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radioiowa88 07-25-2008 10:18 PM

New member with a BIG problem
First off, let me say that I am really thankful to have found this site and appreciate the good information I've come across so far. I did not set out to do any big projects this summer, but suddenly find myself in the middle of an unplanned bathroom remodel. It seems that my washing machine has been leaking for at least a few months (in my defense, the floor slopes to the back wall, so I had no idea!) and I am faced with floor mold and minor wall board damage. Yea me. :cry:

Here is what I'm dealing with: an 1890's 2-story with a "lean-to" main floor bathroom. The floor slopes downward from the tub by almost 2" in 10 feet. There are no rooms above the bathroom and it's an exterior room. The contractor that remodeled the room 8 years ago did put in a new subfloor with 2 layers of 5/8" (I think) plywood with vinyl sheeting over the top. He did not do anything to shore up or level off the floor joists. I have not pulled up the floor yet to see if the joists are damaged, but have been under the crawl space and don't see any wet spots or stains. Since I would like to put another washer in this space, I'd appreciate ideas for what can be done to level off this floor and give it some additional strength to support a front-load washer. The obvious is to jack up that side of the room, but it's in a crawl space with no stable support underneath, and I'm not certain I can even get to the corner beams. (This really is a lean-to-style add-on bathroom) Someone had suggested using additional 2X4's as shims above the floor joists to level off the room (start at the low end and shim down as we go up). Would that work if we used sister 2X4's for added support for the joists and then used plywood followed by cement board for the subfloor? The final plan is to finish with ceramic tile. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! I know just enough to be dangerous but not enough to be good at this!!

Shamus 07-26-2008 06:51 AM

I'm not the expert here but as an owner of an 1890's home myeslf I understand your issue with sloping floors.

If I'm reading correctly your replacing the entire finished floor with ceramic tile. If the foundation is sound then I'd think you have 2 options. Either tear out the entire previous work, plywood and all and sister new 2x's to bring the floor to level as mentioned or, cut long strips of tapered shims from 2x4's and fasten them on top of the existing ply. Glue / screw through into the plywood floor and into the original joists. Then use new ply over the strips and install the ceramic.

Most old home floors that have settled over a 100 yrs seem to dip in 2 directions to the lowest point. You may find out you have 2" at one corner and 2 1/2" at the other. If you rip shims out of 8 or 10' 2x's tapering from 2" down to nothing you can get everything level.

For additional weight support you might consider a couple concrete piers in the center of the crawl space on that end. If that's possible. And add cross-members perpendicular to whats already there.

Personally, I'd rip everything out first and sister on new, level 2x's. That way you could work between the open joists and stand in the crawl space.

Just my 2

Termite 07-26-2008 07:32 AM

First of all, the floor material and subfloor needs to come out. You need access to the floor framing.

The way I see it, you have three options:

1) jack the foundation/floor: Not an option as you stated

2) remove the plywood sheathing and add 10' long tapered furring strips to the top of each joist to level the floor sheathing.

3) remove the floor sheathing and sister new joists to the side of the old ones, and notch them in below the walls at the bearing points. The new joists will be attached to the old with nails and adhesive, but will be level instead of sloped. The added benefit of this is the floor will be a lot stiffer since the joists are doubled.

radioiowa88 07-26-2008 09:37 AM

Thanks KC & Shamus for your quick replies! The furring strips and sistering of the joists sound like exactly what we had planned. Our plan had been to rip out the existing ply and start over again. The side that slopes has some mold on the ply that's not terrible but bad enough that I'd rather not take chances. I figured that would allow me to double check to make sure there wasn't any damage to the joists and also give us the ability to shore up the joists for added strength- I've heard front load washers are notorious for vibration when not on concrete. Since our "basement" is an old coal cellar, that's not an option! (Ah, if only I'd realized an old house's charm is sometimes only skin deep!!)

Thanks again for your help!! We're going to let it sit and dry out for a few days (translated to "we already have non-refundable tickets to go on vacation this week") but I'm sure that I'll be back with more questions as we get closer to project time.

ccarlisle 07-26-2008 10:34 AM

People should know that we all love pictures here as it helps those who give advice.

Can you live with the farthest wall being about 2"shorter than the near wall, if indeed you select the option to add furring strips to the joists? How far apart are the joists anway?

Termite 07-26-2008 01:44 PM

Front load washers do vibrate pretty heavily. I just got a new front load washer and dryer, and was surprised at how much it vibrates the 2x10 floor framing. The machines do not "walk around" at all and have never moved even a fraction of an inch, but they shake the heck out of the floor.

radioiowa88 07-29-2008 09:42 PM

CCarlisle, I'm not sure about the exact width of the joists as I haven't torn the subfloor off yet (if I were to guess from my glance under the crawl space, I'd say 16"). I'm able to live with the floor being 2" shorter because the laundry appliances will take up most of that side of the bathroom leaving the "living space" of the bathroom pretty much as is. What I'd rather not live with, I can't do much about. The homeowners who constructed the bathroom did not level the room AT ALL, so the ceiling follows the sloped roofline toward the lowered end of the floor. At best, it's an 8-foot ceiling when the rest of the house has at least 10-foot ceilings). Leveling the floor will make the roof seem even more sloped toward an even shorter wall (what should look like a nice rectangle will probably look more like a cone but hopefully the appliances will hide a little of the ugliness!) Since I don't have the budget to take the roof off and completely rebuild the room from scratch, I'm afraid it's going to look like something out of Alice in Wonderland's rabbit hole for a while. Even more unfortunately, it's the only bathroom in the house, so the goal is to do the best I can to repair and replace the floor (and do it RIGHT) for now and work with the rest of it once I've built up some more home equity.

