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Floors & Floor Construction

What lies beneath the surface that we see?

Concrete slab: is it on grade, or on a frame?

Wood joist construction: what direction do the pieces run?

Steel frame & steel decking: how easy or difficult is it to make
alterations in this surface?
Why are these different materials used? What are the pros and cons
of using them?

What is a floor required to do?
A building's primary horizontal planar surface
Support live loads: people, furnishings, and movable equipment
Support dead loads: the weight of the floor itself, any non-movable,
built-in components on the floor

Flooring materials
Flooring can be made of many possible materials.
Building code requirements may dictate the performance
requirements of a floor material.
The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) specifies the degree of
friction, slip resistance, of flooring materials used in public spaces.
We are probably most familiar with: wood, stone, concrete, sheet
vinyl, ceramic tile, and carpet as the surfacing materials on the floors
we encounter every day

The distance a piece of material has to span is directly related to its

size. The size of these steel floor trusses is based on the distance they
must span, and the load they must carry.

The Prada showroom in New York city

designed by Rem Koolhas.

Wood floor joists and wood flooring

in a house.
The direction of the floor boards
is a result of the direction of the floor joists.

Wood flooring

Concrete flooring

Colored concrete floors were very

popular in the 1930's and 40's in the
desert southwest because they were
easy to clean and cool in the extreme
desert heat.

The majority of the floors

were colored red and usually scored in
a grid pattern.

Concrete floors have become very popular again, due to low

material cost, durability, and expanded design possibilites through
color additives.

Concrete colors, synthetic & natural pigments

Concrete can be tinted different colors.

When coloring concrete either natural or synthetic pigments may be
Synthetic pigments are chemically the same as natural pigments,
but there are other differences. Natural pigments tend to be less
expensive, but their range of colors is limited and they don't have
the tinting strength of synthetics.
Natural pigments tend to produce warmer colors, which seem closer
to the colors you see in nature.

Concrete flooring

Steel reinforcing, called rebar

is placed to be inside the concrete slab

Steel rebar are numbered, 1, 2, 4, 5, 12, 16, et cetera.

Each number equals that many eights of an inch.
A number 12 rebar is 12/8, or 1 in diameter

Raised access flooring

Raised access flooring consists of load bearing, easily removable
panels supported above the building slab on pedestals. The cavity
created is used to house services which may be safely concealed
and protected but which remain readily accessible for maintenance,
alteration and expansion.

Raised access flooring

Glass is a practical and beautiful material that is strong enough to be
used structurally, even as flooring.
Floor panels are usually manufactured from two or more layers of
annealed glass laminated together.

Sandblasting or screen printing to the top surface not only gives

anti-slip properties but also design opportunities.

Glass interior wall panels

Glass flooring

Glass flooring

Glass block flooring

Glass flooring

Wood frame construction of floors

Wood frame construction

Wood floor system

Wood joists, (2 x10s) on brick foundation, on concrete


Steel construction

Steel framing
Recently, steel framing has begun to make strong inroads into the
residential building market.
The move to steel in home construction has been fueled by rapidly
increasing lumber prices and a need to conserve timber products.
Steel homes use nearly the same framing techniques employed in
wood-framed buildings, and construction costs run about the same.
Unlike wood, however, steel is impervious to termites. It provides
added resistance to fire and earthquake.

Steel ceiling joists can span greater distances than wooden ones,
allowing new design possibilities for architects and builders.

Steel in house construction

Steel skeleton for a house.

Most of the pieces of steel used here are called light gauge steel, meaning
that the pieces are relatively thin, and light.

Steel skeleton for a house.

These steel pieces are much larger than those used in the previous images.
These are I sections, made of thick, heavy steel plate.

Tile: a small, thin, modular piece of material.

Porcelain floor tile

Quarry tile
Metal tile
Travertine tile
Granite tile
Marble tile
Limestone tile
Slate tile
Cork tile
Glass tile
Carpet tile

Cork flooring

Vertical Sections


Plan (Plan-Section)

an informative web site is:


type in 'how house construction works' into

their search function.