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 Layout Room Flooring Options - Over Concrete

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
dlwrailfan1 Posted - 09/04/2014 : 3:45:21 PM
I searched the archives and found a few comments on what others have done. My basement is dry with a poured concrete floor that has been sealed. The walls are insulated sheetrock over a poured concrete wall.

What type of floor is a good choice? It should be durable, can take the abuse of construction (paint, spills, etc), good to walk around and comfortable during an op session.

Any and all comments are welcome!

Eric
15   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
dlwrailfan1 Posted - 09/15/2014 : 10:57:44 AM
Thanks Carl and Dave for the detailed information. I have been traveling the last week and not on line. You have given me more to ponder.

Eric
dlwrailfan1 Posted - 09/15/2014 : 10:56:22 AM
quote:
Originally posted by jaynjay

I put down wall-to-wall burber carpet with a thick felt under carpet in my layout room. I bought the earth tone and it is nice a soft (I always wear moccasins in the house). The color is great, and it's warm in the winter.

Is that over a concrete floor?

Thanks,

Eric
jaynjay Posted - 09/05/2014 : 4:08:17 PM
I put down wall-to-wall burber carpet with a thick felt under carpet in my layout room. I bought the earth tone and it is nice a soft (I always wear moccasins in the house). The color is great, and it's warm in the winter.
mabloodhound Posted - 09/05/2014 : 3:26:58 PM
We all know the hazards of carpet....get moldy when damp, small parts get lost, need a vacuum to get the dust, have to build a sub floor, etc.

No one has mentioned laminate flooring. I just finished putting down a 'snap n lock' laminate floor in my kitchen and it is great. Because it has a vapor retarding foam underlayment pad it also goes over concrete floors perfectly. No sub flooring needed.
AND, the price is right and you can lay it down yourself in a day or two.
The foam pad makes the flooring easy on the feet for all day work on the layout. Concrete and tile are a killer to the feet.
And laminate flooring will clean up with a damp rag.....even paint, if you get at it right away (been there). And the foam pad adds a layer of insulation too.
I paid $1.19 a Sq Ft for the laminate. If you need anymore info let me know.
You can put down engineered real wood flooring but the extra cost just isn't worth it.

SNCF_Fan Posted - 09/05/2014 : 12:01:25 PM
Eric,

Mark’s comment about basement height and the effect flooring has on headroom is very pertinent but 3” of sub-floor and flooring is a bit rich unless you are being very generous with an extra thick layer of extruded polystyrene for insulation, a thick sub-floor sheet material, extra-thick carpet backing and a very plush carpet. And since your home is only 16 years old it was probably built with an 8 ft basement ceiling from which you lost about 8” or so for ducting and other mechanical systems. So 1” to 1½” of flooring will probably not be a huge issue and even 3” may not be a big issue. A 40, 50 or more year old house that started out with a 7ft basement ceiling is however another story……

Anyway, given the information in your last post you seem willing to put a bit of effort and investment into your flooring. If your floor varies up or down from a datum point by less than ¼” you don’t “need” to worry about leveling it. The biggest problem with concrete slabs is that the “field” is generally quite good being fairly level and true (a single plane versus a rolling surface) but as you approach the foundation walls the floor can often slope up or down quite significantly. In my basement the perimeter of the floor, about the last 3 feet, feet ramps up by over ½”. In most places this wasn’t a problem but in the basement bathroom which is finished with porcelain tiles I had to level the whole floor prior to installing the tiles. Take a few measurements and decide if you are willing to accept the slab as is or if you want to level the worst areas or even all of it. I’ve had good success with LevelQuik, http://citytile.ca/product/levelquik-es/ Note this comes in RS (rapid set) and ES (extended set) variants. Most Home improvement and building centers carry this product but not always in the ES variant which is what you want for more working time. RS is rated to start setting in 5 minutes but I’ve had it start setting in 3. ES is rated for a 30 minute setting time so you can reliably get 20 minutes which should be plenty. (And if you find your first batch still sets before you are done you can use cold water when mixing to extend the working time another couple of minutes.)

Keeping the risers of all stairs, including the bottom one consistent, as your carpenter friend pointed out is an ideal situation but short of rebuilding the staircase is not going to be possible if you install a sub-floor and finished floor on top of the slab. For this reason you want to keep the sub-floor/finished floor sandwich as thin as possible. I have found that as long as the sandwich is less than 1½ inches it is not a significant problem. After a few trips up and down you become “programmed” to the variation and won’t even notice it. You can get used to a 2” difference (took me a lot longer in one house where I used a system quite similar to what Dave recommended) but this can become a significant hazard to visitors who are not used to the “short” last step.

