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  • Flooring Material Recommendation

    My neighbor just built a 12 x 16 detached office 100 ft. behind his home. He works from home and needs to separate that part of his life! Anyway, it is 2x4 framed /insulated walls and on an 6-8" slab (integral footer). He is planning on heating with electric space heater(s) so he would prefer to not leave them on or at least on a high setting 24 x 7. What is a suitable flooring material to put on concrete that is durable, moppable, and will stand up to the temperature swings? He is amenable to ceramic tile, or wood look, or just about anything but carpet, as it will get trashed. He is walking thru the grass to get to this building so the floor will get dirty. We are in Roanoke, VA where temps range from winter lows of 10 deg, to summer highs of 95. During the day a 30-40 deg swing between low and high is not unusual during certain times of year. Is ceramic/stone tile a good idea? Special Adhesive? Or maybe a floating engineered wood floor. Anything that looks nice and won't open up a lot of gaps or fail would be acceptable. I am anxiously awaiting ideas and suggestions.
    Thanks,
    Jim

  • #2
    Re: Flooring Material Recommendation

    Ceramic tile.

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    • #3
      Re: Flooring Material Recommendation

      I think I would look into an engineered wood floating floor for a couple of reasons. One: It'll be warmer than a ceramic tile/stone floor. Two: If the wood is installed with the proper perimeter gaps and trimmed out with baseboard molding to hide it, it will have room to expand and contract. He could possibly see more than a 30º-40º temp. swing in the winter if he shuts down the heaters at night with the temp. at 72º inside and 10º outside. That might be hard on a tile/stone floor that doesn't want to expand/contract.

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      • #4
        Re: Flooring Material Recommendation

        I think for the most part he is just wanting to turn the heat down to 50 or so at night so that the electric company does not eat him alive. How will the Engineered wood handle the occasional snow from shoes, etc. I know the finished top is ok, but since they do not seal the bottoms, edges, would this be a problem? These are the two alternatives that I thought of in addition to a loose lay cushion back vinyl. The only other idea I had was the vinyl laminate, but it looks like that stuff is on a particle board base.

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        • #5
          Re: Flooring Material Recommendation

          Floating laminate would be ok, but I'm old school and even though they call them "engineered wood" to me it's just MDF with a photographic laminate on top. Inexpensive though, and easy to install....will work well over concrete... depends on the budget.

          I think the high-end solution would be porcelain tile installed over a product called "Ditra" (manufactured by Schluter Sytems). The Ditra prevents cracks in the tile due to the temp swings. The setting material is thinset. The downside is, Ditra (like everything Schluter) is pretty pricey. With your anticip[ated temp swings, I would use it, though.

          There may be a way to integrate an underfloor radiant heating system with the tile, which will help with comfort. I don't know about that (I'm in California, we don't really do cold here!) though... visit the John Bridge tile forum.

          Personally I like the look of natural stone for flooring, but it has serious drawbacks. It's more expensive than porcelain tile, not as durable, requires annual re-sealing, and setting it is (my experience) a good 50%-150% more difficult than porcelain since it isn't as uniform in either size or thickness. I don't do stone floors any more... you can buy porcelain tiles that look nearly as good with none of the hassles. If there's a Bedrosian's Tile near you, give them a visit.

          Good luck. I'll be interested in what you select.

          -Andy

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          • #6
            Re: Flooring Material Recommendation

            I think he is going to do the tile. I had already come to the same conclusion about the Ditra, but am curious as to whether to do a ceramic, or porcelain tile. The Ditra manual makes no mention of the porcelain tile, only ceramic or stone. However, it stresses using an unmodified thinset, and I have read of a lot of people having problems with bonding to porcelain tile without using a modified thinset. I think he is just going to throw down a cheap rug for this winter and we will tackle this one in the spring when it is a little warmer. I am still interested in hearing suggestions/ideas.
            Thanks,
            Jim

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            • #7
              Re: Flooring Material Recommendation

              A porcelain tile IS a ceramic tile... but a ceramic tile isn't necessarily porcelain. The term "ceramic" covers both. So you will be fine.

              You can get some good ceramics that are better than some poor porcelains. But on the whole you're better off with porcelain. It's stronger, doesn't scratch as easily and doesn't stain as easily either. If you can, get a tile that has a PEI rating that says it's suitable for heavy traffic... I think you want a rating of "3.5 to 4" if I recall correctly, as a minimum. But check me on that.

              I don't think you're going to have any trouble with the tile sticking as long as you use a quality unmodified. Don't use the cheap Custom Building Products stuff. Laticrete and Mapei are both good. A call to SChluter will get you part numbers for the thinset. And don't add an acylic additive - water only. Make sure you wipe the dust off the back of the tile with a wet sponge, leaving the surface damp just before you set the tile.

              I like Custom Building Products Versabond. It's as good as their unmodified is bad! And reasonable in price at about $13 a bag. It's technically a "modified" but it cures fine and it's fairly sticky. You might not get the Schluter warranty.... personally, I don't care about the warranty, I would rather use a material I know and like. But you might have a different thought on this.
              Last edited by Andy_M; 12-06-2009, 11:34 PM.

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