Asked on Oct 20, 2014

What do you do with a dirt floor in the basement?

Wendy turleyKristin ToppingJane
+8

Answered

We just bought a house which was built in 1910. I'm having the basement waterproofed. While they were digging the trenches, the workmen discovered that a portion of my basement floor is still dirt. (We all thought it was just yucky from the standing water and hundred years of filth.) The floor is not level. I'm afraid to put anything on top of the dirt because it will draw moisture, but I want to use the basement for storage. Any ideas?
9 answers
  • They can install a vapor barrier, foam & pour a thin "rat" slab or a regular one depending on the height. If needed it can also be dug out more in many cases. As for leveling there are numerous ways to level a floor. As for which one is best for your situation, I would consult a contractor that would do the work.

  • Darla
    on Oct 21, 2014

    Perhaps you could put down a deck-style floor with weatherproofed wood and spaces between the boards for ventilation. You could level it with those precast concrete footers. That would probably work fine for storage.

  • Jane
    on Oct 21, 2014

    Thank you for your suggestions! Unfortunately I will be doing the work myself. I'm not sure what a "rat slab" is. What kind of foam would I use? I can't dig out the basement any more because the house was built without footers and I would be digging below the walls. The ceiling is 6 feet high, so I can't add a lot of material to the floor.. (I'm assuming that at one point this part of the basement was the coal cellar, or, since the rest of the basement has a concrete floor, that someone had to dig something up - perhaps a body?). Maybe I could use the precast footers as the feet for shelving. I'm thinking of using gravel to level it and putting a strong vapor barrier over it. like they did in my daughter's crawl space. Would it be OK to put pressure treated lumber on top of that for a floor?

    • @Jane a rat slab is just the name used for a thinner than normal slab (around 1.5") which was named this as one of it's main purposes is to prevent burrowing rodents Sorry but without seeing it or knowing more about the conditions there I am loathe to offer more advice - you might wish to check with your local building inspector to see what is acceptable & would work in your area (especially as it doesn't count as a basement due to height). With that - Personally even though I could do the work myself I would hire a concrete or gypsum pumping company to level it off right & make sure I didn't have water issues later.

  • Darla
    on Oct 22, 2014

    Probably, but you would have to be careful because if you just laid boards on top, the boards could shift when you step on them. That's why I said to build it like a deck and level it with the footers. It would use up some height in the room, though.

  • Jane
    on Oct 26, 2014

    I really appreciate the suggestions! Thank you.

  • Renee Seeling
    on Apr 15, 2015

    I have a similar basement....most of it has concrete for the floor but, one room has dirt. There are bricks in part of this room. My plan is to lay a type of "deck" over the dirt after I lay a plastic sheet or tarp to keep the dust from blowing around. Right now, I am using this room as my workshop until the weather is "steady" enough to work in the garage again. As was said above, lay a vapor barrier down and then put a floor over that. It will help keep moisture out.

  • Jane
    on Apr 16, 2015

    We ended up putting plastic down and then putting the foam puzzle pieces designed for playroom or workout floors. It looks great and even with the spring rains and snow melts no water has appeared .

  • Kristin Topping
    on Jul 28, 2015

    You have lots of suggestion in order to have a good flooring works. Thanks for these tutorials! Helpful indeed.I really liked your thoughts and instruction that is very simple and inspiring. Nice job you have done.

  • Wendy turley
    on Sep 27, 2015

    I am curious as to what you did :)

    • Jane
      on Sep 27, 2015

      @Wendy turley I ended up getting the rubber mats for playrooms and creating a floor out of those. If there is a problem, we just need to pull up one of the puzzle shaped mats. It has been almost a year, and the basement is DRY. The fun part was that I made a "yellow brick road" through the basement.

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