Deciding to install a Block and Beam flooring system has many considerations and will be a very important decision. All flooring systems have advantages and disadvantages, Block and Beam ( also known as Bison Beam) has a lot of advantages over solid or timber floors and can be installed very quickly if you have the knowledge. This type of floor system is not for the novice, it requires precise foundations layout and a lot of knowledge of lifting procedures. This flooring system can be used on higher floor levels and do have a lot of advantages over timber floors, sound proofing just being one of them.
- Air Flow The void under the beams can give a good air flow
- Advantages Can be a good way of installing a floor where there are site level variationsenergy and chemicals.
- Speed Can be installed very quickly
Block and Beam floors do take a lot of planning and consideration has to be given to the load bearing of the walls you are constructing above the ground floor, techniques can be used to create load bearing walls.
The company you have chosen to supply the beams will give you a layout drawing and this should be followed precisely. One of the problems I have found in the past is contractors using their own opinions to how it should be set-out, this will create problems towards the end of the installation as i have found in some circumstances you will find yourself short of a couple of beams.
Make sure your contractor is highly experienced as mistakes can be costly to rectify.
Health & Safety Advice
Always try to avoid Manual Lifting of beams, the very nature of a Bison Bean means that they are very heavy and awkward to lift, I would always recommend the use of a crane were possible, I know they can be expensive, but the advantages far out way the cost
• A crane will be a lot safer
• A crane will be a lot faster
Using a crane will also avoid the infill blocks being moved too often, the last thing you want is cracked blocks, quite often the crack is not noticeable until you place it in the floor, often this will require some pressure from your boot, if the block is cracked your foot will go through the block and can cause quite nasty injuries, always try to apply the pressure to the side of the block and not the middle.
Most Crane Hire companies will advise you on all the Health and Safety procedures you will require, make sure they have produced a full Risk Assessment and you have a copy in writing signed by both parties. Please be sure your contractor has also produced a Full Risk Assessment as this will be required even for the installation, there are many risks, not only for the Crane, but also for manual handling procedures.
Once your foundations are ready, make sure you have checked through all the beams and the installation drawings to make sure you have all the correct sizes of beams and the correct number. All beams should be laid on D.P.C membrane when on the ground floor. I would always use bitumen based DPC as I have found that the plastic type can be slippery and when placing the blocks in the beams can cause them to slide apart, if you are stood on the beams when this happens it can cause a nasty accident.
Once the beams have been set-out and you are ready to fill in with the blocks, some procedures should be checked carefully
- Make sure all beams are flush with the outside of their bearing wall
- Make sure all the beams on the outside have their slip bricks installed and are flushed with mortar
- Make sure all the internal walls where the beams cross are filled in fully and have no gaps
- Make sure all waste pipes have been allowed for, now is not the time to forget
- Make sure that the floor is correctly grouted as the last stage and is devoid of debris and excessive grout mixture
Block and Beam Floors require the underside of the floor to be ventilated, a constant air flow must be established in all areas and failure to do this could cause damp problems or smell from rotting vegetation. Good ventilation can be created by using Telescopic Air Vents; these are widely available and not expensive.
These vents should be spaced correctly and installed to a high standard, make sure the internal opening under the floor has been installed in conjunction with a suitable lintel and that the beam has not been placed directly onto the vent, this may sound a silly thing, but I have seen this done and the beams sinking on the vent.
There are many reasons to choose this type of flooring system, but as always you should consult with your architect and talk through his decisions. This can be quite a complicated area of construction and many factors will affect your decison. Take all the advice you can from the professionals and do not base your decision solely on cost.
You can use this system in many areas of your construction and there are many variations I may not have mentioned in this article. As always if you require any further advice or help, then please comment below and i will do my best to help.