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Alternative to concrete for dirt floor basement? Wanting to finish with hardwood

Alternative to concrete for dirt floor basement? Wanting to finish with hardwood

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  #1  
Old 01-17-14, 02:52 PM
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Lightbulb Alternative to concrete for dirt floor basement? Wanting to finish with hardwood

Project: Finish Basement man cave that currently looks and smell like a cave.

I've seen time and time again people recommending a concrete floor to properly finish a dirt floor basement. I have two reasons why this is not practical, and need other solutions;

1. The height of the beams is 6ft 2, I can only take out an inch or two of dirt from the floor, so by the time I add 4 concrete, and lay the hardwood floor I'm insisting on, I will be hitting my head repeatedly. Im scared to dig further down as I think the foundation stones are the same level as the floor and I dont want to remove too much soil next to where they are laying.
2. The building is not accessible by truck, so the 4 slab x 500ft will mean 300 x 80lb bags being hand mixed!


What do people think about the following solution?;

1. Level dirt floor perfectly (using strings, a level and a rake)
2. Lay thick plastic vapor barrier all along floor and up sides of wall about 1ft, where it will be sealed with adhesive to the foundation stones. (or concrete a small trench along foundation on top of vapor barrier).
3. Laying flat 1"-1.5" concrete paving slabs with 1"-2"pressure treated lumber on top of them as a base for my hardwood floor. (I could even screw the treated lumber into the paving slabs).

I know this is totally not the right way to do the job properly, but would it work to reduce the smell and allow a decent wood floor? The building is luckily graded on a hill, and Ive never seen anything close to standing water. I'm not even thinking I need a sump pump, there's just never any water! There can be damp occasionally though, but that's because of a drainpipe that was pouring into the foundation.

Thank you for your comments on alternate solutions!
 
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Old 01-17-14, 05:46 PM
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If I were going to follow that plan, I would lay the pavers, in the dirt first, then continue with the vapor barrier, etc....
 
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Old 01-18-14, 03:08 AM
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While more costly, you can have a pumper truck come in and transport the concrete from the truck to the basement via a big hose. 50 or so years ago my grandfather had a cellar with only about 4' head room. He excavated [all by hand ] and erected a block wall inside of the old stone foundation and poured concrete. He didn't turn his basement into living space but it really cleaned it up and the 'shelf' along the perimeter was nice for storing stuff.

I'd be concerned that hardwood installed on top of the PT wouldn't be stable enough to be trouble free.
 
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Old 01-18-14, 05:31 AM
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Good suggestion.. If I lay them to be flush with the ground I'll save even more headroom.

Wow marksr, that's quite some job.. I'll remember that when I'm digging my few inches and complaining!

I guess my next question is how far can I dig, if at all. I'm sure a few inches makes no odds, as that much light soil is not supporting much, but what if I went 6" or a ft? Could I install a shelf to support my foundations section at a time around the perimeter? How wide should it be and how deep etc?

Thanks!

G
 
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Old 01-18-14, 06:47 AM
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There must be a way to get a thinner slab of concrete. It can't be any worse than using pavers. Which I don't think is a hot idea with wood installed over it.

I don't know how inaccessible the building is, but a pumper truck is a good idea. Or instead of hand mixing bags, rent yourself a concrete mixer. That will cut a lot of the work out of it.
 
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Old 01-18-14, 10:30 AM
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Footers are normally 16" wide and 6"-8" deep but since an interior block wall wouldn't be supporting a lot you can probably get by with less. The main thing is you don't want to dig below the existing foundation and leave it like that for any significant length of time. It would be a good idea to pour a footer and block up above the the bottom of the existing foundation soon after you dig it out. It would be ok to do it a section at a time. You could substitute a poured concrete wall w/footer in stead of a separate footer and block/brick wall.
 
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Old 01-18-14, 11:42 AM
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why 4" ? 1 80# bag = 2sf @ 4" or 600sf neat, 3" = 225b, & 2" is 150b,,, base compaction, levelness, vapor barrier, & proper jnt system are keywords

could set floor top level w/fnd top,,, ' don't want to dig below the existing foundation ' - true but alongside's ok,,, monopour / unipour is another foundation/floor system cast in 1 piece,,, not uncommon at all,,, its not uncommon for us to run into conc floors build that way - level w/top of foundation ( set in floors ) OR monopours,,, just a thought
 
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Old 01-18-14, 01:52 PM
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I wouldn't be afraid to go down a foot or even two, inside the existing foundation walls. Doing so would give you all the headroom you'll ever need, and could be done in workable sections at a time.

Back in my DOT days, we had an old bridge engineer who dug a full basement under his house, to replace the crawl space that was originally there. He did it all by hand, and had a nifty conveyor system going through an enlarged vent opening to remove the waste dirt. He used a CIP concrete, integral stemwall/footing design, doing all of the work himself. He did it all on a very tight budget, and I remember him showing up on some of the bridge construction sites with his old beat up Dodge pickup, begging contractors for any scrap or bent rebar he could take home and straighten before incorporating it into his pours.
 
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Old 01-19-14, 03:20 PM
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Thanks for all the responses, I made a diagram to explain what i think i should do with three different options (and would love comments on the required measurements/ pro's cons of each).

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1. Can i go with option Diagram C to avoid an ugly ledge? or am i pushing my luck risking structural damage with this? even if done a section at a time, how far under / back can i go? how long should i wait for it to set?

2. The 1" of concrete is probably a lot more manageable to do by hand! Is that even worth it in terms of how it will hold up. I guess if cracks appear, there will be a vapor barrier underneath, plus the hardwood will hide any concrete cracks? Basically, will 1" concrete smell, and hold up better than my previous idea of vapor barrier and slabs?

to Marksr: what do you mean by: "You could substitute a poured concrete wall w/footer in stead of a separate footer and block/brick wall.". What's a uni / monopour. Is it a system to pour a footer at the base for support?

Also, how would you work the joint system, would you set spaced strips of treated lumber into the cement as its drying? Making sure its level, etc.. then use them as a footer for the hardwood floor?

The base seems very compact with a sandy grit, is this ok to use, or is compacted hardcore/ base a big requirement?

Thanks in advance!

G
 
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Old 01-20-14, 02:57 AM
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A - provides little support for the existing foundation.

B - is what I'd do

C - runs the risk of the existing foundation sinking before the concrete cures.

Your diagrams show a poured stem wall, with block you'd pour a separate footer, then the lay the block. A monolithic slab is when the footer and the floor are made with one single pour.
 
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