Leveling Concrete Floor: A Comprehensive Guide

It may be really annoying to have an uneven concrete floor. Uneven concrete can be unsightly in general, make it difficult to arrange furniture, and provide a safety risk if someone trips over it. Luckily, if you have the necessary supplies and follow the right instructions, leveling a concrete floor is a fairly simple do-it-yourself process.

Concrete Floor

What Initially Causes Concrete To Become Unequal?

After being poured, concrete solidifies into a liquid. Concrete shrinks somewhat when it dries. It will have an uneven surface if it shrinks unevenly, with some parts being taller or lower than others.

 

Careful preparation is essential

There are a few crucial preparation procedures to perform before beginning the concrete leveling process itself to assist guarantee the job runs well and you get the finest results. Although it requires time and attention, properly preparing the concrete slab and the surrounding area is well worth the effort.

The room where you’ll be leveling the floor should first be totally cleared. Remove every piece of furniture, area rugs, and other stuff from the room.

This allows full, unobstructed access to the entire concrete surface for the leveling process. Trying to work around furnishings can lead to uneven results.

Thoroughly clean the concrete slab once the room is cleared. Use a commercial concrete degreaser to remove any oil, grease, wax, dust, debris or other contaminants from the surface. It’s incredibly important to get the slab perfectly clean so the leveling compound can adhere properly when applied. Stubborn dirt or grease spots that don’t get removed can cause poor bonding and prevent the leveler from curing evenly.

Inspect the concrete closely and fill any cracks, holes, eroded areas or other damage per package directions using a concrete crack filler designed for this purpose. These weakened spots in the slab must be patched and reinforced prior to leveling or else they are likely to end up telegraphing through the new leveling layer. This can ruin the flatness you’re trying to achieve. Let any patching materials fully cure before moving on.

Also take time to check that the underlying concrete floor is structurally sound before attempting to level it. Leveling products can only do so much on a slab that is severely deteriorated, crumbling, sinking substantially or moving. Excessive movement or sinking needs to be addressed prior to applying levelers.

Turn off power and remove any heating/cooling ducts, electrical conduits, wires, plumbing pipes and other fixtures from the slab area to be leveled. Anything protruding up could create bumps or prevent achieving a flat floor. Temporary removal is safer than accidentally cutting electrical or water lines while grinding high spots.

Additionally, assess the perimeter of the space and determine if any isolation or containment forms need to be constructed. These help keep the liquid leveling compound contained as it flows across the floor. Polyethylene sheeting secured with tape may suffice for smaller jobs. Larger pours may require more rigid perimeter forms made from wood, foam or other materials.

Finding any current coatings, sealants, or treatments is also essential to properly prepare the concrete floor. If such are present, remove them immediately as they may obstruct the effective attachment and curing of the new leveling compound. Since some leveling chemicals must be used after excess moisture has been removed, it is crucial to keep an eye on the levels of moisture as well.

Once the space has been cleared, the concrete has been cleaned and prepared, the forms for the edges have been built, and the slab has been inspected for strength, moisture content, and any existing coatings, you have fulfilled all the necessary conditions for a successful leveling work.

 

Leveling Concrete Floor guide

 

Critical Actions For Leveling A Concrete Slab

After finishing the preparatory work, it’s time to proceed with the vital leveling measures. This entails selecting the appropriate leveling material, constructing a safe edge formwork, priming the slab, carefully combining and applying the leveling compound, and letting it dry for the appropriate length of time.

First, pick premium leveling supplies appropriate for the particular task at hand. For leveling bigger areas up to 1.5 inches above open floors, self-leveling underlayments are the ideal option. Cementitious tops, epoxy coatings, and other alternatives are also available. To cut down on waste, use product types that enable precise mixing in tiny quantities.

Construct robust perimeter forms for the area that has to be leveled, encircling all corners and entrances. This contains the liquid leveling compound as it flows across the floor. Use rigid foam, lumber, metal strips or other materials to construct straight, secure forms. Leave small gaps for excess material to escape. Eliminate any leaks so material stays where intended.

Prime the bare concrete according to leveling product instructions, using the recommended primer and application method. Proper priming improves adhesion. Allow the primer coat to dry fully before pouring leveler. Testing primer bond with a tape application can give peace of mind.

