A floor is the walking surface of a room or vehicle. Floors vary from simple dirt in a cave to many-layered surfaces using modern technology. Floors may be stone, wood, bamboo, metal, or other material that can hold a person's weight.
Floors typically consist of a subfloor for support and a floor covering used to give a good walking surface. In modern buildings the subfloor often has electrical wiring, plumbing, and other services built in. Because floors meet many needs, some essential to safety, floors are built to strict
Special floor structures
Where a special floor structure like a
floating flooris laid upon another floor then both may be referred to as subfloors.
Special floor structures are used for a number of purposes:
Balcony, a platform projecting from a wall
Floating floor, normally for noise or vibration reduction
Glass floor, as in glass bottomed elevators
Nightingale floormakes a noise when an intruder walks on it
Raised floor, utilities underneath can be accessed easily
Sprung floor, improves the performance and safety of athletes and dancers
Floor covering is a term to generically describe any finish material applied over a floor structure to provide a walking surface. Flooring is the general term for a permanent covering of a floor, or for the work of installing such a floor covering. Both terms are used interchangeably but floor covering refers more to loose-laid materials.
Materials almost always classified as floor covering include
carpet, area rugs, and resilient flooring such as linoleumor vinylflooring. Materials commonly called flooring include wood flooring, ceramic tile, stone, terrazzo, and various seamless chemical floor coatings. [http://www.wfca.org/ World Floor Covering Association]
The choice of material for floor covering is affected by factors such as cost, endurance, noise insulation, comfort and cleaning effort. Some types of flooring must not be installed below grade (lower than ground level), and laminate or hardwood should be avoided where there may be moisture or condensation.
The sub-floor may be finished in a way that makes it usable without any extra work, see:
Earthen flooradobe or clayfloors
Solid ground floorcement screed or granolithic
Carpetis a floor covering woven or felted from natural or man-made fibers. Fitted carpetis attached to the floor structure, extends wall-to-wall, and cannot be moved from place to place. An underlaycan extend carpet life and improve comfort.
Laminateis a floor covering that appears similar to hardwood but is made with a plywood or medium density fiberboard ("MDF") core with a plastic laminate top layer. Laminate may be more durable than hardwood, but cannot be refinished like hardwood. Laminate flooringis available in many different patterns which can resemble different woods or even ceramic tile. It usually locks or taps together.
Rugsare also woven or felted from fibers, but are smaller than the room in which they are located, have a finished edge, and usually lie over another finished floor such as wood flooring. Rugs may either be temporarily attached to the flooring below by adhesive tape or other methods to prevent creep, or may be loose-laid.
Resilient flooring includes many different manufactured products including
linoleum, sheet vinyl, vinyl composition tile, cork (sheet or tile), and others.
Many different species of wood are fabricated into
wood flooringin two primary forms: plank and parquet. Bamboo flooring is also available. While bamboo is technically not a wood, bamboo flooring is installed and functions much like wood flooring. Reclaimed lumberhas a unique appearance and is green.
Ceramic tile includes a wide variety of clay products fired into thin units which are set in beds of mortar or
masticwith the joints between tiles grouted. Varieties include quarry tile, porcelaintile, terra cottatile, and others.
Many different natural stones are cut into a variety of sizes, shapes, and thicknesses for use as flooring. Stone flooring is usually set in mortar and grouted similar to ceramic tile.
Terrazzoconsists of marbleor other stone aggregateset in mortar and ground and polished to a smooth surface.
Seamless chemical flooring
Many different seamless flooring materials are available. These are usually
latex, polyester, or epoxycompounds which are applied in liquid form to provide a completely seamless floor covering. These are usually found in wet areas such as laboratories or food processing plants.
Performance surfaceflooring for dance or athletics
TileIncludes slate, ceramic and stone tiles
Special tools used for flooring include:
Flooring clamp, a clamp for tongue and groove floors while nailing
Knee kicker, used to stretch carpets flat
There are a number of special features that may be used to ornament a floor or perform a useful service:
Floor medallionsdecorative centerpieces of a floor design
Doormats to help keep a floor clean
Gratings used to drain water or to rub dirt off shoes
*Tactile or rumble strips to warn of for instance a wheelchair ramp, these would normally also be distinctively coloured or patterned.
*Light strips to show an escape route out, especially on airplanes.
baseboards to decorate the sides of a floor. or to cover the edge of a floating floor.
Issues with floors
Wood floors, particularly older ones, will tend to 'squeak' in certain places. This is caused by the wood rubbing against other wood, usually at a
jointof the subfloor. Firmly securing the pieces to each other with screws or nails will remove this problem. Floor vibrationis a particularly annoying problem with floors. Wood floors tend to pass sound, particularly heavy footsteps and low bass frequencies. Floating floors can reduce or eliminate this problem. Concrete floors are usually so solid they do not have this problem, but are also much more expensive to construct, and much heavier, resulting in further requirements regarding the structure of the building.
The flooring may need protection sometimes e.g. a gym floor used for a graduation ceremony. A
Gym floor covercan be used to reduce the need to satisfy incompatible requirements.
Floor cleaningis a major occupation throughout the world. Cleaning is essential to prevent injuries due to slips and to remove dirt. Floors are also treated to protect or beautify the surface. The correct method to clean one type of floor can often damage another, so it is important to use the correct treatment. See floor cleaningfor more details. [http://home.howstuffworks.com/floor-cleaning-tips.htm howstffworks: Home cleaning: Floor-cleaning Tips] .
The subfloor provides the strength of a floor. Many floors have no separate floor covering on top. The subfloor may also provide services like
underfloor heatingor ducts for air conditioning.
A ground-level floor can be an
earthen floormade of soil, or be solid ground floors made of concrete slab. Floors above may be built on beams or joists or use structures like hollow core slabs.
Ground floor construction
Ground-level slab floors are prepared for pouring by grading the base material so that it is flat, and then spreading a layer of sand and gravel. A grid of
rebaris usually added to reinforce the concrete, especially if it will be used structurally, i.e. to support part of the building.
Upper floor construction
Floors in woodframe homes are usually constructed with joists that are centered no more than 16 inches or 40 centimeters apart, according to most
building codes.Fact|date=June 2007 Heavy floors, such as those made of stone, are more closely-spaced. If the span between load-bearing walls is too long for joists to safely support, then a heavy crossbeam (thick or laminated wood, or a metal I-beamor H-beam) may have to be used. A 'subfloor' of plywoodor waferboardis then laid over the joists.
In modern buildings there are numerous services provided via
ducts or wires underneath the floor or above the ceiling. The floor of one level typically also holds the ceilingof the level below (if any).
In floors supported by joists utilities are run through the floor, by drilling small holes to go crosswise. Where the floor is over the basement or
crawlspace, they may instead be run under the joists, making the installationless expensive. Ducts for air conditioning (central heating and cooling) are large and cannot cross joists or beams, thus they are typically at or near the plenum, or come directly from underneath (or from an attic).
Pipes for plumbing, sewerage, underfloor heating and other utilities may be laid directly in slab floors, typically via
cellular floor raceways. Maintenance of these systems can be very expensive however, requiring the opening of concrete or other fixed structures. Electrically heated floors are also available, and both kinds of systems can also be used in wood floors as well.
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