averykc13

Mystery Moisture in Slab Ruined Engineered Wood Floor. Now What?

averykc13
11 years ago

I am stumped and need a little help. Here's the background: I purchased this home 2.5 years ago & remodeled before moving in. It is on a slight grade, so as recommended by my foundation guy, I added drains along the higher side of my house to divert water that would have been going under my house out to the street instead. I also installed 3/8" thick Mohawk engineered wood floors with urethane glue on top of the slab. The contractor said he did a moisture test of the slab 1st and it was fine, but I didn't personally see this happen. He also said no moisture barrier was needed.

Within about 2 months of moving in, I noticed the ends of the planks were peaking in a particular strip in my living room. I blew it off. A few more months went by & I noticed a hump forming in my living room where the glue was failing. Within a year, I had a bump like a pitcher's mound in my living room, and next to it was a 3' diameter area of blistering & bubbling on the wood's surface, and in other areas the wood was turning nearly black.

Here's where I am now: A sewer line at the other, down-hill side of the house was replaced 2 months ago. Now 3 different plumbers have tested and say there is no leak in or above my slab. The wood floors were ripped out last week and I have tested the slab with a moisture meter. I have a definite path of high moisture through the middle of my living room. Moisture readings around the perimeter of the house are acceptable.

Here are my assumptions:

1. I have to find the source of the water and have a consistently lower moisture reading in the problem area before I put in any new wood floors.

2. The source of the water is not my plumbing, nor is it poor drainage around the house because the slab is dry around the exterior walls.

Here are my questions:

1. Where on earth is this water coming from?

2. What type of professional should I contact for help now?

3. Is it possible the moisture was coming from the cracked sewer line in a different - and more downhill - part of the house? If so, how long would it take for the slab to dry out now that the leak has been fixed?

4. How long does the slab need to be dry before I put in new floors?

5. Someone recommended drilling -or jackhammering!- a hole in the slab in the moist area to see what's below it. I know water follows the path of least resistance & so may not be coming from the same spot that's wet. Is this a worthwhile idea?

Thanks a ton for your input.

Comments (130)

  • exp
    last year

    The flooring company just said we had too much moisture and suggested we have someone do an infrared test to see where the source was. They agreed to sell us new floors at cost and the installer agreed to take the old floors up and install the new ones at half the cost (he never invoices us upon completion). We used the same titebond glue and bought the extra moisture barrier application that goes on the concrete first. It states that the concrete must be prepped with cracks and holes filled with proper compound. I took a video after the first application was put on and dried before they put the flooring down and saw where they just left the holes in the concrete and even some little pieces of the old glue attached to the concrete. That was around last September and sure enough we are having the same issues even with the additional moisture barrier that is supposed to guarantee 100% moisture control. I’d say it had something to do with high moisture in the house but the same floors were there for 4 years while the house was vacant before we bought it and they showed no sign of moisture damage, just had a lot of scratches from a large dog. It ultimately comes down to proper application I believe. When the installer did the first job, he was running his own business. The second time he was working on behalf of the flooring company. So we took the chance and let him do it again since they had us convinced it was due to not using the additional moisture barrier. I say in about 4 months the floors will be as bad as they were when we had them replaced the first time

  • exp
    last year

    @G&S Floor Services, my father in law is a master plumber and found no signs of a water leak in my home. He’s just as convinced that it was due to improper prep and application

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  • PRO
    G & S Floor Service
    last year

    The floor is staining. Is it cupping?


    If, it is just staining, it is most likely caused by the adhesive. You will need to check if, it is an approved type of adhesive by the flooring manufacturer.


    Other than that, the high spots should have been ground down to avoid moisture trap and ensure 95-100% adhesive contact. Cracks should have been patched with a Portland based compound to block any possible vapors.


    Which vapor barrier product was used?


    Which Titebond adhesive was used?

  • exp
    last year

    Titebond 771-Step only the first time. Titebond 771-Step and Titebond 531 Plus the second time.

  • exp
    last year

    I have a video showing what it looked like after the 531 plus was applied and dried, but not sure how to share that with y’all. I think I’m out of luck.

  • exp
    last year

    Here is a screenshot from when I asked him about the cracks after the epoxy was applied.


  • PRO
    G & S Floor Service
    last year

    531 moisture control - epoxy


    The wrong coverage may have been applied. 400 square feet will give 75% moisture protection. Whereas 250 square feet coverage would be rated for 90% protection.


    • Gallon size covers 400 square feet for gold warranty or 250 square feet for platinum warranty



    Was the cure time exceeded? The chemical properties diminish, when exceeded Which requires additional prep work - abrading epoxy finish.


    cuRing tiMe

    Flooring may be installed over Titebond 531 after the product is tack free or about 4-6 hours at 70 ̊F. Be aware that temperatures below 65 ̊F may increasecuring time. Do not attempt to install flooring over Titebond 531 after 72 hours. If installation is delayed beyond 72 hours, the subfloor must be lightly abraded using a buffer. Clean the floor thoroughly before applying adhesive.



