Category Archives: Moisture Damage and Issues

Flooded Basement with Pergo Laminate

Q: We have Pergo laminate flooring in our basement and it recently flooded (3″ of water) Do we need to pull the flooring and padding out or will it be OK? HELP!!

A: Flooding can be some real bad news for any wood floor. Your best bet here is to get a dehumidifier in there to help pull up as much moisture as possible if your goal is to salvage the floor. Also, its a good idea to pick up a moisture meter and continually test the floor until it gets back to somewhere around 6-9% moisture content.
Now this being said, its likely that this has simply been too much water and your Pergo may have to be replaced entirely. Standing water, especially to the point of flooding is devastating to wood flooring and it will case problems. You can try to remove the moisture and see if the floor will remain good, but its likely that whatever warranty you still had in place would now be void because the floor has been exposed to something it is not built for. The good news here is that homeowners’ insurance typically covers problems like this and should replace the floor for you with a new floor of your choice.

Pergo for a Bathroom

Q: What do you think of laminate flooring in a bathroom? Also if you use Pergo would you still need and underlay and what type?

A: Laminate can work in a bathroom, but if you have younger children or expect to have standing water or wet clothing on the floor relatively often, you might want to look into another flooring option. The biggest concern here is moisture getting into the seams of the laminate where it is unprotected. When this occurs, warping and buckling tend to follow. This does not mean that is impossible to have a successful laminate floor like Pergo in your bathroom – especially if your home has no younger children and you should not have wet clothing or towels sitting on the floor.
A few tips for success here. You must use an underlayment under any floating floor – so look into a underlayment which is approved by Pergo and try to get one which is denser as this will cause the floor itself to move less when walked over, reducing the chance of exposing the joints. Cork underlayment is a great option here as it supports the floor rather than cushioning it. You could put a very thin bead of glue into the seams when installing the floor to act as an additional moisture seal, but again this is not really necessary for an adult household. When installing, take you time and ensure that all of the planks are snugly fit together and you may want to put some silicone caulking into expansion gap areas near the shower and around the toilet to act as a good moisture seal.

Wood Flooring Over Uneven Wood and Cement Subfloor

Q: My husband and I recently purchased an older home and are remodeling. We pulled up the old carpet in the family room and discovered that a little more than half the room has the original raised, wood subfloor while the rest is a cement slab from an expansion/addition the former owners had constructed. We would like to put down real hardwood or engineered hardwood but are unsure of how to prepare the subfloor. Where the two material meet they are a bit uneven. We were considering a self-leveling compound but we fear that the wood will flex and the cement won’t resulting in cracking and an uneven floor. We’ve also considered covering the whole floor with thin plywood or a similar material. What would you suggest for leveling a floor with two completely different types of subfloors? Thanks!

A: Depending on which area of your subfloor is lower, will determine what method is best to do. Let’s look into a few options:
First of all, I would not suggest putting plywood over the concrete. To do this you must glue it in place and unless you have done this several times, it’s a pain to do and has a higher rate of failure than other options.
If the concrete portion of the subfloor is lower, than using a leveling compound is a good bet. If you have worries about it cracking because of the wood expanding more than the concrete (which does expand and contract some) make sure you use a latex additive to give the leveling compound some elasticity. Another option would be to build a slow, sloping ramp, but it’s a bit less work and more reliable to simply bring the entire concrete portion level.
If the wood subfloor is lower, than using some plywood nailed in place to shim up the floor is a good bet. Follow-up with a bit of leveling compound to make sure that the concrete floor is level as well and you should be all set for installation. Remember, you want your subfloor to be flat and dry. If there is a sizeable gap between the wood and concrete portions of the subfloor, fill it like you would repair a crack in your concrete.
For the flooring itself, you will want to use an engineered or 5/16″ solid hardwood floor which is approved for a glue-down installation. You could also do a floating hardwood, but you must have a moisture barrier in place over the entire floor. In the case of glue-down, the adhesive will act as your moisture barrier. Before installation, give the flooring plenty of time to acclimate and ensure to moisture test before installing. Try to make sure the flooring and subfloor’s moisture content is within 4% of each other, and try for 2% if doing glue down.

