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The floor of the basement of our house is half a flat area with a concrete floor where the washing machine and so on are, and half a semi-flat, slightly sloping dirt area, with the dirt area being about 40 cm higher than the concrete area, so there is a little dirt "cliff" between the two halves.

The previous owners seem to have put down random rubbish (boards and stuff) and then covered it with layers of carpet in the dirt area. When we moved in, we sort of thought that was fine since that's how they had it, but we put stuff on the carpet and the carpet has rotted and hundreds of little moths live and die there, eating the carpet underneath the boxes and so on. A strange lifestyle.

Anyway, what can we do with the dirt floor? We aren't wanting to make the room legally or practically livable, we just want to store some stuff and maybe do crafts or woodwork. We want to be able to put stuff on the floor, and we don't want things rotting and random suspicious looking mould-stuff growing in the layers of carpet.

Both professional and DIY answers welcomed. We prefer cheap rather than expensive, but pricey ideas would still be of interest so at least we know what the options are.

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

You need to see if you can first remove the dirt. The depth of the footers will determine that. If you can remove dirt, you'd want to remove enough dirt so that you can put down a gravel base, compact it, then pour a new slab.

If you can't remove the dirt, you might be able to pour a raised concrete slab.

If you want to go super-cheap, lay down and seal a plastic barrier above the dirt just as you'd do in a crawl space.

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Thank you, this gives me a good place to start investigating! – standgale Jun 27 '12 at 21:21

I'd remove enough soil to get below the level of the cement, then hire someone to put a proper cement floor down. On the entire floor, use a latex waterproofing paint. UGL brand is the one i am familiar with, it has the thickness of heavy paint. It will seal the cement from moisture to help the humidity in the basement as well as rot. Cement wicks moisture, you need to block that.

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Before removing any dirt, check where the footers are. 40cm isn't that much so perhaps it's just extra dirt, but it could also be higher there because the footer is also higher. – DA01 Jun 22 '12 at 5:40
Good point, this area may need to be a step-up, and stay a bit raised. – JoeTaxpayer Jun 22 '12 at 5:44
Thank you for your answer, that is some good info about waterproofing the cement. – standgale Jun 27 '12 at 21:22

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