    What was the intentions of the installer with the adhesive? Adhesive only or moisture and sound control?


    ADHESIVE, MOISTURE & SOUND CONTROL INSTALLATION

    All engineered plank flooring ......................................................................................................

    Solid flooring & bamboo up to 5/8” .....................................


    TROWEL SIZE COVERAGE

    1/4” x 3/16” V-notch (saw tooth) ...........................35 sq. ft. per gallon


    1/4” x 1/4” V-notch (saw tooth) ..............................30 sq. ft. per gallon





  • SJ McCarthy
    last year

    Oh dear. Just as G & S points out...the LACK of 100% coverage (glue sticking to the wood) is the problem. That issue is 100% the installer's fault. The glue is working where it has PROPER coverage. The high moisture content in the slab is pushing through where the glue is IMPROPERLY applied.


    The only way to get "improperly applied" is through installer error. This is a redo at the cost of the installer/company that used him to install the product. At this point, you will need to work with another professional.


    I would HIGHLY recommend using a floating floor at this point. A floating floor can allow a vapour barrier (I would go to a 10mil vapour barrier instead of the standard 6mil...just to be safe), lay down a lovely cork underlay and then FLOAT an engineered hardwood.


    The other option: HEAVY DUTY moisture mitigation. And I mean $$$$$ worth of mitigation BEFORE the floor is even purchased. A concrete moisture specialist (someone who specializes in "damp basements") comes in a SHOT BLASTS the concrete slab. Then they lay down 2 layers (spray-on or roll-on) moisture barrier. Then a primer is laid down and a micro-topping of concrete is applied. Now you are ready to lay down any type of glue down floor you want.


    And to be clear, that type of preparation is $5-$7/sf. The cost of the flooring and the install of it (which should be free at this point) is then added to the preparation costs.


    Personally I would simply float a hardwood with a sheet plastic vapour barrier underneath. I would spend some money on 6mm cork underpad and then install the wood. It is the simplest option at this point. But whatever you do, do NOT let the same human being glue down your floor. He didn't understand the concept the first two times. There is nothing to indicate he's going to get it right the third time.

  • PRO
    G & S Floor Service
    last year

    Based on the quantity purchased, it is the correct amount for the platinum warranty, which is 90-100 % mitigation. Hopefully all of it was used.


    I did notice in one of the image with the 531 coating. There was some gray paint that was coated over. Paint needs to be ground off. It can lose adhesion at any point. The epoxy and adhesive can pull it loose, allowing moisture into the floor.


    If, you were to do this again. You need to grind off all the epoxy, paint and high spots. Patch the cracks and apply a fresh coat of epoxy sealer, before installing the floor.


    What was the result of the calcium test?

  • exp
    last year

    Oh and we could have put it on our homeowners insurance, but our deductible is $8,500. The installer did not have his own insurance...

  • SJ McCarthy
    last year

    There is a phenomena that happens when concrete is "capped" with a product. Like laying hardwood flooring over top of the slab. This "capping" effect occurs because the moisture that is moving through the raw slab is allowed to move up and out without stopping. This continuous movement means the slab, at any given time, shows rather dry. But as soon as the slab is capped, the moisture builds up to the point of becoming "soaking wet".


    This is one reason why the slab "looked" OK but now tests at horribly high levels once flooring has been applied. How old is the home/slab? What are the plans to deal with the cracks in the slab? The leveling? Excess adhesive?


    I'm sorry to say but a slab that has issued once it has been capped is always going to have problems until it has had extensive remediation (the type I referred to in my last post). Until then, carpet is an excellent option. Especially if it has a breathable pad.

  • PRO
    G & S Floor Service
    last year

    With a reading that high, further investigation is needed. The epoxy and the glue can only handle 15 - 18 psi max @ 85-95% RH.


    Inspect the house further. Infrared meters can pick up temperature change, which can help lead you to the problem. Check the exterior walls and foundations, any cracks can cause moisture problems. Check sump pump wells, interior perimeter drain systems and waste pipes for damages. It's possible something was damaged during the demo of the original install. This would be a slow leak, so it would not be pressurized.

  • jwalters74
    last year

    This is incredible. I am happy (and sad) I found someone who had the exact same problem as me. I am still trying to figure out the issue as I don't believe the glue was improperly put down as they paid special attention to this due to my previous issue. They also used the highest moisture barrier glue you can buy. Brief history if anyone is willing to listen and help!:


    1 and half years ago we lifted up our Flor rug and found mold (black substance) and decaying wood underneath the entire rug area. We also found some soft and damaged wood behind the couch in the same room. We attributed this to surface water getting in from the patio deck. We ripped up the wood and the slab was wet in the living room.


