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Published on 13 March 2017 12:50

Professional Flooring Solutions

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Key Learning outcomes
  • Introducing the basic terms regarding flooring.
  • Identifying different types of floors in relation to layers arrangement.
  • Understanding the difference between the floors in view of connection with the substrate.
  • Recognising the main properties of screeds.
  • Identifying differences between cement and anhydrite based screeds.
  • Comprehending the criteria for selecting the floor finishes and screeds.
Introduction

Let's begin by defining the essential terms which will appear in this article:

The floor is a horizontal element of a building, which forms the upper part of a ceiling, a foundation or the ground. It consists of several layers which fulfill various functions within the system. Floors provide resistance related to the transfer of operational loads, assure thermal, acoustic and damp-proof insulation and ensure decorative and functional properties.
The floor finish is one of the layers of the floor on which one can walk, drive vehicles etc. It is an outer, functional and decorative layer. The floor finish can be represented by any floor coverings: ceramic tiles, wooden materials (floor panels, wooden boards or parquet), carpets, PVC, epoxy materials, etc. The floor finish can also be made of the layer of concrete or cement mortar applied directly onto the ground.
• The floor finish is applied on the screed (subfloor) - a layer which is placed between the substrate (ceiling or foundation) and the floor finish. The main objective of a screed is to elevate the floor level in a room and to provide an appropriate surface profile (slope or horizontal) and evenness enabling the application of a floor finish

1.0 Types of floors

The most general division of floors is a division into multi-layer floors and single-layer floors.

A single-layer floor is a type of floor which is formed of a single layer of material only, e.g. concrete or cement floor finish, applied directly onto the substrate. This layer provides the appropriate plane and forms the outer, functional finish. This solution is particularly used in the utility rooms.
A multi-layer floor is a complex structure, in which the floor is composed of several, consecutively applied layers of different materials. The floor is executed on the structural substrate - it may be the ceiling of the building or alternatively the ground. The first floor layer levels the substrate unevenness and initially forms the floor level, alternatively the slight slope (e.g. in wet compartments). Usually this layer is made of a concrete or ferro-concrete slab. The next layer is the damp proofing (where floors are installed on the ground), or the vapour barrier (for inter-storey slab floors), and a layer of the thermal/acoustic insulation is applied subsequently. In order to protect the insulating layer from absorbing water from the subsequent screed layer, it is necessary to apply a protective layer (e.g. made of PE foil 0.2 mm). The previously mentioned screed is the next layer. It can be made of materials based on cement or anhydrite (in dry compartments). With the application of the screed one obtains the floor level close to the required one. As the screed also works as the substrate for the floor finish, it must be sufficiently even. If the required evenness is not reached, one must apply an additional thin layer – it is the smoothing layer.
Floor on the separation layer is executed on the interlayer which separates the fresh screed layer from the existing substrate on its entire surface. The separation layer can be made of damp proofing or, for example, the PE polyethylene foil of minimum thickness of 0.2 mm. This arrangement is often used in the case of renovations, when the existing substrate is not strong enough for the new floor layer installation or permanently contaminated with for example adhesive for PVC tiles. Since the layer is not permanently bonded to the building structural elements, it must form a self-supporting slab which enables normal room operations. The recommended minimum thickness of the screed layer in this structural arrangement equals 35 mm.

Multi-layer floor – structural arrangement
Multi-layer floor – structural arrangement
 
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