Color finish trial on poured concrete floor (C) InspectApedia Ralph Arlyck Poured Finish Flooring Over Concrete Slabs Using Thermal Mass

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This article discusses the best choices for poured acrylic or epoxy finish flooring to use over a concrete floor slab intended to provide direct solar heat gain and heat storage.

We discuss: Ceramic tile over radiant heat floor slab. Flooring materials for passive solar floor slab designs where direct solar gain and passive solar heat storage are desired. Solar Age Magazine Articles on Renewable Energy, Energy Savings, Construction Practices

Accompanying text are reprinted/adapted/excerpted with permission from Solar Age Magazine - editor Steven Bliss. Our page top photograph shows a gray-color finish applied to a poured concrete floor in a New York home. Photo courtesy Ralph Arlyck, Timed Exposures.[3]

We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

What Poured Finish Flooring to Use Over a Thermal Mass Passive Solar Concrete Floor Slab

Tile floor over radiant heat and passive solar slab (C) Daniel Friedman

The question-and-answer article below paraphrases, quotes-from, updates, and comments an original article from Solar Age Magazine and written by Steven Bliss.

What Poured Finish Flooring Products are Available to Use Over a Passive Solar Thermal Mass Concrete Floor Slab?

Question:I plan to build a passive solar home with poured acrylic floors over a thermal mass concrete slab.

I understand tha these finishes can be installed for as little as $2 a square foot [in the 1980's].

How will they affect the solar performance of our passive thermal mass concrete floor slab?

- Gerald Griffith, Columbia PA

Our photograph (above left) shows a modest (limited sunlight) passive solar interior floor, constructed over a poured concrete slab in a Minnesota Cabin on Lake Superior. The designers intended to use a radiant-heated insulated concrete floor slab, but unfortunately the builder installed the radiant tubing improperly and the heat was not usable.

See RADIANT HEAT FLOOR MISTAKES). The insulated concrete floor continues to function as a limited passive solar slab, offering thermal mass that steadies building temperatures even in very cold Minnesota weather.


In the 1980's poured acrylic flooring products were difficult to find but available. Poured acrylic or poured epoxy finish flooring products come in two parts: an acrylic (or epoxy) matrix and a catalyst (hardener).

You can vary the pattern and color of the poured finish floor covering by adding colorants and chips to the material.

The abilities of the surface to absorb and conduct heat both affect how much heat enters the thermal mass passive solar floor slab. Because the acrylic (or epoxy) finish flooring bonds chemically to the concrete floor, heat should flow into the slab better than it would through adhesive-bonded resilient flooring and better than it does through adhesive-bonded ceramic tiles in our photograph of the Minnesota floor above.

The darker the color of your pour-on finish flooring, the more heat will be asbsorbed. Light flooring materials absorb less solar radiation (heat) and are thus less efficient (as much as 40 percent less for pastel colors).

Examples of Pour-on Finishes for Thermal Mass Concrete Slabs

Color finish trial on poured concrete floor (C) InspectApedia Ralph Arlyck 

Take a look at these contemporary pour-on finishes that work well on concrete slabs.

At left the radiant slab poured concrete floor is shown with the final and satisfactory polished finish. The floor had a milky quality on the first pass but the installers were able to solve the problem and get it looking right. Photo courtesy Ralph Arlyck, Timed Exposures.[3]

Original article

The link to the original Q&A article in PDF form immediately below is preceded by an expanded/updated online version of this article.


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