    I did a moisture test on the slab and it was very high. I had three plumbers come out, no leaks anywhere. We redid the siding around the house and made sure everything was completely sealed from the outside. We also installed additional french drains on the side of the house that collected water and took all the gutters to the street.


    After a few weeks the slab showed a much lower moisture reading (likely due to the amount of time with nothing trapping it). At this point we laid the new floor down. Its been one year and now we have 9 planks in our living room in the same area, bubbling up and chipping easily (no warping though). It cost us a ton of money the first time around and I am sick to my stomach this is happening again. Any ideas?? Is it possible there is a pin hole leak under my house that can't be detected my a plumber test? I am seriously debating having a company tunnel underneath the house and see what's wrong. Appreciate any insight or assistance!

  • PRO
    G & S Floor Service
    last year

    If, you were not able to find any leaks from the sides or underneath. Check what is above you, particularly your roof.


    We just recently had a client living in a top level condo with the same issue. The cupped floor issue was along a peninsula in the kitchen. Checked all appliances and plumbing for leaks. None could be found. Ten feet away was a mechanical room, that contained a HVAC unit. Found out water was working it's way in through the roof along the walls of the mechanical room. We had high readings with a moisture meter in this area.

  • exp
    last year

    @jwalters74 I'm interested to know what happens if you do have someone tunnel underneath your house. That was also recommended to us when they said that it must be a tear in the visqueen, but we never did. We also had drainage installed around the house and even used the moisture blocking epoxy before having them glued down a second time using the moisture blocking glue. We are no having the same issues throughout the hours after spending thousands to have the old flooring replaced throughout the house. I did video and take pictures of the floor after they applied the epoxy to show some of the areas that they obviously did not patch at all or left old glue residue and just epoxied over it.

  • nanew nanew
    last year

    So is the solution to sand everything down and then reapply epoxy plus whatever flooring, or to just sand it down and apply a regular carpet pad plus carpet, and keep a dehumidifier in the room? Or neither?

  • SJ McCarthy
    last year

    When it comes to a wet slab, the way to get a wood floor in is to float it. A glue down product is simply going to be overwhelmed almost every time. Sadly, glue down hardwood (engineered or solid) have massive issues with wet/old concrete and is the sole reason for the evolution of floating hardwood flooring.

  • exp
    last year

    What I don't get is how the house we bought was vacant for 4 years with a glued down floor. No signs of moisture when we took it up to be replaced with new glued down flooring due to the previous owners having a large dog that scratched the old floors. We were told the solution would be to have someone come out with some sort of machine that could detect where the source is at and tunnel under the home to fix if needed.

  • nanew nanew
    last year

    Yes that is strange. What part of the US are you in? Pac Nthwest? Also, what do the grades around your house look like? Towards or away from you?

    Have you tested the floor moisture content in all parts of your house. It would be very strange if it was just one room, I would think.

    If the house was vacant for 4 years then the irrigation was probably not running. Have you checked valves or had the valves moved away from the house?

    Actually, same would be true for all indoor water, right? You might not have a slab leak but there might be a weird plumbing issue.

  • exp
    last year

    We have not and the floors are only getting worse. The 531 didn't do much to help and I really believe that is due to another faulty application. There were still huge chunks missing from the slab that the installer said would be okay to fill with epoxy (i read that they are to be patched using a special compound). We are going to eventually have to remove these floors and just float something or put tile down. Definitely won't be gluing down hardwood or engineered wood floors

  • Khar Samson
    last year

    sorry to hear that. i hope you get to a solution soon. do you recall what was the filler to use under 531? i called titebond they just said it has to e cementations and not polyurethane.

  • HU-301436582
    10 months ago

    I am in Dunedin Fl, just purchased my first home and we are doing a total remodel. As we start ripping up existing laminate we see mildew on the underlayment, as we remove it we see Regard was applied to the entire concrete floor (a substance applied to backerboards in bathrooms for moisture, as I scrape it up I see mildew under it. There are spots in the concrete that look wet and others that look dry. However, if I lay a paint can down and move it a day later there is a damp spot underneath. We have a wet slab. At first I thought it was bad drainage but it Hasn’t rained in weeks. After lots of professional opinions and $$$ I had a guy that came highly recommended tell me it’s a “natural phenomenon“ where water deep underground (whether it be a mile away or 10 miles away) finds lower ground and air pockets to seep up from-just so happens to be under my house :0(. No leaks, no sounds of running water, no spinning water meter. Its Becoming more of a common thing in FL and we are now at a standstill with $3500 worth of vinyl plank and $1700 of purchased carpet sitting there in the house because we don’t have any solutions. I’m beyond distraught and losing my shirt over paying multiple “professionals“ to give me their opinion but no answers while paying rent and mortgage because We can’t move forward. I spend my free time scowering the Internet looking for answers and people in similar situations. The most definitive suggestion we got was to “grind/rough up” the concrete and then apply Ghostshield vapor tek or purchase a wood floor and use a mastik (due to the pics above) I think that would just be covering the problem and hoping it goes away. I’m desperate for answers and willing to share my story to hopefully get some insight and stop giving my money to “professionals” who make a living giving faulty solutions for others misfortunes. To add insult to injury, it was never disclosed to us prior or we would have never bought the house and dealt with this nightmare. Help!

