Leveling - Part II
I'm near the end of a large bathroom remodel, the last step of which was leveling - and tiling - the floor.
Looooong story short -
I've finished levelling my bathroom floor by correcting joists that had heaved, at its worst causing a 3/4" drop to the sides from a "hump" that ran lengthwise down the center of a long rectangular bathroom, tapering at either end to more like 1/2", then 1/4"etc.
Accepting that I couldn't level one of the joists. which runs under the shower pan, tub/jacuzzi, and closet, I accepted a result that would give me a mild slope running from that joist (which runs under the front of the shower/bath side) - to the door/vanity side, but I would do my best to get it FLAT. This meant leveling two other joists, and installing sister 2x8's one one of them to support the subfloor (as I needed to cut away enough room to have to use my planar on the joist). I bolted two 2x8s together, deck-screwed them together - then to the existing joist. I ran them almost the entire length of the room - I have a finished ceiling below in my garage so I didn't have access from beneath.
The joist leveling was difficult to say the least. I did my best -eyeballed much of this tapered slope with my 3' and 4' levels -I thought I did a pretty decent job. Laying all new 5/8 subfloor and 1/4" underlayment to match the existing, and Hardibacker (1/4") over the entire floor, I expected a decent result.
Sadly I still have some high areas. They're only 1/8"-3/16" or so, but they run in small strips along the joists - each a few feet long (maybe 4-5' out of the 14' room length). I guess I was more afraid of creating low spots after a while - I got paranoid - net result I didn't take off quite enough material in a few spots - agghh!!.
So - I'm wondering what my options are now:
- First, is this significant enough to cause a problem, presuming I make somewhat liberal use of versabond?
- can I use a belt or hand sander on my hardibacker and take down these high spots?
- I hate to use SLC, I will already have a small step at my door threshold due to the thickness of the tile etc., I don't want to raise the floor any more. Plus I know that stuff can be problematic, I'm concerned about it flowing into gaps/wall seams and flowing down into my garage....how to seal...? ...etc. Anyway, I really wanted to avoid getting into this, but as a last resort I may have to.
Really appreciate the benefit of your expert tutelage.
Seriously, thanks for any ideas...pulling everything back up is not an option.
Why instead of going down to shave the joist, didn't you just reinforce all the joist with sister joists, and then fill the low parts with selfleveling concrete and finished with a level surface? I know you didn't want to open the ceiling from underneath, but it just seem so much easy to do it from the bottom.
And may be a few pictures of what you did before-after will really help to visualize the problem.
The SLC, you caulk any possible gap before you use it, so it doesn't escape. And is not that liquid neither.
Did you check structural problems? May be the hump at the joist you mention wasn't a joist going up, but all the rest going down.
Yep, didn't want to open underneath, but the primary reason is I would have ended up with a ridiculous floor height. There weren't any low spots to speak of, just high spots where the joists pushed up. Appempting to SLC this situation would have given me a huge step at the door threshold and wold have cost a fortune in SLC due ot the amount required to achieve a level. It's a sizable room.
No, I believe my approach was correct, I just didn't take the joists down far enough. It seemed as if I was right where I needed to be. Using a level it looked like I had achieved a flat, uniform surface with a slight grade down toward the door side. The high spots are pretty small, especially relative to what it was like before, I'm just not sure if what I have now is significant enough to worry about and requires taking some additional measures.
So I'm presuming the sanding of the Hardibacker isn't an acceptable solution, where I'm looking at bumps of only 1.8" or so?
I should note as part of my preliminary research that I initially thought perhaps the house was settling to either side of the joits/joists, but the main beam below them is dead level. Also if you were to continue the centerline "hump" in the floor it would run the width of the house extending through the wall - but the adjacent room is also dead level.
For whatever reason, the joists only heaved on that side of the house, at least appreciably.
I fully expected to find water damage when I pulled up the floor, but aside from a very small amount around the shower plumbing it was dry, so I really don't think this was the cause. Struck me as unusual but from what I've read it's not that uncommon.
Really debating the best course of action here...
Thanks for the reply!!
1/8" is not going to be noticeable at all, IMO. What kind of flooring are you installing?
Standard porcelain tile.
I tend to agree with you, esp. if I go a little heavy with the versabond.
I was fortunate in my only other tile project and I had a very level floor to start with....but this is new to me.
I was just thinking if I could sand the hardibacker a little at the high spots I could get it pretty darn near perfect, but taking 1/8" off of 1/4" hardibacker is probably not a good thing. I'd have to remove the screws first of course, but I just don't know if anyone has done anything like this - I realize it's a band-aid fix - and I'm never one to treat the symptom when I can treat the cause, but in this case, I've already been there - and I ain't goin back <grin>.
