Radiant Heat and Concrete - Why Proper Curing is Important

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                         Radiant Heat And Concrete – Why Proper Curing Is So Important
                                                             By Larry B Lang

  To stop concrete from cracking, the first thing to understand about concrete is that it reacts to
moisture. The moisture within it creates a chemical reaction that hardens the concrete.

Many people believe that once concrete appears lighter in color, with a hard surface that it is dry, but in
reality concrete takes at least seven days to cure and several weeks to completely dry.

For concrete to become strong and for the surface to wear well, curing concrete needs moisture.
Concrete needs to dry out at a slow continuous pace; otherwise shrinking and cracking will likely occur.

The strength of concrete when accurately cured is about 80 to 100 per cent higher than concrete, that
hasn’t been cured at all. To increase concrete’s strength this curing process should be stable and
continuous. If concrete becomes too wet or too dry, cracks will certainly develop, resulting in future
flooring problems.

Which means that if you are curing concrete on a hot sunny day, the chemicals within concrete will
stop reacting once sufficient moisture is gone – leaving it in a weakened state. Therefore concrete
should be protected from damaging effects such as wind, sun and inconsistent weather.

The ideal temperature for hydration is 23°C. It is best to keep the temperature as close as possible to
that level, as curing takes place.

To keep in moisture and slow down the drying process, a membrane can be used. But there are
many types of membranes on the market, and you will want to make sure the one you select is right for
the type of flooring you are planning to install.

There are a variety of chemical and liquid membranes on the market, which are growing in popularity.
You can apply them easily by hand or with a power sprayer and are classified under the four following
base types: chlorinated-rubber, resin, water, and PVA.

Another way to prevent moisture from evaporating is to use a waterproof building paper or plastic film.
Plastic sheeting is a flexible and easy covering for complex shapes. Plastic sheeting can be pulled

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back quickly to allow you to check the concrete over the course of curing.

Another idea is to get a spray atomizer and spray water on the concrete’s surface prior to putting on
the plastic sheeting. Using a finer mist spray almost like a fog, works very well also.

Using an absorptive medium like sand or canvas is also an effective way to retain moisture.

To sum it up, if you are pouring concrete you should create an optimal environment so it can cure
properly. As your concrete hardens and starts to get rid of excess water, it will shrink.

For a trouble free installation, being proactive and implementing preventative measures during curing
will result in strong concrete that won’t crack.

The advantage of an installation that carefully controls moisture levels and temperatures is immense
and something that should not be ignored.

This article may be distributed freely on your website, as long as this entire article, including working
links and this resource box are unchanged. Copyright 2006 Larry Lang All Rights Reserved. Lang
Enterprises Inc.

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   The Do's And Don'ts Of Installing In-Floor Radiant Heating System With Hardwood Flooring
                                                                     By Larry B Lang

When considering radiant heat, the reluctance to install hardwood floors over radiant heat systems
was from the original technology, launched more than 40 years ago.

With radiant heat, to compensate for poor insulation, radiant heat temperatures were higher than
normal causing excessive expansion and contraction in hardwood floors, which resulted in damage to
hardwoods and a builder's reputation.

Today, faultless radiant heat installations of fine hardwood flooring are completed over radiant floor

To be honest, installing hardwoods over radiant heating systems is really no different from laying a
typical hardwood floor.

Although the temperature of radiant floor heating will not harm the wood floor, a change in moisture will
cause various hardwood flooring to warp, buckle or gap.

As the temperature rises, the moisture content generally decreases, and the moisture is removed
causing the wood to shrink and gaps to occur between the boards. With lower temperatures the
moisture returns and the gaps close.

When radiant heat is added to any floor it's important to pay close attention to the moisture levels.

Your hardwood floor installer, and radiant heating systems contractor, should be aware of the special
considerations required when using radiant heat in conjunction with hardwood floors.

When combined with radiant heat, many contractors underestimate the time it takes for concrete to
properly cure. Usually, when the concrete looks dry the flooring is installed, however concrete needs to
dry slowly and can take up to 90 days. Knowing the exact moisture content is an essential part of
quality control within the floor installation process.

Once the sub-floor, tubing and climate controls have been installed, run your radiant heating systems
for at least 72 hours to balance the moisture content.

Your radiant heat and hardwood floors need some special moisture considerations. Make sure your
installer has a hand-held electrical tool, called a moisture meter. It measures the moisture in concrete
and in the wood floor materials, giving the percentage of relative humidity.

Make certain the hardwood flooring, the storage space and the concrete slab are normalized or
acclimated to the finished room before the hardwood is installed.

With a hardwood installation, a moisture barrier helps maintain an even moisture balance in the floor.
Seasonal gapping is quite normal but in the fall try to progressively turn on heat before the first really
cool day arrives. Also, it's important for the hardwood floorboards in the floor to be laid perpendicular to
the tubing, not parallel.

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The key to a good hardwood installation when combined with radiant heat is to pay close attention to
the moisture. Low, even temperature distribution is the key to avoiding problems when radiant heat is

This article may be distributed freely on your website, as long as this entire article, including working
links and this resource box are unchanged. Copyright 2006 Larry Lang All Rights Reserved. Lang
Enterprises Inc.

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