  • SJ McCarthy
    10 months ago

    Sorry this is happening to you. Several things need to be explained before going into the 'fix'. First of all, concrete is POROUS which means to say water moves through it quite nicely. In fact, once concrete has been poured, the water inside it evaporates by moving up wards. This action creates teeny tiny little tubes that allow MORE moisture to move through it faster. This is called capillary action. In essence your slab (and everyone else's for that matter) has hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of little tunnels that act like little straws...drawing moisture up towards the air (which is naturally drier than a water logged slab).


    In theory, this capillary action ends once all the moisture has been removed from the slab (ie. complete cure). In practice this rarely happens. The most common reason for this: the moisture barrier used below the slab had been compromised (holes poked in it by rocks, etc) or improperly installed (very common).


    The other issue: old slabs (mid-80's or earlier) do not have vapour barriers underneath them. To be clear, almost NO slabs had moisture barriers (plastic sheeting) underneath them in the 70's. In the 80's moisture barriers became more common but not 100% of slabs had them. In the 90's moisture barriers became widely used in the industry (almost every slab had plastic underneath).


    Your home, depending on WHEN it was built, may not have a moisture barrier underneath it. Whether your slab is missing the plastic, the plastic has been compromised or it was improperly installed before the concrete was poured is immaterial.


    Now add this to a slab in Florida where the water table is KNOWN to be high (in some places it sits just a foot or two below the surface...hence all those canals that fill with water). Which means the ground is always moist. Always. You don't need rain to have the ground read as 'wet'. And if the ground is wet, your slab is wet. And if your slab is wet that means moisture is ALWAYS moving up through those little straws (capillary action) and evaporating into the air. So long as the slab is left open to the air you won't have a problem but as soon as you put something over it, it starts to show signs of moisture in it (damp spots underneath a can of paint).


    One of the few ways to deal with a wet slab is to seal the entire thing. It is expensive, but it works. The slab is shot blasted. Then the 'wet concrete' specialist sprays or rolls on a moisture barrier (usually two layers...each layer given 1-2 days to cure). Then the slab is primed (cause the moisture barrier is usually very slick in a chemical way). Once the primer has dried, the concrete specialist then apply a topping of new concrete. While they are there you get them to make it as smooth and as flat as possible.


    Once this has happened, you now have a sealed slab. In my neck of the woods (the most expensive city in N. America...2nd most expensive in the world) this type of work costs $5-$7/sf to do.


    The down side of this (sigh...I know...the cost isn't even the down side) is the ENTIRE SLAB must be dealt with all at once or it won't work. Yep. Every single square inch of slab must be sealed or it won't work. That includes under the kitchen, under the tiles in the bathroom, under walls, etc. When dealing with a finished home, it is very difficult.


    Moisture mitigation is a weird science that requires you to have a firm understanding of (wait for it...) SCIENCE! Yep. This takes some SERIOUS chemistry geeks (love the science nerds at Mapei...they are AWESOME!) to understand this...let alone fix it.


    And one of the things about the building industry is this: many people enter it because they are good with their hands...not with school. I admire anyone who works a trade. People with honesty and integrity and skill always have my appreciation.


    But sadly, moisture issues are like voodoo to many in the building industry. Not because they are 'stupid' but because they didn't get a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. You have to stay in school - and continue for many years in post secondary - to understand hydrodynamics.


    I'm sorry you feel like you've been lead down the garden path. It was not intentional...I'm sure the people who spoke to you "didn't know what they didn't know".


    At this time, you will want to work with the person who gave you the lesson of water moving up through the earth. So far they are the one's who have proven they have some sort of clue.

  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC
    10 months ago

    Have the concrete polished and lay area rugs down.

  • floorguy
    10 months ago

    Ya Joseph, and then all you have to deal with is the white efflorescence of alkaline, peculating to the surface

  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC
    10 months ago

    So you broom a little now and then. It's the most cost effective, practical and beautiful solution,

  • Eric L
    8 months ago

    wonder if stellar innovations would help with keeping floor dry, maybe if you put spacers in there?


