Getting a good joint while laying Athangudi tiles is a challenge since the edges are irregular.
In the design field, it is common to see the original idea leading to accurate duplicates, copied applications, look alike products and only occasionally, an inspired development. For readers familiar with both red oxide and Athangudi, the natural query would be if Athangudi is a cheaper version of red oxide floor. While they both share red colour and cement base, everything else about each of them is different – from manufacturing to laying.
Fixing Athangudi tiles needs special attention, mostly done by the masons who come from Athangudi itself, with proper material knowledge. While the tile itself is thick at three-fourth inch, the mortar base may go up to 2 inches depending upon location, so prior experience in Athangudi tile laying comes in handy. Getting a good joint is a challenge here since the edges are rather irregular due to the hand moulding process. Polishing the tiles with coconut oil is among the critical stages of achieving a good floor. Post polish, the floor has to be left for minimum five days with no one walking upon it. Increased oil absorption improves tile quality.
This merger of producer, supplier and layer ensures we have a single point of contact for redresses, if any. The main contractor has to calculate floor finish thickness in advance, which means the owners need to decide upon Athangudi in advance. Mix and match of different floor materials like marble or ceramic with Athangudi within one floor is difficult, for most floor options are thinner than Athangudi, besides having different practices for polish.
The top surface being hand-poured glaze, it is susceptible to minor scratch marks. When seen against sunlight or in wet condition, they are visible, though mostly go unnoticed. Even materials like marble get scratches, but we cannot see them. Anyway, it is safer not to pull heavy and sharp-edged furniture on the floor. These tiles should be fixed once all the household civil tasks and interior execution is over. Often, people work on hardware, interior plywood, toilet plumbing and such others after laying the floor, a practice that has to be avoided to get good Athangudi surfaces.
Athangudi tiles are not made everywhere, hence widespread availability is an issue. It is a simple composition of cement, sand, stone aggregate, ferrous oxides and top surface patterned with glazing, hence can be produced anywhere. Being readymade like mosaic, brought to site for direct laying, Athangudi tiles are easy to install, durable for decades, and financially affordable, hence generally a good choice. These tiles are even today a good bridge between the old and new. If a building with modern design needs a touch of traditional flooring, there could be nothing better than Athangudi tiles.
Two factors mark Athangudi apart from the rest – here more money goes to people and not to machines and they are more green than many other options.