Exercise 2.1: Materials: The Basics

Research the following materials:

  1. CorTen 
  2. Formica, Polyrey or Abet 
  3. HiMacs or Corian 
  4. Bolon 
  5. Kvadrat 
  6. Tektura 
  7. Havwoods UK
  8. Forbo 
  9. Lowinfo 
  10. Moz Designs 
  11. Chelsea Artisans Ltd 

1. Corten Steel

Fig. 1 Interiors Awards 2018: Lobby Repositioning

CorTen is a weathered, particular mix of steels and other alloys. The steel is made and left outside for 3-10 months. The rust formed on the outside of material forms a protective layer, so this material is popular for outdoor applications (buildings and garden) as well as indoor. The rusty layer on top requires no further treatment if left outdoors but would need to be sealed for indoor applications.

 Indoor applications include bathroom wall coverings, furniture fronts, kitchen splashbacks, wall coverings, popular in trendy office interiors. Sealed material is recommended for interiors due to leaching and staining.

You can buy Corten steel that is isn’t weathered yet (that would be suitable application for outdoor, cladding etc) or weathered for interior projects. It is supplied in flat sheets or panels, that can be plain or with laser cut outs. They vary in thicknesses and sizes. The thickness of unsealed Corten offered by www.buymetalonline.co.uk varies from 1.5mm (0.059’’) and every half mm to 6mm (0.23’’). The panel/ sheet sizes vary from 400mm x 200mm / approx. 16’’ x 8’’ (£71.85 per sq. m exc VAT for 1.5mm thickness, £154.81/ sq. m excluding VAT for 6mm thickness ) to 2500mm x 1250mm / approx. 100’’ x 50’’ (£58.48/ sq. m excluding VAT for 1.5mm thickness, £304.92 / sq. m excluding VAT for 6mm thickness).

Sealed options are available from specialist suppliers who don’t advertise their prices online.

Fixing method is attaching to a flat surface with screws.

Environmental impact:

  • Iron extraction threatens biodiversity, can cause erosion and sinkholes, harmful substances are released to the environment
  • During production process sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide pollute the atmosphere. Metal and steel industries are the biggest CO2 pollutants and highest energy users (due to high costs of upgrading to be more sustainable)
  • It is believed that water run can harm aquatic life

Structural properties: it is classed as self-protecting steel; it is weather resistant.

2. Formica – trademark name – equivalent from other makers is laminate

  • Production process – – special papers (and sometime thin sheet of metal for some commercial applications) are soaked in synthetic resin, then heated and pressed. The result is thin, hard and durable surface material (around 1.5mm, 1/16’’ thick) that is coloured, painted and finally cemented to plywood or other backing. There are many designs: wood imitations, stone imitations, just plain and others. Can be shiny or matt.
  • Interior design applications – flooring, kitchen worktops, bathroom worktop and cladding, doors, commercial kitchens, furniture. Used in education, boat interiors, hospital interiors, hospitality. Wide range of designs and uses.
  • Fixing methods – Kitchen worktops: put on top of cabinets and screw it down from below and to the wall if cabinets are not secured. Attached to the walls using adhesives.
  • Supplied sizes (metric and imperial). Sizes will vary depending on the project and product used. E.g. Doors will have different sizes from kitchen worktops and wall claddings, and these will be much larger that laminate floor individual planks.
  • Cost per square metre – the price varies depending on spec and finish.
    Laminate wall coverings. I looked at a few and prices per square metre were £12.78, £27.42, £58.67.
    Laminate flooring £7 – £33 / sq. m. (That’s just what I saw in my initial research, I’m sure there’re more expensive ones)
    Laminate worktops from as little £33 / sq. m.
  • Environmental impact:
    Wood fibers and paper are sustainable, resin isn’t.
    High energy consumption during production process.
    It cannot be easily fixed if damaged so that affects durability.
    Disposed at landfill, takes long time to decompose.
  • Cleaning and maintenance – easy to clean, acid, heat and alkaline (found in home) resistant
  • Finishing/ treating/ specific handling: matching edge strips should be glued on to cut, exposed edges