  • cbgfour
    8 months ago
    last modified: 8 months ago

    After reading this entire post on moisture in a floor, I have come to a conclusion. Once this happens, there is nobody who knows exactly how it happened; there is nobody who knows exactly how to fix it; there is nobody who's opinion or advice you can trust; there are no "experts" out there who can explain how to fix it; spending lots of money to solve it, will not necessarily solve it; you can't sell your house because of this problem. It's your problem, and you somehow have to live with it. I might add, I live in Trinity, FL

  • cbgfour
    8 months ago

    Spoke to a flooring person today, and he said to put down a floating floor if you have high moisture in a concrete slab. Yes, there will be times when there is moisture under the floor, however, there will be times when there will be less moisture. Moisture in a slab fluctuates, and this will allow that to happen without ruining the floor. What do you think of this idea?

  • CC
    8 months ago

    Following...

  • SJ McCarthy
    7 months ago

    @ cbgfour....moisture in a slab is the whole reason why 'floating' floors were invented. Water is the most damaging force on the planet. It can ruin anything and everything. A floating floor utilizes a plastic vapour barrier underneath (or a subfloor system like DriCore) to separate the flooring from the moisture.


    Unless you want to spend $5-$7/sf for moisture mitigation on the slab AND THEN pay for flooring and install, then a floating floor is the best solution.

  • HU-497509746
    7 months ago

    For anyone else who has had this... we have a mysterious area in the middle of the room where the wood was elevated. We can't find the source of the leak without tearing open the slab. The wood was removed and the water damage is localized to that area where the wood is elevated. Any chance you guys had this issue in the middle of the room and not the edges?

  • floorguy
    7 months ago

    BUCKLING IN WOOD FLOORING:

    Buckling is excessive expansion causing the wood flooring to release from the subfloor.

    Buckling can be caused by:

    Moisture caused by:

    · Inadequate or inoperable HVAC system, resulting in elevated humidity(Greenhouse Effect)

    · Wet subfloor

    · Inadequate moisture control system used under wood flooring

    · Excessive jobsite moisture (airborne, subfloor, or flooding)

    · Inadequate acclimation

    · Grade Conditions

    · Pipe leaks

    Elevated wood moisture content after installation, is always the main cause of lifted, buckling or tented wood flooring.

    Sources of Moisture:

    With the introduction of laminated engineered flooring, hardwood floors can be used in virtually every room in the house, even the basement. Water on or near the building site is still a consideration, however. It cannot be ignored.

    Installing Below Grade and On Grade:

    Moisture comes from a variety of sources – from the earth itself, from surface water(i.e., rain water runoff) as well as from the interiors atmosphere. The use of alternative materials may be necessary when the installation is below grade. Below grade is defined as any part of the slab having less than 4 inches to soil level, from slab height. Additionally, walk-out basements are considered below grade, even if a portion meets above grade requirements.

    Potential Sources of Moisture:

    Ground Water: Sometimes the level of water in the ground(the water table) is raised above the bottom surface of the foundation due to:

    • Heavy prolonged rains
    • A spring that appears only during wet seasons
    • Water flowing along the impervious layer under the foundation

    Any of these may cause water to penetrate the foundation from the sides, or rise through the ground surface into the foundation.

    Surface Water: Rain water falling on the ground or from the roof can pass through or under the foundation. In some areas, heavy soils may retain surface drainage and cause water pressure against the foundation(i.e., French drains close to foundations)

    Capillary Rise of Ground Moisture: Moisture travels upward in Capillary action – as much as 14 -18 gallons per day have been documented under a 1000 sq.ft. house. Capillary action occurs in nearly all areas where the soil is clay or silt.

    Capillary action is the effect of surface tension that causes water to rise upward in a narrow tube, against gravity. In building construction, capillary action can occur between two surfaces placed together, or within porous materials. This relates to the installation of wood flooring, in that moisture can be drawn through the concrete subfloor beneath, from ground moisture.


    Minimizing Moisture from Concrete:

    Traditional construction of homes tends to have regional variation. While many older homes have basements, Southern home building is done on concrete slabs. The slab rests on a prepared base, and is surrounded by footing that extends below the soil line, providing the actual foundation for the house.

    The no basement design eliminates many of the moisture problems associated with basements and crawl spaces, but the installation of flooring is not without its own intricacies. Concrete appears to the untrained eye to be a solid, impermeable foundation, yet it’s actually a source in itself for moisture. Concrete expands when it absorbs moisture from humidity, or by exposure to rain and it contracts again when the moisture evaporates.

    All concrete surface, regardless of age or grade level, will emit or conduct some degree of moisture, usually in the form of vapor. This is a natural and necessary function of healthy concrete. However, too much vapor emissions without a proper moisture barrier has resulted in numerous flooring failures. Many times the blame for this is placed upon faulty product, improper specification, or faulty workmanship. When the real reason lies with the slab vapor emission conditions.

