Integrated Concrete Beam System

Integrated Concrete Beams

Building with Durisol, Quadlock or any other ICF blocks? Here’s the easy way to do a poured concrete floor.

Concrete first floors are good; low noise transmission, high thermal mass and suitable for under-floor heating. The trouble is the shuttering required is elaborate and expensive both in materials and time and once the floor is poured there is usually more work involved in boarding, plastering and painting. Concrete block and beam systems look easier but you do need to be very organised and get delivery of exactly the right beams and after paying for heavy lifting gear they won’t look like a cheap fix, and again there will be final finishing to do. Plastering and painting ceilings – no thanks.

The Original Twist Integrated Concrete Beam system is so suitable for the self builder that it is hard to consider anything else. It couldn’t be simpler. You make up some hollow beams out of easily sourced planks, put them up in a row, fill the gaps with wooden floorboards and pour. That’s it.

Concrete floor system

Step 1/.

Make up the wooden beams as shown in this cross section. The blue and yellow bits are your choice of regular timber from your local supplier.  The slots sawn out of the yellow sections are for wiring channels and it makes sense to insert the wires while the beam is being assembled. The threaded studding stops the beam spreading when the concrete pours in and is part of the construction with the outside acorn nuts making a decorative feature. Use a spindle moulder or router to round off the edges and then apply your choice of finish after distressing with chain, hammer, belt sander etc. You will see that the yellow sections stick up by the thickness of your floor planks and make a perfectly curved transition between the concrete floor and the integral ‘I’ beams. The rebar at the bottom of the ‘I’ section needs to be held in position prior to the pour and this can be done easily and cheaply with pairs of cup hooks screwed into the bottom plank. Use cable ties across each pair to hold the rebars in. Finally, paint the inside of the beam to isolate it from the wet concrete. The beams are then ready to be placed in position, typically on a one metre pitch (Durisol blocks are half a metre wide) and each propped with one or two Acrow props. If you are using ICFs like Durisol for your walls you should cut out large slots on the inside face to take the beam ends. You might want to pour the walls up to the level of the beam bases now.

Step 2/.

The floor planks can be cut and finished at ground level before fitting between adjacent beams. Now is the time to fit any pockets for spot lamps and take the wiring back towards the slots pre-cut in the main beams. The floor planks need to be strong enough to resist the weight of the concrete without sagging; they don’t need to be jointed together as a layer of building paper over the top will stop any leaks. Unlike concrete blocks they are light and easy to pass up to your helper.

Step 3/.

Now after putting steel mesh over the beams and planks the floor and the top of the wall is ready to pour.  The outside of the Durisol blocks sets the top level of the floor so you don’t even need any shuttering. Once the pour is done and set, the walls and floor are all integrated with the homogeneous ‘I’ sections in the beams giving enormous strength and stiffness. The ‘I’ section parts of the floor could be up to 360mm deep which makes them into a row of significant beams in their own right. At this point the lower part of the house is waterproof which makes for a good working environment from which to finish off the rest.

Step 4/.

Nothing much to do now. Just take down the props then go down to the pub to celebrate all the money and time you’ve saved. There is no ceiling finishing to do, no shuttering to take down, even the lights are fitted and wired. And all this was done with simple hand tools and without waiting for special parts to be delivered. And just look; lovely lovely beams adding character and value to your home.

Notes:

A small spacer between the top of the beam and the floor joists will create a gap to house some LED strip lights. As you have a lovely wooden ceiling you might as well show it off.

N.B. Wood shrinks. A tiny air gap could eventually appear between the concrete floor and the wood floor. A very thin elastic membrane between the floors (instead of the building paper) will prevent any ‘thwack’ as the upper floor is walked on.

Ground floor block and beam – alternative system

Block and beam systems are commonly used for ground floor construction but they don’t compare well to our integrated beam system. The concrete blocks and the concrete beams all have to brought to site and then assembled – lots of work there. All those blocks are more gap fillers than strength givers and they are followed by a poured screed anyway. With the integrated beam system you just string out the wooden beams, fill the gaps with plywood and then pour – not only much quicker but stronger too.

With both floors quickly and cheaply constructed and the walls easily made with ICFs it is easy to see that a fully waterproof first floor could be made in a matter of a few days and that saves time and money.

While this system is great for under floor heating, I’m really not in favour of it for bedrooms as it is a big waste of money for an unwanted result. More on that in the eco-heating link below.

N.B. As usual do your own evaluation for suitability.

Like what you’ve read? Find more essential reading on my e-book

‘Dream House – Down To The Details’ 101 things you should have thought of.      here:-

Heating for your eco-house

For essential reading on heating systems, have a look here:

You really should get this right and there are many wrong turns where multiple energy sources are integrated.

I supply heat banks and stoves at good prices and give free advice. Transport is easily arranged for UK, France and Italy. If I can be of help please get in touch using the contact form below.

More house building topics in LIST OF POSTS

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Dream House – Down to the details

dream-house-down-to-the-details

 

Dream House – Down to the details

An e-book on building or enhancing your dream home, covering over 100 topics including low energy heating trends with implications for the eco-homes of the future.

My new ebook is available for Kindle, Fire and can also be accessed with the Kindle app for your phone or PC.

