I put in a simple paver surface on the front terrace. I’m really happy with it. The surface is formed from 4″x8″x2-3/8″ Belgard pavers. They are installed upside down, so that the beveled edges intended to be visible on the top are actually hidden on the lower side. That way, I get a nice crisp “brick” look. My contractor was Appian Paver Systems (owner Doug Anthony). He bought 840 sq-ft of material (an even number of pallets) and then just installed it all…allowing the rear terrace to be whatever size it ended up being. That way we got the most area possible for a given cost. These pavers run about $12-14/sq-ft installed, which is more than plain concrete, but about the same as stamped concrete. I much prefer the look to the various concrete alternatives. I also much prefer this surface to that of a wooden deck.Continue reading
DuWayne (Gough Concrete Specialities) poured the upper-level concrete floors last week. We specified a 3 inch slab of tinted concrete (the same 2% tint we used on the lower-level slab). A 24-inch grid of #2 re-bar is laid over the hydronic heating tubes before the floors are poured. I had them saw cut control joints in nice locations as I had on the lower level. Looks very nice, even if the floors still need some work with a Swiffer.Continue reading
Yesterday, Chris and Justin from CRS Mechanical started stapling down the 1/2″ diameter PEX tubing that is a key element of the hydronic heating system. The tubing will be embedded in 3″ of concrete, which in my case will form the finished floor. The tubing is stapled down first; then #2 rebar is laid over it; then the concrete is poured. The staple-down phase goes pretty quickly with the right tools (a spindle for uncoiling the tubing so it doesn’t twist, and a pneumatic stapler that has a special nose that centers the staple over the tube.
This kind of heating system is often called “radiant heat.” My college heat transfer professor would roll over in his grave to hear that description. This would better be called “convective heat.” The warm water/glycol solution heats the concrete via forced convection (pumping warm fluid from the boiler) and then the concrete heats the air via natural convection. Very little of the heat transfer is via radiation. Radiation is the transfer of heat via infrared waves, as in what you feel if you put your hand under a heat lamp, or for that matter, the way you are warmed by the sun. The transfer of heat via radiation is minimal at the temperature of the floor in a typical hydronic heating system.Continue reading
These are my notes on creating nice residential concrete floors. In my primary residence, I put in about 1500 sq-ft of concrete floors in the lower level. I used a 6-inch slab on crushed stone with 1/2 inch PEX tubing for hydronic heating. I’m pretty happy with these floors, although not wild about the results I got in finishing/sealing them. I am in the process of building a second home in which all three levels will have concrete floors. In principle concrete is (a) very inexpensive, (b) a wonderful means of installing hydronic heating, and (c) attractive. But, I’ve found that there is all kinds of confusing information about how to achieve these aims. Here is what I’ve learned based on experience, research, talking to concrete contractors, and my own experiments.