Seriously I do realize - especially with you professionals, it's very unprofessional to give such advice. I'm asking you to recommend a lame shortcut - but is it even a viable option?
Identify 1st where are the highest points, and in those point use sightly less tile adhesive, and a little bit more in the lowest point, so if done right you'll finish with an even tile floor. I'll shave a little bit of very high spots if needed (like more than 1/8") but I prefer not, if it can be avoided. Would you post a pic of before and after of your bathroom tile, that will be nice. Good luck.
Understood. I have pics throughout the project, if you think others would benefit from this I'd try to get some posted, not sure of restrictions here etc as far as size and quantity though. I did a full shower pan build with custom built shower-bench, tile etc., and a tile tub surround. Last step is the floor.
I'm also planning to build a custom facia for the (fiberglass) tub/jacuzzi. This was an exisitng tub, we didn't care a whole lot for the color (mauve), but opted to retain it, since it was a jacuzzi it would be costly to replace. We've read of others re-painting tubs like this, but it seems it rarely works out well. Having a pro do it seems the best option here if we ultimately take this route.
To minimize the color, and since the fiberglass facia is scratched anyway, I'm going to do a red cedar tongue-and-groove to match the walls/house (log home). I may add a step or two, haven't decided yet. But the facia has to be removable since there's no other access to the jacuzzi workings for maintenance underneath the tub.
Pics of the whole project might get a bit overwhelming, I need to pick a select few to at least give a view of the project in its entirety though.
did you end up removing the linoleum?
Yes, thanks for asking!
The levelling was the trick though.
I had to tear up the floor to level lthe joists, using SLC would have taken huge quantities of the stuff and left me with a step-up near my door.
I'm not sure if this necessarily was the BEST approach, since my entire floor isn't completely level - I wasn't going to tear out a closet, tub and shower to get to the other half of the floor/room. But the half of the room from that joist running under the closet/tub/shower to the door side is now FLAT. There's a slight incline - but at least it's flat which allowed me to tile it. Looks great.
My most recent post was inquiring about the high spots I still had after levelling the joists and putting down the hardibacker -
Again, not the advisable solution, but because I'm a perfectionist, I donned my good breathing mask and belt-sanded them down (hardibacker contains silica, it makes a mess and needs to be thoroughly cleaned up -). They were slight high spots - like 1/8", and with the thinset I might have accommodated them by just using more or less in certain spots, but I wanted it FLAT so I sanded it. It worked. I did a thorough vac and wipe-down job afterwards to get rid of the dust. A lot of extra work I suppose, but after coming that far I wanted it perfect.
I must be nuts!
Here's a better shot of the floor. I'm trying to locate a 'before' shot, but I think all I have is one with the exposed joists. I'll keep looking...
I know I'm perhaps a little stubborn about taking advice, but I did heed much I received here, but as a perfectionist I often take the hard road. I'm truly grateful to all those who helped me through this project, thx everyone.
Pirulo - special thx for all your input. I wanted to comment on a great point of yours -
"Did you check structural problems? May be the hump at the joist you mention wasn't a joist going up, but all the rest going down. "
While the three joists running the length of the room were definitely higher, your point is excellent - it could just as easily have been the rest of the house sinking as opposed to those 3 joists heaving. I didn't know how else to check this - I did put a level on my main beam below this room, which is the ceiling of my garage. The main beam running the length of the house (which is cross-wise in relation to the room photo above) is dead level when putting my level up against it from below. I thought perhaps a jack-post adjustment might have been necessary, which had me scared (hello foundation cracks/problems...!). Hence I concluded it was the joists heaving.
So I certainly concede the possibility the house is settling on either side. (Short of laser sighting the house over time I guess??...) I have no idea how else to check this. I would think a 3/4" hump over a span of 4 feet in the bathroom would show itself at least as a modest hump in the main beam below, but I guess this doesn't HAVE to be the case. I'd love to read some more about this.
As an interesting aside, I am starting to see some cracks appear in my patio and front walkway right around the center point of the house, as viewed from the front. This would be approx. 15-20 ft to the left of where I saw the heave in the bathroom joists though, so this doesn't align with the 'hump' in the bathroom.
By removing it though, it is also much easier to get your floor nice and level, while also checking for water damage, etc. If it's at all loose or curled up in spots I would just tear it up.
On my first floor tile project I wasted a lot of time & effort scraping up the linoleum adhesive etc. - which was totally unnecessary, I could have just thinset over it and called it day. Live & learn!
Just my .02.
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