Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 3, Issue 53, Tuesday August 22, 2006



Shoptalk Special

Material aplenty

From all those architectural design magazines, television ads and articles in newspapers, Dhakaiites are now well aware of what they can do to transform their spaces. However, what we don't know most of the time is which materials are actually available here in the city, where exactly we might find them and how much they might cost us. This is an attempt to answer some of those questions.

Jazz up those floors
Although traditionally, the walls of our room were the focal point of our manipulations, it's now no secret that floors and ceilings can do just as well. There are myriad looks we can pick for our floors and the materials too are available aplenty:

The most popular choice of the day, you can get two main types of tiles- homogenous and ceramic. As the name suggests, the homogenous tiles are made from an even mixture and last longer than ceramic tiles whose lifeline is as long as that of their top layer or coat.

Ceramic tiles come in sizes between 10- 16 Inches side and are cheaper than homogenous tiles, priced between Tk-30-39 / sft. Locally made ceramic tiles are most widely available in the market, especially those by RAK.

Homogenous tiles come in sizes between 16-32inches side. They can be glazed, rustic or mirror polished. If you want the marble like shining look and feel, mirror polished tiles are your taste. If you want the rough ranch like feel, you would want to go for the rustic ones. Locally made homogenous tiles cost between Tk- 50-100/sft. RAK tiles cost between Tk- 43-83 depending on the texture and type you pick.

Imported ones are also available among which the most popular seems to be those of Malaysian make which cost over Tk-85/sft. There are also Spanish, Belgian and other tiles which can cost up to Tk-350/sft but they usually only come in only one or two sizes and most of time, they have to be specially ordered through agents and the like.

The best way to pick tiles is to walk through the stores along Hatirpul (near Eastern Plaza) and Green Road and personally see and compare to get the ones best suited to you.

Tiles are in and easy to maintain but most apartment buildings still have terrazzo floors either cast in situ (on site) or I the form of tiles. Conventional cast in situ terrazzo costs about Tk-40-50/sft and we all know what that looks like, but if you want to be adventurous, try the new mirror polish finish which gives off a shimmer similar to mirror polished tiles. This costs between Tk- 70-75/ sft.

Terrazzo tiles come in sizes between 1-2 feet side cost between Tk-40-80/ sft. You can make terrazzo look different by picking out different collared glass strips with which the floors are divided up. The size and colours of the chips used an also be varied during casting to create any desired texture.

Neat cement floors
Remember those old Dhaka floors, red with black or white patterns and borders that felt nice and cool to walk on barefoot? They are still the cheapest option for flooring and stand out as something different and quaint in the rapidly standardizing world. They cost between Tk-25-30/sft and the patterns and shades can be manipulated to give a classic look.

Marble and Granite floors
Marble floors cost between Tk-250-800/ sft. Granite floors cost between Tk-400-1000/sft and are more durable than marble floors as they are less easily cracked of scratched. These can be found in the same places where tiles are sold.

Wooden floors
The wooden floors available are made form MDF tiles which are made from compacted wood fibres. These are imported from Malaysia and available through Green Marketing Ltd. (in Panthapath). It costs about Tk- 100/ sft.

Add a touch of wow to your walls
Exposed brick
Exposed brick walls can be made using either ceramic bricks (Tk- 7-8), machine made first class bricks (Tk-4) or if you are adventurous and want a casual look, plain old Jhama bricks (Tk-2). Until recently this look was reserved for studios, cafes and other casual places and not everyone could understand its charm but now it seems to be catching on. An important thing to remember is NOT to paint an exposed brick surface red- it spoils the entire look. Labour charge for making these walls is between Tk- 35-40/ sft.

Wall Paper
A more recent look, but also fast becoming popular, wall papers cost between Tk- 30-75 depending on quality and texture and where you are buying it. This is still relatively less widely available and mostly through interior design firms such as Zen etc.

Sometimes when you don't want to do anything too elaborate, you can still change the way a space looks and feels by merely painting it a different colour. There are so many brands available in the market that one or the other is sure to have the perfect shade for you. Depending on the number of coats and including labour charge and putty, it costs roughly between Tk-12-15/sft to paint your walls. These rates vary by a few Takas from time to time and between companies.

All that's high and fly
Ceilings can also be painted to change the mood of a space. For instance, a bedroom ceiling can be painted a serene blue to resemble the night sky, etc.

Also, the concrete may be left exposed to give a rough, casual feel. In this case all you need to do is use steel shuttering during the casting of the concrete slab and be careful so that there are less stains and the finish is smoother. Sometimes oil or wax can be used to polish this surface or some colour may be added with cement to give it a different look.

Regardless of what your style and which elements you are working with, the thing to remember is that honesty of expression can never go wrong. Whether it's an exposed brick wall, neat cement floor or exposed concrete ceiling, if are not sure what you want, and you don't want to hire a design professional for a small change like that, the best thing is to keep it as simple and true to it's nature as can be something good can always come out of it.

By Diya
Photo: Munem Wasif

On the cover

There's nothing like the monsoon season to put everyone in a romantic mood. Celebrate the season with a steaming cup of tea in the veranda, where you can watch the rain.

Photo: Munem Wasif


Recycling, to get more…

Life is already difficult the way it is. It is made even harder by the fact that nothing tangible on earth is unlimited. Nonetheless, human beings- ingenious in our nature as we are- seem to have found a way to circumvent this problem: recycling. This generally involves reprocessing something so that it can be reused. But is Bangladesh lagging behind?

There are large expanses of land around the country that act as garbage dumps. It is estimated that in Dhaka City alone the daily total solid waste amounts to 3500 metric tones. Clearing, thus, is proving to be a difficult task for the municipal authorities. The locals are suffering from the stench of rotting garbage. Also, this is hazardous to both public health and the environment.

To make the situation worse, people are still not keen on the "techniques" of dumping. Candy wrappers, banana peels, soda cans are simply thrown into the streets. However, street children tend to collect the trash, and sell it to the municipal authority, which does facilitate recycling. But, Bangladesh is still awaiting a large-scale extensive authority to undertake the task.

Nevertheless, all hope is not gone. Old Dhaka is a breeding ground for the recyclists. Almost everything from clothes to plastic is sold second-hand, and it is a very profitable business indeed. Nilkhet encourages people to re-sell books instead of throwing them away. In this way, not only is recycling bolstered, but also the readers may unearth some rare, out-of-print books.

Recently, an organisation called Waste Concern came into being. Its primary aim is to convert household garbage into bio-fertilizers. Furthermore, UNDP is co-sponsoring a program- Environmentally Sound Technologies (EST) - to promote research and waste recycling activities.

There are also various things we can do ourselves with basic household items. Old clothes and toys can be donated to the charity and the orphanage. With a slight touch of creativity, you may find alternative use of vases, curtains and lampshades. It would also be a good idea to get the children involved. Have recycle bins of different colours around the house for different types of items: plastics, cloth, newspapers, etc.

People have learned to consume, but they have yet to learn to replace. So, remember the 4R's (reduce, reuse, recycle and recover).

By Shahmuddin Ahmed Siddiky



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