List of Basement Theater Sub-floor Products & Methods - AVS Forum
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Old 04-09-2014, 08:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Product Layers Insulation Height Lost (w OSB/Ply) Liquid Water Resistance Water Vapor Resistance Quiet Product
Expense
Labor Notes
DRICore (Plastic+OSB) Medium-Low. R1.7 Air gap and less surface contact. .875" Up to the height of the plastic. Destroyed if water is > .5" and reaches OSB. Medium. Gaps between tiles can let vapor hit OSB. Clicking
$1.80 / sqft?
Low  
DRICore Subfloor R+ (XPS+OSB) Medium. R3 1.000" Up to the height of XPS: .5" ? Medium: .5" XPS  
$2.00 / sqft
Low  
Platon+OSB/Ply Same as DriCore .625" Same as DriCore. High. Platon seams are taped. Clicking $0.29 / sqft High Add landscape fabric for floating floors.
DeltaFL+OSB/Ply Same as DriCore? .688" Same as DriCore? High. < 0.3 perms Some Clicking $0.59 / sqft Medium Less clicking with landscape fabric?
DMX 1-Step + OSB/Ply Low: Plastic w air gap .625" Low. DMX is thin so water reaches wood sooner. High. Plastic w fewer seams than tiles. Quiet $0.79 / sqft Medium Can install laminate directly on top.
1" XPS+OSB/Ply High: R5.45 1.375" Thicker foam = more height above water. High. The foam is a vapor retarder.   Low.
More DIY.
High  
InsulArmor H3 (XPS+OSB) High: R3 foam 1.000" Foam is ~.5", so about what DriCore is? Water channels on bottom of XPS. High. Foam = tongue & groove, taped seams   ? Low  
InsulArmor HD (XPS) High: R5 foam 1.375" High. Foam is 1". Water channels on bottom of XPS. High. Foam = tongue & groove, taped seams     Medium- High Add OSB/Ply
Ovrx Barricade Plus (1" XPS) High: R5 foam
1.375"
High. Thicker foam = more height above water.       Medium-High Add OSB/Ply
Ovrx Barricade (.5" XPS+OSB)
Medium-High: R3.2 (.5" foam+OSB)
1.125" Medium-High. Not as high above water. Medium-High. The thinner foam is a vapor retarder.   Medium
$1.25 / sqft *
Low * Price matched    $5/tile
Amdry (EPS+OSB) High: foam 1.890" High Medium-High: joint system   Medium-High: ~$3.10 / sqft Low 2' x 4' tiles
Tyroc tiles Low. Low Tyroc can be submerged. Less height means the damage happens to whatever is above the tile. Medium-High. Are the seams tapes or glued or just snapped?   High
$5 / sqft ?
Low  
ThermalDry tiles Low. Low Tiles can be submerged. Less height means the damage happens to whatever is above the tile. Medium-High. Are the seams tapes or glued or just snapped?   High
$5 / sqft and Basement Systems must install.
Low  

 

What

This is a list of sub-flooring products and methods, to compare materials, their pros and cons, expense and ease of install.
This originated here in a post about Barricade vs Dricore.

 

Why

This information is fragmented over many posts and pages. There's a great deal of conflicting information, even among contractors. This is an area of growing research and understanding.

 

Sub-floors

Basement slabs are cold. It can be difficult to overcome cold surfaces with heating. The HVAC can disturb your listening. 

Concrete slabs transport water vapor into the flooring you lay down. Water contributes to mold. Mold smells and destroys materials and is bad for your heath.

 

Make the List Better

This list starts with some blanks and question marks. Please post more accurate judgements, pricing, specs, etc.!

