Floor-to-Celing Windows/Doors - Flooring Options?


Building new construction and am planning on floor-to-ceiling windows/doors and a finished concrete floor on the first floor (Hardwood on the second).

If, in ten years, I want to convert the concrete floors on the first floor to hardwood, what would be the best way to achieve this? Is there a way to plan for this in advance? 

Trying to preplan for the finished floor height issue.


Jan 21, 19 1:13 pm
Non Sequitur

How much space do you need to install hardwood on a concrete substrate?  Figure this out... and cast the slab with a equivalent depression.  Add a bond break and infill with non-structural (ie. no rebar) concrete so that it can be chipped later.

Jan 21, 19 1:19 pm
( o Y o )

Hire an architect.

Jan 21, 19 1:29 pm

Yes, but I am extremely interested in building practices so I figured an open forum with a wealth of knowledge would be a great place for discourse.

Also, I find it interesting how there are many ways to skin a cat; some better than others. It's important, at least to me, to be knowledgable in whatever you plan on tackling. Again, better to learn the easy way rather than the hard way.

For what it's worth, I hired an architect to build a 3,600 sf garage in Zone 6. I ended up with a 2x6 construction improvement with fiberglass insulation between studs. Needless to say, I ripped it out a few years later and built it right. So to politely disagree, "Hire an architect" is not always the right answer :) ... but, ultimately, it is the right answer - just need to be somewhat knowledgable when doing so, which is why I am here.

Non Sequitur

is there really a bad way to skin a cat? I'm not willing to ping our office webfilters by searching online for an answer.


Haha! Touche


Thank you, Non!

I plan on using the Hambro Flooring System. I recently stepped foot on a 6" RC Slab with a 2" GenieMat (Floating Floor) topped with a 4" Slab; the sound reduction was phenomenal, which is also what I am after.

So, if I go that route, the initial 6" (Or whatever the spec is, whether it's 4", 5" or 6", etc.) would be structural. The GenieMat is...EXPENSIVE ($6/sf)! Since I will be installing Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating, I need to insulate underneath to prevent downward heating. 

I'm not too familiar with EPS, but could I do: 6" Slab > 4" EPS (R-Value of 16+, which I believe is recommended) > 2"-3" slab with Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating? The 6" Slab can dry to the bottom since there will be open web joists, but since the top 2"-3" slab will be sealed, does that cause issues with the sandwiched EPS?

Also, for that top slab with the pex tubing, to make chipping it out easier, do you have any recommendations for reinforcing it to assist with cracking issues? Helix? welded mesh? I know the slab depth / concrete mix is a determining factor; just looking for some insight.

I can't thank you enough for your help.

Jan 21, 19 1:38 pm
Non Sequitur

Haus, there's alot here to consider... but honestly, this looks like a lot of work for something that may be temporary. Instead, I'd recess the slab and source decently finished precast "tiles". Something like 4'x4' and install like any other floor. No chipping required, just lift and toss when ready to add wood flooring. Side note, I've always assumed wood to be an insulator and to be a negative product when working with hydronic heating.


Thank you! Yes, a lot of work. My thought was this: source the best products and hire the best labor to build a solid building envelope that will last. This of course, costs money. A lot of money. I figured I would finish the interior with standard finishes in the meantime, which I can update at a later point in time (Hence the concrete floors). Also, I am at the point in my life where I will be starting to have kids within the next two years. I have learned after watching my nieces and nephews that kids are messy and accidents happen. No sense in installing Carlisle Hardwood ($18+/sf) if they'll only get spit up on, scratched and dinged. My kids will be taught respect but I can't quite speak for their friends who will eventually come over to visit. 

Thanks for the side note - I always wondered that. For the upstairs I was looking at Warmboard with hardwood flooring over top.

Jan 21, 19 2:18 pm
Non Sequitur

We bought our house with 60 year old wood floors and a big selling feature was their visible scratches, cracks and squeaks. Sure, you need to know which boards to avoid when the toddler is sleeping, but at least it has life and character.


I miss this so much, out west everything is new and plastic. No character at all. Give me deep wood mouldings and trimmed out detailed wood banisters and staircases. Ok now I am homesick


I also miss brick. Every building over 10 years old has cementitious stucco on it, looks like crap.

Non Sequitur

I feel ya. Our main living room window is original to the house (it's got 12 sliding glass panes for ventilation) and the gypsum corners are rounded into the frame, as opposed to frame being proud of wall. Crazy awkward detail that cracks easily but damn it, it's unique. That reminds me, I need to finish painting that wall.


oh i have cracks too, but not because of a cool detail. Damn swelling clay

Non Sequitur

Hip, that window is 9'-6" wide, so the cracks are from 60+ years of freeze-thaw cycles. BTW, it's -35C today, going to -2C tomorrow.