    Because moisture can rise through the concrete by capillary action, moisture barriers and moisture retarders need to be a part of the installation process. Moisture barriers should be used in the formation of the slab, to keep ground moisture vapor to minimum levels, additionally, another moisture barrier should be placed on top of the slab before installation.

    There are several moisture barrier systems available, including 2-part epoxy, rubberized elastomeric membranes and other sealing liquids. In all case, installers must verify acceptability of a particular system with flooring manufacturer. If you are not familiar with the system, check with the adhesive manufacturer, the flooring manufacturer and the manufacturer of the moisture barrier, before attempting the installation.

  • SJ McCarthy
    7 months ago

    Floorguy you ROCK! I was getting pretty tired of writing this stuff out (in pieces) for the last 6 years! Amazing!


    Thank you for taking the time. Sadly most people do not take the time to READ what is right there in front of them. Sigh. All those years of education wasted.

  • floorguy
    7 months ago

    That was about 30 seconds of cutting and pasting from the NWFA Technical Manual.

  • julieste
    7 months ago

    So, I've read it all and have a couple questions for those of you who just posted such helpful information in the pat few days. This pertains to a 40 year old 2 story townhouse in FLA that we are remodeling. It's on a concrete slab, and the second floor also has poured concrete floors. We plan to use Karndean Rigid Core LVP for the majority of the place. Lanais and bathrooms will be porcelain tile.


    1. Do we need to put a 6 mil vapor barrier down on the 2nd floor under the LVP?

    2. Do we need to put any sort of moisture barrier under 2nd floor porcelain tile (bath and under-air lanai)?

    3. Is a standard 6mil underlayment moisture barrier all we will need on the main floor under the LVP?

    4. Will we need to put anything under the porcelain tile in the main floor bath and under-air lanai?Would we be better off having the local floor company we are purchasing our Karndean product from do the LVP install just in the remote case there would be problems down the road with the product?

    5. We have a competent and experienced contractor doing our work.


    This is costly enough that we want to make sure it is done properly so we won't be acing any problems. Thanks in advance.

  • SJ McCarthy
    7 months ago

    The 6mil vapour barrier will be required with the LVP over any concrete slab (suspended, at or below grade = doesn't matter).


    The isolation membrane for the tiles is a requirement. That is part and parcel to laying tile...even on concrete slab.


    And finally, the SUBFLOOR preparation for concrete can be $2-$4/sf. That is where the money is going to go. Without that prep you are almost guaranteed an unsatisfactory install.

  • julieste
    7 months ago

    Thank you so much SJ!


    Is isolation membrane the stuff that is painted on to the floor?


    When you say $2 to $4 per sq. ft for subfloor prep, are you referring to leveling and grinding or the membrane or all of the above or what?

  • SJ McCarthy
    7 months ago
    last modified: 7 months ago

    Subfloor prep includes everything that is required to get the concrete ready to accept the first product...such as the isolation membrane. That's the grinding, patching, flattening. Self-leveling compound (SLC) is part of it the $2-$4/sf cost. Most of it is labour.

    The Ditra or Schluter membrane, cement backer board (if used/needed), thinset, tile, grout, leveling/spacing system, etc is extra.

    The state of the existing concrete will dictate the costs of the preparation. A nice slab will be $1.50 - $2/sf. A moderate slab is $3. A really bad slab can be as much as $5/sf...but that is rare.

  • PRO
    Vermont Renovation and Restoration
    5 months ago

    We're working through a similar issue. You may have a spring under the middle of your home that is compromising the concrete. The concrete is like a sponge, it soaks it up (and you don't have a vapor barrier) and then it evaporates into your home. Are you seeing signs of mold on your furniture? There is a seal/epoxy that you can put down on the floor, everything has to be moved out, the floor pulled up, the epoxy put down and then stuff can be replaced. It's a big project but it should solve the problem.

  • mdupre5
    4 months ago

    Has anyone been able to get their homeowners insurance to help with this issue?

  • SJ McCarthy
    4 months ago

    A house built in 1960 would be 'as is; where is' which would mean home insurance probably won't touch it.


    Capping an old slab (like moving from carpet which breathes to hardwood which doesn't) is an issue. Sadly, no one knows what they don't know. A handy man or flooring 'guy' won't know this. In fact they may only see it 2-3 times in their carriers.


    A building chemist (who works for the BIG ADHESIVE companies) will know this. A 'slab guy' may or may not know this. A commercial installer who has 'capped' unsealed commercial slabs will have an understanding of this...but may not know when or where to apply the knowledge in a residential setting.