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Old 04-09-2014, 08:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Sub-floor Pros and Cons

An insulated sub-floor (comprised of one or more layers of materials) over a concrete slab has to accomplish many things.
  • Provide a thermal break between the cold ground (48 deg F in some parts) for comfort and reduced heating costs
  • Keep the temperature of the organic components above the concrete above the dew point to avoid room air condensation and mold
  • Provide an additional vapor barrier/retarder, if needed, above the concrete slab
  • Elevate the sub-floor's water-sensitive components, and finish flooring, above the level of water intrusion or temporary leaks
  • Provide enough support

The different sub-floor systems accomplish the above to varying extents, while exhibiting their own negatives:
  • Reduce ceiling height 1-2" (vs bare concrete), a consideration in basements with < 8' to the joists
  • Cost in materials
  • Cost/difficulty in labor
  • May "click"
  • May include organic materials that could mold/rot if exposed to water for more than a day

Material Choices
A sub-floor system is comprised of one or more layers of materials.
  • Bottom: touching concrete
    Water
    I think most agree that this layer needs to be the more water-resistant. Seepage, wicking, vapor diffusion, and wholesale flooding will affect this layer the most. Touching the concrete, it will also be the coldest, and thus subject to the most condensation (the room air humidity is high enough, and the surface on concrete cold enough, such that water vapor condenses and stays wet, allowing contiguous organics like carpet and wood to mold).

    If a concrete slab has a sufficient vapor barrier below it, there's less need for a vapor barrier above the slab. A poly sheet (that hopefully wasn't punctured too much during construction), or 2" thick XPS foam offers a vapor barrier below the slab.

    If not, then a poly sheet above the slab, and/or the vapor barrier properties of the sub-floor material, will offer protection from water wicking or diffusing into your organic materials and causing mold and rot.

    Plastic, foams, stone, etc. are water-impervious. Thermaldry tiles, Dri-core, Barricade, and EPS and XPS offer this.
    You could also lay a sheet of poly above the concrete and below the sub-floor. Note that this doesn't do anything to mitigate condensation above the vapor barrier.

    Some of the products, like Dri-core, Barricade, and Platon mat offer channels for liquid water, water vapor, and air to exist under the sub-floor. Presumably so that water can equalize with drier areas.

    Some of the products offer a continuous layer of vapor barrier/retardation, where any seams are taped. Other products and solutions lack this protection.

    Cold
    Ideally, this layer should be insulating the above layers from the cold concrete. Some of the commercial products and DIY products offer an insulative layer, and some are only a dimpled mat or a layer of plastic and plastic feet.

    Insulating is for comfort and lower heating bills, as well as keeping the sub-floor's temperature above the room's dew point, to prevent mold in organic materials such as wood and carpet/rugs.
  • Top: substrate below finished floor
    Finished flooring such as carpet, tile, laminate, etc. needs [to varying degrees depending on the flooring] a surface that's stable, strong, smooth, and flat.

    Some of the products and systems offer OSB as the top layer (over plastic, XPS foam, etc.). Other products combine the two layers into one with the ability to lay carpet directly to them (plastic-like tiles), but forgo insulation.

    Your rolled mat material like DMX, Delta-FL, System Platon, etc. are bottom layers, and they need a substrate on top for finished flooring.

    Plywood traditionally is less sensitive than OSB, but there are new OSB and plywood products that offer more resistance to bulk water.

    In my own journey, I tried to keep as much ceiling height as possible while gaining insulation, and the two are mutually exclusive.
    I tried to use thinner plywood over .5" XPS foam, but in a floating floor (I avoided more Tapcons penetrating concrete), the plywood was too wavy.
    I considered 5/8" tongue-and-groove plywood to combat warp, but then I stumbled across alternative substrates used in the tile industry.

    Alternative inorganic flooring substrates
    If you're doing ceramic tile or luxury vinyl tile (as I am, with a serged area rug for coziness and acoustics in front of seating), you can use inorganic products like Durock, Fiberock, Hardiboard, Permabase, etc. These are traditionally tile-backer materials that aren't harmed by water. They made me feel more comfortable than installing a wood product as the sub-floor. Even if the bottom insulative layer protects against underground water, there's still the risk of plumbing leaks.