3. HiMacs worktops, furniture etc

• Production process – minerals and pigments are blended with acrylic and create hard, durable and resistant surface that’s thermoformable, smooth, non-porous and antibacterial. Depending on colour and thickness it can be translucent or opaque. It can be formed into any shape and create for example chairs, bars, wall cladding etc. The finished product can look like marble, concrete, granite, quartz, solid colour. It can be textured to give surfaces 3D appearance. It’s a robust material that can be worked the same way as wood.
• Interior design applications – kitchen worktops and many commercial applications, bars, restaurants, hospitals, airports. Furniture, staircases, sinks, wall claddings,
• Fixing methods – I’m assuming same as other worktops, claddings, sinks etc
• Supplied sizes (metric and imperial) will vary depending on project needs, made to order so I’m assuming sizing is flexible.
• Cost per square metre – on application only
• Environmental impact – durable material, it can be repaired which prolongs its life. Resin is not eco-friendly. According to the producer the manufacturing process is eco-friendly (using aluminium production byproduct – aluminium trihydroxide as main component, that would otherwise be discarded), and the product is recyclable at the end of life cycle.
• Cleaning and maintenance – easy to clean and requires no maintenance, scratches can be sanded down
• Finishing/ treating/ specific handling. In the kitchens protect the surface from hot dishes straight from the stove, oven, etc. It is fairly scratch resistant but shouldn’t be used as a chopping board.

4. Bolon – woven vinyl flooring and rugs

  • Production process – woven vinyl backed on fibreglass reinforced vinyl
  • Interior design applications – floor coverings
  • Fixing methods – apply to flat floor surface with adhesive designed for vinyl flooring, while ensuring full contact with adhesive
  • Supplied sizes (metric and imperial)
    Flooring comes in different forms either rolls (2040mm / approx. 80.25’’ wide), tiles (50x 50cm / 19.75’’ x 19.75’’) or planks (667mm / approx. 26.25’’ wide). Thickness varies from 2.5mm to 3mm
  • Cost per square metre – available on application
  • Environmental impact – the product has 15 years warranty which shows relatively long life for carpet-like floor. Recycled material in all collections, factory with own recycling facilities and powered by renewable energy, small environmental impact and low emissions – health friendly –  99% chemical free maintenance.
  • Cleaning and maintenance: should be frequently hoovered, Cleaning can be done manually with water, mild cleaning agent and scrubbing brush or by using roller brush or orbot machine.
  • Finishing/ treating/ specific handling – furniture legs should have furniture pads to protect the floor, some types of rubber may transfer onto it and are impossible to remove.
  • Structural properties – structure is naturally irregular. Continuous exposure to over 30 C will cause discoloration and other changes (not suitable with underfloor heating), water resistant

5. Kvadrat Danish design company specialising in upholstery, window coverings, rugs etc. Business branches are more specialised, Kvadrat Soft Cells – engineered acoustic panels, Kinnasand – progressive curtains. They also supply curtain hanging mechanisms and pegs and accessories such us cushions and clouds (see Fig. 2).

Fig. 2 Clouds
  • Production process, fabrics made from recycled PET bottles, recycled polyester, repurposed wool, pure wool, pure cotton, or high-tech, modern, durable materials
  • Interior design applications – curtains, upholstery, rugs, window coverings, acoustic panels
  • Supplied sizes (metric and imperial)
    Curtain fabrics 3000mm / approx. 118’’ high
    Upholsteries 1400mm / approx. 55’’ wide
  • Roller blind fabrics are supplied in rolls that are 30m long (30000mm / approx. 1181’’) and 3000mm / approx. 118’’ wide.
  • Cost per square metre – undisclosed
  • Environmental impact – sustainability at heart of the company, use recycled, re-purposed or eco friendly materials
  • Cleaning and maintenance – depending on the fabric
  • Structural properties: fire retardant and durable

6. Tektura – specialist in contract wall coverings and window films

Production process –
Digital commercial quality vinyl wallpaper laminated onto woven or non-woven backing

Window films – self adhesive polymeric film

  • Interior design applications – walls and windows
  • Fixing methods – like other paste the wall wallpapers with Tekfix plus adhesive, films are self adhesive
  • Supplied sizes (metric and imperial) –
    wallpapers are printed to order, to fit any size, delivered in rolls

Window films are supplied in panels max width 1520mm (approx. 60’’)

  • Cost per square metre – undisclosed
  • Environmental impact – durable so sustainable, but at the same time non-biodegradable
  • Cleaning and maintenance: wipeable and washable with some resistance to knocks.

7. Havwoods UK – flooring (engineered wood, solid wood, reclaimed wood, composite decking, magnetic raised flooring), cladding boards (composite, cork)

