Basement ceiling = living room floor?

Old 02-01-03, 04:06 AM
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Basement ceiling = living room floor?

In the home we recently bought, under the old carpet we found very nice pine floors we're having refinished on 2/10. However, after taking down the drop ceiling in the basement, we also found that there's pretty much nothing at all between the two.

There's some ancient black paper (tar paper?) that's only left in pieces attached to the underside of the living room floor, with most spots bare. Just how little there is between them became apparent last night when my husband knocked over a half-full bucket of water in the living room and we ended up with a huge puddle on the basement floor! So basically I can stand in the basement and look straight into my living room in many spots.

We had planned to insert insulation batts between the joists and install an acoustic drop ceiling in the basement, but now I'm very worried about liquids soaking into those OR the basement wiring/light fixtures every time I mop the floor... or spill a soda... or do anything else klutzy with anything wet.

What do we do to 'seal' the ceiling first? Doing anything like a vapor barrier in one sheet against the ceiling/bottom of the floor would be impossible because of the construction (there's crossed timbers flush to the bottom of the wood we'd have to work around, leaving gaps.)

Any thoughts appreciated and thank you,
Old 02-01-03, 08:23 PM
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Sorry to break you bad news but here goes. Your beautiful pine floor is really pine sub floor. In fact it is really supposed to have 4x8 sheets of sub flooring on top of it. Then your flooring. You can do what you want, but I would save your money and finish your floor correctly. It is just a matter of time, that if you leave the pine exposed, something will drop through it, like a chair leg.
Pine is very soft and weak. It is not meant to be your flooring in this case.
Old 02-02-03, 05:16 AM
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Oh, wow, not good at all. I'm confused though.... We had three different flooring guys come for estimates and see both the living room and the basement, why wouldn't one of them tell me that?

I would have thought they'd have tried to sell me on laying down a whole new floor if that's the case, instead of just a refinishing. They all did say the floors are an odd thickness and width, larger than normal for when the house was built (1944).

Height is a problem as there's baseboards in every room and even the carpet was a little high, I'm not sure if plywood plus new wood flooring would fit!

What are my options here? Thanks!
Old 02-02-03, 12:42 PM
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How old is the house? Some old houses just had pine flooring on bare joists. They where not at the high end of building even than. If the boards are laid tight with no gaps, they may be the only flooring the house was built with. Plank sub flooring is usually laid with 1/8 to 1/4 inch gaps. The tarpaper under the floor is another indication this may be the only floor. Tarpaper is used on top of a subfloor normally (sometine in a crawl space you see tarpaper under subflooring, but I have only seen that two or three times).
Old 02-02-03, 03:17 PM
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There are no large gaps between the planks, they seem very tight -- although there ARE big gaps at the walls' edges where we pried away the baseboard. We did, however, still end up with water in the basement when that bucket tipped over in the living room. It wasn't a flood or anything, but it sure wasn't water-tight.

These floors have been obviously stained and refinished before, it just doesn't seem to be in years. After I called the flooring guy in a panic, he said he feels the house was just built without a subfloor. We checked with the neighbors (all the houses on the block are WWII brick twins) and they have the exact same thing. While they've carpeted the living room, their dining room is bare, but they also drywalled their basement ceiling.

The flooring guy feels that the 3 coats of poly should seal it pretty effectively, but I'm still concerned about what I should do - if anything - to the basement ceiling.... or if I really need to look into laying entirely new hardwood floors.
Old 02-02-03, 04:26 PM
john wer
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unless you are planning to have regular pool parties in the living room i would not overly stress out about the water seepage seems like the prior owners and all your neighbors have lived happily with the pine floor/subfloor.of course your decision about what to do will need to take in to account your ultimate plans for the house, get a few quotes on how much it will cost to lay a proper floor on top of the subfloor have now and then decide, the new laminate wood floating floors(pergo etc.) are an option (and you would save the cost of refinishing your pine flooring) and well within the scope of a DIY project for someone with average skills and a few tools. good luck and enjoy your new house!
Old 02-02-03, 08:10 PM
bungalow jeff
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Finished flooring with no sub floor is found often in homes from 1890+/- in the Northeast. I rented the ground floor of a converted victorian that had this detail. Dust from the basement blew through the gaps constantly.

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