sign on the delivery sheet, all bets are off.
  • Always comparison shop! Indian tiles are stocked with most vendors and you can negotiate a little bit with the vendor of your choice based on the discounts given by other vendors. Usually, they all give a 15-20% discount off the MRP, especially if you order more tiles from them.
  • It helps to have a well-known interior designer because the tile shops know them, and are more courteous with showing the tiles, provide better communication for quotations, delivery, etc., and putting pressure to get tiles delivered early (see our experience).

Tile shops in Pune

  • Kajaria Tiles: Ganeshkhind Road. There is a company showroom right behind the Pride Hotel. Its good to see the entire range of selection and get the rates ratified from the manufacturer directly. They do not sell the tiles but you can make a selection here and then buy from any vendor.
  • Sathe Tile and Company: Moledina Road. They have a huge selection of Indian and imported tiles. Service is poor as they do not keep local stock of tiles, and are not very responsive when it comes to asking about schedule of delivery.
  • Sonal Ceramics: Shankarseth Road. They have a good selection of local and imported tile that are not hideously expensive. They also have a few bathrooms on display which really help with selection if you like them. It helps to see the entire tiles in the bathroom to make a decision. Fairly good with their service; seemed a bit more reasonable than Sathe.
  • Jain Ceramics: Shankarseth Road. We did not buy anything from them but they had a good selection, and a knowledgeable sales person.
  • Sanghar Tiles: Bibewadi Road. Good tiles and lovely unqiue designs, but they only keep expensive imported tiles. You may be able to find similar tiles else where for cheaper.
  • RAK Ceramics: Shankarseth Road. Local shop of RAK tiles which are originally from the Middle East. Good cheap tiles with good discount. The only problem is limited designs.
  • Impulse Ceramics: Bhandarkar Road. Similar to Sanghar - they mostly keep expensive imported tiles. We got our staircase tile (artificial marble) from them and they were good for the specific matching tile which we could not find else where.