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Fri Dec 14, 2012, 08:21 PM

Advice requested

The people who owned our condo prior to us were diy'rs of a sort. Mostly of the "I have a cousin who can do that" sort.

They decided to tile the space in front of the door. As it happens, that space is not 100% flat, but it is somewhat flexible. Which means by the time we arrived, most of the tiles were rather cracked.

Recently we decided to rip the tiles up and replace them with.. something. And I finally got around to starting that process. Only to find a spot about 2 inches along and extending 1/2 inch out from the threshold where the underfloor has been water damaged. In actuality, the whole edge shows signs of water damage, with the composite have that telltale swelling that happens when the stuff gets wet. But it appears to be solid, long prior dried. Except for that one little section, which is black and easily poked through. the bottom of the painted wooden threshhold also looks to be black.

Whats my best option for fixing this? Obviously I cant just cover it over. But its a tiny spot, And with no income at the moment, I find it hard to justify the idea of pulling up the flooring around the area to remove the whole subfloor section and replace it all. For a little 1 square inch section.

All I can think is to pull up the door threshold and replace that with a metal one, and hope that theres not worse hidden. Maybe carve out the little damaged section, use some spray foam, since its not a spot where anyone will be stepping, Find some way to seal the join of the threshold to floor and waterproof the subfloor away from that?

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Arrow 17 replies Author Time Post
Reply Advice requested (Original post)
quakerboy Dec 2012 OP
Warpy Dec 2012 #1
quakerboy Dec 2012 #2
flying_wahini Dec 2012 #3
quakerboy Dec 2012 #5
quakerboy Dec 2012 #4
Warpy Dec 2012 #6
quakerboy Dec 2012 #7
Warpy Dec 2012 #8
quakerboy Dec 2012 #9
Hassin Bin Sober Dec 2012 #10
quakerboy Dec 2012 #11
Hassin Bin Sober Dec 2012 #12
quakerboy Dec 2012 #13
Hassin Bin Sober Dec 2012 #14
The Velveteen Ocelot Dec 2012 #15
Adsos Letter Dec 2012 #16
randr Dec 2012 #17

Response to quakerboy (Original post)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 09:09 PM

1. What you can consider doing is the job done right

and that means cutting the tiled area of engineered flooring out, installing a rigid subfloor (if it's not) and retiling the area.

The tile was a good idea if you live in a place that has rain and snow and the damage to the flooring probably predates the installation and was the reason for it. They were just dumb in installing it over a floating engineered wood floor.

You can generally match the color of flooring fairly closely so the tile isn't an eyesore. Saltillo tile goes particularly well with wood.

YMMV, of course. However, replacing the damaged flooring will look better than a metal threshold would. Since you own the place, it's better to treat yourself to a job done right.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #1)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 09:55 PM

2. The tile

Was glued directly to the subfloor. The tile is now gone. Based on the very limited location, size, and shape of the damage to the subfloor, I am fairly certain it does not predate the tile. And the dark color of the wood leads me to believe that the damage may extend into the wooden threshold that the damaged flooring area touches. Now the question is what next.

We already have the replacements for the tile flooring, and everything we need to do it correctly this time. However, I wasn't expecting the subfloor damage.

So it seems to me that the first step is fixing the little section of damaged subfloor. A quick online search netted me recommendations to remove the whole section of subfloor and replace it. Which would be financially unfeasable, as it would mean ripping up half my livingroom floor. So I am wondering if there is a simpler way to deal with this 1 square inch damaged section than replacing the whole underfloor.

Given that I believe the wooden threshhold is damaged as well, replacing that seems like a good plan. Its an unexpected cost, but significantly less so than reflooring our entire living area. We were thinking of a metal one as it seems much more likely to last a while than another wooden one, given that we live in an extremely rainy area. I am willing to be persuaded on that, however. I just realized that a metal one might not be the best for temperature insulation purposes. Maybe they have other issues that I am not aware of.

