Concrete and Eco-Friendly Building

Last week we wrapped up a polish on a new build in Pittsboro, North Carolina. The floor was finished to a 1500 grit minimal grind polish throughout the entire home. Though the home is still in the process of being built, it is coming along beautifully, and the flooring option they chose was the perfect compliment to the overall aesthetic being developed.

The finished product.

The home was designed by a builder local to Chapel Hill, Anchorage Building Corp. Anchorage specializes in custom, uber-green homes with uniquely artful designs. We really enjoyed being able to work on this house and learn about the many ways that you can make a home more environmentally friendly and maximize all of the home's functions.

Polished concrete is a popular choice for many environmentally-conscious companies and homeowners. It is considered one of the most green flooring options you can choose, and there’s a number of reasons for that.

For starters, concrete itself does not use up rare resources. One of the main raw materials in concrete cement is limestone, a mineral which can be found in abundance on earth. Because most structures are going to have a concrete base or subfloor to begin, you’re able to conserve waste by simply using the materials that are already there, as opposed to bringing in additional materials like wood or tile. If you really want to double pack a green punch, you can have your concrete made by using waste byproducts from manufacturing factories, such as slag cement or fly ash, or add other recyclable products like glass or old marble for a decorative effect. Because the floor is extremely durable and can last for years, you reduce the cost (both for you and the environment) of replacement, unlike carpet or tile. If you do ever choose to have your concrete replaced, it’s recyclable! 

The floor at it's halfway point, covered and protected by Ram Board (we'll do a post on this stuff later). All of the Ram Board has already been recycled into the homeowner's garden.

Concrete flooring can increase the energy efficiency of homes and commercial buildings as well. In the summer months, concrete floors stay cooler than other flooring options if shielded from the sun, reducing your A/C costs. In the winter, concrete floors can absorb heat during the daytime when sunlight is coming in through the windows and retain this heat all through the night. You can really go the extra mile and have radiant heating installed beneath the floor, one of the most economic ways to heat a home. Additionally, because it is more reflective than most other flooring options, spaces with polished concrete require lower wattage for lights, and can even reduce electrical costs by up to 15%.

The process of polishing requires no harsh chemicals or pollutants, reducing the environmental impact of the installation. If you choose to stain or dye your concrete, there are soy-based dyes available. It’s easy to clean, won’t hold any dust, mold, or dander, making this an excellent option for those who are allergy-prone.

If environmental impact or economical savings are a top concern for you when choosing a flooring option, polished concrete is likely the best flooring treatment for you. The homeowners for this home were thrilled with the results and love the look. We were glad to be a part of this Eco-friendly project.

Epoxy Chip Garage Floor

Joseph making sure every inch of the floor is perfect.

This week we had the privilege of working on a garage in Wilmington, North Carolina. The customer opted for an epoxy-chip flooring system, a fairly popular option for garage floors.

Epoxy is generally considered to be one of the best flooring options for garages, and there are lots of reasons for this. First, let’s be clear: epoxy is very different from paint garage floor finishes. While paint is usually a latex acrylic product, epoxy is a type of resin made by combining one part epoxide resin with one part polyamine hardener. It’s the chemical reaction that happens when these products are combined that helps make epoxy much more durable than regular paint or epoxy garage paint. And we mean MUCH more durable.

Epoxy systems are resilient against chemicals, surface scratches, staining, impacts, and will last for years without chipping or eroding away, even in garages. This makes epoxy ideal for all of the tire wear, fluid spillage, hardware storage, teenage-damage that garage floors can typically experience. It is also moisture resistant, making this an excellent pick for areas with lots of snow and rain, and especially good for the beachside house we installed this epoxy system in.

Epoxy floor coatings is a relatively thick coating. This contributes to durability, of course, but also is key if you happen to be refinishing an older concrete slab. Because of the thickness, minor imperfections and flaws within the concrete can typically be covered without having to shell out extra cash for repairs. This also helps to minimize dust production that can sometimes happen over years with an exposed concrete floor.

Some customers do have concerns about how slip-resistant epoxy flooring is. While epoxy itself is rather slip-resistant, there are things that can be done to increase the floor’s grip. This is where the “chip” part of “epoxy chip flooring” comes into play. The chips are typically colored paint chips that can be made from a variety of materials. They help to add character and style to the floor (the chips are available in practically every color or color-combination), but they also contribute greatly to making the floor more slip-resistant by increasing the amount of texture in the floor. We’ve installed this type of floor in commercial kitchens and other high-traffic areas that need to be durable and non-slip, so don’t think of this flooring system as being limited to just a garage. But know that you can always go for an epoxy flooring without the chip system should you so choose.

It only took us about 2 days to complete this entire floor, from surface prep to finishing touches. We were able to get into the garage before the shelving was installed, which was a huge help for the ease of us moving around the space. It also helped that there was a view of the sunrise over the water from the entrance of the garage, so we were treated to some stunning views while we worked.