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Thread: Floor leveling

  1. #1

    Default Floor leveling

    High guys,

    I have a 40+ year old house. The problem I have is that most of the joists have bent inwards from age, the original builder made huge mistakes, hence the problem. Either way the result is that my floors on both levels are "wavy". I have heard there is a self leveling compound or leveling compound that's fairly light when applied and could be used to level my floor, however I do not know the name, neither do I know if it really exists. Using the leveling compounds that are offered at Home Depot or Rona are a big no no as these are concrete based and are extremely heavy when applied over large surfaces.
    If there is no such thing, what are my other options?

    Any help, suggestion would be great.

    Thanks

    Pete

  2. #2

    Default Re: Floor leveling

    As far as I know, all floor levelling compounds are cement based. They're a pretty thin mixture that, because of its fluidity, seeks its own level, like water.

    Happily and woefully out of date
    ... and not buying the upgrade!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Steve Morris

    Default Re: Floor leveling

    rizak is corrrect, floor leveling compounds are cement based but light enough to use on any structally sound floor for leveling only not stiffening
    for a ceramic tile job, the first concern is stiffness, usually accomadated with extra plywood,then a floor leveling compound
    my shop is a beaver lodge
    steve, sarnia, ont

  4. #4

    Default Re: Floor leveling

    I'm mostly concerned about the weight of the compound as I have to fill large areas that has approx 1/2 difference in level in some places, but mostly approx. 1/4, then put plywood on top. With all the weight, plus hardwood to top it off, will this not be too much for the joists?

  5. #5

    Default Re: Floor leveling

    I'd think you're better off removing the flooring and levelling the the joists! That's just my opinion.

    You're talking about a lot of addition, and it will all want to be one piece when it sets. This is bad if it settles more and cracks again.

    Then again, I'm not an expert. Put salt on my words.

    Happily and woefully out of date
    ... and not buying the upgrade!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    Sudbury
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    1,788

    Default Re: Floor leveling

    Self-levelling floor compound is gawd-awful expensive. If you have a large area to do, then use a sand-mix to build-up the area, then apply self-levelling to get a smooth/level surface. It is heavy - but not so heavy that it would structurally harm your house UNLESS your house had a pre-existing structural problem.

    From your description, you house is like mine. I have a 2" dip over 4' due to really bad construction. I used Ditra to strengthen the floor for tiles, and didn't bother levelling. That wall will be all cabinets, so I'll compensate then. I wouldn't have used self-levelling as it wouldn't have really solved the problem.

    The real solution is to get underneath, jack up the beam or joists, provide proper support, brace all your joists/beams/posts that are allowing the sag - and even add footings if needed. Its a labour intensive solution - but not all that expensive - and then you don't have to worry about further sagging/cracking, etc.

    Max
    "Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils."

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Ottawa
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    3,112

    Default Re: Floor leveling

    If your joists are sagging in mid span between end bearings then your floor system is very poorly built and undersized if it is happening everywhere in the home. If it is just one isolated room then chances are it's repairable solution due due an over drilled plumbing run or something.
    Adding weight will probably make it worse although a 1/2" or so is not so bad. Self leveler is expensive in the retail world, we use it all the time but get it from our wholesale supplier greatly discounted. You could try just one room as a test for 6 months and see. Run a tight string line from end span to end span to verify any deflection. I would recomend checking out www.maxxon.com they have professional products for large scale application of self levelling. These must be installed by a professional though.

    The problem is that now the the joists have deflected over 40 years that is their permanent shape. The BEST way is to pull the plywood, double up each joist with a straight joist beside it (probably not what you want to hear). Wires, ducts, plumbing etc will make this a PITA for sure.
    Last edited by OttawaP; 11-09-2008 at 09:36 AM.
    Paul

  8. #8
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    Bill

    Default Re: Floor leveling

    One of the things to consider is what do you want to put on top of the levelled floor. If you are going to carpet, life is good since it isn't particularly fussy. If you are going to nail down hardwood then concrete-based levellers are not good if thick. As was mentioned, the self-levelling stuff is very, very expensive and even the non-self-levelling stuff is expensive. The self-levelling stuff is better called self-smoothing according to a lot of people who have used it.

    I had a pretty severe levelling problem caused by poor construction in one part and age/sagging beam in another part. I used plywood of varying thickness, chipboard, masonite, old vinyl flooring and roofing paper to build it up. I then finished it with floor leveller (not the self-levelling). Took a long time to do as I was putting down floating, engineered flooring which is rather picky about the flatness.

    Apparently roofing shingles are used to fill in depressions as well.

    You might get some hints from the John Bridges Ceramic Tile forum:
    http://www.johnbridge.com/vbulletin/....php?forumid=1

    As the name suggests most of the questions have to do with ceramic tile. You can also google floor levelling but I didn't find it extremely beneficial which brings me back to the original point - it depends on what you are going to put on top of it so approach the problem from that perspective when searching.

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Floor leveling

    Quote Originally Posted by billh View Post
    The self-levelling stuff is better called self-smoothing according to a lot of people who have used it.
    If you mix to the ratio on the can/bag, then it is not self-levelling. I find you have to add 50-100% more water than recommending in order to make it self levelling.