Waterproof Flooring

Q: We are refinishing our basement and I want to use a waterproof flooring material to prevent potential flood damage, yet it must be very comfortable to walk on (no ceramic tiles). What do you recommend?
Drew & Lauren

A: There are very few truly water-proof floors available. Your best bet considering that this is concrete would be to either install a rubber floor, such as RB Rubber’s zip tiles, as these provide a bit of cushion and are water-proofed. Another option would be an epoxy floor. Simply put this would be one of the most resilient options available, but similar to tile, you will get a more solid floor.
Basically, any floor which will be water-proof is going to be a rather solid floor, such as composite floors, stone/tile, epoxy, etc. Rubber flooring is about the only floor which is water-proof that will have a bit of cushion underfoot. You could look into something like a vinyl plank flooring such as Konecto which is made to be water proof and makes a great choice.

Wood Flooring for Bathrooms

Q: Is a wood floor ok for a bathroom?
A: Tough question because the answer is not simple. Yes and no both apply here, so let me dig in a bit and explain. Generally speaking you can install some wood floors in bathrooms successfully without it being a massive risk of the floor being ruined.
Assuming you don’t expect standing water from splashing around, wet clothes on the floor or general spills and those using the bathroom are typically all adults of older children, than you can install some wood floors. I would not suggest 3/4″ solid wood or even engineered wood floors if this bathroom has a shower or bath tub, as the risk involved with spills can be detrimental to these floors. Cork and laminate both are good choices here.
In bathrooms which do not have a bath tub or shower, engineered or even solid wood floors can be looked into, but I would highly suggest either site finishing these floors, or at the very least finding a product which is suited to glue-down or glue-together installations. The reason here is to get a small bit of glue into the tongue and groove area to help give a bit more sealing against moisture.
Even with these cases, I would still caution against solid or engineered wood floors in bathrooms because wood and water do not mix. A high-quality laminate, bamboo or cork floor is a great choice here as they are a bit better suited toward this environment when compared to traditional hardwood floors.
A great alternative for a wood looking floor would be the wood appearing vinyl floors made by Konecto or Congoleum. Konecto is a bit more user friendly when it comes to installation and durability, but both of them make great floors for environments like a bathroom while still keeping a wood look.

Moisture Concerns in a Basement

Q: I’m finishing a basement on a concrete slab, that is about 800sq ft and I want to do a small bathroom also in the area, the home is at the beach and even though the basement is dry I’m concerned about moisture.
What product do you recommend for the floor in the basement and can I use a pergo or similar floor for a bathroom floor, my contractor suggested an engineered floating floor.
Dr Brenner

A: With any basement installation, moisture is a concern; however, it is fairly easy to over come these issues. One important factor here will be what floor you choose. Laminate, like Pergo, and floating engineered hardwoods are good choices in a basement, but you can also look into glue down engineered floors as well.
Keep in mind the key here is to ensure you have a moisture barrier. In the case of glue down floors, the adhesive itself acts as a moisture barrier, but for floating floors you will need to install 6mil polyethelyne or visqueen moisture barrier. Ensure that all of the seams are properly taped up before laying down your underlayment and installing your floor. When installing the moisture barrier, make sure that you bring the 6mil poly (or equivalent) about two inches up the wall to protect the sides of the floor.
For your bathroom, you can install Pergo or similar laminate, or an engineered wood floor. Although moisture heavy areas are not great for wood floors, with proper care during installation and if you prevent water from getting on the floor (standing water, wet clothes, etc) then you should be fine. A quick tip for these areas, make sure you put a small bead of glue into the joints of the floor to act as a back up moisture seal.
As always, when installing any wood floor, especially in areas with a concrete subfloor or more moisture, give the flooring itself plenty of time to acclimate, preferably in the room it will be installed into.