Beam and Block Flooring Installation: A Step-by-Step Guide

Beam and Block Flooring: A Complete Guide To The Right Flooring

by | Apr 26, 2023 | House Extension | 0 comments

Selecting the proper kind of flooring is crucial when building a structure. When it comes to giving the building structural support and stability, the flooring is essential. Beam and block flooring are just two of the many types of flooring options available.

Using beam and block flooring, also referred to as suspended floors, is a common building technique used to produce a level and stable surface for the building’s occupants. 

We will examine the block and beam floor construction details along with some advantages and disadvantages of beam and block flooring in this article to assist you in making an informed choice.

What is Beam Flooring?

depicting a robust 'Beam Flooring' structure, showcasing sturdy beams supporting the flooring.

Using precast concrete beams supported by brickwork or concrete walls, beam flooring is a type of suspended flooring system. To increase the building’s energy efficiency, the beams are positioned at regular intervals, typically 600mm apart, and then filled with insulation material. After the beams are set up, a screed is applied on top to level the surface and prepare it for floor finishes.

What is Block Flooring?

Visual of 'Block Flooring' consisting of solid blocks arranged in a structured pattern for construction.

Instead of using beams, block flooring is a suspended flooring system that uses precast concrete blocks. The brickwork or concrete walls support the blocks, which are spaced regularly apart—typically 400mm apart. Similar to beam flooring, insulation is inserted between the blocks to increase energy efficiency, and a screed is then applied to the top to produce a level surface.

Beam vs. Block Flooring

differences between beam-supported and block-supported flooring systems.

If you still ask why use beam and block, here is your answer. The type of support structure used is what differentiates block flooring from beam flooring. Precast concrete beams are used in beam flooring, whereas precast concrete blocks are used in block flooring. The span of the system, the depth of the floor, and the overall cost are just a few effects of this difference.

Fewer beams are needed to support the same area because beam flooring typically spans greater distances than block flooring. To provide the required strength, though, it also necessitates deeper beams, which could raise the system’s cost. 

Contrarily, block flooring requires more blocks to support a given area, but these blocks can be shallower, which can lower the cost.

Benefits of Beam Flooring

Beam flooring has several advantages over block flooring, including:

Beam flooring has several benefits that make it a popular choice for larger commercial or industrial buildings. Some of the main advantages of beam flooring include:

Longer spans

Beam flooring is an excellent choice for large buildings or areas where longer spans are necessary because it can span greater distances than other types of flooring. Fewer support beams are necessary to hold up the flooring because they can span greater distances, which can lower costs and increase a building’s general efficiency.

Reduced depth

As beam flooring is intended to be thinner than other types of flooring, it can be used in structures with constrained space. Due to the decreased depth, less concrete is needed to build the flooring, which can lower costs and improve the building’s environmental performance.

Improved energy efficiency

For structures that need to be highly energy efficient, beam flooring is a good option. Good insulation is provided by the flooring system, which can lower heating and cooling expenses. Additionally, the flooring can be used in conjunction with underfloor heating systems, which can offer the building an effective and cosy heating solution.

Easy installation

Being relatively simple to install, beam flooring can speed up construction and save money. The time needed for installation can be shortened by the flooring system’s quick and simple on-site assembly. By doing so, the construction process can speed up and project costs can be lower overall.

Drawbacks of Beam Flooring

Despite its benefits, beam flooring also has several drawbacks, including:

Higher Cost

Beam flooring has a few disadvantages, one of which is the potential cost premium over block flooring. The use of steel or reinforced concrete beams, which are required to support the weight of the building, is a contributing factor in the price of beam flooring. Beam flooring may not be a good choice for smaller homes or projects with tight budgets due to the added cost.

Reduced Fire Resistance

Beam flooring’s lower fire resistance when compared to block flooring is another potential disadvantage. Unlike the concrete blocks used in block flooring, which are more dense and fire-resistant, beam flooring typically uses timber or steel joists.

This decreased fire resistance can be a problem in structures where fire safety is a top priority, like high-rise structures or structures with a lot of occupants. When deciding between beam and block flooring, fire safety requirements must be taken into account.

Benefits of Block Flooring

Block flooring also has several advantages over beam flooring, including:

Lower cost

Beam flooring frequently costs less than other types of flooring, which is one of its main advantages. This is due to the fact that beam flooring uses less material than other types of flooring, making it an affordable option for many construction projects. Furthermore, beam flooring installation is a fairly simple process, which can help keep labour costs down.

Greater fire resistance

Beam flooring also has the advantage of being more fire resistant than other types of flooring. Due to the fact that concrete, a non-combustible material, is frequently used to create beam flooring, this is the case. Therefore, beam flooring can aid in containing the spread of fire in an emergency.

Easy installation

Comparatively speaking to other types of flooring, beam flooring is relatively simple to install. The usual installation procedure entails placing the beams first, followed by pouring the concrete slab on top. The cost of the construction project as a whole can be decreased by doing this quickly and effectively.

Drawbacks of Block Flooring

Despite its benefits, block flooring also has several drawbacks, including:

Limited spans

The limited spans of block and beam flooring are one of its main disadvantages. Beam flooring, in particular, has shorter spans compared to other types of suspended flooring. This means that if you’re building a larger structure, you may need to install additional support beams to compensate for the shorter spans. This can add to the cost and complexity of the construction project.

Increased depth

The increased depth of flooring made of blocks and beams is another disadvantage. As a result of the thicker and bulkier beams and blocks used in this kind of construction, the flooring system’s overall depth may increase. 

This may be a problem if your floor-to-ceiling heights are constrained or if you’re trying to reduce the building’s overall height.

Reduced energy efficiency

Furthermore, compared to other suspended flooring options, beam and block flooring may have lower energy efficiency. This is so that ventilation and insulation can be provided by the system, which depends on air gaps between the beams and blocks. 

While doing so can help control moisture and stop the growth of mould, it can also cause heat loss and lower energy efficiency. This is particularly true in structures with high ceilings or roomy interiors, where heating and cooling expenses can be substantial.

Beam or Block Flooring: What to Choose

It’s crucial to take your project’s unique requirements into account when choosing between beam and block flooring. Beam flooring might be the better choice if you need longer spans and increased energy efficiency. However, if you are looking to save on cost and require greater fire resistance, block flooring may be more suitable.

It’s also important to keep in mind that beam and block flooring can be combined to create a hybrid design that benefits from the best features of both solutions. This can involve using a combination of beams and blocks to support different areas of the floor, allowing you to customise the system to meet your specific requirements.

Whichever option you decide on, it’s crucial to work with a qualified expert to make sure the flooring system is installed correctly and complies with all applicable building codes and regulations.

Conclusion

Popular building techniques like beam and block flooring offer sturdy and dependable foundations for both residential and commercial structures. 

Despite having longer spans and greater energy efficiency, beam flooring can be more expensive than block flooring and may not be as fire-resistant. However, block flooring may require more blocks and has lower energy efficiency. It is less expensive and more fire resistant.

The particular requirements of your project will ultimately determine whether you choose beam or block flooring. You can make sure that your flooring system is strong, dependable, and complies with all necessary building codes and regulations by weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each option and working with an experienced professional.

Emmanuel Nwaebo

Emmanuel Nwaebo is the Managing Director at Powerpillar Ltd and has more than 25 years experience in building construction and renovations. He has a bachelor’s in Electronics and Electrical Engineering with certification in Construction Health and Safety Technician (CHST). With an experience in managing construction and renovation services for years, he is extremely passionate about property management and loves helping people find their dream property.

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