Sub-floor System Examples
DIY: Platon + Plywood (keeps water vapor away from plywood and finish floor, air gap has some insulative value, not much ceiling height lost, pain to install with lots of Tapcons drilled into slab, plywood is organic but probably required for wall-to-wall carpet)

DIY: .5" XPS Foam + .25" Fiberock (R3 insulation barely keeps floor warm enough to avoid condensation, so be careful with dehumidifiers and rugs. .75" - 1" XPS better. Fiberock loses minimal ceiling height but provides a smooth substrate for tile without needing plywood underlayment)

Commercial: Amdry subflor panels (2' x 4' panels, dimpled plastic, foam insulation, and OSB)

Take a look at the table for a more complete list!

Last edited by Eyleron; 11-11-2014 at 12:44 PM.
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Old 04-10-2014, 06:07 AM
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Although I do not have a basement in my home, I do, however, have a concrete foundation, and as weird as it sounds, ever wall in my home, both interior and exterior are made of formed concrete. I have no idea as to why it was built like this. I actually inherited this home last month, and I plan to Sheetrock the entire house when my other home sells.

I have been considering building a small "sub" flood to go over the top of the concrete in my dedicated theater room so as to have a more tactical feel to the bass that my quad subs produce. It's either that, or just build a riser for my seats. Any advice wrt construction and implementation of this idea would be great!

Also, if anyone can suggest a method of attaching drywall to a concrete wall, I would greatly appreciate the advise! Right now, I know that my options are to somehow screw some 1" by 4" boards into the concrete and attach the drywall to those, or build a skeleton of 2 by 4 studs around each wall, or I could even try glueing the drywall onto the concrete walls. Not sure if there are any other options ?? Which would be easiest?
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Old 04-10-2014, 06:15 AM
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Working on a project where we put down a rubber mat directly on the concrete followed by floating a layer of OSB. sometimes two layers are used and are green glued together.

http://www.soundproofingcompany.com/soundproofing-products/soundproofing-floor-underlay/serenity-mat-flooring-underlay/
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Old 04-10-2014, 10:49 AM
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I will be doing the Serenity Mat and OSB flooring treatment, as well. It's a single story, slab-on-grade floor.
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Old 04-10-2014, 12:35 PM
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Sounds like serenity mat would be a good choice for the floor above a theater.

The MacBeth Theater (flood resilient build)
 

Play like a Raven

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Old 04-10-2014, 01:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martycool007 View Post

Although I do not have a basement in my home, I do, however, have a concrete foundation, and as weird as it sounds, ever wall in my home, both interior and exterior are made of formed concrete. I have no idea as to why it was built like this. I actually inherited this home last month, and I plan to Sheetrock the entire house when my other home sells.

I have been considering building a small "sub" flood to go over the top of the concrete in my dedicated theater room so as to have a more tactical feel to the bass that my quad subs produce. It's either that, or just build a riser for my seats. Any advice wrt construction and implementation of this idea would be great!

Also, if anyone can suggest a method of attaching drywall to a concrete wall, I would greatly appreciate the advise! Right now, I know that my options are to somehow screw some 1" by 4" boards into the concrete and attach the drywall to those, or build a skeleton of 2 by 4 studs around each wall, or I could even try glueing the drywall onto the concrete walls. Not sure if there are any other options ?? Which would be easiest?

 

So, if you live in the North, the ground beneath your slab will be colder than if it was a basement during the winter. Instead of ground that's in the 50's it might get down to the 40's. 

Here are some links from Building Science that include slab-on-grade:

 

 

Besides wanting tactile response, the concerns for you would still be, depending on your water table:

  • Water Vapor (but you don't have to worry so much about liquid water, unless plumbing leaks). But with enough surface water handling hopefully the ground isn't too saturated 2-3' down?
  • Cold surface that interior air condenses on (winter)
  • Cold surface that's less comfortable. (winter)

 

As you'll see in the pages above, 2" of insulation is recommended underneath or above the slab.

Can you find out if they did insulate the slab, did they embed a vapor retarded below or in the slab? Is there a good capillary break of gravel below the slab?

 

You can do the test of placing a 2' x 2' sheet of plastic sheet on floor, taped sealed on edges, leave for a day or two. See if you see water collecting on underside of plastic. Do this when the ground is most wet. 

