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The bottom line on flooring in a lower level that has flooded twice



"The bottom line on flooring in a lower level that has flooded twice," in the Vinyl Flooring Q&A forum, begins: "Hi, I am hoping someone on this site can help me and my spouse reach a decision regarding how to ..."

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Old September 9, 2013, 07:23 PM   #1
Cameo
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The bottom line on flooring in a lower level that has flooded twice


Hi,

I am hoping someone on this site can help me and my spouse reach a decision regarding how to finish a floor in the lower level of our tri-level house. The room (large, regularly used, fully decorated family room) has twice flooded in the torrential rains in the Midwest in the last couple years. Each time hubby and I ripped out wet, almost new carpeting and dragged it to the curb (ouch).

We have taken numerous steps to evaluate why we flooded and to prevent flooding again, and have been assured by our 'experts' that we are not likely to flood again, and are now ready to refinish the floor.

The floor is currently covered in old, mid-fifties, original to the house vinyl--that is in surprisingly good condition, considering what it's been through and its age--that appears to have been glued down onto the concrete foundation and was, of course, hidden by the carpeting.

We have researched re-carpeting (including carpet tiles), ceramic tile, sheet vinyl, 'click' no-glue vinyl planking, and rubber. We have been advised repeatedly to go with some type of vinyl or ceramic product.

Vinyl has come a huge way and there are beautiful products on the market, but each time I think we are ready to spring for one (and they are not cheap!), I learn something problematic about it--Flexitec, for example, we were told will show all the seams/cracks of the old vinyl under it. And the new, great looking no-glue plank vinyls, we just read, allow for water seepage between the seams. My husband just raised the question of what happens to a plank vinyl if water gets UNDER it. Do the planks then have to be removed, dried out, and so on...?

At this point, we fear we will never reach a conclusion about the best way to finish a floor that might (and there is always a 'might') get wet again.

While just looking at the old vinyl down here, I thought again, however, of what relatively good shape it is in--and it's probably over 60 years old, and has gotten flooded a number of times.

So, now I'm thinking--and this is where I need someone's professional help--that the very best way to finish a floor like this would be to install a good-looking, inexpensive sheet (to minimize seams) vinyl that is GLUED down (to fill spaces under the vinyl that could trap moisture should it enter the basement again).

In other words, to do the modern equivalent of what we all grew up with in one room or another.

Is this making sense?

Or, is my brain completely fried by fussing over flooring??

Thank you SO much for your advice!

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Old September 9, 2013, 07:28 PM   #2
icanlayit2
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That 60 year old vinyl is still looking good because it is asbestos most likely.For almost any vinyl i can think of now,water is bad,detrimental even,to floors.A good choice is to polish the concrete and use area rugs,that way,if it looks like flooding weather,you can go remove the rugs.But if it floods,your new floor will be ruined.

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Old September 9, 2013, 07:48 PM   #3
Jvan
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icanlayit2 said View Post
That 60 year old vinyl is still looking good because it is asbestos most likely.For almost any vinyl i can think of now,water is bad,detrimental even,to floors.A good choice is to polish the concrete and use area rugs,that way,if it looks like flooding weather,you can go remove the rugs.But if it floods,your new floor will be ruined.

Thats probably true about the vinyl and adhesive, but the old saying about concrete "it does two things- get harder and crack" might not be so conducive to polish or paint? Seems like hard tile would be the answer, but im not an expert in that field.

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Old September 10, 2013, 05:28 AM   #4
Cameo
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Thank you, Icanlayit2, for your speedy reply. You are not the first to suggest possibly going down to the concrete, and finishing it! I don't know, though, if that will work for us, but will jot it down in the idea list. I am concerned, in a lower level, about how cool the concrete might appear and feel...

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Old September 10, 2013, 05:31 AM   #5
Cameo
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Jvan, I have some of the same concerns about going down to the concrete. Sounds like you, too, think some kind of glued-down, rigid vinyl is the way to go?

Thanks for your reply!

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Old September 10, 2013, 05:37 AM   #6
Hanover Fist
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After reading your problems, I was gonna go with "Concrete sealant and/or paint treatment." But apparently I got beaten to it.

It can look really good, and be bulletproof in case of further flooding.

Here's a link to a few pics I put up a while ago <---click me!

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Old September 10, 2013, 08:13 AM   #7
Cameo
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Thanks, Hanover, for your thoughts and the photos (and they are intriguing!).

I will definitely give the concrete idea some more thought...

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Old September 10, 2013, 10:50 AM   #8
Kman
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I'm always in favor of ceramic tile for a situation like yours, but here's the problem with that suggestion, as well as the concrete finishing suggestion:

To get either one of those done, you're going to have to remove that asbestos tile. A tough job with some risk, but not terribly bad.

The real problem is going to be getting the adhesive off which will have to be ground down to the bare concrete. If there's asbestos in that adhesive, you've got a problem there which would require abatement.

The only exception would be if it's cutback, in which case there are a number of thinsets that are rated to go directly over that. But even that has to be scraped down to the residue.

