Block and beam is a popular floor system due to its durability and how quickly it can be installed.
It requires very little ground preparation, meaning there are big labour savings costs. This makes it a cost-effective construction method despite higher material costs.
This article will cover the expected costs of installing block and beam floors and what affects the cost.
Block and Beam Floor Costs Per m²
Below is a breakdown of the costs that make up a typical block and beam floor. The rates are for South East/Outer London regions.
|Item||Cost per m² Labour||Cost per m² Materials||Cost per m² Plant||Total Cost Per m²|
|Disposal of Excavated Material||£6||-||£18||£24|
|Beam & Block Floor||£13||£62.50||-||£75.50|
|Insulation 100mm thick||£4||£13.50||-||£17.50|
|Damp proof membrane||£1||£1||-||£2|
|Screed - 65 thick||£6||£14||-||£20|
|Floor Finish (Approx)||£10||£18||-||£28|
|Total (Pre-Material Shortage)||£65.50||£145.50||£25||£236|
|After Material Shortage (2022 Onwards)||£65.50||£174.50||£25||£265|
Since the material shortage affects a number of items involved in block and beam flooring, we recommend adding an extra 20% onto the material costs. If these costs seem high, remember to factor in the location indices too (shown in factors) as these are some of the highest.
Factors Affecting Block and Beam Floor Costs
There are various factors that may affect the cost. These are as follows:
Depth of Excavations Required
This will also impact disposal and hardcore costs.
Design of the Floor Structure
The floor design affects the size of the items. These include the insulation, concrete, screed and floor finish. These differences impact cost. Some examples include:
- High-performance insulation like Kingspan Thermafloor may only need to be 100mm thick to reach a certain U-Value. Lower-grade mineral wool insulation may need 200mm/300mm thick.
- Larger buildings need a thicker concrete base, more support and reinforcement.
- Screed thickness varies depending on the finishing requirements. For example, when the beam and block slab is placed it may be 100mm below external door openings, meaning 100mm screed is required to level the floor. Equally, a 50mm space means 50mm screed.
How Far the Floor Spans
Sometimes where the floor spans over a long distance, more sleeper walls or intermediate support is required. This will increase the material and labour costs.
The rates shown above are for the South East/Outer London Area. You can use the following adjustments depending on where the work is needed. These are based on the BCIS and Spon indices.
|South East (Southampton, Oxford, Kent, Outer London)||0|
|South West (Bristol, Exeter)||-4%|
|West Midlands (Birmingham)||-10%|
|East Midlands (Northampton, Nottingham, Leicester)||-10%|
|East Anglia (Cambridge, Norwich, Ipswich)||-5%|
|North West (Liverpool, Manchester)||-12%|
|Yorkshire and Humberside (Leeds, Sheffield)||-11%|
|North East (Newcastle, Sunderland)||-10%|
|Scotland (Edinburgh, Glasgow)||-6%|
|Wales (Cardiff, Swansea)||-9%|
|Northern Ireland (Belfast)||-12%|
What is Beam and Block Flooring?
Block and beam flooring is made up of a series of inverted T-beams made of pre-stressed concrete. Before they arrive at on-site, they are cut to particular lengths designated from construction drawings and designs.
Once they arrive at site, they are laid perpendicular to supporting blockwork walls. These make up the inner leaf of footings. The blockwork is then laid at suitable centres which allows them to be filled aircrete or dense aggregate blocks.
Block and Beam vs Concrete Slab Flooring
Block and beam flooring is considered as an alternative to concrete slab flooring.
It is used when you have ground that would require lots of time and effort to level and makeup for a concrete slab. Rather than laying a concrete base on substrate, a block and beam floor is suspended above the ground floor and avoids those issues.
Block and beam is often used when the ground is unstable. This could be clay ground for example, where subsistence (ground movement) is a likely possibility.
They are commonly found in commercial buildings but are less popular in domestic buildings.
One of the reasons it is less used is simply because there are builders who haven’t worked with it before and prefer to stick with what they know.
Block and Beam Flooring vs Concrete Slab Cost
Generally, the material costs for block and beam are more expensive and the labour costs are less expensive than a concrete slab. Overall you won’t see a big difference in the cost, so it’s better to choose block and beam where it’s best suited.
For example, when there are unstable ground conditions or where the ground is difficult to level. In these situations, concrete flooring may move and crack more.
Benefits of Block and Beam Flooring
Ease of Installation
Minimal excavation is required. This means beam and block can be installed very quickly and allows big savings on labour costs and less danger of projects overrunning.
During the construction itself, they aren’t dependant on weather conditions. Construction can continue unaffected even during the winter months, which can reduce the number of site delays that can occur with other methods.
Because you don’t have to wait for it to set, you can get on with the build once it is laid so it doesn’t hold up the project. This is especially important in situations where there are tight deadlines to work to.
Good Acoustic Insulation
Rigid construction means there is little shrinkage and with no floorboards or decking, you can avoid the dreaded creaky flooring. Timber floors can sometimes suffer these problems.
Because the floor materials have a high density, sound doesn’t travel as well between stories, so you can get some peace and quiet from noisy people (or children) in the house.
Good Thermal Insulation
Block and beam floors don’t deform or collapse at high temperatures and contain outbreaks for longer.
Block and beam floors are easy to work with. They provide multiple options to whatever floor problem you have.
They are great for sloping or uneven ground as well as brown sites. There are various beam types for all levels of a building type.
Low Maintenance Costs
A block and beam flooring system is resistant to pests, doesn’t rot and is unaffected by damp. This means it has very low maintenance costs over its lifespan.
Allows Underfloor Heating to Be Installed Easily
Block and beam flooring uses a screeded setup that is the most efficient system for warm water underfloor heating. B&B intermediate flooring also allows underfloor heating to be fit just as easily and effectively upstairs, not just downstairs.
What are the Drawbacks to Block and Beam Flooring?
On the whole, block and beam flooring is a very good choice. There are some things worth remembering though.
Less Suitable for Timber Frame Construction
Because timber frame construction is lightweight, additional supporting structures are necessary, which add extra cost. Mechanical lifting aids will also be needed since the beams are pretty heavy.
Where Services Will Run
You will need to consider where services will run. In standard timber joists for example, you can notch a concrete rail to run the services. With sufficient planning, this issue can be resolved, but thought and care will need to be given to it.
Can I Install Block and Beam Flooring Myself?
With previous flooring experience, block and beam flooring can be a lengthy process but relatively easy to do.
If you are inexperienced and haven’t worked with these materials before, we highly recommend reaching out to a professional in order to minimise health and safety hazards that may arise.
Get Prices on Block and Beam Flooring Near You
We’ve done our best to give you a good idea of what you can expect to pay for block and beam flooring.
However, our guides are not a substitute for a fixed written quote specifically for you.
We work with all the best block and beam floorers ready to price your job. Get free, no-obligation quotes in your local area and compare prices using the form below.
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