 

If you have enough ceiling height, you can add insulation and sleepers above that. I'm sure people will chime in on whether 1" or 3" etc. is enough height to get the floor vibrations you're after.

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Old 04-10-2014, 01:28 PM
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Excellent idea for a list!

I wonder if Cerazorb is similar to the serenity mat? For those that choose to do tile or another hard product on top of a basement/slab on grade environment I guess this stuff works pretty good as a thermal break and anti-crack material.
http://www.cerazorb.com/

Not sure what our finished floor will be in our basement remodel, but we're are investigating everything and came across that product when looking at electric radiant heat for the bathroom.
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Old 04-10-2014, 01:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post

Working on a project where we put down a rubber mat directly on the concrete followed by floating a layer of OSB. sometimes two layers are used and are green glued together.

http://www.soundproofingcompany.com/soundproofing-products/soundproofing-floor-underlay/serenity-mat-flooring-underlay/

How many perms of vapor resistance does the recycled ground rubber sheet offer?

 

It appears if i compare to rubber carpet pad underlay, (which may or may not be similar in construction?), that when they do include a vapor barrier it's in the form of an additional poly sheet adhered to the recycled rubber?

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Old 04-13-2014, 06:39 AM
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Serenity Mat was one of the things I questioned in my plans. $5,000 rubber mat under carpet. I can see some value in intended application, reducing footfall noise on the floor/ceiling above, but what does it buy me over concrete slab in the basement? A few people said they did it for moisture barrier, but I don't even see the manufacturer selling it for that purpose.

 

 

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Old 04-14-2014, 07:21 AM
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Just did a recently price comparison between Delta FL + T&G OSB vs Barricade Ovrx. Ovrx is almost almost twice the price, but then i didn't include the price of tapcon screws. smile.gif

still way more expensive materials wise

i dont know what to do... i hate drilling into concrete and delta recommends 8 tapcons per sheets.

with the barricade stuff its just lay it and leave it.

either way there is a benefit - but one has high labour cost, but cheaper materials, the other, low labour cost, but more expensive material

my local lowes sells Ovrx for $7 (2x2 ft)
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Old 04-14-2014, 08:06 AM
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question when using Ovrx and laying carpet.

When installing carpet, one typically installs a sponge pad underneath (for comfort) right. Is the carpet glued or stapled to the Ovrx through the pad or does one need to add a layer of OSB. That would then increase the cost of using ovrx right?

this is what i read on Ovrx website for carpet,

"Every 4 feet install a concrete screw through the tack strip, the BSFT, and into the concrete floor. You will have to drill a pilot hole first before installing the concrete screws. Also install concrete screws in the center of 4 tiles in the middle of the subfloor."

So, it seems that labour may have increased now, right?

the Ovrx is only 1/2" XPS too.
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Old 04-14-2014, 03:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PTMD View Post

my local lowes sells Ovrx for $7 (2x2 ft)

I got my Barricade at Home Depot on sale for $5 each. They had price matched Lowe's sale at the time... regular price was 7.19
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Old 04-14-2014, 08:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PTMD View Post

Just did a recently price comparison between Delta FL + T&G OSB vs Barricade Ovrx. Ovrx is almost almost twice the price, but then i didn't include the price of tapcon screws. smile.gif

still way more expensive materials wise

i dont know what to do... i hate drilling into concrete and delta recommends 8 tapcons per sheets.

with the barricade stuff its just lay it and leave it.

either way there is a benefit - but one has high labour cost, but cheaper materials, the other, low labour cost, but more expensive material
 

 

Well, you're leaving out the R3 of 1/2" XPS. So, warmer floors that feel better and saves on running the heat as much.

 

Could you do a floor with:

  1. .5" tongue & groove XPS (to save height and cost, although I think 1" is better for barrier retarder) (get the high PSI stuff) (glued down or floating?)
  2. .5" tongue & groove OSB or Plywood (as your substrate to lay carpet on) (get stuff that's moisture resistant)
  3. Carpet Pad (comfort and longer wear of carpet)
  4. Carpet

 

#1 and 2 is what we're talking about here. You would be working with larger sheets and I think you'd just screw down the middle 4' x 8' sheet and the perimeter (if you're laying down carpet) for a semi-floating floor. 

