Damp basement and tiles... can they play nice together?

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Old 01-13-15, 12:23 AM
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Damp basement and tiles... can they play nice together?

Hey all,

We live near a lake. Our basement humidity during the summer has been up to 75. I know this is high. I don't see any actual leaking though, which is good news. Most of the moisture accumulates from being so close to the water (at least, that's my logical assumption). With a good dehumidifier, I can regulate it fairly well. Anyway, Our basement is unfinished and I want to renovate it. I want to tile some of the walls. Here's where I need help. So far, I've used a type of "sealing" paint (it's thick, goes on almost like Elmer's Glue). My next step will be to build a wood frame of 2X4s which I'll eventually secure cement board to. Once my cement board is up, I will attach the tiles to that cement board. I guess I'm wondering if this sounds ok. I'm not very experienced, and I want to make sure that I'm not creating a trap where mold can grow (or any other forseeable problems). Am I on the right track? Should I change my plans? Take new things into consideration? Your advice will be very helpful! Thank you!
 
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Old 01-13-15, 02:28 AM
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Basement moisture issues always start by making sure all rain water is directed well away from the foundation. Then, although newer foundations can be installed in a moisture proof manner, all existing foundations will pass the moisture in the soil through to the inside air. It can typically be slowed but stopped as it will come from the footings and floor as well as the walls.

Then there is the moisture that comes from the air. You mention 75% RH, but we would need to know the temperature inside and outside along with the humidity outside.

We should also have some idea as to your location to judge heating or cooling issues.

Here is a link on renovating basements that will get you started.
BSD-103: Understanding Basements — Building Science Information

Bud
 
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Old 01-13-15, 08:28 AM
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Thanks Bud.

One thing I plan to do this summer is dig a trench around the base of my house and put up some type of moisture barrier, whether it be a tarp that I bury or that rubber paint that you apply all the way down to the footer. Either or. As to answer your question, we live in the midwest (Near Milwaukee). I've noticed a correlation... when it's humid outside, it's humid inside. A lot of the humidity in the basement (I believe) has to do with our basement being exposed to the outside air. There are places where you can actually see sunlight peeking through. Yet, that may only account for part of the humidity problem. I guess what I'm asking is... if I tile the walls, will the tiles stick? Will it cause problems if I don't resolve the moisture issues first? In other words, will I have to worry about moisture ruining them? And will I have to worry about mold forming in the cracks behind the cement board? Thanks.
 
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Old 01-13-15, 10:10 AM
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You will need to explain what you mean by tiling the walls. I usually associate tiles with the floor.

A couple of points here. Relative humidity is relative to the temperature. Warm outside air that makes it way into a cool basement will see an increase in RH even with the same moisture content. In winter air infiltration usually isn't an issue, because the opposite occurs, the air warms up and the RH goes down. Here is a calculator to play with: Temperature, Dewpoint, and Relative Humidity Calculator

Then, those basement walls can draw moisture from below the footings, so even if you rubber coat the outside, the floor and footings can conduct moisture vapor to the above walls. Yes, your efforts would reduce the flow, but not eliminate it. Controlling the liquid form of moisture is the primary objective of the landscaping and water diversion. Moisture management is what you do on the inside.

Given that some moisture vapor will reach the inside of the foundation walls, if you block it from evaporating to the inside you need to be sure it does not have food to grow mold and a tile adhesive might be just what the mold wants.

I'll wait for an explanation as to what those tiles are.

Bud
 
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Old 01-13-15, 10:10 AM
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Slabs can not be water proofed from the top side.
Where are you able to see daylight, at the sill plates, through cracks?
Is there a sump pump?
No "tarp or thin plastic" is going to do a thing to waterproof the outside walls.
 
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