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Floor Help!?

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Joined: Apr 5 2004

We've just bought an Eichler and have begun the restoration process, trying to bring it back to its former glory. We removed the carpet to prepare to put in something else -- either bamboo, maple, ceramic tile or cork -- We are still trying to decide what will be beautiful, conduct the radiant heat and not completely bust our budget. I've searched this site and the SoCal site but can't find any definitive answer. I keep getting conflicting info like "be sure to do a floating floor" or "whatever you do, don't do a floating floor" -- To complicate matters further, we've discovered that the floor in the living room and dining room has a few uneven areas, so now we are concerned that our only options are tile or thin carpet with no pad. Does anyone have the "definitive" answer about floating or not floating wood and or cork, and what can be done about the uneven surface (in a cost effective manner) or what effect that will have on a wood or cork floor? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

JenFreud

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Joined: May 6 2003

Floating floor? Guess I don't know much about floors afterall. We were fortunate to purchase an Eichler with wonderful tile in all but 3 bedrooms. An italian tile product, it looks and feels like natural slate, but its a fired porcelin product so it doesn't have the issues inherent to slate (porosity/sealing, soft/scratching). It is a nightmare to clean though! All that great texture makes mopping (and mopping and mopping and...) a real project. I ended up buying a steam cleaner for several hundred bucks to deal with the problem. It works really well, ejecting steam over the entire surface and getting into the nooks, crannies, grooves whathaveyou and blasting away the dirt/killing bacteria, dust mites, mold, bacteria to boot. No need for chemicals. Yeah! But an expensive gizmo to be sure.

The 3 bedrooms off the hall have "Pergo" flooring. The tile is beautiful and conducts our radiant heat really well (thank you sellers Stephanie & Michael). I'm sure it was very expensive. The Pergo is functional and attractive (thanks again S&M), conducts heat nicely, but it just doesn't sound like wood when I walk on it, nor does it feel like wood when I walk on it without shoes (or socks) and that just bugs me. It shouldn't...I'm just obsessed with random details! High maintenance? You betcha and proud of it!

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Joined: Jan 16 2004

Jen,
We were told to do a floating floor in our living area 6 years ago and the floor has high spots like yours. We have had no challenges with our Pergo product. It looks, cleans, and wears well.
I do know that some of the smaller bamboo or wood product would also work fine.
While I don't have the "Definative" answer, you could do either provided you have a great installer. Think this is "Key" You may be able to grind down a little bit of the bump in your floor which will also help.
Hope your floor turns out great.

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Joined: Oct 10 2003

I think the floating floor issue has to do with radiant heating. If you have intact radiant heating, it radiates much less effectively through a floating floor since there's an insulating air gap between the warm concrete and your flooring. carpet pads have the same effect.

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Joined: Mar 25 2003

Look through some of the old issues of the Eichler newsletter as they did a big two part series on flooring a couple of years ago.

As for a floating floor, I'd think it would easily fit over your imperfect floor. However, keep in mind that it will have a layer of air between the slab and the flooring and that this layer will act as an insulator. It's the same principal as in double paned glass. In addition, radiant heat works by radiating its energy to things that touch it. With a floating floor, you'll likely lose of this transfer.

If you're looking for an original look, consider a vinyl composite tile like those from Armstrong. It's original, looks great, will transfer the heat, and cost about a $1 per sq foot. At the other end of the spectrum is slate which has the added benefit of not only transfering the heat, but storing it.

I've used a thin glue down commercial grade carpet in an Eichler before and it looked good while also letting heat through.

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

Well, I know that this isn't one of your choices, but I have to say that I saw my neighbors' newly poured concrete floor and it was absolutely beautiful and surprisingly warm looking (because of the colors they chose). They used a product that is self leveling and pours directly over the slab (even if there's glue on it). I think it is Ardex K-15?

Anyway, again I know you didn't want this but at less than $6/ft., it's certainly worth taking a look at? And you won't have any issues with the radiant heating, only perhaps some sore feet if you're used to walking on carpet.

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Joined: Apr 8 2004

We too, have been on the flooring hunt to replace the carpet in our new Eichler. The folks at Floor Trends (formerly Floor Club) in Dublin, CA knew the right answers to my questions. [We went to Expo Design in E. Palo Alto, and when I asked the flooring salesperson if one of their bamboo products could be put over radiant heat, she gave me a blank look and said "You'll have to ask the manufacturer." This from a store within a couple stones' throw of hundreds of Eichlers--I'm done with them.]

Floating vs. glue? Depends upon the manufacturer's specs and warranty--they won't honor warranties if the floor was installed contrary to their specifications. Glue-down is supposed to conduct heat better, because it lacks the underlayment and air of a floating floor. Float is used for materials that are less moisture resistant, they will expand/contract more--material that can be glued down can be floated, too (any real experts please correct me if I'm wrong.)