KC, I don't intend to buy a pedestal drawer set with the washer because I've heard those can intensify the vibrations. However, we were thinking about possibly building a small platform (to add more stability) or to use a stall mat to absorb some of the vibrations since others have suggested those ideas on different forums. Any thoughts?

Termite 07-30-2008 07:52 AM


Originally Posted by radioiowa88 (Post 144217)
KC, I don't intend to buy a pedestal drawer set with the washer because I've heard those can intensify the vibrations. However, we were thinking about possibly building a small platform (to add more stability) or to use a stall mat to absorb some of the vibrations since others have suggested those ideas on different forums. Any thoughts?

I did the same exact thing. I wasn't about to spend over $400 on stamped steel pedestals.

I built a 12" tall platform out of 2x4's and 3/4" plywood that the machines sit on. I screwed it to the existing floor in the laundry room. I covered it in those stick-on vinyl tiles. It took me less than an hour. I can post a pic tonight if you need.

I wouldn't say that the platform absorbs any vibrations however.

radioiowa88 08-01-2008 04:01 PM

Bathroom update
6 Attachment(s)
We're back from vacation, and unfortunately, the bathroom fairies did not magically appear to fix the floor, so it looks like I'm stuck. :( I've done some more digging and here's what I found: the joists are 2X6 spaced 16" apart (is it just me, or do those seem like crazy small boards to support a floor???). They run the length of the bathroom (approximately 12ft) with no additional bracing. I'll try to attach some pictures so you can see how crazy this setup is. The water damage isn't as bad as I thought, but the cobbled carpentry is driving me insane. Since blowing up the bathroom isn't an option, I've decided to add the sister joists to level the floor and provide additional support. Can I/should I use wider boards (ie 2X10) to shore up the floor as we level or should I stick with the same size as what's there? Should I use brace boards between the joists? If so, how far apart should they be spaced? Will these additions provide enough stability to install a ceramic tile floor?

I'm having difficulty telling exactly what they have down for subflooring, but it looks like 2- 5/8" plywood sheets glued together. We used hardibacker when we tiled the kitchen a few years ago, but it sounds like most on this forum prefer DITRA. Which would be better in this situation? I'd ideally like to just continue the tile from our kitchen into the bathroom, but realize that may not be possible since a)the door is at the highest point of the bathroom and b)the thin plywood is already leveled to the hardibacker in the kitchen. Any ideas?

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buletbob 08-01-2008 08:28 PM

is there any way to post a picture where the floor joists meet the foundation and where the floor joist meet the house. and also does this rear extension span the back of the house or is it just a bath room. if you can answer these questions i have a solution to your problem. It looks as tho the framed this over an old back brick stop or is that your foundation wall. BOB.

ccarlisle 08-02-2008 06:40 AM

Oh my...

Thanks for the pictures; it really helps out, and I'm sure I speak for most who post here...

First thing that struck me was the size of the joists; at least they're 16"oc but IMO are not what should have been put there...2x8" minimum or 2x10s. But perhaps in the days when it was put in, the anticipated use (washing machines, bathroom, and tiled floors) wasn't in the cards, so they did it that way.

Too bad, but something you'll have to work around. It just makes for an extremely bouncy floor just to walk upon, let alone tile and the addition of a couple of hundred pound dancers must make that room a real treat. But
that's just me and my idea of flooring...But if you want to tile and not have the tiles crack inside of 6 months, then you will have to do some big-time shoring up of that floor. Sistering with 2x8s will help, bracing will too, but that room dropped for some reason and if it's the soil, or the foundation, they'll crack no matter what floor you have. But again, maybe you can live with that...

I haven't done precise deflection calculations on your floor, but just a gut
feeling tells me that you may be living with a floor failure in time. I can't tell where the water damage has come from, could be from inside, or even outside but I see wet wood in the first picture with wicking up the walls (and mould) and along the floor. It seems the builder put the linoleum right onto the plywood, to meet the cement backer board in picture 2. However, what concerns me is the massive mould in picture 3 - unless that's a shadow - in the insulation. That says to me "tear-out time"...

But that brings up questions of use, # of family members, other bathrooms you could use, and of course budget. This is an old house with a lean-to on the exterior. I presume a permit was at least asked for and perhaps granted but something tells me it wasn't and that further renovation would require some. Not sure if that's a gas line or an electric cable but permits should have been issued for plumbing, structural and electrical. Start with a review of those and see what's been passed.

I'm not holding out much hope that they were however. But I may be wrong - let us know.

PS: Why no vapour barrier? :huh:

Shakestop 05-08-2009 07:12 AM

shaking floors?
I am working on a product to almost completly stop the "shaking house". I woundering about interest in this product. Cost may be 100-175 let me know your thoughts.:yes:

Termite 05-08-2009 04:01 PM


Originally Posted by Shakestop (Post 271107)
I am working on a product to almost completly stop the "shaking house". I woundering about interest in this product. Cost may be 100-175 let me know your thoughts.:yes:

Be careful friend. This is not an appropriate forum to market a product.

4just1don 05-09-2009 12:16 PM

Here is my initial thought. Are you real sure this did not start out as a porch,and got converted to a room? Enclosed,then remodeled a few times? reason I say that is all porches were built with that magical 2" drop to drain water!! Plus 2X6's were common porch support!!

Shakestop 05-10-2009 07:43 PM

whoa!!! Just WOUNDERING
Termite, No I just have an idea that will work to stop this and I am wondering how many people would be willing to pay that for a solution. I am not even willing to share what it is at this point let alone advertise. I have posted this question on mant q+a sites like this and have mixed responses. I am sure many of people find it hard to belive those pretty silly washers could be made to perform with much less shaking, but belive me the MFG's should be able to figure this one out. just looking to see about interst in the idea before we patent the product, I t is an odd simply fix.

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