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Thread: flooring options for basement

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  1. #1
    DIY Senior Member pmayer's Avatar
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    Default flooring options for basement

    I am starting a basement remodel project this fall and want to understand my options and the best approaches to dealing with moisture in a damp basement. I have regraded around trouble spots in my foundation, and my basement can now survive a heavy rain without incurring any standing water. The foundation does not seem to wick much moisture, as I have tested by taping foil to the block wall and removed it after a couple days and found no condensation.

    My bigger concern is the floor. The previous home owner painted the floor, and when it rains heavily outside, the paint bubbles in some spots. Again, no standing water, but obvious moisture penetration through the floor. I don't think this is extreme, but I want to understand my options for flooring. I don't think it would even be noticeable if it wasn't for the paint on the floor.

    I am consider a couple of options:


    Choice #1. Pergo. My thought here would be to put 6 mil poly down, topped with the foam underlayment for the Pergo, then the Pergo itself. I am assuming that mold will form under the plastic. Is that a problem for anyone other than the guy who has to replace that floor someday?

    Choice #2. Carpeting. On one hand, I am squeamish about this because of the moisture, but on the other hand, if I use mold resistant pad, will this allow the floor to breath better and actually be the best option for the moisture coming up through the concrete? Am I hosed if I do get a small amount of standing water, or can I just wet vac and dehumidify the heck out of the room and not have a mold problem ultimately?

    Choice #3. ceramic tile, in case there ever is a small amount of standing water, I am assuming that this is a relatively painless cleanup experience with no damage to the structural integrity of the tile.


    Which one of these would you do? Is there a better option? Is there a better approach to one of these options?

    Thanks for your help.

    Cheers,

    Paul

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    How much height do you have in the basement? There are engineered panels that can be put down that allow the floor to breath, and you can then put any surface on them you wish, but they take up maybe 2" or so (depends on brand). If you decide on tile, you'd have to scarcify the floor to remove the paint. Messy, but quick with the right rental tool ( a big surface grinder). To give the floor a chance to breath, Ditra from www.schluter.com would help, as it has channels that would allow water vapor a place to go. If you want to investigate tile more, check out www.johnbridge.com. If the floor gets damp, carpeting directly on it is not a good idea.

    The engineered panels would give you the warmest floor unless you used heating mats under the tile.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3
    DIY Senior Member pmayer's Avatar
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    I have the ceiling height, and will look into these panels. I had thought they were more deal with standing water, but I guess if the allow the vapor to escape for collection by a dehumidifier, then that should work. The only height related issue would be the stairs, and I imagine I could just jack up the bottom of the stairs by a couple inches to accommodate, so that the inspector doesn't flag me for inconsistent stair heights?

    Also, thanks for the additional info. Will investigate.

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    In the trades Dana's Avatar
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    If you're in a heating dominated climate, laying down 1" of XPS rigid foam sheathing under an OSB or plywood sub-floor deck is usually cost-effective from a heating point of view, and is an effective capillary break & vapor retarder between the concrete and any susceptible mateirals. By putting insulation betweeen the sub-soil and the flooring materials they stay above the dew point of the room air as well, minimizing the mold hazard, even for carpeting. (Carpets have R-value and in a basement app without foam underneath the underlayment of the carpet can be cool enough to condense & create a mold problem even in an otherwise dry basement.)

    The water vapor coming through the slab doesn't "need a place to go", and slabs don't "need to breathe", since the concrete itself is moisture-tolerant. If the subfloor is above the room-air's dew point (which it will be, if insulated) there's no point to ventilating beneath it.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Condensation is one thing, ground water penetration is another. If the moisture is ground water penetration, then you need to address that first.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    DIY Senior Member pmayer's Avatar
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    i think it is more of a seepage than a condensation issue based upon the way that the paint is bubbling when their is heavy rain outside.

    I checked out DriCore panels at ******* tonight. I think they look promising. My main thought, however, is that they are overkill for my application (I'm not necessarily opposed to that). I believe that my problem is not severe, and that normal vapor barrier material would probably sufficiently solve the problem. But, I am not sure how much I am willing to bet on that. Ripping out a floor in a couple years is too big a bet. Not sure what to do.

    Spinning in Minnesota.

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    Oahu Handyman RomodelHomes's Avatar
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    awesome info here in regards im having similar issues -
    Building Better Homes and Drywall Restoration In Hawaii

  8. #8
    DIY Senior Member pmayer's Avatar
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    I wanted to give you guys an update. I was able to use your information to persuade the inspector to allow me to add unfaced FG insulation in the studwall cavities, bringing my walls up to R21. He was quite cordial about it. Thanks again for arming me for the discussion.

    On the floor, I ended up following Dana's guidance and putting down 1" XPS and 3/4" OSB with lots of Tapcons. Not a fun project, but that floor is going to be so sweet, and the room will be the most comfortable room in the house.

    Thanks for everything guys!!!

  9. #9
    DIY Senior Member pmayer's Avatar
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    One more update. I now have the room all closed in, and I can't believe how comfortable it is. It is hovering around zero degrees F in MN this week, and the new room is on average about 8 degrees warmer than other rooms in the house. The room is roughly 300 sq. ft. and has one heat register. I even tried a test and closed the register overnight, and still the room was 4 degrees warmer in the morning than the rest of the house. This room was super cold previously, and you needed a jacket on down there in the winter, even with the register wide open. The whole family will live down there in the winter...

    Thanks again to everyone who provided guidance on this project. Great team effort!

  10. #10
    DIY Junior Member aavguy's Avatar
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    Have you considered carpet tiles? No padding for mold and if they get wet, just replace those pieces. I'll be doing the same thing myself in a few weeks.

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    Nuclear Engineer nukeman's Avatar
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    I forgot to mention that some of the Dow board does have a poly facing on it. See if yours does. If so, go ahead and peal it off.

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    DIY Junior Member mrcoco's Avatar
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    Good reminder about the poly facing. There didn't seem to be any facing on these Dow XPS boards.
    In case anyone's tracking prices, I paid $20/board for a big stack of 1.5"x4'x8' boards.

    One more materials question: I'm not confident that any of seam tapes I've read about are long-lasting or reliable. What kind of tape should last the longest? Or, is caulk/foam a better option for seams?

    Hmm, carpet tiles. That could be a good option on top of a couple layers of subfloor material. But probably not so comfy when installed directly onto the slab.

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