We selected an OSB bamboo (Oriented Strand Board), which is made of shreds from other bamboo manufacturing, molded with resin into tongue-and-groove planks. Unlike the horizontal or vertical grain bamboo products, the "grain" is random, so it looks more like wood. The material is homogenous, so it's not just a thin layer on top, unlike lots of other bamboo flooring. This means you can actually sand and refinish it, if necessary. It comes prefinished and is hard as heck. The manufacturer is a company named "U.S.C."

We discussed float vs. glue-down (the material is good for both); Floor Trends recommended glue-down, although it's more expensive due to the price and amount of adhesive. This will yield better heat conduction, and also prevent "chattering" if the floor is ever sanded. The radiant heating was tested and repaired and retested as part of our purchase process, and the installers will do a moisture test of the concrete before starting.

This all happens in within the next two weeks, so I'll post results and some photos, if time allows.
In the meantime, if anybody has info, cautionary tales, etc., please post... :wink:

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Joined: Oct 10 2003

btsoap, do you mind telling us the rough cost of the work you're doing ($ per square foot maybe?), I'm curious about where I should place this on my remodelling wish list. thanks! or if you want, email me at larryncelia-at-sbcglobal-dot-net

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Joined: Apr 8 2004

fxlarry,
The material is ~4.50 sq ft., which seems to be middle range from prices I've seen listed on the web and in stores. (The sale cheap stuff at Expo Design was the same price.) Installation in the ~10.00 sq ft. (a ball park figure, I haven't broken it out from the estimate).
Cost includes removal and disposal of the carpet and pad, which is ~1.00 sq. ft.

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Joined: Dec 15 2004

Hullo,

New to this board.

Our wood laminate floors started doing a tsunami impression in the livng room last summer. We already knew that they were installed incorrectly, but it was done by previous owners. There is no moisture barrier.

We knew we were in trouble when I, barefoot as usual, noticed a warm spot on the floor, just where our "tsunami" floor issues were going on. You guessed it. The plumbing had sprung a leak. Long story short, the leak was efficiently fixed (though our insurance wouldn't cover it, saying it was "over time" as opposed to "sudden, and catastrophic." I've got June's water bill which tells another story.)

the Question is, what do we do with floors now? I have asthma so carpet is no solution. I want something that is easy to maintain (I've an infinite number of things to do which are infinitley more interesting than running around with a dust mop permanently afixed to my palm!)

We thought we'd found a solution when we happened upon the idea of fininshing the concrete floors. We've had two companies in so far to give us estimates.

One gentleman suggested that we float concrete over the existing floor, including old mastic, unloved tile, etc. Problem is that this solution is rather expensive. (The quote was in the $12,000 range!)

Another gentleman suggested we pop the old tiles, and refinish the existing slab. This sounded simple enough, and the quote came in at a much more manageable sounding $4000.

But things have got complicated from there.

1. The second estimator says we'd need to have a company come in to bead(beat?)-blast the existing slab.

2. I had the beat-blaster estimator in, and he suspects that we have asbestos tile, and more to the point, asbestos mastic over the floor. Which means we'd have to have asbestos erradicated from the whole house. (Not only the room where the tile is suspected to exist.)

I'm frustrated, and nauseated to think of the cost this is going to entail. The money we'd set aside for our remodel is limited, and we'd hoped to re-do the kitchen, too, before we ran out!

One woman I spoke with in Seattle owns a company that does concrete floors. They employ a unique solution. Rather than muck about with the old slab, they nail cement board down on top of it, then finish that with polymers and the like. I've yet to find a concrete service in the bay area that will employ this interesting method. Any suggestions?

pamela

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Joined: Mar 22 2004

pamela,
i went through the same evaluation process when i redid all the floors in my house. so, you have my empathy. i finally went with limestone tiles because i liked the look. if i had to do it over again, i may have chosen the concrete floors for the low maintenance and heating efficiency.

have you gotten an estimate for the asbetos removal? it might not be as bad as you expect. when i checked, it was around $2k for my 1500 square foot eichler. i don't know if you're handy, but another poster a while back described how he self-installed a new skim coat of concrete over his existing slab (using the self-leveling stuff). $12k for a new skim coat of concrete sounds high (have you gotten other estimates)?

i know another couple who installed a new radiant heat floor over their existing slab. that may be an option. for you since you wouldn't have to remove the old mastic. (the tiles you can remove yourself - have to be careful with the asbetos in the tiles though; just try to remove them in one peice, wear protection, clean-up, keep dust down, etc.).

good luck,

kevin

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