Floors and ceilings
In many traditional societies in developing countries it is customary for all daily activities, such as working, preparing food, cooking, eating and sleeping, to take place on the floor. Hence, the floor construction and, more so, the type of surface is of great importance, especially in terms of comfort and cleanliness.
But even if activities do not take place primarily on the floor, careful thought should be given to its design and the choice of materials, particularly with respect to the local climatic and environmental conditions, as well as to traditional lifestyles and natural hazards.
Although composite climates are more common, design considerations for floor and ceiling construction in the two major climatic regions (warm humid and hot dry climates) show the two extremes, between which a variety of intermediary solutions are possible.
• It is always advantageous to construct floors well above the ground surface: protection against splashing rain and flood water in predominantly humid climates, exclusion of windblown sand in predominantly dry regions.
• In warm humid climates, floors raised off the ground, with an air space below, are preferred mainly to facilitate air movement (needed to reduce heat and moisture) and for protection against vermin.
• In hot dry climates, floors should preferably be in contact with the ground to facilitate heat conduction from building to earth.
• In regions which may experience brief but marked seasonal cooling, the normally welcome coolness of paved flooring may be temporarily mitigated by area rugs, carpets or mats.
• The choice of colour on floors exposed to sunshine is determined by a compromise between avoiding glare and discouraging heat absorption. Smooth surfaces are best in all areas subject to dust, but non-slip surfaces must be remembered for steps in wet areas.
• Non-uniform ground conditions can cause the foundations and/or floors to subside partially, causing serious damage. Hence, in some cases, it is advisable to construct movement joints between the floor and wall (or foundation).
• A dampproof course is required where ground moisture is a problem.
• The design of ceilings must take into account the problem of sound transmission from the higher to the lower floor: resilient materials and improper ceiling-to-wall connections can cause acoustical problems.
Common Materials for Floors and Ceilings
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