Sustainability through concrete flooring

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You may not instantly think of concrete as the material that can create a truly stunning floor but, it is one of the most versatile and creative materials that you will ever come across. With a Midland Polished Concrete floor, a room is given an amazing finished ‘look’, creating a spectacular interior design statement.

However, there are is one small issue that many people, with green credentials in mind, find difficult: concrete sits on the edge of being sustainable. For this very reason, many people discount concrete but, as a material it has a huge amount to offer, especially with the more modern, eco-friendly manufacturing techniques’ although concrete and cement are two products that have been inexistence and use since ancient times.

Environmental impact

As with most products, the way in which they are manufactured varies from brand to brand, and company to company, but in the main, there are three types of concrete flooring;

  • Traditional concrete
  • Recycled concrete
  • And sustainable concrete

To understand which one is right for your flooring needs and which meets environmental criteria, you will need to examine all three, weighing the pros and cons to what suits you and your budget.

Traditional concrete flooring

Created and installed from scratch, these concrete floors – along with worktops and sinks – have become an on-trend addition in new builds and other modern constructions, as well as renovations. A versatile product, it allows endless possibilities in terms of design, finished look etc. as well as being incredible durable and robust.

As welcome as these plaudits may be, traditional concrete floors do not make the grade in terms of environmental friendliness and there are 4 combined reasons why this is the case;

I.            Cement – one ingredient in concrete is cement, a fine particle mixture of clay, limestone and sand. The fact that traditional concrete relies on cement – that is, non-renewable resources – is a major reason why concrete is considered a non-environmentally friendly product. Not only is it the use of clay, limestone and sand an issue, but the energy-rich way in which this fine powder is created.

quarry mill

II.            Aggregates – another ingredient in the recipe for traditional concrete is the use of aggregates, meaning gravel, sand, stone and rocks. The addition of these materials increases both stability and durability but again, these materials are often mined or quarried, an industry that is consumes a large amount of energy.

III.            Water – combining these material together is water and again, for many environmentalists this is not the best use of this precious resource and hence, traditional concrete floors are not seen as ‘green’

IV.            Chemicals – there can be many chemicals and pigments added to traditional concrete floors too, something that again makes them environmentally unfriendly.

Despite this, it has been recognised that concrete, as a material, has a large part to play in construction and flooring, hence the industry set about making it a more environmentally friendly product.

Recycled concrete flooring

As with all industries across the globe, there are waste products and the concrete industry is realising that the waste produced by other industries can work well in the creation of more environmentally friendly concrete floors.

Fly ash is a waste product of coal burning power plants, of which there are many throughout the world. India and China are both large coal-burning countries, producing 100 million tonnes of fly ash on an annual basis. Research and studies have shown that recycled concrete floors that containing more than 50% fly ash;

  • Reduces the amount of water needed
  • Improves the workability and malleability of the product
  • Minimizes cracking due to heat and drying
  • Makes the product even more durable and able to resist corrosion from ‘sulphate attack’ etc.

There are many companies now manufacturing and producing recycled concrete, perfect for polished floors. Many of these products contain more than 97% fly ash, producing a product that surpasses current standards.

Sustainable concrete flooring

Updating the concrete floor that you have in your home or business is a pre-requisite for this method! Many modern properties have concrete floors already and, when looking to install a new one or update the floor, the process of lifting an ‘old’ concrete floor is not only labour intensive, but consumes a larger amount of power too.

As a result, many customers are encouraged to add an additional layer of concrete, to produce an amazing finished results. This process, unlike the others discussed, does not need a huge amount of water or other agents.  In fact, one environmentally friendly process includes the use of dry powder with no water needed.

Not all bad…

Thus, concrete flooring, especially made by brands and companies with a keen eye on the environment are producing concrete flooring products that are improving. And with polished concrete floors given not only a sparkling performance, but also a far healthier one, there has never been a better time to take a fresh look at concrete.