CONCRETE FLOORS AT GRADE BASICS AND TUTORIALS

CONCRETE FLOORS AT GRADE BASIC INFORMATION
What Are Concrete Floors At Grade?


Floors on ground should preferably not be constructed in low-lying areas that are wet from ground water or periodically flooded with surface water. The ground should slope away from the floor.

The level of the finished floor should be at least 6 in above grade. Further protection against ground moisture and possible flooding of the slab from heavy surface runoffs may be obtained with subsurface drains located at the elevation of the wall footings.

All organic material and topsoil of poor bearing value should be removed in preparation of the subgrade, which should have a uniform bearing value to prevent unequal settlement of the floor slab. Backfill should be tamped and compacted in layers not exceeding 6 in in depth.

Where the subgrade is well-drained, as where subsurface drains are used or are unnecessary, floor slabs of residences should be insulated either by placing a granular fill over the subgrade or by use of a lightweight-aggregate concrete slab covered with a wearing surface of gravel or stone concrete.

The granular fill, if used, should have a minimum thickness of 5 in and may consist of coarse slag, gravel, or crushed stone, preferably of 1-in minimum size. A layer of 3-, 4-, or 6-in-thick hollow masonry building units is preferred to gravel fill for insulation and provides a smooth, level bearing surface.

Moisture from the ground may be absorbed by the floor slab. Floor coverings, such as oil-base paints, linoleum, and asphalt tile, acting as a vapor barrier over the slab, may be damaged as a result.

If such floor coverings are used and where a complete barrier against the rise of moisture from the ground is desired, a twoply bituminous membrane or other waterproofing material should be placed beneath the slab and over the insulating concrete or granular fill (Fig. 3.8).


The top of the lightweight-aggregate concrete, if used, should be troweled or brushed to a smooth level surface for the membrane. The top of the granular fill should be covered with a grout coating, similarly finished. (The grout coat, 1⁄2 to 1 in thick, may consist of a 1:3 or a 1:4 mix by volume of portland cement and sand. Some 3⁄8- or 1⁄2-in maximum-sized coarse aggregate may be added to the grout if desired.)

After the top surface of the insulating concrete or grout coating has hardened and dried, it should be mopped with hot asphalt or coal-tar pitch and covered before cooling with a lapped layer of 15-lb bituminous saturated felt.

The first ply of felt then should be mopped with hot bitumen and a second ply of felt laid and mopped on its top surface. Care should be exercised not to puncture the membrane, which should preferably be covered with a coating of mortar, immediately after its completion. If properly laid and protected from damage, the membrane may be considered to be a waterproof barrier.

Where there is no possible danger of water reaching the underside of the floor, a single layer of 55-lb smooth-surface asphalt roll roofing or an equivalent waterproofing membrane may be used under the floor. Joints between the sheets should be lapped and sealed with bituminous mastic.

Great care should be taken to prevent puncturing of the roofing layer during concreting operations. When so installed, asphalt roll roofing provides a low-cost and adequate barrier against the movement of excessive amounts of moisture by capillarity and in the form of vapor.

In areas with year-round warm climates, insulation can be omitted. (‘‘A Guide to the Use of Waterproofing, Dampproofing, Protective and Decorative Barrier Systems for Concrete,’’ ACI 515.1R, American Concrete Institute.)

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