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Response to quakerboy (Original post)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 11:15 PM

3. My husband and I have redone 6 homes and I have to say

you will be money ahead and a lot happier if you replace the subflooring now. Just as the other response suggested you will
be bothered it every time you walk in the door when it starts to sink in a year or two. Chances are if it was do to moisture
you have some dry rot down there anyway. JMHO.

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Response to flying_wahini (Reply #3)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 11:33 PM

5. The subfloor needs fixed, no question about it

My main question, for the moment, is is there any way to replace just the damaged section, or do I really to rip out my entire floor, even though I have absolutely no way of replacing it for at least a year to come. Obviously, from the question, you can easily tell what answer I am hoping for.

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Response to quakerboy (Original post)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 11:26 PM

4. Crap

Just got the last tile up. More damage. Another section along the door. this could be bad

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Response to quakerboy (Reply #4)

Sat Dec 15, 2012, 12:40 AM

6. Yep, that's where it would be. You won't know how bad until

you pull up that threshold.

This really sucks, but it's the kind of surprise I've found from Day One in my shabby little fixer upper that was last fixed up by a very bad handyman in the 70s.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #6)

Sat Dec 15, 2012, 01:55 AM

7. One of my former neighbors

who used to be a contractor recommended the following: http://www.smithandcompany.org/RestorationKits.html

Ever heard of something like this?

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Response to quakerboy (Reply #7)

Sat Dec 15, 2012, 02:22 AM

8. I think replacing tile on an unstable subfloor

will lead to the same problems you had: breaking tiles covering up a water damaged subfloor.

Epoxy sealer won't make the sub floor stable and it gets brittle with age and will fail as the tile does.

I think you're going to want to get rid of whatever is sitting on the joists (plywood, probably; Aspenite if it was cheaply built) and install either cement board or particle board, both a lot more stable. Cement board is preferable. Or install it on top of the subfloor if there's enough clearance under the door for that plus tile.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #8)

Sat Dec 15, 2012, 06:46 AM

9. A question

You and my dad have mentioned joists. That would be the vertical 2xwhatevers that are the basic framing of the flooring, if I understand correctly. Sitting on that would be the subfloor. And on top of that, whatever flooring you actually see. Correct me if I am wrong or missing something.

Cant see the joists and have no way to get to them, unfortunately. Condo, with no access to the crawlspace barring a notice and time. And a person small enough to crawl down there, which I am not. The subfloor appears to be particleboard of some sort. The same kinda stuff they use for cheap furniture that you get from walmart, as best as I can tell, though I am sure there is some technical difference.

Our first thought was to replace the tile with a section of rubber backed all weather carpet. Unfortunately this place was poorly designed in the 60's, poorly constructed in the 70's, Poorly converted in the 90's, and poorly remodeled in the 00's. Its just not worth doing a complete remodel to make the floor stable enough to put ceramic tile back in properly. The realistic alternative if we want to keep a tile like surface would be one of the heavy duty vinyl faux tile, perhaps something like the Trafficmaster Ceramica product.

But the first priority is to get the decayed section dealt with. Whether its replace or repair. I am torn. I know I can manage the latter, if it works. The former may be a bit beyond my current capability's.

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Response to quakerboy (Reply #9)

Sat Dec 15, 2012, 02:23 PM

10. Can you post a picture of what you are working with?

I would say no ceramic tile if you are working with unstable joists and or sub-floor. OSB/particle board is a terrible substrate (not to ne confused with sub-floor) for tile. As you have seen, it's unstable and swells when wet. Plywood is not much better.

Industry standards require a solid joist arrangement > and a minimum two layers of plywood 3/4 plus 3/8 for a total 1 1/8. On top of that a suitable substrate such as cement backer-board underlayment (CBU) - 1/4 inch will do. The backer board should be mechanically fastened with backer screws and embedded in a layer of thinset. A suitable substrate such as CBU will have properties that keep it from swelling with the seasons and working the tile loose. The multiple layers of plywood/CBU will provide a "cleavage" layer or break from house/joist movements.

