Trendy concrete floors (Part 2)
Concrete floors are a modern flooring solution. They are durable, easy to maintain and compare favourably with other flooring materials, such as natural and ceramic tiles
In most cases a concrete subfloor already exists underneath your existing floor. This means that installing a concrete floor is actually just uninstalling anything that has been placed over it.
Because no new material is produced, there is no carbon footprint or depletion of resources. But, while using an already existing concrete slab as your floor surface uses no new materials, the manufacture of concrete for a new floor can actually have a negative ecological impact. This is due to the presence of cement in its material make-up, which requires a significant expenditure of energy and carbon dioxide in order to manufacture.
The first thing to consider when looking into different types of concrete floors is why it’s so important to insulate the floor slab. To do this, you need to consider where heat can be lost from the concrete. It’s reasonable to believe that most of the heat will be lost where the greatest surface area is, down into the ground. As much as 80% of the total floor heat is lost through the floor.
The sides of the concrete slab, also referred to as the perimeter wall, are often forgotten or not considered at all with respect to the thermal envelope. The thermal envelope is the boundary between the inside conditioned space and the outside. Any gap in this thermal envelope is an avenue for heat loss.
On a cold winter morning, the air temperature up close to the edge of the concrete floor can be colder than the ground underneath the house. Below the surface will be a bit warmer than this, and the ground underneath your house will be warmer still (because there’s a relatively warmer house sitting on top of it).
There are number of ways to reduce the heat loss through the side of your concrete slab, but they all start with you demanding it from your builder or designer. There should be a thermal break between the slab and the perimeter wall and it should also be completely insulated from the ground.
Checklist for maintaining concrete floors
* Dust mop the floor daily with a microfibre pad to keep dirt particles off the floor. Soil acts as an abrasive and can ruin the clarity and shine of polished concrete.
* If wet mopping the floor, always use clean water and clean mops. A mop and bucket can be used to do this.
* When wet mopping, use a neutral floor cleaner formulated to suspend the dirt particles so they can be more easily removed. Using water only leaves much of the dirt on the floor, where it will eventually abrade and discolour the surface.
* Try to clean spills and stains from the floor as quickly as possible so they don't absorb into the surface.
* Give the cleaner enough time to start breaking down the grime, such as grease and other contaminants, and then suspend the particles. If you apply a cleaning agent and then immediately vacuum it or mop it from the surface, the cleaner will not have sufficient time to work.
* Make sure the cleaning solution does not dry on the surface. This can be accomplished by cleaning small areas and making sure the entire process is complete before moving on to other areas.