Carpet vs "floating" floor in basement HT?

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by PaulDA, Jul 6, 2004.

  1. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    I'm about to put in some flooring in my basement HT. My options are 1) concrete, padding, carpet, 2) concrete, padding, floating floor, throw rug 3) options 1 or 2 with additional sub-floor underneath. Limiting factors include cost, ease of installation and additional room treatments that any of the above would engender.

    I understand a subfloor is probably desirable in any event, but I have to consider cost as well as performance.

    My first priority is to isolate the room from the rest of the house, as I don't want to disturb everyone else with my viewing/listening habits. At the same time, I wish to deaden some reflections in the room, as I won't have the budget to give the room a "full" acoustic treatment. The room already exists, with drywall walls all around. I intend to add a double row of staggered studs, filled with fiberglass insulation, and a layer of drywall for the inside wall. I will definitely do this for the interior walls (two of them) but am as yet unsure about the two walls that are framed over the concrete walls of the foundation. The current floor is simply painted concrete. My wife would like the family room (next door) to have a floating floor (hates carpets) but when I mentioned that such a floor would need a rug of some kind in the HT room, she questioned the wisdom of putting in such a floor, only to see it covered up by a rug, if a carpet would be better. In the end, I really don't care what kind of floor it is, so long as it serves my acoustic purposes of deadening reflections and isolating the room. I don't want to be anal about it, as I have to avoid spending gobs of money and I have walls/wiring/paint/chairs/racks/stands and other misc. things to consider as well.

    In the end, my wife's comments went to what is best for that room, even if it costs a bit more than the floating floor with an area rug. I know a bit about treating an existing room but I'm less certain about what to do with a concrete floor. If, in the end, a floating floor with an area rug is better than a carpet, then that's what we'll do. I'd just like to know before I get started.

    P.S. My main concern about a carpet in the basement is the humidity factor. I wouldn't want to trap additional humidity for nothing, and have to resort to a noisy de-humidifier, which would render my acoustic space moot.


    Sorry if this seems like silly questions, but I'm a history teacher, not a carpenter.
     
  2. Jim_Ski

    Jim_Ski Agent

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    by "floating floor" do you mean an engineered floor, like Pergo (aka fake wood)? Some subfloors can be floating as well.

    I just finished my basement and used Dricore ( http://www.dricore.com/ ) as a subfloor and it was pretty easy to install (as it's floating, nailess, glueless). I have a much higher peace-of-mind with this floor vs. our last house where we just tacked carpet directly to concrete. We had issues with spots perpetually showing up, which looking back I'm inclined to think may have been moisture/mold.

    Basements/concrete will allow moisture in, as that's the only place it can go. Some research I did suggested that above-grade you want moisture to escape outwards, but below-grade, inwards. Thus cement/basement needs to breath in and dissipate moisture/vapor.

    If you have a humidity problem (aka moisture) I believe carpet will simply be just another potential place for mold. Even without it, you'd still need to get the moisture out, carpet or not.

    As for cost, Dricore is roughly $5 per 2x2 (4 sq. ft.) section. I'm not sure what, if any, the equivalent alternatives are.

    I used the Dricore beneath carpet and Pergo and think it was the right thing to do. [​IMG]

    -jim

    PS two words of caution with a Dricore subfloor from my experience:
    1) installing after drywall will make the final row a bit tricky to get locked it.
    2) it's roughly 3/4" thick and may complicate door openings (if you have any doorways to go through)
     
  3. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    Thanks for the info, esp. re: Dricore. Here in Quebec a floating floor is called "plancher flottant" and it is a fake wood floor (usually made to resemble a hardwood floor). Would you recommend a carpet in the HT instead of Pergo plus a throw rug, for acoustic purposes?
     
  4. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Paul,

    It’s difficult to establish from your post if you’re considering the floating floor for aesthetic or other reasons. For instance, to me a “floating” or “sub floor” would be one that is above and isolated from the normal room floor, built for isolation (read soundproofing) purposes. However, some people like this kind of floor solely for the sensation of tactile transmissions of bass frequencies. And Jim raises the point that you might be merely talking about hardwoods or Pergo over concrete. Again, your post doesn’t clearly indicate or define the goal or objective.

