Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Floors

Three kids under six.  A dog.  A farm.  The choice is obvious:  concrete floors. 

We decided very early in the design process (about two years ago) that the main floor of our new house would have concrete floors.  More recently, we decided that the entire house would have them since we're now installing in-floor radiant heating tubes throughout - you have to cover the tubes with concrete to protect them.  Most people would then cover the concrete in hard wood or tile.  Not us - we're going for hardcore durability.  Ride your bike in the house durability. 

More on the in-floor radiant heating:  It means we don't have a furnace or duct work or radiators or baseboard heaters.  The heat comes out of the floors.  Josh has been designing HVAC (heating, ventilation & air conditioning) systems for more than 10 years now so it's second nature to him.  I'm pretty sure that, for him, designing our new system is the equivalent of choosing the paint colours and furnishing the new house for me.   

Over the past week or so, we prepared the floors for the tubes.  In the basement, that meant adding more gravel, leveling and compacting it and then laying rigid foam and wire mesh over it.  On the main floor and upstairs, we had plastic film (vapor barrier) laid down and taped in place and then foam was installed around the perimeter of each room. 

Next, the tubes were laid and stapled in place.

Finally, the concrete type product - screed - was poured.  Screed is used because it's lighter and stronger than regular concrete.  The final step after insulation, drywall, cabinets, etc. is a microtop.  It's an 1/8" layer that finishes the screed with whatever texture and colour we want, so that we're not stuck with the sidewalk grey colour.  We're going with a warm grey with a polished concrete look.

Leveling gravel in basement.

Vapor barrier and rigid foam in place in basement.

Wire mesh over foam in basement.  (The wire mesh is there so that there's something to attached the tubes to.)

Starting to place tubes.

Tubes fully installed in basement.

Manifold in basement.

Main floor with vapor barrier in place over plywood.

Foam is placed around the perimeter of each space and around pipes, drains, etc.

Tubes laid on main floor.

Concrete (screed, actually) truck arrives.

Testing material.   A specific volume of screed is placed on this diagram to ensure it's not too wet or too dry.  Unfortunately, ours was too wet.  So, after much concrete drama (including phone calls, visits from various managers, and mixing) we got the OK to pour.  Yey!

Starting to pour the upper floor.

"Barring" the upper floor.

Upper floor complete.  YES!

Starting to pour main floor.

Almost finished main floor.  

Once the guys started pouring, they were done in a few hours.  They have to move quickly before it starts to dry.  After that, we needed to wait 48 hours before walking on it.  I took a photo through the window after 12 hours ...

And after 24 hours.  Looking a lot drier.

Tomorrow we'll be able to go in and have a closer look.

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