The inside story on flooring for a screened-in back porch

The inside story on flooring for a screened-in back porch

The inside story on flooring for a screened-in back porch

QI have a townhouse that has a screened-in back porch with a concrete floor. We would like to install a different floor that would be easy to keep clean. What would you suggest?

Bethany Beach, Del.

AYour options depend partly on whether moisture vapor is coming through the concrete from the soil. Because a screened-in porch might be built on what was once an outdoor concrete patio, where moisture-proofing wouldn’t have been likely, you might want to select a flooring treatment that works even if there is some moisture vapor. Luckily, these options are all easy to care for and suitable for a porch where people might be tracking in dirt from a garden or dropping crumbs from summertime suppers.

Probably the easiest option would be to cover the floor with indoor-outdoor carpet. Home centers have it in stock, and you can bring it home and roll it out. Double-stick carpet tape holds down edges by doorways.

If you want something more elegant, consider ceramic, clay or stone tiles. Just be sure not to get something too slippery, and avoid tiles rated only for wall use.

Or you can treat the concrete to make it smoother and easier to keep clean. There are two basic ways to do this: Polish and seal it, or coat it with a cement-based overlay. If you polish the floor (a job for a pro), you can apply a stain before the sealer to create the look of polished stone. Or the polishing can expose some of the gravel in the existing concrete and create a look that resembles terrazzo.

Concrete overlays, which add as little as one-sixteenth of an inch to the floor height, lend themselves to many decorative effects. See examples of both polishing and overlays, and find links to area contractors, at www.concretenetwork.com . You can apply some overlays on your own, with a squeegee or roller.

If you don’t like these options, test whether moisture vapor is coming through the concrete from the soil. The simplest way to do this is to tape 18-inch squares of polyethylene plastic to the floor in three random places. Wait 16 hours to see whether moisture beads up underneath. If none does, then you can probably use most any kind of flooring, from simple floor paint and epoxy coatings to glue-down linoleum or vinyl and manufactured flooring that has hardwood or other materials on top and particleboard underneath. These planks have edges that can be glued together so that the flooring floats as one piece on top of the concrete.

If you see only a few beads of moisture, you might still be able to use some of these flooring options, but the installer will need to spread a waterproofing layer underneath. Rule out epoxy coatings if there is any sign of moisture, though, as they are sure to peel.

A previous How To column mentioned that residents of Prince George’s County are lucky because they get free assessments of their wet-basement problems. Is there a similar program for Montgomery County residents?

The inside story on flooring for a screened-in back porch

Silver Spring

Montgomery County offers an array of services that might help homeowners with wet basements, but nothing that’s an exact match of Prince George’s County’s house-call program. Montgomery’s Department of Transportation may be able to help if the root cause is water overflowing from a street, perhaps because of the way it’s sloped or because storm drains are undersize or blocked.

The county’s Department of Environmental Protection is responsible if the water is coming from what’s known as a stormwater facility, such as a pond built to hold runoff during big storms or the pipes or ditches that direct water to the pond. And the Housing Code Enforcement section of the Department of Housing and Community Affairs might get involved if a neighbor is directing gutter water at your house.

Often, there’s no clear culprit for basement water problems. Your house might sit in a low spot where water from higher yards just naturally winds up. If this is the case, Montgomery’s RainScapes Program can advise you on ways you might be able to reduce your problems through better landscaping.

For all of these services, you need to know only one phone number: 311. There’s also a lot of good background information on the county Web site, www.montgomerycountymd.gov . Type stormwater into the search box.


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