  • Production process – depending on type of product above
  • Interior design applications – floors and walls, household and business applications, engineered wood flooring unlike solid wood can be applied on underfloor heating.
  • Fixing methods – mainly tongue and groove, magnetic flooring is fitted on top of raised metal platform, beneficial for businesses, easy to install and to remove to get access.
  • Supplied sizes (metric and imperial) – flooring usually in planks. Thickness varies from 9mm (approx. 0.35’’) to 23mm (approx. 1’’). Width varies from 65mm (approx. 2.5’’) to 480mm (approx. 19’’). Lengths vary from 213mm (approx. 18.5’’) to 3000mm (approx. 118’’)
  • Cost per square metre – undisclosed
  • Environmental impact – depending on the product, I believe composite cladding will be less kind to environment than solid wood flooring, that said trees need to be cut to make it. The most environmentally friendly option seems to be reclaimed flooring. The Havwoods website mentions that cutting out old trees makes space for new trees and supports biodiversity on ground level that otherwise would be in constant shade. Also leaving dead trees to decompose contributes to CO2 emissions so cutting mature trees and planting new ones reduces CO2 emissions. Wood is also a warm material.
  • Cleaning and maintenance, easy to clean, just sweep and mop. Wood flooring can be sanded down, engineered wood flooring can be sanded down too but not as many times and how many will depend on thickness of top wood layer.
  • Finishing/ treating/ specific handling. Wood as a product can be varnished, oil treated, UV treated, brushed, fumed, stained and oiled. It is a fairly soft material and finish can help it look good for longer. When necessary wood can be sanded down to reveal fresh layer. Engineered wood, applied on underfloor heating should not be covered with thick rugs (energy efficiency and high temperature locked in by the rug may damage the boards)
  • Structural properties, depending on the product. Solid wood is what it says it is. Wood is hydroscopic (absorbs moisture) so it shrinks and expands depending on conditions around it. Engineered wood is a thin layer of hardwood glued to several layers of softwood or plywood. This creates much more stable floor surface that looks identical to solid wood, once laid.

8. Forbo – Dutch company selling flooring systems (linoleum – rolls and tiles, vinyl tiles, homogenous (single layer) and heterogeneous (multi-layer) vinyl, flotex float flooring (waterproof, washable carpet tiles, planks and sheets), regular carpet tiles, needlefelt carpet, acoustic flooring, safety flooring etc. They seem to be aiming their products at commercial customers.

  • Production process – depending on the product, there is wide range. Linoleum is made from raw natural materials, carpet tiles are made from 50% recycled content,
  • Interior design applications – floors – forbo is aiming at schools, office buildings, airports, hospitals etc
  • Fixing methods – applied to the floor, usually with an adhesive
  • Supplied sizes (metric and imperial) – depending on the product, carpet tiles 500 x 500mm (approx. 19.75 x 19.75’’), flooring is also supplied in planks (with a ‘click’ system) available in 3 sizes and rolls.
  • Cost per square metre – undisclosed
  • Environmental impact – according to their website they are sustainable, and the product is long lasting
  • Cleaning and maintenance – washable and durable (public space applications)
  • Structural properties depending on the product, but generally soft, warm and hard wearing.

9. Kast – concrete basins, another branch of this business specialises in concrete tiles, worktops, wall cladding, furniture etc.

  • Production process – concrete is cast in desired sink shape, can be natural colour or with added tints, then polished and/ or patterned, and in the end sealed for protection.
  • Interior design applications – bathrooms, in residential and commercial premises
  • Fixing methods – to the wall or on top of under sink cabinet
  • Supplied sizes (metric and imperial) – standard handwash basin sizes, can be custom made to fit virtually any space or requirement
  • Cost per square metre – n/a, prices for individual items are not advertised.
  • Environmental impact – concrete is not environmentally friendly; its production has a massive carbon footprint.
  • Cleaning and maintenance – easy, as with porcelain sinks.
  • Finishing/ treating/ specific handling – small hairline cracks can appear due to nature of the product; these are hardly noticeable.
  • Structural properties – strong and durable material, can be cast to virtually any shape.

10. Moz Designs – architectural, custom fabricated metal (based in USA)

• Production process. They make metal sheets, columns, walls, dividers, and custom products such as ceilings, fixtures, exterior and art. They can be smooth, perforated, corrugated, laser cut, with powder coat or patina.
• Interior design applications – as above. Their elements add interest and texture to the interiors.
• Fixing methods – depending on the product and application
• Supplied sizes (metric and imperial) – laser cut metal sheets standard size 4’ x 8’ (1219.2 x 2438.4mm)
• Cost per square metre – unavailable
• Environmental impact – metal production often emits high levels of CO2, however Moz factory is 100% solar powered and materials are domestically sourced where possible.
• Cleaning and maintenance – depending on the actual metal and finish.
• Finishing/ treating/ specific handling – come with attachments for easy fastening solutions.
• Structural properties – metal is smooth, resilient, cold to touch and is a good heat conductor.

