Tile in a basement...

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Old 12-11-09, 08:13 AM
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Tile in a basement...

I am really on the fence with tile vs engineered hardwood for our basement (north east, so we get chilly winters). Also on the fence with subfloor vs not. I see a real attraction to tile directly on the concrete slab. Cost is not high ($2.50 or less per square foot for what I'd use) and it's very robust. We have a dry slab with dehumidified space and unlikely flooding issues in the future, but still...

My wife is against this because of how cold it will be. I'm doing the work myself but even still underfloor heating sounds prohibitive in cost (lady in store said $12/square foot installed the way they do it. I think perhaps it's much less than that but still I bet it would at least double the cost, plus then I'm heating the ground ). I realize we'd have to use socks. I have a couple questions:

1) Of those who have tiled basements, do they end up regretting it in the future?

2) Do I need a separation membrane? The only one I see locally is Ditra and the stuff is expensive but I know it works well. My slab is four years old, very smooth, pretty flat. The ONLY crack I see (including through the joint-lines, which appear somehow uncracked) is an exceptionally small hairline crack in one section, far too small to even consider filling at all, hardly noticeable from standing height. If I don't use a membrane install will be quicker. Even if we get some mild extra movement, is it really so bad to have a half dozen tiles and their grout lines need to be replaced in the future vs the cost/effort of a membrane?

Thanks for ideas!
 
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Old 12-11-09, 08:56 AM
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If your going to use the space quite a bit I would not put tile down without an under floor heat mat. Even the hardwood will be cool in a basement. How large of a space are you doing?
 
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Old 12-11-09, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Tolyn Ironhand View Post
If your going to use the space quite a bit I would not put tile down without an under floor heat mat. Even the hardwood will be cool in a basement. How large of a space are you doing?
625 square feet. Are the mats expensive? Heating aside, is it such that the tile could be placed on concrete without any concern about it getting damaged in manner from moisture? I am under the impression that other than cracking it would withstand water problems superbly.
 
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Old 12-11-09, 10:51 AM
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Tile is pretty much bomb proof to moisture. That is why they use it in showers. Of course constant moisture from behind the tile might eventually make the thinset fail without the proper prep but if you have a dry basement I would not worry about that.

Yes, the mat can be expensive with that size room however you would not want to put the mat in places that will be covered with furniture and items like that. So maybe you could put the mat 2' away from the walls. Rough guess it's going to cost you about $3500 to add the mat. But do some shopping around. If it was me I'd find a way to do it.
 
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Old 12-11-09, 10:53 AM
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We had a major nor'easter blow thru our area a couple of years back and people who never had water in their basement got water!

I have a tiled basement family room approx. 240 sq ft. Would not have been my first choice to tile but bought the house that way, approx 6 months before the above mentioned nor'easter. I did get water in the basement - no sump pump so had to use the wet/dry vac for about 48 hrs straight to stay ahead of the water coming in. Point being - the portion of the tile floor that was under water is still as strong and in as good condition as the other parts of the room that were 'high and dry.'

Only thing ruined was an area rug that was easy enough to roll up and leave it for the garbage man.

Tile was/is installed directly onto the slab.

How do you plan on heating the space once you are done? Hot water baseboard, forced hot air (that's what I have)?
 
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Old 12-11-09, 11:53 AM
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The space currently is hooked to the main house furnace with a single air outlet. I was going to either put in another or maybe some main-lines supplemental electric heating if necessary. I've insulated the basement quite well and cut out air flow in the walls, but the floor is cold.

$3500 in flooring even if I just do some parts is going to be too high. I can do a foam+OSB subfloor for about $650 or dricore for $1200. I am trying to avoid those not so much for cost (especially for foam+OSB) but because with the foam/osb approach if water ever gets under it somehow it will stay until the end of time and with the dricore it may have lifting, plus in any case both of those are not appropriate for tile without additional prep (membrane and/or cement backer).

Tile right onto concrete, if that is safe from a cracking standpoint (at least mostly), is cheap but also extremely robust. I have a walk-out basement. I will never get "flooding" that raises the water high but I could have a plumbing issue in the future I suppose that could at least wet everything and insurance tops out at $5k anyway for that kind of damage.

njnorsky, how cold is your floor? NJ/NY both are similar temps.

I wish I knew somebody with a tile floor locally to see how it is in the winter.

Will I be ok without a membrane onto the decent slab?
 
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Old 12-11-09, 03:15 PM
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What is the condition of the slab? If it's without cracking, prolly doubtful, you could install tile directly over the slab with a good modified thinset. If you have some hairline cracking look into a antifracture membrane, like Noble CIS.

The tile will be cold. My tiled bathrooms are chilly and mine is installed on slab on grade.
 
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Old 12-11-09, 05:56 PM
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How cold is the floor? well the dog sure loves to lay on it. My space isn't as large as yours. To be honest, between the sectional sofa, entertainment center and an area rug, I'd say more than 1/2 of the tile is covered. The kids, when they're on the floor watching tv, have their bean bags or are playing on the area rug, not directly on top of the tile.

All that being said, would I want to stand barefoot on the tile for hours on end, absolutely not - but who is going to be doing that - not only would my feet be cold, my back would be killing me.

Just a thought about additional heat to the space could a gas/electric stove or fireplace be an option worth considering versus underfloor heating?
 
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