    You mention your first priority is to isolated the room from the rest of the house. Since this is a basement, the floor is not the problem in that respect: The ceiling is. If that’s the case, building a raised floor for soundproofing reasons would be a waste of time and money.

    The same could be said of the plan to use staggered stud construction for the walls. That would only only be beneficial for rooms on the other side of that wall. If that is not the case, i.e., if all other rooms in the house are upstairs, walls with staggered-stud construction will not help much, if at all.

    You also mentioned acoustics as a concern. The best thing you can do for any floor, acoustically-speaking, is to have it carpeted. This pretty much eliminates reflections from that surface. And you get the acoustical advantage for “free” from a WAF standpoint – most women would object to carpet say, on the walls or ceiling, acoustics notwithstanding.

    If humidity is a concern throw-rugs might be better than wall-to-wall carpeting, unless it’s possible to put in some kind of moisture barrier.

    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  5. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    There will be a room on the other side of the wall (the basement is already mostly finished, it just needs a floor over the concrete). My wife hates carpets, w/w or even throw rugs, so for aesthetic reasons, the "floating floor" is what she wants (we recognize that a true hardwood floor for a basement is a needless expense, besides the rest of the house has such floors already). Having said that she hates carpets, the HT room is mine to do with as I see fit (within budgetary reason, of course). So if I understand correctly, I should do the following?

    1) Only do a staggered stud wall in the middle of the basement where it separates the other room, not along the concrete exterior walls.

    2) Use Dricore as a sub floor to avoid humidity problems and reduce coldness of the floor in winter (Quebec has very cold winters and my wife hates cold feet).

    3) Lay down a "floating floor" in the family room to please my wife's sense of aesthetics while going with w/w carpet in the HT for acoustic reasons.

    I have another question, though I might have to post it in another thread to get replies.

    There is an existing standard drywall wall on 2x4 studding that separates the family room from what will be the HT room. It does not have any insulation or soundproofing of any kind inside. I was planning to use a staggered stud layout right against that wall on the HT room side, placing insulation within the studs and then hanging 1/2 inch drywall on the interior of the HT room. Should I place an additional layer of drywall between the existing wall and the staggered studs or will this only provide a marginal difference?
     
  6. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    That’s a good start, but doing a separate free-standing wall on the HT side would be even better. This would give each wall its own footer and header boards, which would help physically decouple the rooms from each other.

    Yes, use double 5/8” sheetrock on both sides with insulation in between. I know there are some soundproofing materials you could use under the sheetrock; perhaps someone else can tell you what and where to find it.

    For maximum soundproofing, if you go with staggered studs, you will need a heavy solid core door that is weather-sealed and completely airtight. If you go with the separate free-standing walls you’ll need two such doors, one for each wall; otherwise you’ll loose much of the benefit the second wall offers.

    Maximum soundproofing requires an airtight room, and airtight rooms require special HVAC considerations. Namely, if it’s airtight there is no path for return air. Thus, you’ll need a second vent in the room for the return.

    Keep in mind that all this will not give absolute soundproofing between the two rooms. You will still get low frequency pass-through through the structure and flexing of the walls, although levels will be substantially reduced. High- and mid-frequency isolation should be excellent, however.

    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  7. Andrew Stoakley

    Andrew Stoakley Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi Paul,

    I agree with Jim from the floor standpoint. I used the Dri-Core product in my home theatre (which is located in my basement) with 10mm padding and 65oz broadloom on top. As I live in Toronto our winters are cold too, not as cold as Quebec's though, and I found the product to raise my floor temperature in the basement by 4 - 5 degree celcius. As well, because of the nipple based bottom of the Dri-Core panel any moisture build up dissipates and evapourtes without soaking into my carpet padding.

    The Dri-Core was really easy to install. My theatre is 10 x 17 and it took about 2 hours to install or about three beers [​IMG]

    I highly recommend renting/buying/borrowing or using your own table saw for installation. It will save you time and angst!!

    Hope that helps.

    Cheers,
    Andrew
     

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