Reading: Concrete Slab Floors by Dick Clarke

Concrete floors are a very versatile flooring alternative and with the help of current design magazines are becoming increasingly popular in the wider Built Environment.

Concrete floors have a high thermal mass, which helps to regulate internal comfort by radiating, absorbing heat, creating a heating or cooling effect.

Slabs should be designed to absorb the heat from the sun, that will continue to be radiated for a number of hours. But at the same time, the slab should be exposed to cool night breezes to dissipate the amount of heat collected during the day.

To control cracking, a number of factors should be considered:

Size of slab: If is large or has two separate parts, control and or movement joints will be needed.

Proper preparation of foundations: to prevent settlement cracking

Curing: (28 days) will help reduce surface cracking. With the first 3 – 7 days being critical to the overall strength of the slab.

Addition of water: Excess water added to the mix prior to placing will create dusting & reduce the strength of the slab.

Placing & Compaction: inadequate placing & compaction will result in a lower strength & a honeycomb texture, which will lead to increased cracking.

Although slab on ground construction is more thermally efficient, a suspended slab can be a suitable way to gain the advantage of thermal mass on a steep site. Typical pole frame construction can be adapted easily to incorporate a slab.

Balconies extended from the main slab of the house may act as cooling or heating fins, carrying precious warmth away to the cold exterior in winter, or transferring heat from the summer sun inside.

Sound Management Design Techniques:

Dropped Bulk heads

Parts of the floor plan can be designed to be closed off

Absorbent materials on the wall panels

Treatments of concrete:


Polished Concrete: this requires regular buffing to maintain the sheen

Coloured Concrete

Insertion of Terazzo Glass through concrete

Recycled Content in Slabs:

Crushable concrete can instead be recycled to make economic and ecological savings.

Replacing a proportion of the cement with waste products such as fly ash, slag and silica fume can significantly reduce embodied energy and greenhouse gas emissions.

Use of crushed concrete from demolition as aggregate, as well as the use of slag aggregates and manufactured sands to replace natural stone and sand within concrete, decreases landfill, reduced embodied energy and can be low-cost.

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