    In essence, an old slab with carpet on it is not always a candidate for 90-100% rigid flooring that 'caps' the concrete. The moisture creeping into areas that have NEVER had an issue is too great a risk.

  • s K
    4 months ago

    @SJMccarthy does that mean that if the engineered wood is removed and then carpet is put the problem will not happen? What about removing the engineered wood and putting tile? I do feel that reinstalling wood can buckle again unless the concrete is treated properly And dried before installing wood again .

  • SJ McCarthy
    4 months ago

    Ask yourself: what 'breathes' or allows moisture to move through it without interference? Tile? Nope. Tile acts as a 'cap'. Glue-down hardwood? Nope. Acts like a cap. Carpet? Yes...it is a weave. It allows moisture (and air) to move through it. So long as you use a pad that is NOT 100% moisture barrier you are safe.


    To get rigid flooring over 90% of an old slab like this, you need to remove all flooring, shot blast it, lay down moisture barrier over 100% of the slab. Then you pour a microtopping of new concrete over top and THEN you allow it to dry.


    Once the ENTIRE SLAB is properly sealed, you can then think of putting down rigid flooring like tile or hardwood. Until then, carpet is your friend.

  • kaiegirl123
    2 months ago

    Hi everyone, First, THANK YOU to @SJ McCarthy , @floorguy, @G & S Floor Service, and all the other experts for your participation on the Houzz site - we so appreciate your insight/advice. We are in the process of deciding best flooring option for our 1970s single story, concrete slab, home on a canal in FL…(see where I'm goin' with this? ;) and hoping you all can help….

    By way of background, we discovered our moisture issue when I lifted a stack of board games off a carpeted floor and discovered mold on the underside of the game box…this prompted checked of underside of a cardboard box sitting directly on the slab in another room and found mold on underside of that box as well. In this room, you could also see the concrete appeared dry everywhere, except beneath the box, where it looked dark and damp…moved the box, and a day later, concrete looked dry. Based on prior posts, I am assuming that since the house is from 70’s there is no moisture barrier beneath slab so the moisture moved through concrete slab, "escaping" thru slab and carpet - which was fine until we rested something on top in which case that moisture was trapped by the cardboard boxes and they developed mold. At that time, we yanked up carpeting, painted floors in those 2 rooms with Dry-Lock, and re-carpeted. That was over a year ago and so far, so good but is it likely that the Dry-Lock will eventually fail?

    In terms of other rooms, we have tile in 3 bathrooms and all is well.

    We are now in process of replacing the flooring in the 2 carpeted rooms along with the kitchen and 3 other rooms (essentially re-flooring everything except the 3 tiled bathrooms).

    All other rooms currently have an old plank style, floating floor (planks appear to be made of hard plastic on bottom with something like a pressed cardboard in the middle, then the wood "picture" on top). In any case, we've pulled some up and there is a lime colored, almost foam-feeling underlayment beneath. This plank flooring is old and ugly but on the plus side, the underlayment did indeed seem to throughly prevent moisture from reaching the floating floor because the top of underlayment felt completely dry while the underside traps enough moisture beneath it that when lifted it’s wet and beads off. Once the underlayment is removed, concrete appears dry after a few days - which makes sense since once the barrier is gone the moisture can just “move thru” the slab and evaporate, yes?


    OK, soooo….big question for us now is what type of flooring can work well for us and how best to prep?


    Tile?

    One sales rep recommended tile as best way to go. While we know this will last, this is our least favorite option due to labor, installation mess, wear n tear on our bodies walking on this long term, & difficulty removing if ever want to change. That said, we would consider a wood look tile if it truly is the best option.


    Floating Floor?

    @sjmccarthy said "moisture in a slab is the whole reason why 'floating' floors were invented" .... As long as the appropriate moisture barrier is installed beneath them, can we safely install both LVP and even Wood Laminate floating floors with the moisture in our slab?


    LVP?

    We’d been leaning towards LVP because it’s more truly waterproof but worry about:

    • what we’ll be breathing in long term (I believe Phthalates and Formaldehyde are no longer used and there are Low VOC options but still worry).
    • If we go this route - we love an option from Mohawk Stonetech but it only has a 12 ml wear layer and while there are just 2 adults in house I do wonder how it would hold up. Not opposed to other brands CoreTech, Shaw, etc just that in terms of appearance, that Mohawk Stonetech is exactly what we were looking for.
    • Lastly, while we have newer windows I’ve read sunlight can both fade LVP and cause it to expand, thus popping it up….Can windows be treated effectively enough to prevent this? (Our big windows/sliders face East and get lots of light until late afternoon…..)

    Wood laminate?

