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SeanD1976 02-19-2013 03:09 PM

Leveling my subfloor
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Hello, this is my first post to the DIY Chatroom. Please see my attached diagram (2 grid cells = 1').

I'm in the middle of my kitchen remodel, and I have to deal with the fact that the kitchen floors aren't level. This is a stable 50 years old pier and beam house, and I'd really rather not try to make that part of the house level (especially since it would probably mean issues with the new drywall). I just want to make the floor flat enough to handle small tile or laminate.

The upper right is my frame of reference. As the floor moves toward the middle of the diagram, it rises to 5/8", and then to 1" in the bottom left of the diagram. It isn't totally consistent, but these are the major differences, with arrows showing the major deltas. So, it rises 1" over the span of about 18', with the worst difference of about 5/8" over 4'.

The floor itself has to somehow transition to the hardwoods in the upper right. At the moment, the hardwoods are 1/4" above the subfloor, which is acceptable to me. On the right of the kitchen is a sunken living room, so that part isn't an issue as that step is variable.
An easy (but expensive) solution would be to use self-leveling compound, at just under 1" at its thickest point, feathering into the bottom of the diagram. To transition to the hardwoods in the upper right, I'm thinking of grading from the top left edge of the island to the hardwoods, which would be a 1" change over 4'. It would hide the transition in that area of the kitchen, but with a perceived rise.

Another solution would be to make a more gradual rise from 0" to 1" from the top of the diagram to the bottom. I'm not sure how to get such a gradual rise over that span. Would I use wood guides to screed over? What kind of substrate material would I use? I hear deck mud isn't to be used for less than 3/4", and thinset isn't good over 1/4".
Which is the better solution in your opinion? Or am I making a gigantic mistake that I'll regret by not fixing the underlying foundation slope?

Thanks for your ideas! :)

brockmiera 02-19-2013 04:13 PM

What material is your subfloor? What is underneath this?

SeanD1976 02-19-2013 04:19 PM

5/8" plywood over 1x6 diagonal boards.

JetSwet 02-19-2013 04:37 PM

Imo... you probably should check the pier and beam and joists to see why your floor isnt level.... then go from there.

brockmiera 02-19-2013 04:51 PM

Which direction to the joists run? To me it looks like you've got some settling happening. I guess it could be sag but without knowing where and how your joists are supported its hard to tell. Its easier to give a solution once we can understand the reasons why.

SeanD1976 02-21-2013 09:37 AM

The joists run top to bottom. As far as pier placement, they're on an even grid every 6' or so around the right and bottom perimeter and in the field. The joists appear to be in solid contact with the piers.

So, I don't think the sloping is caused by one pier specifically, but by the relaxation of the soil over the past 50 years because it's Texas gumbo clay. The change of 1" over 18' is 0.3 degrees of slope, which I think is acceptable for a 50 year old house, if it was even built level to begin with ;)

Given such a slight slope, I think keeping the slope and making things flatter along it would be the most practical solution for me. To do this, would I just grind down the local humps in the subfloor as much as possible, and then screed a layer of thinset over everything?

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