Only way to find out is to remove a piece of tile. Cutback will be black.

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Old September 16, 2013, 02:21 PM   #9
Cameo
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Yes, Kman, I too would like to go with ceramic, if I could. And guess we can, just have to be willing to do the labor to get the old tile and the glue up, and we know that involves some risk from asbestos (likely to be there given age of house and black color of adhesive).

As this point, we are close to green-lighting the vinyl plank, glue-free line, Inspira. Not cheap, but been assured it should work in this situation, and it is good looking.

Any experience with it?

Thank you much for your reply!

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Old September 21, 2013, 06:03 PM   #10
Cameo
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Hello to all,

I'm back, and have more questions.

I have still not figured out what to do with our lower level family room. Husband is growing impatient, and wants to carpet (again). Can't blame him--I prefer carpet in this area of our house too.

But can't stand idea that it could/might get wet...

So, I've been investigating this and that.

Going down to the concrete--as some above recommend, and which would allow either ceramic or finished concrete--scares me due to the asbestos concerns. The vinyl presently on the floor is old, 50's or 60's in look and appearance, and lays over black glue-like stuff...According to what I've read, sounds like asbestos is in either the vinyl, or the adhesive, or both.

Recently I went into a well-respected flooring store to look into options. I was steered toward a beautiful product, Inspira, one of the new, no-glue, vinyl 'click' planks. It's not cheap, but not out of the question.

Then I heard from an installer that moisture--this would go in a lower level room--in the form of vapor, dampness, or humidity--can cause problems with these new, no-glue, plank products. I do not find our lower level 'damp', but it IS a lower level in a tri-level house; there is some moisture here that I do not find in our upper levels, and run a dehumidifier periodically during the warmer months.

Have people here found problems with installing these new, no-glue, plank vinyl products in lower levels?

I was also told that I can't not glue anything (Flexitec, or any glued vinyl) down to the old vinyl (which is, in some places, loose, brittle, and cracking)--meaning that I'd have to go down to the concrete before laying one of those products, and then, of course, the asbestos issue causes concern.

Is this so? Can Flexitec not be glued to old vinyl? Some have said it can be, but some are saying NOT to...Btw, both of the installers who said this came out and saw the old flooring, but reached different conclusions.

At this point I feel I'm running out of options:

I can't do wood, for obvious reasons.

Can't do (asbestos concerns) anything that requires going down to the concrete (ceramic, glued vinyls, Flexitec, assuming it can't be glued to the old vinyl).

And even the much-touted new, 'click planking, no-glue products are, some say, problematic in lower levels, due to moisture/dampness concerns.

I've looked into carpet tiles but find few places that carry them, and those that do ask a good deal for them. Online, one can buy them for much less, and they appear in a variety of patterns and colors, but how can one assess their quality and feel online?

Then today, a saleswoman suggested putting down inexpensive carpeting with NO padding, and then wet-vac'ing it in the event of moisture or flooding.

Carpeting without padding?

I've always been told that the padding enhances the look and feel of carpeting, as well as its longevity.

Again, near total confusion.

Thoughts anyone??

I know this is a lot--believe me, I know. Thanks in advance for any words of flooring wisdom!!

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Old September 21, 2013, 06:41 PM   #11
Grant H
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Don't let the word "ASBESTOS" limit your choice in any way. Yes it is an issue, but it is an issue that is easily taken care of by the right people.

In my opinion it's been talked up beyond the problem it actually is. All problems have solutions.

Personally I would not lay over the existing vinyl product. As was stated earlier in the thread, it can be removed or if the backing (where the asbestos is) is sound it may be able to be encapsulated to a degree where it is no longer an issue to install over it.

Many things are coming back to bite our behinds. Asbestos in numerous products, lead in paints, preservatives in timbers, the list goes on. All are able to be removed or re-mediated to states where they no longer need concern us in our job sites and homes.

oh btw

Cameo said
Then today, a saleswoman suggested putting down inexpensive carpeting with NO padding, and then wet-vac'ing it in the event of moisture or flooding.
Carpeting without padding?
I've always been told that the padding enhances the look and feel of carpeting, as well as its longevity.
totally agree with you there. Apart from not feeling all that flash under foot there's a chance even wet-vac'ing will not remove the manky smell that generally accompanies wet carpet. Makes a wet dog smell positively appetizing.


