Getting the best from oxides
There are some important dos and don’ts for this flooring that earns an extra sheen with every passing year
Everyone knows how to construct, for it is a visible and seemingly simple action, but very few know it thoroughly. There could be many masons who know the basic methods of doing the red oxide floor on the first day, but lack the knowledge of following it up with the right process until we get the best of floors.
Follow these importantly:
The day after doing the floor, cure the floor by sprinkling water every 2 to 3 hours for a whole day, to avoid a dry floor. The second day, a thin sheet of water should be stocked up to check if white patches appear on the floor. If they do, remove the water, rub them off with a cloth and again refill water, until no white patches are visible.
Once the floor is laid, no one should walk on it for a minimum of four days, except for watering and waxing. Let the floor dry for a few days, clean it by wet and dry mopping and apply 400 grade sand paper in case smoothening and levelling is required. Red colour wax should now be applied directly on the surface with a soft cloth.
As the wax dries, rub the surface with rice husk or coconut pith in circular fashion until the wax disappears. Keep the room closed for three days so that the floor absorbs the wax fully.
The finer points
The water should be clean or treated, and definitely not the mineral-rich borewell water.
White cement and high grade grey cements tend to set fast, hence are not advisable. Sand should not have silt deposits on its surface, hence clean it before mixing.
The quality of red oxide is important to ensure that wear and tear across the years does not expose the concrete beneath.
For 1 part oxide, up to 3 parts grey cement gives dark red colour, while increasing cement quantity leads to light red shades.
White cement too can be used to get different shades, but with utmost care.
The vital mix
Cement and oxide should be first mixed in dry form, slowly adding water to get a consistent slurry-like mix. Any lump formation in the mix will show up in the flooring. Trowelling to get an even surface is very important. While the minor undulations vanish during the hand polish, the major ones may remain. Among the minor problems of red oxide floors, but persistent one is surface cracks. To contain these crack lines, masons run a thread line in a grid fashion or nowadays, glass strips too have been attempted.
Oxide floors need to be done in one continuous stretch without break, often taking the whole day and night depending upon the area to be covered. Masons get to rest only after the top layer is finished and wax polish rubbed to dryness.
Most materials deteriorate with age, but red oxide floor is an exception. The longer it is used, the more it shines!