The materials cost a lot less and less labor with fewer pieces.

 

The disadvantage is: no channels under the XPS, but it would comply with a modern common practice of XPS and OSB. 

 

Alternatively you could roll out DMX underneath the XPS, for the full vapor retarder (to make up for not having 1" of foam) and for the air gap. 

Since it's so thin it wouldn't add much to height loss, and I think that goes in without Tapcons. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PTMD View Post

question when using Ovrx and laying carpet.

When installing carpet, one typically installs a sponge pad underneath (for comfort) right. Is the carpet glued or stapled to the Ovrx through the pad or does one need to add a layer of OSB. That would then increase the cost of using ovrx right?

this is what i read on Ovrx website for carpet,

"Every 4 feet install a concrete screw through the tack strip, the BSFT, and into the concrete floor. You will have to drill a pilot hole first before installing the concrete screws. Also install concrete screws in the center of 4 tiles in the middle of the subfloor."

So, it seems that labour may have increased now, right?

the Ovrx is only 1/2" XPS too.

Yeah for some reason they say not to attach carpet directly to the Barricade, even though you can with DriCore (although I think you have to Tapcon some of them down if you carpet so they can tension the carpet).

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Old 04-15-2014, 07:12 AM
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So, here are my thoughts and what i am leaning to

but first, i must admit that i was leaning to barricade.... what changed my mind; the cost (220 sheets at $7 - no deal) and that I still had to tapcon screws when installing carpet (according to barricade) and possible lay another substrate

So, here is my plan for roughly 850 sq ft.

1. lay down 1" XPS (my local HD does not have 1/2" XPS that is T&G, only butt edge) - glue this with foamboard adhesive to the concrete slab - right up to the perimeter of all walls
- could use the 1/2" - but no T&G - is that a big deal?

$25 for 4'x8'x1"

2. On right angles to the XPS, T&G 5/8" OSB. the OSB will be foam board adhesive glued to the XPS. - leave a 1/4 gap from perimeter of all walls

$15 for 4'x8'x5/8" - $20 if i use bluwood OSB 7/16"

3. I will tapcon screw, once per sheet, in the middle, just to secure to concrete.

As for the channels that the XPS wont have, i could always score channels.

I will loss a bit of height, but I was going to loss it anyway, might as well be warm. And the wife wants to make sure she is warm and that doesnt include cuddling with me (thanx god) smile.gif
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Old 04-15-2014, 08:20 AM
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I am in the middle of developing the basement bedroom.... then on to the media area.... finally
We are very happy with the product and are going to be doing the entire basement in Barricade.
I got it from Lowes on sale and a full pallet (contractor pack) for additional savings $4.50 each (CAD)
Went with Barricade for ease of installation and it having some R rating.
Did it cost more that other systems YES, but it was easy for me to do by myself.

http://www.ovrx.com/how-to-install-subfloor.html

Floating floors nothing really, carpet needs tapcons, the stretching of carpet adds tension to the outside perimeter that could lift the floor
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Old 04-17-2014, 12:24 AM
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I'm working on options for my basement. It appears that the floor is not attached to the walls, there is a slight gap (approx 3mm at the largest) between them. There is a possibility that water could come up from under the concrete. I bought the house a year ago, and last May there was some water in the basement that I never figured out where it came from. None of the water was in the area I want to finish, which leads me to believe that the sump pump and drain backed up, but I don't know for certain.

I was thinking of putting Drylok on the floor, then DRIcore and finally carpet. I figure that would help fill those gaps, and should cover me decently from all angles smile.gif Then in the other areas of the basement I'd just put Drylok and carpet/vinyl.

I wasn't sure if Drylok and DRIcore was overkill, or if they would interact badly or something.