Mix only as much leveling material as can be used within the working time, which is typically 10-20 minutes. Carefully follow water amounts and mixing directions per the manufacturer’s specifications so the compound cures properly. Test mixes ahead of time to get a feel for the right consistency and working time.

Pour the blended leveling product slowly over the primed floor and systematically spread it into place with a spreader. Work the material back and forth to fill all low spots. Monitor thickness often using a gauge rake to prevent exceeding recommended limits in any area.

Finally, slowly smooth the leveled floor with a specialized smoothing tool to create an even, flat profile without ridges or peaks. Pop any air bubbles that may form using a porcupine roller. And follow all guidelines regarding proper curing conditions and timeframes before walking on the floor or replacing furnishings.

Patience and meticulous attention to detail in every step will help ensure your leveled floor turns out perfectly flat and smooth. Don’t rush the critical mixing, pouring, and smoothing phases.

Leveling

 

What About Leveling Small Areas Or High/Low Spots?

If you just have a few relatively small low or high spots rather than large-scale unevenness, you can use a concrete grinding tool instead of pouring self-leveling material across the whole slab. Here’s how:

  • Mark the high and low areas to be addressed.
  • Set up perimeter isolating forms around the section to be ground down. This contains the messy concrete dust.
  • Wear a respirator mask and goggles – concrete grinding makes heavy dust.
  • Use a diamond-blade floor grinder to shave down the high spots. Vacuum often to remove concrete dust.
  • Fill low spots with a thin layer of polymer-modified topping or similar product. Smooth and level.
  • Allow the fill layer to fully cure before removing forms.

Targeted grinding and filling of small areas is a good solution if you only have minor unevenness in the slab.

Leveling Small Areas

 

Will The Leveling Compound Match My Existing Concrete?

When curing, leveling products usually lighten in color noticeably compared to the surrounding concrete. So there will likely be a visible difference in color, reflectiveness, and texture between old and new areas. If this mismatch bothers you, consider applying a colored concrete stain on top after leveling to even out the appearance. Grinding the entire floor can also create a uniform appearance. Keep in mind appearance solutions add a step to the process and cost.

 

Cost To Level A Concrete Floor

What can you expect to pay to get your uneven concrete leveled out? Here are typical price ranges:

  • Grinding down high spots: $3-$8 per sq ft
  • Self-leveling underlayment material: $0.50-$1.50 per sq ft
  • Labor for pouring leveling material: $3-$7 per sq ft

Keep in mind costs vary by region, as well as the scope of your specific project. Get multiple estimates to find the best value.

 

Is Leveling Concrete Floor DIY Possible?

DIY

If you have some home improvement experience, leveling a concrete floor is certainly a DIY project you can tackle. Small areas like a garage floor or entryway are fairly simple for a dedicated DIYer. Larger interior areas or floors needing more than about 1 inch of leveling material can be quite difficult without professional equipment and experience, however.

Carefully consider your skill level and capacity to handle the heavy mixing and pouring work before deciding whether to DIY or hire a contractor. Many homeowners choose to do prep work like clearing and cleaning the space themselves, then have a concrete company do the leveling.

Hire An Expert

Taking on small, straightforward concrete leveling work as a DIY homeowner is often very feasible. However, for sizable open concept floors, areas requiring 2 inches or more of leveling material to fix unevenness, or layouts that are complicated in nature, it is highly recommended to bring in professional concrete contractors rather than trying to tackle it as a DIY project. There are several scenarios where you would be better off hiring concrete leveling specialists:

If the total space that requires leveling exceeds 500 square feet, the large scale of the job may be difficult for a homeowner to complete successfully on their own.

If the floor needs a significant amount of leveling material, 3/4 inch thick or greater, to fill low spots and smooth out high areas, the quantity of material required could make a DIY project overly demanding.

If there is extensive damage, cracks, crumbling or other issues that require repair and fixing before the leveling can be done, this extra work may be best left to professionals.

If the concrete floor is newer and constructed using post-tensioned methods, leveling this type of floor incorrectly risks causing major damage, so specialized expertise is ideal.

If your highest priority is getting the highest quality, longest lasting, professional-grade results from the leveling work, hiring concrete specialists is the best way to achieve this top-notch outcome.

For large, complex leveling projects, take the time to read reviews and find the most qualified and reputable concrete contractors available in your local area. Paying for their specialized equipment, many years of experience, and expert knowledge can be very worthwhile in order to get fantastic results leveling your uneven concrete flooring correctly the first time.

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