    • We understand there are some great options - Revwood & QuickStep NatureTEK, for example. @sjmccarthy , you mentioned AquaGuard in the past but I’ve read they are only water “resistant”, and also saw some mixed reviews so wondering if you would still recommend this product.
    • Most of all though, our overall concern with wood laminate is - is it truly a viable option with our moisture issue? Aside from underlayments, a sales rep said his co applies something like a RedGuard (cant remember name) then Revwood on top without any issues. I know Revwood is waterproof on top, but if it gets wet from beneath it’s toast so appreciate 2nd opinion on that….

    Mold beneath Underlayment?

    • Lastly, if you are trapping moisture beneath the underlayment, is there a danger of mold developing beneath the underlayment?? I assume there would be anti microbials or something to prevent this but when we lifted the underlayment beneath our existing floor, while there was no obvious signs of any dark mold, there were these rust-colored lines left on the concrete that appeared to follow the outline of the floor planks (pics below) …could this be mold? or maybe rust or dirt??…

    DryLock/RedGuard??

    • Heavy duty sealing with shot blasting, etc isn't an option for us but we are wondering if there would be a benefit to using DryLock or RedGuard either in lieu of or in addition to an underlayment for added protection….not sure if this is even needed or, worse, could cause a problem…thoughts?

    A lot of info/questions I know….so thank you in advance for any thoughts and/or suggestions!



  • PRO
    Tcott
    last month

    What would cause a new install of water based lament flooring with water proof underlayment installed under, to swell. This flooring was installed over cement floor which had , hardwood, flooring originally,

    Floor person said is was fine to install new water proof flooring over hardwood flooring. Now there is a large hump in the floor.

  • PRO
    Vermont Renovation and Restoration
    last month

    We have a house on slab with a moisture content of HI using Wagner Rapid RH testing sensors 4 years after pouring the slab. Snyder Homes who built the condo complex is blaming my mother for the 78% RH levels inside. It molded all the furniture and had to be discarded. We have discovered that URETHANE slurry on the floor will seal all moisture issues, however, it is very expensive and labor intensive. Everything must be moved out, floor removed, counters, vanities, doors, toilets, all out. Concrete slab will be ground down and then a urethane floor installed. Epoxy for a wet slab is NOT a solution (we walked down that path and found out it would fail).

  • SJ McCarthy
    last month

    @ Tcott Are you saying you installed water proof laminate OVER TOP OF existing hardwood????


    Where is the cement? Above, below or at grade? How old is the house???


    @ Vermont Reno - Yah...we hear this all the time in the flooring industry. The issue is the 'condo' build. Like commercial builds (warehouses and shops) the condo builders do NOT like to use the heavy duty plastic sheeting under the slabs. Why not? Because these builds are HUGE. Some of them take up entire city blocks. That is a TONNE of plastic (literally...thousands of rolls delivered = tonnes of material). And that plastic has a purchase price and a labour price. So they try to skip it.


    I would check your building codes for condos to see if the slabs are required to have moisture barriers underneath the build. If not, then the issue is with code and not with the builder....but it is most likely the builder.


    I hope you and your client can find a solution that works...for everyone.

  • Jennifer Johnston
    last month

    Although this isn't my original thread, I do appreciate anyone who has taken the time to provide their opinion or insight. Comment HU-301436582 was mine before I made an account.


    I am happy to say that we now moved into our home! I know we may not be "out of the woods yet" but we've been here 6 months and so far things are going well. I want to share my experience of "our fix" to this issue in case it could potentially help someone else out there. I am not a professional, nor making personal recommendations, this is just what we did to try to alleviate our specific issue and it seemed to really work for us.


    1. We ripped everything off the floor/scrape until it was bare concrete/substrate.

    2. We rented industrial size dehumidifiers from Home Depot and eventually purchased some of our own and ran them constantly.

    3. We put gutters/downspouts up

    4. We put two French drains in-one from the middle of the back yard to the street on both sides of the house and another smaller one right along the slab of the house in areas/rooms that seemed to be the worst.

    5. We treated it like you would a basement up north, we (our contractor) dug up around the entire perimeter of the house so the slab/footer was exposed and painted a generous amount of rubber cement.

    6. We shot-blasted or "roughed up"ever sq inch of the interior substrate then sprayed two coats of VaporTek/Ghost Shield and let dry for 2 days before putting any flooring down. In the week or two from the French drain/rubber cement process we started seeing a difference in the concrete drying up and looking more grey than black/wet.


    We put carpet down in the bedrooms, and Lifeproof vinyl floor in the rest/majority of the house and bathrooms. We do still keep the dehumidifiers on auto and so far have had no seepage or bowing of our floors. Update: The dehumidifiers rarely kick on anymore. No more musty smell, no weird condensation issues on windows/walls, no more mold, etc.


    I know we felt like we were living a nightmare for a few months so I hope this can maybe help someone and I am happy to answer any questions about our situation.