One question we get a lot at Policrete is: “Is polished concrete cold?”. It’s a valid concern. We’re about to hit those chilly winter months, and there’s nothing worse than coming home to a cold, uncomfortable and uninviting house at night. What’s more, a cold home can result in huge energy bills if you need to pump the heating 24/7.
Fortunately, concrete flooring is a great option for the cooler months. Here’s a few reasons why.
Polished concrete floors absorb heat
Concrete is a thermal mass material, which means it has the ability to absorb and store heat. Ever hovered your hand over the bitchumen the night after a hot day and felt the heat radiating off the surface? That’s thermal mass in action.
With concrete flooring, it’s much the same. Concrete flooring has the ability to absorb heat and release it slowly, meaning that if your floors are exposed to sunlight during the day, they will absorb the heat and release it slowly during the night.
Because the thermal mass of concrete works on a 12-hour time delay (or thermal lag), the material heats up during a winter day and releases this heat at night. As it starts to cool down the next morning, the sun rises to begin heating the flooring again.
This also makes concrete flooring a great option for the summer months. Concrete surfaces will retain the coolness they absorbed during the night, and release it during the day.
The other benefit of high thermal mass material is that it’s a sustainable and environmentally friendly product, making your building more energy-efficient and saving you money on your heating and cooling bills.
This is why concrete is a popular choice in ‘passive solar building design’. This design trend takes advantage of local climates to maintain a comfortable temperature and eliminates the need for other heating and cooling systems.
Passive design can lower energy bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Concrete floors don't have to look ‘cold’
When most people think ‘concrete’, they think ‘industrial’. It’s true that concrete is a popular option for factories and warehouses because it’s a strong, durable and low-maintenance material. And yes, in these buildings, concrete can often look cold or harsh.
But when it comes to design, concrete doesn't have to look ‘cold’. Far from it. The ‘industrial chic’ or ‘urban industrial’ look is getting more popular every year, and demonstrates how concrete can be used to create a modern and edgy look, while still retaining a sense of warmth (and a lot of character).
The key to industrial chic is to pair raw and industrial materials like concrete with the warmth of reclaimed vintage furniture and aged woods. Sporadic pops of colour can also help balance the industrial look.
The other thing to consider is that concrete doesn't have to be grey. Polished concrete is available in a range of colours, aggregates (the exposed stones and sand under the surface) and glosses, allowing you to design a decorative concrete surface that best suits your home.
It’s important to remember that these design choices need to be made early on in the process - once the slab is poured, you can’t change its colour. Make sure to carefully consider the colour, level of aggregate you want exposed and gloss level before you begin your project.
Concrete flooring can be paired with hydronic heating for warm floors all winter long
Concrete holds heat better than any other material, which means concrete floors will absorb sunlight throughout the day. But if you don’t have the advantage of floors that sit in direct sunlight, there is another way to heat your home.
Hydronic heating is a simple, yet highly effective, form of energy-efficient heating. A specialised thermostat calls for hot water from a boiler. The water is heated to 50°C and distributed through pipes that sit underneath concrete slab flooring. This heat is then transferred to the concrete and released into the room.
Polished concrete is the perfect material to accompany a hydronic heating system because it’s a great conductor of heat. The result is a warm and comfortable floor that radiates warmth throughout your entire home.
Not only does hydronic heating keep your home warm and comfortable, but because the heat is released from the concrete, you don't have to deal with the dust that traditional heating systems can blow around.
Hydronic slab heating can be turned on at the start of the winter months and switched off during summer, resulting in a comfortable home all winter long.
At Policrete, we work closely with dPP Hydronic Heating. The dPP team specialise in designing and installing hydronic heating systems and work with leading architects and builders across Melbourne and Sydney. dPP are experts in underfloor slab heating in new buildings and renovations, and can design and install a hydronic heating system suitable for any project.
How to get a stylish concrete floor that will keep you warm this winter
If you’re looking for a stylish and unique floor for your home, polished concrete is a great on-trend option, and with smart design choices and innovative hydronic heating, concrete is anything but cold. Get in touch with the Policrete team to learn about using polished concrete to create an inviting home that will keep you warm this winter.