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Question DetailsAsked on 8/20/2016

How much does it cost to pull old wood floors and place water barrier on a home that's 1200square ft?

When the original wood flooring was placed they never put a moisture barrier between the flooring and cement and now the wood is showing water damage.

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You say "water barrier" - if you actually have "wet" concrete, with any free water coming through the concrete, unless you lower the water table with a perimeter french drain system (which depending on topography may require a sump pump and/or underdrains also), will not solve the problem, because it is not feasible to put a water "barrier" on the inside surface of a residential foundation - you WILL get water problems still at least at the underside of the walls, if not also by leaking out around the perimeter of the water barrier.

Now - normal case - water vapor coming up through the slab, then either causing flooring damage due to high humidity (over about 50-60%), or sometimes due to condensation of the vapor on the underside of the flooring. In this case, you can have visible condensation and darker concrete from the water vapor in it, but will not have sheet water or pooling in low spots. With water vapor transmission through the concrete you are generally better off with a "breathable" flooring like open-weave carpet over it.

However, a vapor barrier (commonly 6-8 mil poly sheet, preferably with as few vapor-barrier taped and poly sheet caulk sealed seams as possible) under the flooring and COMPLETELY sealed to the base of the wall (or in new construction, going all the way under the exterior walls) can usually solve the issue - though if the bottom plate (bottom horizontal 2x4 or 2x6 in the wall) is not treated wood (as it should be) you can end up with decay setting in there at times. When doing this sort of vapor barrier I ALWAYS apply a good dose of decay-resisting treatment like Cupreanol to the base wood in the wall whether already treated or not (to the extent exposed below drywall at least, which should be at least 1 inch clear of the concrete) and then apply long-life silicone caulk at the concrete-wood interface, using that caulk in two passes (one before, one after vapor barrier installation) to encapsulate the edge of the vapor barrier to limit the amount of moisture that can escape around the edges. There is also a mildewcide/mold killing spray (don't remember brandnames offhand but one I use was by Clorox, from Granger) you can put on the concrete AND LET DRY before the vapor barrier goes down to reduce the chance of mold growing under there if condensation forms there. Some people, like me, mix Borax with it to further reduce the chance of stagnant moisture odor.

Cost for your job - typically around $0.50-0.85/SF for removal and VB placement only (no new flooring installation) for Handyman, or about $0.75-1.10 range for Flooring contractor for floating flooring - not nailed or glued down. More in the $1.10-1.50/SF range if fastened down, especially if the new flooring needs a very clean concrete surface to be placed on (as opposed to floating floor which can tolerate some low-profile residual roughness of the surface). Minimum charge probably about $250 for the job regardless of square footage, and higher priced in areas with real high dump fees or a long way to the dump.

Generally, you will find it cheaper to have the new flooring contractor do the removal and placement of the VB before he puts down the new flooring - commonly $0.35-0.60/SF range as part of the new flooring job I would say in normal cost areas.

Note - if putting down a glued-down flooring you cannot put down a vapor barrier because it will not stick AND the new flooring will act as a vapor barrier and trap moisture in it, so unless 100% vinyl expect rapid deterioration - a common problem with glued-down laminates and linoleum. Glued-down on damp concrete = bad idea, in my opinion. You can use a "floating" floor like a snap-lock product (pure vinyl safer than products with organic fibers/wood in it if one damp floor regardless of VB), or a portland cement based mortar/thinset bonded tile or stone which will allow evaporation through the grout and will withstand moisture in most cases, assuming fully fired tile and waterproof stone, not quarry tile or similar unfired product or a soft/friable stone. Also on stone - should not be a pervious stone like marble or terrazo or travertine or such because you can get staining from the moisture wicking to the surface - an igneous or high-pressure metamorphized stone like quartz or granite or gneiss or slate is much safer.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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