There are a few ways to do a “soft” and “warm” subfloor that can then be covered with an attractive finish. The insulfloor panels I referenced earlier are about ¾” thick and are easy to work with. But their cost will add up especially if you have a large basement. There is a home-made equivalent that will save some money but costs you in time and effort (I’m invoking the “there is no free lunch” mantra here). You can use sheets of extruded polystyofoam (you must use extruded polystrofoam not expanded polystrofoam sheets for compressive strength), commonly 2ft x 8ft or with a bit of searching 4ft x 8f as the base directly over the concrete slab. Use a tape such as Tuc tape http://www.cansave.ca/products/buildingmaterials/typar/tucktape to seal all the joints and you now have a vapour proof underlay. Using a latex based contact cement bond either tongue and groove OSB or floor grade plywood to the top of this underlay. A few concrete nails or concrete screws such as Tapcons in each piece of OSB secured into the slab will stabilize the floor and it will be ready to build away. Just make sure to stagger all joints and ensure that the OSB/plywood joints do not line up with those of the polystrofoam below (just rip the first row of OSB down by 12”making a 3ft x 8ft panels and everything will be fine). I figure I’m saving about $.40 sq ft doing this compared to insulfloor. (1 room out of 3 now finished this way). Over a 700sqft basement that is a $280 saving. Since I actually enjoy the home improvement/renovation process the money saved is well worth the effort I put into this. As with the insulfloor I recommend painting the subfloor with a light coloured floor paint and deferring the final finish until all the heavy and messy benchwork construction is complete.

If you are seriously considering carpet tiles, those with approximately ½” of high density foam backing are the most comfortable. I have used these for foot and back strain relief at work stations in my woodshop and in the garage. An example is http://www.rubberflooringinc.com/interlocking-tile/foam/eco-soft-carpet-tile.html I like the keyed edges as this holds the assembly together very well. While the keying will never become invisible when these tiles are well installed the keying becomes much less prominent than one would first imagine. You could of course lay these carpet tiles directly onto the concrete slab but there would be no vapour barrier to stop moisture from moving both up from the slab or down into the slab and their insulating value is far less than extruded polystyrene in either the insulfloor or the homemade equivalent subfloor. It is when you do projects like this you start to understand why your house was so expensive!! These tiles are quite hard wearing and clean up well with a vacuum. They are easily replaced when damaged and can be temporarily removed when you are working on scenery and there is a high risk of spilling plaster/glues etc and then replaced when the area is completed.

Just a few long-winded thoughts for you to consider

Thanks and Cheers

ELK RIVER RR Posted - 09/05/2014 : 10:36:54 AM
Eric I would look into the interlocking foam mats around the layout PA floors are cold. Maybe just a good tile floor and a big area rug. Just remember spills, and looking for that 0080 screw and washer or a number 80 drill bit, don't ask. Tom
acrr46 Posted - 09/05/2014 : 10:14:47 AM
I went with a commercial quality tile floor in my finished basement. It took over 30 boxes of tile for the entire basement including the workshop and storage area containing the sump pump. Why? Because building a 52'x 20' layout there is always something to clean up, such a saw dust, ground foam, etc. and clean up is simple. Where operators are standing I purchased interlocking rubber mats from Harbor Freight.

Frank
dlwrailfan1 Posted - 09/05/2014 : 12:50:40 AM
Thanks all for the ideas and the links. More research!

Additional feedback:

1. The basement has a sump pump in a well. The house is sixteen years old and shows no signs of water in the basement.
2. It has a radon system that vents air from under the floor.
3. Yes, floor covering will cost money but I think of it as a great investment. Without it, I will not want to spend time down there nor will anyone else.
4. I am not sure how level the floor is but I will take the laser down there and check on that.
5. Ultimately, I want to leave the basement as a great entertainment room, when I eventually sell the house.

Carpet tiles need some more study.

Eric
dlwrailfan1 Posted - 09/05/2014 : 12:36:15 AM
quote:
Originally posted by MarkF

Eric, are you building a layout??? As for the floor, there are a lot of great suggestions here. Quite honestly, I think Dave's suggestion is probably the best and sometimes, looking back, I wished I had followed it. However, you are tall like I am so every inch in the basement is important, so adding a subfloor/finished floor solution will loose at least 3" of headroom. If you can afford that, then that's a great solution.

