Floor Heating


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By Sandy Yeates

Natural-Stone-Floors

 

The next time our highly plasticized world starts getting you down and you feel an urge to commune with nature, slip off your shoes and walk barefoot on a floor made from natural stone.

Chances are, no matter what type or quality of stone tiles you have used for flooring, it will feel wonderfully cool during the hot summer months and retain warmth during the colder winter months.

Apart from its natural beauty, natural stone also contains no toxins or chemicals which can cause allergies.

But like all natural products, the qualities and features of various stones differ dramatically, so if you want to choose natural stone tiles for your flooring you need to consult an expert to find out which stones work most effectively where.

Let’s have a look at how you can incorporate natural stone indoors as a feature.

Slate Tiles

The beauty of slate is in the rich diversity of colours and its durability.

Each piece of slate tiling is like an individual work of art with its variations in tone and texture, ranging from pale greys and pinks to intense greens and blacks. When laid properly in a large space, these variations give a feeling of continuity and tonal flow – much like a painting.

Alternatively, individual slate tiles or small groups can be used to offset or complement a plain stone tile like sandstone on the walls or floors. For example, a cream coloured sandstone with overtones of pink can be highlighted with a small grouping of slate tiles with deeper splashes of pinks and blues, placed on the diagonal.

Like most natural stone products, a sealant improves the quality and durability of slate so it is easy to maintain, easy to keep clean, resistant to chemical spills, won’t fade and is impermeable to water.

Sandstone Tiles

Sandstone is a generic name given to a type of natural stone that contains quartzite – the inclusion of quartzite is the only characteristic the various types of sandstone share. Sandstone is obtained from quarries all over the world, so the qualities of sandstone are unique to the region where they are sourced.

Although most designers and homeowners use sandstone for outdoor paving and around traditional chlorinated pool areas, it blends beautifully indoors, particularly in bathrooms and kitchens. Sandstone is slip resistant and impervious to water (although poor quality sandstone doesn’t possess these important qualities).

Sandstone is an incredibly versatile product and is used extensively by architects and designers because of its durability, fire resistance and thermal qualities. Sandstone is generally pale in colour, so it effectively enhances the feeling of light and space when used indoors, particularly in large open plan rooms.

Designers often use a darker natural stone tile like bluestone or quartzite to break up large sections of sandstone or to define a particular area. This effect can look stunning with a little creativity and imagination.

Bluestone

Nothing beats bluestone for its incredible strength and versatility. Not only that, bluestone is an aesthetically beautiful natural stone that is grey in colour but with subtle variation in tone. Surface treatment options make it versatile for both indoor and outdoor applications.

Bluestone with a polished surface has a refined luster under any lighting. Honed bluestone is a softer, low sheen option popular for both indoor floors and walls. Bluestone with a flamed finish is a natural outdoor paving stone.

The best quality bluestone is being used extensively indoors in kitchens, living areas and hallways because it is virtually impervious to water and has a stain resistance. The dark grey tones of bluestone effectively hide dirt, making it a busy homeowner’s dream natural stone surface.

Cutting edge designers are now incorporating bluestone into high traffic areas because of its durability and toughness and also because it is so easy to maintain. Nowadays you will see bluestone in honed and polished form used extensively in wine bars, restaurants, hotel lobbies and up-market retail outlets.

Outdoors the natural stone tile of choice is flamed bluestone because of its non-slip characteristics, to say nothing of its luxurious appeal. Garden designers are increasingly using the grey/black tones of bluestone to offset water features and pool surrounds.

The Appeal of Natural Stone

From the sleek lines of steel and glass used in contemporary architecture to the soft decorative features of a federation style home, the inclusion of natural stone complements any environment.

Imagine a stacked stone water feature made with blue-grey slate inside a glass covered portico at the entrance to an architectural masterpiece, or the soft colours of sandstone laid in the entry of an old inner city terrace, or an expansive family room floor tiled in the earthy, ambient tones of limestone.

Natural stone is…well…natural and it glows with life, no matter how or where it’s used. In a world burdened by the effects of toxic chemicals and products, doesn’t it feel good to experience the look and feel of something that you know has been created by nature? Natural stone was here long before we were and will still be around long after we’re gone.

About the author:
The next time our highly plasticized world starts getting you down and you feel an urge to commune with nature, slip off your shoes and walk barefoot on a floor made from natural stone.

Chances are, no matter what type or quality of stone tiles you have used for flooring, it will feel wonderfully cool during the hot summer months and retain warmth during the colder winter months.

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By Dan Bossenbroek

You may not realize it, but hundreds of dollars might be slipping out from under your feet every year. Adding R-19 insulation to a 400 square foot crawlspace could save you $125 a year on your heating bills and pay for itself in about a year. With an investment of a few hours this energy saving home improvement project will save you money and your toes from getting so cold.

The first thing that you need to do is to remedy any moisture problems that the walls might have. Moisture and insulation are not a good combination. Make sure that all of your downspouts drain away from the house. The ground should slope away from the house too. If you have paved surfaces that adjoin the wall you should caulk the joint between the pavement and the wall.

Second, figure out if your crawl space is vented to the outside or deemed heated by the building code. Vents are typically 8″ tall by 16″ wide and are placed equally around the perimeter.

If your crawlspace is vented, you need to seal the vents. First close the vents if it’s possible, then cut a piece of rigid insulation, treated plywood, or aluminum flashing to fit snugly into the opening. Next seal the crack around this with caulk or foam insulation in order to make an air tight seal.

The main enemy of crawlspaces is moisture so every step must be taken to keep moisture out. Cut strips of 6 mil plastic sheeting one foot wider than the crawlspaces walls are tall. Staple the edge of the plastic sheeting to the sill plate around the entire perimeter of the crawlspace. Overlap the sheets by 6″ and tape all of the joints. Now you have a dry surface for the insulation to rest against.