    Max
    "Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils."

  10. #10

    Default Re: Floor leveling

    Quote Originally Posted by billh View Post
    One of the things to consider is what do you want to put on top of the levelled floor. If you are going to carpet, life is good since it isn't particularly fussy. If you are going to nail down hardwood then concrete-based levellers are not good if thick. As was mentioned, the self-levelling stuff is very, very expensive and even the non-self-levelling stuff is expensive. The self-levelling stuff is better called self-smoothing according to a lot of people who have used it.

    I had a pretty severe levelling problem caused by poor construction in one part and age/sagging beam in another part. I used plywood of varying thickness, chipboard, masonite, old vinyl flooring and roofing paper to build it up. I then finished it with floor leveller (not the self-levelling). Took a long time to do as I was putting down floating, engineered flooring which is rather picky about the flatness.

    Apparently roofing shingles are used to fill in depressions as well.

    You might get some hints from the John Bridges Ceramic Tile forum:
    http://www.johnbridge.com/vbulletin/....php?forumid=1

    As the name suggests most of the questions have to do with ceramic tile. You can also google floor levelling but I didn't find it extremely beneficial which brings me back to the original point - it depends on what you are going to put on top of it so approach the problem from that perspective when searching.
    Actually that is exactly what I did with the upper level of my home. I just wondered if there was a better solution out there as leveling the entire upper floor took me a long time and was a real pain in the a**. There is a possibility I will do the exact same thing downstairs.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Floor leveling

    Quote Originally Posted by OttawaP View Post
    If your joists are sagging in mid span between end bearings then your floor system is very poorly built and undersized if it is happening everywhere in the home. If it is just one isolated room then chances are it's repairable solution due due an over drilled plumbing run or something.
    Adding weight will probably make it worse although a 1/2" or so is not so bad. Self leveler is expensive in the retail world, we use it all the time but get it from our wholesale supplier greatly discounted. You could try just one room as a test for 6 months and see. Run a tight string line from end span to end span to verify any deflection. I would recomend checking out www.maxxon.com they have professional products for large scale application of self levelling. These must be installed by a professional though.

    The problem is that now the the joists have deflected over 40 years that is their permanent shape. The BEST way is to pull the plywood, double up each joist with a straight joist beside it (probably not what you want to hear). Wires, ducts, plumbing etc will make this a PITA for sure.
    Actually it is hard to explain, but the floor between the wall and the main beam is straight, so the joists have not sagged an inch between the end bearings, the joists actually warped inwards (perhaps that should have been my description). So if you laid the joist flat on a floor(not on its 1.5" side), you'd see a hump.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Floor leveling

    Quote Originally Posted by cool_jr256 View Post
    Actually it is hard to explain, but the floor between the wall and the main beam is straight, so the joists have not sagged an inch between the end bearings, the joists actually warped inwards (perhaps that should have been my description). So if you laid the joist flat on a floor(not on its 1.5" side), you'd see a hump.
    Sorry, it should have been "floor between the main beam and wall"

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Brooks, Alberta.
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    183

    Default Re: Floor leveling

    I've been through that process a couple of times. Years ago I istalled a hardwood floor in my living and dining room. To do this the subfloor has to be generally flat. I had significant depressions that needed to be adressed. I ripped 2 X 4's at varying thickness from 1/8" to 1/2" and using a long straight edge for reference planned these off to taper into the areas. They were glued down on 3" centers. It worked but was a labourios task. Then, even with the narrow centers, it was a real process to get the ends of the hardwood to meet on the centers. Decided I wouldn't do that again.

    This year I extended the hardwood into the kitchen and hall. I again had depressions that had to be filled. This time I used a levelling compound. It was called PLANIPATCH by MAPEI. It was not a self levelling compound and came in 2 parts. Liquid and powder. I made a fourm out of ripped, tapered 2 X4's. Mixed the product, poured it into the fourmed area and then skreeded it of with a straight edge. That worked as well. However it does not skreed nicely and as the others mentioned visciously expensive. I don't think a 10 kg bag and 3.79 liter jug would fill a 10sq ft area a 1/2" deep. That much cost about $60. It does take a cleet very well, but 18ga brads would delflect and not hold solid. It drys to a consistency of hard rubber and doesn't blow out when a cleet is installed.

    To do it again, I'd use the levelling compound. But if it was a large area I would prefill with something that is cheaper like ashphalt shingles and then finish with the levelling compound.

    Hope that helps some.

    Very best,

    Al

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Ottawa
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    3,112

    Default Re: Floor leveling

    Quote Originally Posted by cool_jr256 View Post
    Actually it is hard to explain, but the floor between the wall and the main beam is straight, so the joists have not sagged an inch between the end bearings, the joists actually warped inwards (perhaps that should have been my description). So if you laid the joist flat on a floor(not on its 1.5" side), you'd see a hump.
    Hard to imagine this happening with the subfloor properly nailed. I imagine there is no crossbridging either?? If you ran a tight string then perpendicular to the joists mid span how much deflection is there on average. What is the joist size and span between supports??
    Paul

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