All that said. You MIGHT get away with less than ideal conditions in a small area in front of a door. The joists are less likely to flex near the foundation. But you better clean up, patch and re-fasten the OSB and get a good layer of b/c (don't use CDX sheathing -it has voids) plywood over the OSB. I wold go 1/2 minimum or 3/4 if you have the room/height.

Use a good quality latex/polymer fortified thinset that will give you a little more protection against movement. Don't use the cheapo 8 dollar a bag stuff.

You can prime the plywood before attaching and embedding the backer-board to protect against water infiltration damage.

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Response to Hassin Bin Sober (Reply #10)

Sat Dec 15, 2012, 04:20 PM

11. Thanks

Sounds like there are more layers of things than I was aware of.

Obviously the tile was the top level, now removed. Then there was glue. set on particle board, the same particle board layer that the surrounding flooring sits on. Under that, I guess I don't really know whats under that.




This is what I am looking at.

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Response to quakerboy (Reply #11)

Sat Dec 15, 2012, 06:35 PM

12. It appears you are getting water infiltration under the sill and maybe even the wall.

At the very least you will need to cut back 12 or 18 inches of that OSB/particle subfloor. Probably/maybe the sill.

Whatever you do you will need to seal/caulk the exterior side to stop the water.

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Response to Hassin Bin Sober (Reply #12)

Sat Dec 15, 2012, 09:45 PM

13. I have a call in

to my aunts carpenter. Cant afford this, but i guess I cant afford the floor falling through either. At this point, I am wondering if it goes deep enough to damage the joists.

One thing we did notice, the wood of the threshold itself appears solid. But the wood underneath it is a bit spongy. I wish it weren't so darn cold and wet outside that door, It would be nice to pull the threshold off and get an idea whats under there.

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Response to quakerboy (Reply #13)

Sun Dec 16, 2012, 11:25 PM

14. I would guess the joists are not in bad shape if damaged at all.

There isn't much flat surface on the top of the joists to hold water.

That particle board just soaks up the water.

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Response to quakerboy (Reply #11)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 12:56 AM

15. Looks like the disaster area that was my bathroom floor.

We ended up tearing out the whole floor and the subfloor - but this was part of a larger remodeling project. There was a whole corner of the bathroom floor that had decayed like that due to some leaking from the old bathtub pipes - it was an awful mess.

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Response to quakerboy (Original post)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 07:04 PM

16. If the rot in that subfloor doesn't extend too far under the wall bottom plate

your carpenter should be able to cut out the rotten area back from the wall enough to slip a new piece in there. He'll probably want to cut it back enough to be able to nail a couple of blocks between the joists to give him places to glue and nail to on all edges.

It shouldn't be either difficult or costly to fix this. If the rot extends too far underneath the bottom plate of that wall it will be slightly more complicated, but still quite reasonable to repair, imho.

Good Luck!

EDIT: Looking at those photos again...you'll probably want to get that old floor mastic off of the subfloor before you re-tile. Not sure how easy that will be on particle board. You might want to check one of the floor store in your area to see if they can tell you whether it's ok to skim new mastic over the old stuff (but that will raise the level of the new floor).

Like Warpy said, doing it the right way now is a pain (given your circumstance) but it will be more of a pain if the job either fails, or the results are unsatisfactory.

Again, Good Luck!

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Response to quakerboy (Original post)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 10:13 AM

17. I have alot of experience with remodels and home reairs

Have seen this numerous times.
The first think I would tell you is to address the real problem first. It is the water leaking either under the door or wall that has created this issue. If it is not fixed, anything you do will be for naught. Find a good contractor experienced with home repair and be prepared to spend several hundred dollars to rebuild whatever structural issued they discover. Once the infiltration of water is resolved you can then look at several solutions to repair the interior damage and replacement of tile or flooring of your choice.

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