The next step is to install the insulation on the walls of your crawlspace. Kraft faced fiberglass batt insulation works great in this application. If you purchase the batts to fit between the floor joists, it will be easier to install in vertical strips, but then you will be left with 1 ½” gaps between the pieces below the floor structure. Or you can add wood framing or cut strips of insulation to fit, but that’s a lot of work. If you install the insulation horizontally, you will need to cut slits in the insulation so that it will fit around the floor joists. Staple the insulation to the wood joists to hold it in place.

Most crawl spaces will need two horizontal rows of 22 ½” wide batts. Use duct tape to secure the lower row to the upper row.

Once the insulation is in place, you will want to seal all of the seams between the insulation. Duct tape will fit the bill here. Installing the insulation in long horizontal strips will help reduce the amount of seams that you will need to seal.

You will also want to seal the joint between the batt insulation and the floor joists and sub-floor. If your house is fairly new and everything down there is fairly clean you could use more duct tape. However, if your house is fairly new the crawl space is probably already insulated. So, if things are a bit dirty in your crawl space a good product to use to seal these cracks is foam insulation. Spray a small bead between the paper and the joists and floor above. Wait for an hour or two and then return to seal any remaining gaps.

Next you should cover the entire floor with a plastic sheeting vapor barrier. If you won’t need to go into your crawl space very often then 4 mil plastic sheeting will work, but 6 mil is recommended. Now that your crawl space is heated, you want to keep any unwanted moisture out. Overlap the joints of the plastic 6″ and tape all the joints. Tape the joints between the plastic and the insulation as well.

Your crawlspace will now be heated, but there is no need to dump a bunch of extra air down there. So it’s a great idea to seal all of the joints in the ducts in the crawlspace. One might think that this would be the perfect use for duct tape, but I have found that aluminum tape works much better. It sticks much better and lasts much longer than duct tape. It is a bit more expensive, but you might want to use it everywhere in this project instead of duct tape. The one drawback if aluminum tape is that it will tear and puncture easier than duct tape, so a little more care must be used when installing it.

Since your crawlspace is now heated, the floor above it should be considerably warmer as well, and thus will be much more comfortable to walk around on in the winter.

About the author:
Dan Bossenbroek is a registered architect and has been incorporating energy conservation design strategies into his projects for over seventeen years. He has extensive experience
in residential design, is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED™ AP) and his area of expertise is high performance buildings and sustainable design. For energy saving products and home improvement advice he recommends http://www.justgreenhomes.net

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By Andrew

Radiant Floor Heating Coils

Radiant Floor Heating Coils

Electric radiant floor heating systems are heating systems designed for use under carpeting, area rugs, tile, stone, and laminate wood floors and have been used in Europe, South Africa, and Australia for over 20 years.

Radiant heat does away with the age-old problems of cold rooms by offering easy-to-install zone heating. You can choose to either have radiant heat installed by a professional installer or DIY with their plug-n-play portable system for under area rugs. Concentrating on the advantages of floor heating (heat rising), radiant heat offers comfort from the ground up, heating the room evenly from floor to ceiling.

The product is designed to solve zone heating problems one room at a time without adding the expense or mess of adding additional ductwork and/or baseboard heating units. The ultra thin heating mat that can be assembled and air conditioning installed by floor installers or do-it-yourselfers, is perfect for whatever your situation. It appears that homeowners, flooring dealers, and builders agree, as sales have already started to expand, and the line has been taken air conditioning on by several high-end flooring retailers and builders alike.

What makes electric radiant heat so unique is its installation flexibility. Manufactured in multiple size heating mats consisting of looped heating coils sandwiched between 4 layers of polyester for the carpet and area rug product, the resulting system measures less than 1/16″. The ultra thin construction makes the heater thin and flexible enough to be installed between a carpet and its pad or under laminate wood without  air conditioning impacting floor height. Installers simply follow the easy to follow installation instructions provided with each system when placing the mats. Once in position, the leads from each mat are either connected to a 120-volt electrical circuit and 7-day programmable thermostat or simply plugged into a wall outlet. A qualified electrician should be used for final electrical connection if the system is to be hard-wired.

Beyond the installation and radiant heating benefits, radiant heat owners will find their systems to be 100% maintenance free and extremely economical to operate. With no moving parts to wear out or filters to change, the system virtually operates itself once the thermostat has been programmed. Simply set the thermostat and forget about it. Equally impressive is the system’s average cost of less than a dollar a day to warm a 16′ x 20′ room for a full 10-hour cycle. The radiant heat fills the entire room with warmth from the ground up, air conditioning eliminating the cold air zone close to the floor, which is created by traditional heating systems.

Studies show that heating is the largest energy expense for  most homeowners, accounting air conditioning for almost two-thirds of annual energy bills in colder areas of the country. Radiant heat’s ability to warm a home from the ground up produces evenly heated rooms that arenot only more comfortable to live in, but are more energy-efficient to maintain at the desired comfort level. In air conditioning addition, radiant heat also reduces the levels of dust, pollen, and mold spread by conventional forced air heating systems, making your home a healthier place to live.

Individuals interested in obtaining additional information on the only UL-listed plug-n-play electric floor heating systems, or radiant heat for under ceramic tile, stone, hardwood, and vinyl installations, may contact Speedheat at http://www.speedheat.us.

About the author:
Electric radiant floor heating systems are heating systems designed for use under carpeting, area rugs, tile, stone, and laminate wood floors and have been used in Europe, South Africa, and Australia for over 20 years.

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