Beautiful Floors for Basements and Damp Floor Areas
In our residential service area, Atlanta and the southeast, many residences have damp floors and many other buildings are plagued by excess moisture vapor transmission through the concrete slab. This moisture can contribute significantly to flooring failures and indoor air pollution if left unchecked. If you are contending with concrete floors that are excessively damp there are concrete floor treatment solutions available.
As a concrete polishing contractor, Titus offers polished concrete basement floors as a healthy solution for wet concrete issues. These floors are often characterized by moldy, mildewed, musty carpets or floor covering. If you suffer from asthma, polished concrete floors may simply be the best floor finish for a basement. Read on as we provide you with some basic information to help you make better decisions when exploring floor finish options.
First of all, it helps to understand some of the basics. Moisture vapor transmission through a concrete slab happens for two (2) primary reasons. Here are a couple of examples:
- Example 1)
When the air conditioner is on, the ambient atmosphere dries and moisture migrates through the concrete to equalize itself. The movement of this moisture through the concrete carries salts through the concrete slab. The salts that form on the surface of the concrete slab and are called efflorescence.
- Example 2)
The second cause of moisture in a basement is hydrostatic pressure. Simply, hydrostatic pressure can be calculated as one (1) pound hydrostatic pressure for every two (2) feet the basement is below grade (an 8 foot below grade basement has 4 pounds of hydrostatic pressure in the floor).
If hardwood installed over the concrete slab and the slab is emitting too much moisture it could swell and buckle. Any hard surface flooring applied with mastic is also in jeopardy as the high pH of the efflorescence can cause the mastic to deteriorate. Painted concrete floors also fail either due to saponification caused by efflorescence, or by lifting caused by hydrostatic pressure.
In the event there is carpet installed over the concrete slab and the slab is emitting too much moisture it cause mold or mildew. Any carpet applied with mastic (such as commercial carpeting or carpet squares) is also in jeopardy due to the high pH deteriorating the mastic and carpet backing. This deterioration can also release harmful VOC’s contributing to indoor air pollution, thereby compounding problems for those with respiratory illnesses.
In today’s residential building trends, basements are often finished as part of the living quarters and have higher ceilings. It is also typical that they are air conditioned. Combine the drier air of air conditioning and the increased hydrostatic pressure because the basement floors are deeper below ground level and the result is more moisture vapor passing through the concrete slab and back into the house. As the moisture vapor passes through the slab so do more salts from the concrete, leading to more efflorescence, more moisture in the carpet, and higher the utility bills from the air conditioning trying to remove it!
Solving the Problem of Wet and Damp Basements
How do you put an end to this circuitous process where the air conditioning system creates more work for itself? We have two (2) answers.
- Install a concrete floor sealer with an epoxy moisture barrier. This typically requires steel shot blasting of the concrete slab followed by multiple coats of moisture tolerant epoxy coating. These concrete floor treatments exist today and offer protection of up to 25 pounds per square foot of moisture vapor transmission. These coatings can then be covered with concrete overlays, tile, hardwoods, or practically any other flooring material.
- Two (2): polish the concrete. This is by far the most economical solution.
Polishing concrete floors works like water repellent fabrics (Gortex®), the substrate remains breathable but the top portion of the slab is denser and moisture vapor is greatly reduced and passes through it more slowly. Polished concrete eliminates the moldy, mildewed smell associated with other floor finishes in damp areas. When you install polished concrete there is no coating or other hard surface flooring to fail. Many who have asthma or other respiratory illnesses also prefer polished concrete floors to other hard surface flooring as they are easier to clean and keep dust free.
We, at Titus, believe polished concrete floors are the best floor finish for asthma sufferers (or someone suffering from allergies or other respiratory illnesses). Polished concrete is an asthma friendly floor and a healthy choice.