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Old 12-12-2008, 12:30 PM   #21
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I'd be reluctant is use any wood in floors below grade, just due to Murphy's law. Even if it didn't rot, I can see it turning moldy and funky under there. I have a dry walk out basement and from time to time I find sow bugs and crickets on the carpet - not sure where they come from, but they'd love a place like that to live.
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Old 12-12-2008, 01:56 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by mattgg1 View Post
Could you elaborate on how such a subfloor would become "rotted out" in this application?
Maybe it wouldn't. But I just think the odds are against the wood floor in this situation avoiding water damage for a multi-decade period.

Factors:
-- Potential for water/water vapor leakage from outside the basement. This is reduced by adding the vapor barrier. But, the vapor barrier guarantees that any water that does get under the wood subfloor will stay there for a long time, making the RH below that subfloor 100%. That's hard on wood products.
-- Leakage from the sink (trap, overflows)
-- Condensation from toilet (very cold porcelain bowl/tank, high RH in basement=drips).
-- Toilet overflows
-- Toilet drain line leaks
-- All the toilet/sink drain "challenges" are exacerbated by the ejector pump setup needed to drain these fixtures "up" (per the OP). More fittings/seals to leak. More importantly, standing sewage in the drainpipe at all times, all depending on a check valve to stop backflow onto the low point--the wood floor.
-- Supply lines to sink and toilet with maybe a dozen total connections to leak.
-- Whatever the floor covering is, it will be only marginally effective in stopping the penetration of water to the subloor. Vinyl/caulk works sometimes to keep incidental water out of the wood system, but really is only effective against the occassional splash from the tub. It cannot be depended upon to keep 100% of standing water out of a wood flooring system that does not have the potential to drain/dry from the back side.
- Even if it is possible to prevent ANY liquid water leakage into this subfloor/insulated system, that would only be possible by making the finished flooring 100% water-tight and (probably) vapor impermeable (I'm not aware of a flooring that is 100% impermeable to liquid water and permeable to water vapor). Its virtually certain that the RH under the poly on the slab will be 100%. That means that if the perm rating of the poly (complete with the tiny holes it will get as the grit on the slab wears through the plastic under the sleepers) exceeds the perm rating of the vinyl floor on top, then the RH under the floor is guaranteed to be 100%. That's a great environment for mold and wood rot. This is a classic "double vapor barrier" situation, and that is nearly always a problem.

I've just replaced two wood floors in the bathrooms of my 50 YO home. Both had excellent drying to the back side (open joists to the basement) but both nonetheless rotted badly over the years. I'm just very conservative when it comes to these things, and I think it's prudent to give these building systems the best possible chance to succeed. You are right, people do build bathroom floors as you've described them all the time. I only said that I wouldn't do it.
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Old 12-12-2008, 02:20 PM   #23
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i need to wear my glasses more...the title looked like
"INSULTING ideas for basement bathroom".
i got my mind all revved up for some fun and then.......saw it was a serious thread. carry on...
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Old 12-13-2008, 11:03 PM   #24
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One idea to prevent the subfloor rot from RH 100% would be to either use exterior grade treated plywood or treat the the plywood with some sort of primer to effectively retard rot


But anyhoo....i'm not going down that route....just needed a heated pooper to solve my problems! i'll post a review...no pics
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Old 12-15-2008, 09:29 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by samclem View Post
Maybe it wouldn't. But I just think the odds are against the wood floor in this situation avoiding water damage for a multi-decade period.

Factors:
-- Potential for water/water vapor leakage from outside the basement...
-- Leakage from the sink (trap, overflows)
-- Condensation from toilet (very cold porcelain bowl/tank, high RH in basement=drips).
-- Toilet overflows
-- Toilet drain line leaks
-- All the toilet/sink drain "challenges" are exacerbated by the ejector pump setup needed to drain these fixtures "up" (per the OP)....
-- Supply lines to sink and toilet with maybe a dozen total connections to leak.
-- Whatever the floor covering is, it will be only marginally effective in stopping the penetration of water to the subloor....
- Even if it is possible to prevent ANY liquid water leakage into this subfloor/insulated system, that would only be possible by making the finished flooring 100% water-tight and (probably) vapor impermeable (I'm not aware of a flooring that is 100% impermeable to liquid water and permeable to water vapor)...This is a classic "double vapor barrier" situation, and that is nearly always a problem.

I've just replaced two wood floors in the bathrooms of my 50 YO home. Both had excellent drying to the back side (open joists to the basement) but both nonetheless rotted badly over the years. I'm just very conservative when it comes to these things, and I think it's prudent to give these building systems the best possible chance to succeed. You are right, people do build bathroom floors as you've described them all the time. I only said that I wouldn't do it.
Most of the issues you listed are not specific to a basement bathroom, and apply to nearly every bathroom in America (in homes not built on a slab). Wood subfloors have been used in bathrooms for 100+ years, and even with all the modern advances in construction materials/techniques, wood subfloors in bathrooms are still the standard by which homes are built today.

While there is always a chance of rot when wood is around water, using proper building methods, care & routine maintenance will keep you from fretting over a rotted subfloor. Builders of ultra high-end homes where no expense is spared use wood subfloors in bathrooms. I assume these builders don't tell the owners to (in your words)...
Quote:
"keep the measurements of the plywood/OSB handy, as you'll need them to cut replacement pieces for these swollen sheet goods when the toilet or sink overflows."
So I think we've established that possibility of water issues above the subfloor (leaks from the plumbing fixtures,ect) are not reason to abandon the use of wood subfloor materials.

The use of a good vapor barrier, pressure treated lumber and closed cell foam insulation would virtually eliminate any concern over the few remaining issues you mention.
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Old 12-15-2008, 10:34 AM   #26
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Anecdotal evidence: over the last 25 years i would bet we have replaced or repaired 1/2 of the bathroom floors in our rentals. Water goes where it wishes, and the first separation in the silicone seam betwixt tub and linoleum is followed by a renter bathing her kid and slopping water, or leaving a soggy bathmat overlapping that seam or... I accept that the floor will rot out, the sheet goods will stain from water getting to the backing, and that the floor will need replacing. As for leveling for the new floor, all the vinyl guys i know just spead level-ease or a similiar bonding grout type product to ease level transitions in repaired areas. Never seen pressure treated wood used in a bathroom, but not familiar with high-end new construction, so maybe....
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Old 12-15-2008, 10:46 AM   #27
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But anyhoo....i'm not going down that route....just needed a heated pooper to solve my problems! i'll post a review...no pics
Good choice. You know, if the heated seat doesn't work out, you could just drape an immersion heater into the bowl--nice and toasty 180 deg F water beneath the seat could be quite a luxury. Wait, there could be a problem with this . . .
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Old 12-15-2008, 10:53 AM   #28
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Good choice. You know, if the heated seat doesn't work out, you could just drape an immersion heater into the bowl--nice and toasty 180 deg F water beneath the seat could be quite a luxury. Wait, there could be a problem with this . . .
what a shocking suggestion.
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Old 12-16-2008, 02:09 PM   #29
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Only on the interweb can complete strangers argue this vehemently about bathroom subfloor materials.
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Old 12-16-2008, 03:06 PM   #30
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Only on the interweb can complete strangers argue this vehemently about bathroom subfloor materials.
.......or heated toilet seats...
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Old 12-16-2008, 07:54 PM   #31
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.......or heated toilet seats...
wooohoooooo...my kind of man!
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