Last edited by Jim McClain; September 21, 2013 at 08:13 PM. Reason: fixed quote
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Old September 21, 2013, 08:22 PM   #12
Steve Forbo
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The way I see it is simple....Do ceramic or solid Vinyl. Do not let the big "A" word stop you. You can simply encapsulate it, or remove it. I know that a lot of people think of old VA tile as being a "deadly" item, but it isn't. I have done my share of so called asbestos abatement, and it is very simple to do given your local laws. If you keep the floor wet with soapy water as you rip up the floor, and place the tile into dual bags, that is what the pros charge $8 a foot for......but.....onto the easier method...
Prime the floor, and pour self leveling over it. You will then be able to install whatever the hell you want over it. If your area is prone to flooding(like mine) then install either a ceramic or a solid vinyl with either epoxy or urethane adhesive. Neither one will be bothered by a million gallons of water. I would suggest large sized area rugs which can be made out of any carpet, and literally fit wall to wall if you choose. If you know a big storm is coming.....roll them up and carry them upstairs....that's why smaller rugs are better for your situation. Simply easier to remove if need be.
The fact of the matter is that the old tile you have down is DOWN...and not going anywhere. I have literally done hundreds of jobs with VA tile on the floor, and never an issue. Like they say..."they don't make them like they use to!" If the tile is stuck to the floor, simply go right over it. If you have a few loose tiles, don't let them scare you. It is only dangerous if you grind them into micro dust....
If your husband is dead set on carpet, I would suggest a good quality carpet tile, and stay away from anything with padding. Most carpet tile is very resilient to moisture and can easily be dried. And they are beautiful looking. I actually prefer it to wall to wall.... And with carpet tile, you do not have to glue it down 100%. If you cut the material tight, gravity will hold it in place...LOL
And since I was 100% wiped out in hurricane Sandy, I would suggest that you check your homeowners and flood insurance and make sure you are covered. Call your insurance company and make sure that you are covered for your flooring in the case of a flood.
Steve

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Old September 22, 2013, 07:53 AM   #13
Cameo
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A big thank you to both Grant H and Forbo King (Steve) for your replies!

Your explanations for how to think about the whole asbestos issue are helpful, and put the issue into better context. It is very hard to get this level of detail from the various salespeople in the stores one can walk into...But I now feel inclined to explore either removing the old tile or, as Forbo suggests, keeping it but priming/leveling it.

This site is really well done, and I want to extend a thank you to the people running it. It is relatively easy to navigate, given its size and the variety of topics on it, and the people responding to questions are just super in their generous detail and support.

Thank you!

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Old September 29, 2013, 06:43 AM   #14
Cameo
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Hello again from a frustrated homeowner,

The plot has thickened (I guess, not the best metaphor here) regarding what to do with our lower level floor...

The flooring company I was working with most recently told us initially that they could remove our old tile "without problem", skim coat the underlying concrete and old adhesive, and we'd be ready to go--lots of options then for a new floor. I got excited and started looking into a number of options, mostly glue-down vinyls.

But, when I reminded them of the age of the tiles and the chance that asbestos might (*might*) be in either the tile or the adhesive--wanting to discuss the methods they'd use to remove the material--they turned tail and ran. The salesman seemed to shy away from even discussing the matter further, saying that "we'd (husband and I) would have to remove the tile", and that then they would smooth out the old adhesive and skim coat.

Felt completely confused, and worn out with this! I'm working, husband is working, we're not going to remove the tile ourselves. So that means I'd have to bring someone else in to remove it...? And then flooring company to finish the job...? And how then does the flooring company 'smooth' out the old adhesive (assuming it might have asbestos in it, precautions need to be taken)...?

This is all getting ridiculous.

So then I swung back to the idea of 'floating' vinyl plank (no glue), which they said could go right over the old vinyl, asked for an estimate on that, and for reasons unknown have gotten a run-around on that. When finally did get the number, it was high--almost 4k (!)--and when I asked for a breakdown of the charges, got another run-around.

Meanwhile, husband is pushing harder for carpet, and at this point I don't blame him. But I had really hoped to avoid carpeting again.

This entire experience has been an eye-opener; I never expected something like flooring to be so tricky. I don't expect a perfect answer; I know that in an area that has gotten wet in the past, and that has old tile, issues are raised. BUT I did expect some clear and direct answers to our questions, and not the run-arounds, indirectness, even evasiveness we've received. We're smart people, we've done our homework, we're experienced homeowners--in other words, we can talk with contractors. But simple, direct talk is not what we've gotten from the various flooring companies we've contacted.

My advice to flooring stores is the same advice I'd give to anyone selling a product or service: know your product inside and out, and be truthful with the customer, give them the pros and cons, let them decide, and then deliver the best you can.

But don't string people along, withholding info, giving incomplete or contradictory info, wearing them out, confusing and frustrating them, and wasting their time!!

So, it looks, after all the researching of various options and all, that carpeting will be laid. Knock wood we don't get water down here again! Hopefully, the changes we've made to our lot/yard/and house should prevent that.

In any case, again, a THANK YOU again for this site, and the people manning it--it's been a big help with this, and I've passed it along to a number of friends.

Cameo/aka "frustrated in flooring"

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Old September 29, 2013, 07:23 AM   #15
Mike Antonetti
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I thought I replied to this topic , have the tile and adhesive tested and if it has asbestos have it removed. Then use a product that won't be damaged by water or water vapor.
Either you don't want to pay for the removal, afterward flooring installation could proceed without any mitigation or.
Maybe Servpro has gotten into this field or someone in your area that has taken on a big responsibility and doesn't need to make a killing.
In my small town there's a concrete polisher with gigantic grinders, they travel throughout US, never know what company would handle your situation.

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