11. Chelsea Artisans Ltd – fusion glass designs. They supply 4 product ranges: Impact resistant diamond system panels created using annealed glass (coloured, digitally printed, satin finish, silver or tinted mirror, satin finish mirror); fusion glass kiln formed (textured, patterned, monolithic or crystalline), fusion glass surface decorations (from surface etching to deep, 3 dimensional work or patterns and graphic printed onto glass through toughening, tempering process); laminated glass (either traditional PVB or EVA or other materials can be laminated withing the glass (interlayers can be in various colours and patterns and these include opaque and transparent colour, metal mesh, fabrics, digitally printed images)

  • Interior design applications -walls, doors, windows. Office buildings, homes, public spaces.
  • Fixing methods – depending on the supplied form (flat sheets or curved to radius) and where it’s going. Glass is a heavy material and will require secure fixing
  • Supplied sizes (metric and imperial) – unavailable but made to measure so I imagine any size required.
  • Cost per square metre – unavailable
  • Environmental impact – glass is fairly sustainable material made of sand
  • Cleaning and maintenance – easy to wipe clean, non staining.
  • Structural properties – cold to touch, easy to break or crack, can have sharp edges.

Reflection on the task:

I find this task really hard, mainly because it was very time consuming. I was instructed to research so many aspects of each materials and find out prices and available dimensions both in inches and millimetres. I find the imperial system not so accurate, I prefer to work in metric. I spent much more than recommended 2-3 hours since so many materials and detailed aspects were asked.

List of illustrations

Fig. 1 Gobuty, R (2018) Interiors Awards 2018: Lobby Repositioning [Photograph], At:  https://www.contractdesign.com/wp-content/uploads/aventine-A-1.jpg (Accessed 09.02.2020)

Fig. 2 Kvadrat (year unknown) Clouds | Products | Kvadrat [Photograph] At: https://kvadrat.dk/media/image-section/image-id/small/2018-kvadrat-clouds-210618-10-009-2.jpg (Accessed 09.02.2020)


https://www.buymetalonline.co.uk/corten-steel/ (accessed 09.02.2020)

https://www.logic-sf.co.uk/blog/2016/09/what-is-corten-steel-and-how-is-it-made/ (accessed 09.02.2020)

https://www.buymetalonline.co.uk/product/weathered-corten/ (accessed 09.02.2020)

https://greenfuture.io/sustainable-living/corten-steel/ (accessed 09.02.2020)

https://masteel.co.uk/products/weathering-steel/ (accessed 09.02.2020)

https://www.britannica.com/technology/Formica (accessed 09.02.2020)

https://www.formica.com/en-gb/collections/home-products (accessed 09.02.2020)

https://www.google.com/shopping/product/13231166218202857088?q=laminate+wall+covering&biw=1904&bih=932&prds=epd:12056880750969408926,paur:ClkAsKraX6i3oWO6Hp9RuRHaYMBQ7iRjWindCqjD6dwv310txcyY6kHR25HwDY35XNHyihgehsd25ACu9vu2OJK4_9SgXhL7b82q104dNACq3m-sQSiqHUOArxIZAFPVH70qxzphLn_ab1B_XWCnvr8XiKk27w,prmr:1&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj-s8Cm4sTnAhV7QhUIHbS4BHcQ8wIIjAI (accessed 09.02.2020)

https://www.rubberduckbathrooms.co.uk/grey-concrete-matt-1200-x-2400-x-10mm-spl17-splashpanel-shower-wall-board?source=googlebase&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIgOTDpuLE5wIVh7PtCh1E-wjhEAkYCCABEgJVrvD_BwE (accessed 09.02.2020)

https://www.rubberduckbathrooms.co.uk/rustic-ash-2400-x-1200mm-perform-panel-bathroom-splashbacks?source=googlebase&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIgOTDpuLE5wIVh7PtCh1E-wjhEAkYAyABEgLkhPD_BwE (accessed 09.02.2020)

https://greenhomeguide.com/askapro/question/are-laminate-countertops-such-as-formica-wilsonart-etc-more-eco-friendly-since-they-don-t-have-to-be-mined-and-shipped-around-the-world (accessed 09.02.2020)

https://www.formica.com/en-gb/campaigns/sustainability (accessed 09.02.2020)

http://hi-macs-surfaces.co.uk/ (accessed 09.02.2020)

https://www.bolon.com/en (accessed 09.02.2020)

https://kvadrat.dk/ (accessed 09.02.2020)

https://www.tektura.com/ (accessed 09.02.2020)

https://www.havwoods.co.uk/ (accessed 17.02.2020)

https://www.forbo.com/corporate/en-gl/ (accessed 17.02.2020)

https://mozdesigns.com/ (accessed 17.02.2020)

https://www.chelsea-fusion.com/ (accessed 17.02.2020)

https://kastconcretebasins.com/ (accessed 18.02.2020)

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-46455844 (accessed 18.02.2020)

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