In the town of Steinkjer in central Norway, people complained of aching feet after moving into new houses. Their wooden houses had burnt down in a fire and had been replaced with houses with concrete floors covered with plastictiles.The complaints developed into damage to muscles and joints.The hard floors were the cause.
In the same way, over hundreds of years horses in towns and cities suffered as a result of the paving under their hooves. As a result, they were often put out to graze much earlier than countryhorses, used to workingonasofter surface.
Hard wood fibre board
Table 15.3 The potential electrostatic charging in different materials
Electrostatic charging (V/m)
Hard wood fibre board
Plywood Chipboard Polyvinyl chloride Synthetic carpets
'Bakers' illness' was once a common problem in bakeries with hard concrete and tiled floors. The floors were in direct contact with the ovens, which heated the floors by upto 30 °C.This continual high floor temperature gave bakers headaches and feelings of tiredness. One way to avoid this was by wearing wooden clogs, since wood is a bad thermal conductor. A more common and serious problem today is high thermal conductivity in floors, which can draw warmth from the feet. A concrete floor will almost alwaysfeelcold.
Floors made of materials that are bad electrical conductors such as polyvinyl chloride PVC create an electrostatic charge when rubbed, which attracts dust particles out ofthe air.This is one of the most likely reasonsfor 'sick building syndrome'.
Carpets and wallpapers are supplementary surface coverings and are discussed in the last part of this chapter.
There are metal alternatives for most surface materials. The products for cladding are usually produced as thin sheets and need to be mounted on a strong basis.
For many centuries, copper and bronze have been widely used on churches and other prestigious buildings. In the south-west of England, lead from local mines was, until recently, used as a roofing material. On Iceland, walls and roofs covered with corrugated iron imported from England have been part of the established building tradition since the 1890s. In modern buildings, sheeting of galvanized steel and aluminium is increasingly being used as roofing and as cladding on external walls. This is especially the case in large and commercial buildings where low maintenance is a priority requirement.
In industrial buildings the internal wall cladding is quite often of stainless steel. This is easy to keep clean and particularly well-suited for premises that produce food, for example. Flooring consisting of 6 to 8 mm thick cast iron tiles with a textured surface is popular in buildings used for heavy industry.
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