More on Floor Treatments and Heating
I think we have it! Ferrous Sulfate (aka fertilizer for all you farmers out there) is perfect for staining concrete floors. It works much the same as acid staining, only it costs about $10 instead of $1500+, plus the cost of a sealing product such as Seal-Krete.
I've been researching the terrazzo-like glass aggregate idea I mentioned in a previous posting more, and it can be quite problematic. Some concrete mixtures can react negatively with the glass...making the glass easy to chip away. There's an additive that can help prevent it, but it's a risk I'd rather take on a smaller scale project.
The ferrous sulfate idea is often used to paint strawbale homes, but I didn't know it would work on the floors. I've been learning from a number of folks who have tried it on this greenbuilding discussion group I'm subscribed to. Check out Cathy Moore's site where she describes her floor staining in detail. This photo with the dog is from her site.
Heating is truly a hot topic these days given the rising cost of any form of home heating. Dave and I are partial to the atmosphere of wood heating, but the reality is that we hate the maintenance of wood heating (it's dirty, it's hard to get dry wood when you need it and you actually have to keep putting wood in the fire if you expect to keep warm). Masonry stoves are very efficient and relatively environmentally friendly wood-burning heat sources, but finding someone to build it around here is a bit challenging.
After much debate and research, we've settled on in-floor thermal radiant heat (hot water pipes rather than heating cables). It will make the concrete floor delightfully comfortable. We'll also put in a propane fireplace to provide the quick blast of heat we sometimes need to take a chill off and for power outages. I doubt we'll find many fluctuations in temperature with our 22" thick walls, but we've had a number of power outages during winter storms. A New Brunswick-based strawbale owner who has infloor radiant, told us that his house only lost two degrees of heat during a winter power outage that lasted several days.
No matter, we all know that those damp, rainy days in early spring can be uncomfortable in most any home, but I can say with some smugness that I don't think we'll feel it like we do in our current shanty.