Its a beautiful -5 today here, almost balmy

Non Sequitur

I've thawed from my morning site review. The next 3 this week are all inside, so that's good. At least our canal is ready for skating!


If you put 'real wood' over concrete you need a layer of plywood or other material along with heavy duty plastic sheeting to act as a moisture barrier for the wood. If you use laminate you don't need the plywood but only the sheeting at a minimum. The rub there is that quality laminate often comes with padding attached. Either way getting heat through the flooring will be difficult. Have you considered other means of heating the first floor such as low profile registers along the side? Another way would be the new tile that looks like wood. I have no experience with the look but it would solve the heat transfer problem.

Jan 22, 19 7:44 am

Thanks, Volunteer. However, the problem at hand is not heating - that's the "easy" part. Finished concrete floors or tile = in-slab heating; finished hardwood floors = Warmboard.

Non Sequitur hit the nail on the head. The issue is height. I cannot finish a floor properly with floor-to-ceiling windows. The finished floor would be higher than the actual window. I am looking for options and any advice on how I can lay the concrete floor now to make it easier to convert at a later point in time. It sounds as if chipping out the concrete would be my only option.


Modern Maus you are making this a lot more complex then it needs to be. Just look up base shoe details by CR Laurence or Bloomcraft (assuming this is all glass assembly). There are seperal different ways this can be done, from completely concealed shoe to one propped up on steel plate that accounts for floor finish, to just letting flooring but up against the extrusion.


I think your line of thinking makes logical sense, but In my opinion is does not practical sense.  Build what you want now, Enjoy it while you raise kids. If you build quality it will be able to sustain the wear and tear of raising children. 15 years from now I guarantee you will want to spend that money on your children and not remodeling your house. the wear and tear become marks of memory and building now and planning to remodel later will in total cost you a lot more then just building what you want now. You will also change, the way you live the things you think are important.  Build what you want now. Down size and build something you want in the future. Don't delay the quality of your life. That's the whole point of life. Live it. Now.   

Jan 22, 19 11:11 am

Practical? Pshh, overrated. But in all seriousness, you are 100% right. Problem is: how do I find out that I would like to live on concrete floors :P !? Kind of hard to test that out.


Don't build what you don't know you will love. Or take a risk. The concrete assembly you are talking about seems like serious over kill in single family residential. FYI. you should be able to get more than adequate performance out of something more economical.

Hambro concrete deck for single family residential? Asinine plan (unless you're building steel frame).

Consulting fees start at $400 / hr.

Jan 23, 19 10:32 am

2019 inflation @ 33%? Damn!

Rates are relative the client. The bigger the asshole, the higher the rate. The funny thing is that even a modest rate makes assholes disappear.


I work in real estate development; specifically, commercial / industrial. I also work with gunite. I am familiar with Hambro. Although, as you stated, it's more expensive, it's not necessarily about the price. It's about experience and learning. I'd like to get into cast-in-place applications so I don't have to sub out the concrete work for warehouses, slabs, etc. 

The house is also on the larger side since I have a large family, elders to take care of and guests who visit for extended periods of time. It's not just a house, it's a gathering place. I'm building it to commercial standards since it's what I know and frankly, resources I have access to. 

I am still in the process of finding an architect who will work on a fee-based schedule. An architect who is competent. So far, I have received only "% of project cost" fee schedules, which doesn't work since I get building products and labor at cost. Example: On a $2,000,000 build, the fee at 10% is $200,000; I can build it for $1,400,000 or less, which is pushing 15%, minimum. That, in my opinion, is getting crazy. **These numbers are just examples.

As I have stated above, I have ran into some knucklehead architects. When I was younger I had a barn built (30'Wx60'Lx20'H) and the "architect" called for 2x6 construction with fiberglass insulation in a zone 6. That was before I knew any better. Since then, I have built many structures for public companies and have seen my fair share of boneheaded decisions on the architects part. 

The reason for starting this thread was if I want to convert a concrete floor to hardwood flooring, what the best way about it may be, other than the obvious: chipping it out. Again, floor-to-ceiling windows cannot be changed, obviously. 

And to answer your question: Yes, there will be steel used throughout in combination with ICF. 

Jan 23, 19 2:01 pm

your question has been answered already, but I think you are mostly here to listen to the sound of your own voice.

Surprise, surprise: the audacity of entitlement.

Yet another shitty developer cheaping out on architectural fees and looking for free advice.

Jan 23, 19 3:27 pm

It has, and I thank everyone who chipped in. I was just responding to his comment, but I'll sign off. Thank you

Jan 23, 19 4:38 pm

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