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How to Level a Concrete Floor With Self-Leveling Compound

Updated on September 25, 2017
Ashish Dadgaa profile image

Ashish Dadgaa is a Construction Manager with 10 years of experience in the Industry. He writes about Home Improvement and maintenance.

I will show you how to level up the concrete floor with step by step process of preparing the floor and finishing the job. Carpeting a room can cover a lot of imperfections but other types of floor covering and much less forgiving so if your floor surface is uneven it is worth spending some time to get rid of any dips and imperfections.

A floor leveling compound will produce a smooth and even surface on which you can light your smart new floor covering. It is quite easy to do if you have the right tools and equipment and follow the right process. It's a bit of a messy job but at the end, new floor looks really smart.

COMPLEXITY
TIME
COST
Simple
1 Day
Under $150
 
(Includes preparation and drying time)
 

Tools and Materials

Tools

  • Soft Bristle Sweeping Brush
  • Dustpan And Brush
  • Plant Mister/Sprayer
  • Spirit Level (600mm Or Longer)
  • Tape Measure
  • Steel Rule
  • 100mm Paintbrush
  • Builder Buckets (3 Nos.)
  • Heavy Duty Power Drill (800w Or Higher)
  • Spiral Mixer
  • Gauging Trowel
  • Flat Edge Plaster Trowel
  • Knee Pads
  • Breathing Mask
  • Protective Clothing
  • Splash Proof Eye Goggles
  • Rubber Gloves

Materials

  • PVA Adhesive
  • Self Levelling Compound
  • Floor Repair Compound
  • De-Greasing Agent
  • Batten And Masonry Nails
  • Tarpaulin Or Protective Sheet
  • Clean Water

Step 1

Floor Preparation

As with most DIY tasks, correct preparation is a key part of producing a good quality finished job. Fist give the floor thorough sweep to remove any dirt and dust.

Sweep the floor thoroughly to remove any dirt and dust.
Sweep the floor thoroughly to remove any dirt and dust.

Best Tip:

Before sweeping dampen down the area using a plant mister or spray bottle, this will help to keep the dust down. Do not use a domestic vacuum as it may get damaged by the concrete dust.

Inspect the floor to see if any repairs are needed and check for any grease or oil on the surface. If there is, use a suitable degreasing agent to clean it.

Inspect the floor to see if any repairs are needed.
Inspect the floor to see if any repairs are needed.

Most standard floor leveling compounds can be applied up to a maximum of five or six millimeters in thickness but some products are suitable for a planet greater thicknesses so always check the manufacturer's instructions.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Check the manufacturer's instructions.
Check the manufacturer's instructions.
Check the manufacturer's instructions.

If any holes, dips or cracks in the floor are deeper than a maximum thickness then the leveling compound can be applied and they will need to be filled with suitable concrete repair compound first. Before you proceed, check the leveling compound manufacturer's instructions to identify the maximum permitted thickness.

You can now check how deep any holes or dips are by placing a spirit level across the floor area and measuring from the bottom of the level to the bottom of the hole or dip. A steel rule is much better than a tape measure for this task.

Check how deep any holes or dips are by placing a spirit level across the floor area.
Check how deep any holes or dips are by placing a spirit level across the floor area.
Measuring from the bottom of the level to the bottom of the dip by steel rule.
Measuring from the bottom of the level to the bottom of the dip by steel rule.

Check to see if the floor has a slight slope if it has the leveling compound will have a different thickness in different parts of the room. You need to know this so you can work out the average thickness and by the correct quantity of leveling compound.

Lay your spirit level on the floor if it reads level all is good if not lift the low end until it reads level then measure the gap between the bottom of the level and the floor. This will tell you the amount of slope over the length of the level if the slope is across the whole floor use a longer level or a level and a straightedge to work out the overall slope.

Lay your spirit level on the floor if it reads level all is good.
Lay your spirit level on the floor if it reads level all is good.
Lift the low end until it reads level then measure the gap between the bottom of the level and the floor.
Lift the low end until it reads level then measure the gap between the bottom of the level and the floor.

Once you are happy that the floor is ready for leveling seal the surface with a diluted PVA adhesive mix or suitable acrylic primer using an old paintbrush and give it time to dry.

