Ground level flooring advice needed

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Hello, group!
We're currently looking for the optimal floor for a ground-level of a high ranch. There is no basement in this house, so the ground level sits right on top of the concrete foundation. Currently, the floor is concrete covered with a carpet. We'd like to change the floor to make it warmer and stain-resistant. So, our current plan is to remove the carpet, put down DRIcore subfloor, and put engineered hardwood on top of that. Our two major concerns with this plan are the cost and the 2+ inches it will take off the hight, since the ceilings on the ground level are not too high to begin with.
Some other options that we are considering: DRIcore+linoleum (vynil?), but that does not look as nice as engineered hardwood. We were even considering real hardwood, but that would take even more inches off the height, and that's not preferred.
Another thought that's brewing: Is dricore really going to help keep the rooms warmer? I've heard that engineered hardwood can be put down directly on concrete (with a water-resistant lining). That will give us another inch in the height, but if the rooms will be perpetually cold, we don't want it.
What do you think? Are there other combinations that are better than dricore+engineered hardwood to minimize the height loss and maximize the warmth gain?
Thanks for your input! Elana
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elanamig wrote:

Is the issue keeping the room warmer, or making the floor feel warmer?
Have you consider under floor radiant heat?
The carpet is about as good as you can get when it comes to the floor "feeling" warm.
--
Joseph Meehan

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Well, there are radiators and the insulation seems OK (we haven't spent a winter in this house yet, so we don't know for sure), but I think that if the floor is not cold, the room will be alright. I'm just worried about how much a cold floor would drain the room of heat, and would make the heating bills too high. That, in addition to it just being unpleasant.
We've looked at underfloor heat. But as far as I understand, underfloor heat requires a real subfloor (with 2x4's and plywood on top). Add to that the finish (hardwood, etc), and it would take way too much off the height of the rooms.
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elanamig wrote:

If were mine, I think I would try to stick with carpet this year and then you would have a better idea how comfortable it really is and where the problems, if any, really are.
Carpet is a good insulator.
Under floor heat is very doable, but I would question how economical it would be. Heat will move both up and down. Adding heat under the floor means some will move up into your heated area and some will go down into the foundation and from there into the ground. The parts close to the edge of the home will loose a fair amount of heat. The center will loose very little. Concrete and earth do insulate. Not as good as most things used to insulate but they do.
I doubt if you are going to loose as much heat through the floor as you are thinking. However if it FEELS cool, then you are likely to turn up the heat. Carpet will feel warmer than a wood floor if both are the same temperature. I would guess that the temperature of the wood floor you are talking about and carpet are going to be about the same so the wood may feel colder than the carpet you want to replace and you may increase your heating bills.
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Joseph Meehan

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elanamig wrote:

The floor will be the same temperature as the room unless it is cooled some how. With a slab floor it will be a little cooler on the outside, but the center of the floor will be room temperature. Even dirt is an insulator.

That depends greatly on the type of heat and equipment used. There are many choices.
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Joseph Meehan

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If this is not a kitchen, where carpet is only for masochists, I'd stick with carpet. Deal with the stain problem by buying the most stain-resistant carpet you can find.
Put 10 different materials on the floor and they will all be at the same temperature. If one feels warmer than another, it's perception.
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Event he dri-=core is not going to really make it warmer. I too have a slab on my lower level family room,. The carpet did feel warmer, but hte engineered hardwood looks so much nicer, cleaner, overall a huge improvement. Yes, it will feel a bit cooler to the feet, but any smooth surface will, insulated or not. It is just the flat surface makes batter contact and draws heat from the body faster that your food suspended on a series of carpet fibers. In our case, we use a couple of throw rugs in front of the chairs so your feet are always comfy while sitting. I used www.mannington.com hardwood. Three years now and still looks perfect.
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Yeah, I love the look of hardwood as well. And I understand that the floor will feel colder if it's flat. But will that cold radiate to the rest of the room? And will we be able to heat it sufficiently without spending too much on heat? This ground level will be very heavily used, since my parents will be living there. So it's really important for this ground floor to be comfortable. We don't mind putting area rugs, but we really don't want to put the hardwood on concrete, only to find out that putting it on dricore would have been much better.
And no, we're not trying to achieve the level of warmth that a carpet would provide, because that's probably not possible. But we're just trying to avoid a situation where one would have to wear winter clothes inside to keep warm.
Thank you for the mannigton website, I'll look through it for sure. Thanks, Elana
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I agree. Now, what if one piece of wood is on concrete, and the other is on the dricore.. Will there be a warmth difference?
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I see no reason why there should be a difference, although the dricore web site claims there is.
What's with the staining you mentioned? Shoes? Kids with food? Pets?
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JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

Shoes and kid, mostly. The living room has patio doors to the backyard. In addition, part of the living room will serve as a dining room, so food stains will appear very fast, because our 13 month-old has discovered gravity and found it particularly fascinating with foods that splatter and drip.
Besides that, I don't think there are carpets that can ever be truly clean. Dust is always there, no matter how hard you vacuum... And with a baby that still crawls more than walks, dust is a serious concern for us as well.
I like the concept of dricore as an easy to install subfloor that's lower than the traditional subfloor. But it would add another $1000 to our projects (based on the area that needs to be done), and if it doesn't have real benefits, we'd rather not spend this $$, and not lift the floor another inch.
Thank you so much for your input!
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Well, the dricore *does* contain an air space within its structure. But, according to the physics *I* learned, it'll make little or no difference. If carpet's not practical everywhere, then put down a hard floor of your choice, and use area rugs where necessary.
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JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