For me, I decided to paint my concrete floor, and now that the layout is nearing completion, I will install runners around aisles.



Yes, Mark I now have a house with space for a railroad in the basement. I have much experience with concrete and that is not an option for me. I do want something that makes standing for hours possible. Carpet runners help, but I would prefer something with less tripping hazards.

A carpenter friend pointed out that raising the floor is possible if you address how the existing stairs go into the room. You have to keep the stair rise the same -- how to do?

Eric
SNCF_Fan Posted - 09/05/2014 : 12:00:21 AM
quote:
Originally posted by Craig H

I was wondering the same thing on what to do... or put down on my basement floor?? I don't think I would use any of the above solutions?? as they all sound costly. I think I would just paint mine with a good cement paint and call it done Could always use rug runners or cheap carpet over the floor for some comfort were I would be standing or walking the most.



There are certainly costs associated with finishing a railroad room, some of which can be quite substantial. The insulfloor I mentioned runs about $1.05 to $1.15 per square foot and Dricore itself runs almost $1.60 per square foot. Industrial or garage carpets can be had for about $0.85-$1.10 per square foot (all local prices). For some this is unnecessary or simply just too expensive. I view it as part of making the railroad room, where I will be spending a lot of time, a comfortable and enjoyable place to be. If my feet and back end up hurting because the flooring is unforgivingly hard and cold, if I get eye strain because the light is too dim, if I feel cold because the basement air is damp, then I’m simply not going to spend the time in the basement that is necessary to accomplish even individual projects, let alone build a complete layout. This is of course a case of “to each their own” and each modeller has to make the personal decision as to how well finished the room must be before building the layout commences and how much of a finished surrounding is necessary to make the layout “fit” into the room.

Thanks and Cheers
quartergauger48 Posted - 09/04/2014 : 11:44:47 PM
Keep in mind Gents, unless your basement is completely humidity proof, carpet get damps and moldy. That can be a problem down the road.
There is a product out that is rubber tiles 12"X12"
square. Very comfortable to walk on. Mold resistant and very cheap. Harbor Freight often has them. You can also just place them where you going to have traffic and not the entire basement.
Just putting in my 3 cents....
BigLars Posted - 09/04/2014 : 10:59:24 PM
quote:
Originally posted by Craig H

I was wondering the same thing on what to do... or put down on my basement floor?? I don't think I would use any of the above solutions?? as they all sound costly.



If you google carpet tile you can find deals on excess from building projects and buy it for far under $2.00 a sq foot.
gregnarrowgauge Posted - 09/04/2014 : 10:30:21 PM
Hi from Australia, Eric. The suggestions made are all good ones, but almost all of them have some kind of carpet or underlay to soften the blow of walking on concrete. Here in australia its mandatory to have some covering over bare concrete floors, most use some sort of rubberised underlay with a spongy covering on that...in factories it is required to have anti-fatigue matting which is s rubber product with webs in it like little egg cartons to absorb the shock of your ankle bottoming out as your weight applies to the floor. I strongly suggest you get something to cushion the strain, your aching calves and ankles will get to be too much especially if the room is cold. Kind regards Greg. (Ps I have second hand anti fatigue on my plain concrete floor and can do a ten hour day in the train room without any pain in the legs.... Greg.)
MarkF Posted - 09/04/2014 : 10:06:03 PM
Eric, are you building a layout??? As for the floor, there are a lot of great suggestions here. Quite honestly, I think Dave's suggestion is probably the best and sometimes, looking back, I wished I had followed it. However, you are tall like I am so every inch in the basement is important, so adding a subfloor/finished floor solution will loose at least 3" of headroom. If you can afford that, then that's a great solution.

For me, I decided to paint my concrete floor, and now that the layout is nearing completion, I will install runners around aisles.
NVNGRR Posted - 09/04/2014 : 9:57:13 PM
A friend of mine used underlayment he found at Home Depot on his cement floor. It was easy to install. So far he is very pleased with it.


Follow this link:
http://www.homedepot.com/p/DRIcore-7-8-in-x-2-ft-x-2-ft-Aspen-Subfloor-Panel-CDGNUS750024024/202268752

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