Seal the surface with a diluted PVA adhesive mix or suitable acrylic primer.
Seal the surface with a diluted PVA adhesive mix or suitable acrylic primer.

Whilst you are waiting for the primer to dry, work out how much leveling compound is needed.

Step 2

Measure Up

Work out the rooms area in square meters then work out the average thickness that you will be spread in the compound to and then refer to the manufacturer's coverage guidance on the packaging.

This room is 3m x 4m = 12 square meters.
This room is 3m x 4m = 12 square meters.

A 25kg bag of leveling compound will cover 5 square meters with a 3-millimetre thickness. Therefore we will need three bags of compound.

Step 3

Leveling

I am going to use latex modified self-leveling compound it has high bonding strength and the latex means that it has slight flexibility when it is set. It is also rapid drying because it is a powder-based product you need to mix it with clean water to produce a think pourable solution.

Now get yourself at least three large builder buckets, a heavy-duty power drill a spiral mixer and trowel. You will need a bucket for the water, one bucket to mix the compound and another for your tools when they are not being used.

Best Tip:

Make sure you wear rubber gloves, protective clothing, a breathing mask to stop you inhaling powder and some splash proof goggles to protect your eyes.

Remember that mixing is a messy process and we cannot mix in the room that we are levelling, so try to mix it in an outdoor area if you can. Unless your door has a threshold or you are going to spread the compound to a feather edge near the door you will need to fix a temporary batten using masonry nails to stop the compound running out into the next room. It is a lot easier if you have a helper so one person can mix while the other person is spreading.

To get started lay tarpaulin or protective sheet out in the mixing area.

Lay tarpaulin out in the mixing area.
Lay tarpaulin out in the mixing area.

Read the manufacturer's instruction before you start in order to mix the compound to the right consistency.

Read the manufacturer's instruction before you start.
Read the manufacturer's instruction before you start.

Each 25kg bag requires 5liters of water. Fill the bucket up to one-part water and add five parts powder. I am working to one liter of water to every 5kgs of powder so, I have room in the bucket to mix it.

Each 25kg bag requires 5liters of water.
Each 25kg bag requires 5liters of water.
Fill the bucket up to one-part water.
Fill the bucket up to one-part water.
Add five parts powder.
Add five parts powder.

Keep the power drill on a slow-speed so the mixture doesn't fly out. Ensure that you don't mix up too much compound in advance because it will start to set in the bucket.

Mix with power drill on a slow-speed.
Mix with power drill on a slow-speed.

Best Tip:

This stage can messy do not forget to wear overalls to protect your skin and clothes and also to wear protective goggles and rubber gloves.

Once you start spreading the compound you need to keep going until you have finished. Ensure that you use a flat edge plasters try to spread the compound. Start pouring the compound at the point that is farthest away from the door.

Start pouring the compound at the point that is farthest away from the door.
Start pouring the compound at the point that is farthest away from the door.

Work quickly using the fastest route in long strokes to spread the compound to the required thickness.

Use a flat edge plasters try to spread the compound equally.
Use a flat edge plasters try to spread the compound equally.

Best Tip:

If you get any compound on the skirting board you can remove this after the compound has set using a flat scraper and a damp cloth.

Gradually work your way across the room and out the door.

Best Tip:

Providing the floor has been sealed and the compound has been mixed to the right consistency the trowel marks should disappear after a few minutes and ensure that you don't overwork on the compound.

Surface will harden in about 30 minutes and after couple of hours we will able to walk on it but make sure you check the manufacturers specify drying time before you lay any floor covering. For this product 18 plus hours drying time is needed before you lay anything onto it.

Let surface dry and it will harden in about 30 minutes.
Let surface dry and it will harden in about 30 minutes.

Health & Safety Tips

  • Keep the work area tidy while you work.
  • Check that tools are in good condition before use.
  • Provide adequate ventilation and use a face mask while mixing leveling compound.
  • Be careful when using potentially hazardous materials.
  • Always follow the manufacturer's safety instructions and wear the correct safety gear like eye goggles and protective clothing.
  • You are going to be on your knees for quite a while during this job so don't forget to wear kneepads.
  • Be aware of children when working and never let children handle or use power tools.
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke while working with leveling compounds.

© 2017 Ashi

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