This looks more and more like the way we'll go...
Thank you for your advice Elana
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On Thu, 12 Oct 2006 18:40:27 GMT, "JoeSpareBedroom"

Well, between the airspace and the pressboard, you've probably got between R-1 and R-2 or insulation, there. But if you're after insulation and not dealing with a moisture problem, it seems as if 1/2" of that pink fanfold foam would be a better bet. Of if you're sure of the dryness, homasote underlayment, which might even hold a nail.
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I'd just go with padded vinyl and area rugs. The dricore won't make enough difference in temperature to matter.
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Goedjn wrote:

<snip>
If it were my house-- and I had kids --I would never install vinyl of any kind; it's toxic and always will be. Carpet is slightly less so but creates a wonderful field for allergens and mold. With kids you want a durable hard surface floor that's non-toxic and easy to clean, so I'd go with either wood, cork, or linoleum (real linoleum, not vinyl).
In this situation I'd skip the Dri-Core and go with electric radiant heat mats, which can be put on a thermostat and placed under any flooring (including tile). They are thin, so won't take too much off your ceiling height either. Then go with the engineered hardwood you mentioned so you can keep the total thinkness <1" or so. I'd put the radiant mats in traffic areas and in front of seating spaces, but not around the perimeter of the room. You'll find that if you have radiant heat people will actually sit on the floor intentionally-- it's much more comfortable than most other types of heat and makes the floor pleasant not only for walking but for sitting/laying down as well.
One source for electric radiant is here: http://www.radiantec.com/ or you can just google electric radiant for more info.
Good luck!
-kiwanda
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Define "Toxic" in this context.
I know of no reason to believe that vinyl flooring is likely to produce any adverse health effects after the first few days of outgassing.
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Goedjn wrote:

The initial outgasssing is primarily VOCs from the adhesives, which are in themselves fairly toxic. But the real problems over time relate to the plasticizers, primarily phthalates like DEHP, that make PVC flooring flexible. A host of studies have linked phthalate exposure to hormonal imbalances in animals, and the EU (among others) has banned phthalates from products intended for small children. Does it seem wise to put 200 sq ft of the stuff in your livingroom? And even disregarding children's exposure, occupational exposure to phthalates and many other chemicals is a terrible problem for workers in PVC-producing industries...no reason they should be further poisoned so we can have plastic floors, esp. when there are many better alternatives.
Studies of PVC exposure, including flooring, you may want to consider:
Detailed lab report on vinyl and carpet: http://www.healthyflooring.org/press010227.htm
Hazardous Chemicals in PVC Flooring: http://www.greenpeace.eu/downloads/chem/pvc_flooring.PDF
Chemical and Engineering News: http://acsinfo.acs.org/cen/coverstory/83/8346specialtychem5.html
Healthy Building Network (.pdf): http://www.coejl.org/greensyn/1-3e1apvc.pdf
Life Cycle Analysis Case Study of Vinyl vs. Linoleum: http://www.healthybuilding.net/pvc/Toxic_Data_Bias_2003.html
Note that I am not a scientist, but I work closely with several environmental chemists. None of us has *any* vinyl of any type in our homes. Indoor air quality is a major concern, esp. for families with children. There are many sound alternatives to vinyl, most of which also last longer and look better. Unfortunately, the chemical industry and the vinyl flooring industry have done a good job of drowning out the reports on just how bad vinyl is.
It's your call of course-- put down whatever flooring you wish. But I'd hope people at least read a bit on the negatives of vinyl before filling a house with it, esp. when children are involved.
-kiwanda
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The websites you point to, if one takes them at face value, do indicate that it's probably a bad idea to eat vinyl flooring, or set it on fire and breath the smoke. At first glance though, none of them seem to present any evidence that the chemicals in the flooring end up in the people walking on those floors in any significant amounts. I can see arguments based on not wanting the stuff in the waste-stream, but that's not what you're pushing.
Show me a study that measures such uptake, and then I'll be concerned.
I wouldn't want to encourage children to eat or smole linoleum either. (How, by the way, do you and your chemist friends justify the simultaneous claims tha linoleum is has natural bacteriacidal properties, and yet is non-toxic? http://www.greenfloors.com/HP_Linoleum_Index.htm
Does it come with elves who come out and stab the bacteria with little thorns?
--Goedjn
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Goedjn wrote:

Sure, and global warming's just a theory (like evolution), we should still use DDT to kill mosquitos, and Lead White really is the best looking paint for home use. Believe what you want-- I'm just pointing out that there are legitimate concerns about all vinyl products, so there's no reason to put vinyl in a house with children. Why take the risk, esp. for a product with inferior performance characteristics vs essentially any alternative? It's cheap, sure. Any other reason?
Ciao-
kiwanda
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