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Old 03-12-2010, 12:13 AM   #1
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Subfloor Replacement Options

Where to start?????

We (Girlfriend and I) recently purchased a Town Home. It came with two problems and a great price.
1.) Pet urine
2.) Water heater explosion

At this point you probably are wondering why the heck did you buy it????? It really isn't that bad! Water heater was caught early and was replaced with a much better system. The pet urine however is ridiculous! To think people actually live like that boggles my mind! The carpet was just ruined and the urine actually caused a particle board piece of furniture to adhere to the carpet when they moved there crap out!

Here is the question..... The carpet, molding, casing and effected drywall has all been removed. This yielded the extent of the subfloor damage. The subfloor consists of what appears to be 1/2" to 5/8" plywood with a 1/2" MDF board attached on top. What baffles my mind is that the water heater leaking from the second floor did not cause the MDF to "puff up" in any water affected area on either level of the town home. But, the pet urine created puffs in some areas and none in others. This whole thing has affected around 8 4'x8' panels of the MDF to varying degrees. As we are on a budget I am unable to replace the entire subfloor. Just replacing the affected areas is the option at this point. It will be very easy and requires very little cutting. My question is, can I replace the affected panels with a slightly higher grade OSB rather than MDF? I can get my hands on OSB at a better price than same thickness MDF (almost half the cost of MDF). Would it fly having patches of OSB amongst the MDF if it is the same thickness? And is it better to screw the panels in rather than nail? And should the screws or nails make it all the way to the joists from the top layer of subfloor?

Once the panels are replaced the entire subfloor is going to get a complete sealing with Zinsser BIN shellac primer as well as every surface that will accept it! I am also going to spray this primer under the replacement panels before installation into the subfloor.

I am trying to get as much done without ripping up the entire floor, as it is not needed in the majority of the home. Any help is greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance....


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Old 03-12-2010, 06:12 AM   #2
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MDF, particle board??????????? What happended in there?? Neither of those is a good underlayment, as you already know. I don't see how you can patch part of it, sounds like that has already been done. Tear out down to the subfloor plywood, seal it with shellac or a water based sealer, then lay another layer of OSB or plywood on that, glued/screwed to the subfloor. That will strengthen things up an provide a good suface for what you want to put on next, carpet, laminate, wood, etc.


Just Bill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-12-2010, 08:03 AM   #3
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The subfloor consists of the two materials. First layer plywood... Second layer MDF... The MDF is part of the original construction from 1968. As the house sits, the plywood was laid upon the joists and then the walls are framed ontop of that. They cut MDF to fit around all wall framing with a 1/4" gap from 2x4's. If I were to bet on this, i would say it was city code problem. The inspector came along and said the subfloor was too thin is my best guess. Thus the laying of the MDF, which the original cabinets and sheet vinyl are laid upon amongst other original things. Our city seems to be specific on subfloor thickness when i asked about code at the city building. Our current setup is just adequate.

We cannot afford to redo the entire floor as I said before. The damage is the dog piss spots. The previous owners must have lived like animals.

What cracks me up about this whole thing is how many people say that MDF is so horrible. This subfloor lasted 42 years, and due only to careless homeowners who dont care what their dog does is the only reasons it needs repair. A 40 gallon water heater rupture didn't even cause it to swell or expand. If it were particle board, it might have been a different story!

I just thought that as long as the material is the same thickness, it should be fine to use OSB to substitute for the damaged MDF, but I don't know what the results will be.
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