Your dream house – you know you have to get everything right first time but there will inevitably be some omissions which will haunt you later and almost certainly incur unwanted costs. This book tells you how to plan and execute without stress, managing time and cash flow just like a professional. Although occasionally technical, the book makes light, conversational reading and guides you through topics such as eco-heating strategy, catering for entertainment, security and communications, how to make a fabulous kitchen without spending a fortune and dozens of smaller, but important, topics which will enhance your final house design to the perfect state you’d like. If your objectives are for sustainable living you will be rewarded by a wealth of stimulating content.

This book will pay for itself many times over.

Available now on Amazon for £2.45

Paperwhite Kindle readers will appreciate having the pictures reproduced in colour so here is a

selection below. Double click a picture to enlarge.

Sun tracker garage

Sun tracker garage

Heat pump power

Heat pump power

knife-rackflush-sinkclearview-in-siepi

Ultimate Eco-heating system

Ultimate Eco-heating system

 

 

 

 

stacks-of-power-graph

 

 

 

 

bangs-for-your-bucks-uk

heat-bank-siepi

aermec-fan-coilsflower-bed-in-pavingenergy-use-chartbath-tapswood-stove-heat-dump

Heating News – Spring 2014

Heating News SPRING 2014
In this issue:
Heating Seminar – 28th May
500 litre heat bank – SPECIAL OFFER
Electricity bills audit
Back issues – on http://www.originaltwist.com
Stuff for sale

Heating Seminar – 28th MayFor anyone contemplating a heating project this will be a useful day spent discussing just about everything you need to know including:

Traditional heating – why it is out of date
How to evaluate your needs
Design your system on the PC
Accounting for seasonal demands – system alignment
Balancing and integrating a variety of inputs
Why heat banks are so good
Solar thermal and photovoltaic
Wood as a power source
Heat pumps a new era
Pool pumping on 200W

A great day out with lunch and a chat about your projects from 9am to 4pm. €90.
For delegates flying in the nearest airport is Perugia and accommodation can be arranged.
To reserve a place email me or use the contact form on the other page of this site or call 0039 (0)75 782 1816

500 litre heat bank – SPECIAL OFFER £4,100 including delivery to Central Italy worth £360. (Factory price for tank as specified here is £4,029)
There are many of these fitted in Umbria now and they all work a treat. This stainless steel Xcel heat bank from Specflue (they took over DPS) is still the easiest way to install a turnkey heating system that will run straight out of the box and integrate all your heat sources. The specification has been refined over the years and is now known as ‘The Italian Job’. All the pumps and controls are fitted and wired leaving just a days work to connect a few pipes. There is so much time and labour saved that this could be not just your best option but also the least expensive one too.

Specification
500 litre stainless steel tank (Telford) with 3 bar rating
35l/min plate heat exchanger for domestic hot water
Extra large 1” ports for gravity circulating stove.
Temperature regulation for a condensing boiler + thermostat
Class-A circulation pump for heating
Class-A pump and temperature control for underfloor heating
3kW immersion heater with Grasslin booster/timer
Over heat thermostat
Solar coil with sensor pocket.

You might notice some upgrades over the previous Italian Job. The tank is bigger and the pumps are the much more expensive A rated ones. The plate heat exchanger has been down graded to 35l/min. This is like 2+ combi boilers running at once but with less tank depletion than the previous 45l/min version. The latter is still available if needed.

Clearview 750 wood burning stove £2,200
Including gloves, temperature guage, colour of choice and UK delivery to the shippers. Free delivery to Italy with a tank order.This lovely stove has been so successful in many installations that I’d countenance nothing less. For most houses this will provide heating, hot water and even cooking without any additional heat sources. The best thing with this stove is the stainless clip-in back boiler which can easily be replaced if needs be. A stove with an integrated cast iron boiler usually means the whole stove has to be replaced – penny wise pound foolish!

Electricity bills audit
A fascinating exercise every time. Give me a stack of your last electricity bills and I’ll crunch the data into a table and graph to reveal all the interesting details along with some ideas for money saving changes. Your background consumption will be compared with the norm to show whether those bills are reasonable (as if) and that you are being charged fairly. An explanation of the Enel bill is part of the survey pack.
Surveys from €50. Report in print or pdf.

Back issues – on http://www.originaltwist.com
A selection of ‘heating News’ back issues can be found at the bottom of the blogs list to your right. The Heatingitaly web site has been superseded by http://www.originaltwist.com which gives more scope to discuss all sorts of interesting topics and to make the heating side less country specific.
The old site had a few useful spreadsheets for calculating various things to do with solar and heating in general. I can still send them out on request.

FOR SALE – ANYTHING
This is a market place for anything you want to sell not just heating related items.
One line per item please: as many items as you want
If you are a local send your list to my normal email title PATSMART
Petrol powered water pump as new €120 3313 404 008 Umbertide
Cast iron radiator, large – under half price €180 3313 404 008 Umbertide
Radiator, very small, white – under half price €20 3313 404 008 Umbertide
5 Blu-ray discs or DVDs with free Sharp Blu-ray player €50 3313 404 008 Umbertide
Toyota RAV4, 2007, 110,000km, chains, metallic black €10,000 3313 404 008 Umbertide
Restoration – lovely carved French bed, padded head board €100 075 782 1816 Umbertide
Childs bike 6 – 10 yrs knobbly tyres, good condition €40 075 782 1816 Umbertide