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Old 04-17-2014, 06:43 AM
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perhaps, drylok, xps, and then osb..
your get barrier with channels, xps gives you r-value and warmth and osb is your floor.
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Old 04-17-2014, 10:20 AM
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Color me stupid, but is XPS a product or brand? When I google it, I get a lot of stuff in the UK, nothing in the US. What I see appears to be a flat mat, no channels.

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Old 04-17-2014, 10:33 AM
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smile.gif all good...

i am a noob too.

XPS is a type of rigid foam.

Owens Corning is a brand that makes XPS foam boards - they are called foamular.

they come in various width - for the floor i wont probably consider 1" at most.

https://www.google.com/search?q=rigid+foam&rls=com.microsoft:en-US&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=VQJQU8jXIoXd2QWjgYH4Ag&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAg&biw=1440&bih=775#q=xps+rigid+foam&rls=com.microsoft:en-US&tbm=isch
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Old 04-17-2014, 11:05 AM
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LOL, I have the 2" version of that stuffed in my windows at the moment.

In the link I see a couple products with channels as well, I assume that's what you were referring to.

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Old 04-17-2014, 07:58 PM - Thread Starter
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XPS is eXtruded PolyStyrene. 

 

It is less permeable to water vapor than Expanded PolyStyrene ( EPS), or "Styrofoam" that has the beads that break apart. 

 

For basement walls, one could use closed-cell spray foam, XPS, or EPS with additional vapor retarder, or Polyisocyanurate (called "Iso") which is a yellow foam board that has an even higher R-value, but doesn't withstand liquid water as well.
Fluffy fiberglass is bad in basement walls or rim joists unless it's interior to spray foam, foam board with seams and edges sealed, etc. that acts as a vapor barrier and air barrier (for rim joists). Fluffy does not resist air movement or water vapor. 

 

For basement floors, the XPS is preferred as an insulation to withstand a load on top (it comes in different amounts of PSI), resist water vapor, does fine in liquid water.

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Old 11-11-2014, 12:52 PM - Thread Starter
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Alternative Substrates

I updated the first page to include pro's and con's of a basement sub-floor, what they do for water handling and a thermal break, and how the different layers work.

I also added some alternative top layer substrates. I've been uneasy about using plywood or OSB as part of a subfloor where we're concerned with water vapor (from below and above), bulk water from below, and leaks from above.

I decided to try USG's Fiberock panels in the .25" thick, 4' x 4' size. They are mostly compressed gypsum, some chemicals, and some fibers holding it together. Apparently they work as shower tile backers (with a waterproof membrane on one side, of course). They won't mold or get damaged by water, and being so rigid, smooth, and thin, I thought they'd work great above the XPS foam insulation to lay luxury vinyl tile on and not eat up the ceiling height from 5/8" or more plywood.

I'll let you know how it goes, as I'm installing flooring this week.
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Old 11-11-2014, 01:12 PM
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How about a product like this?

http://www.superseal.ca/carpetsubfloormembrane.html

The Big Bay Home Theater Build Thread
My personal theater build on Kempenfelt Bay, Barrie Ontario Canada
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Old 11-11-2014, 02:20 PM - Thread Starter
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SuperSeal

Quote:
Originally Posted by memmo View Post
I think I heard Mike Holmes advocated for SuperSeal now?
I've seen it in stores, it looks kind of like DMX. https://www.dmxplastics.com/dmx-1-step.php. Surprisingly, DMX claims R2.24, which would make its R-value per inch much greater than XPS foam (if it was the same, then 5/16" of DMX would be an R1.8).

Anyway, back to SuperSeal, looking at their diagram, I can see how it keeps sub-slab water vapor from migrating up to the carpet and plywood.


It's not insulating the bottom of the carpet/pad thermally (much), so if the underside of pad reaches, say, 60 degrees, and the dew point inside is 65 degrees, then there'll be condensation under the pad. That moisture then make its way up to the underside of the carpet and grow mildew.

Maybe SuperSeal would work better in warmer climates, where there's sub-slab moisture you need to protect the carpet from, but the slab isn't so cold that it'll condense room water vapor out of the air?

I'll add this product to the chart, as soon as I figure out how to get back to the HTML editor in the post editor. I can't find that setting.
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