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Old 03-04-2011, 08:10 PM   #1
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Scared of Self Leveling Concrete


Hi folks.

Working on my basement bathroom and am at the point that the floor needs to be leveled in preparation for Ditra and Tile.

I have read so many posts that I think I have made it more scary than it actually is.

Can somone confirm a few things for me?
I will be laying a Kerdi pan in the shower area (32 x 60 offset), and laying Ditra in the balance of the room in order to lay 18 x 18 tile.

In the shower area it is relatively level however has some minor dips, about 1/16" and a few lips where I cemented after moving the drain.
Will thinset alone be enough to properly adhere the Kerdi pan, or should I self level this area?

In terms of dams, I will use a 2 x 2 in the doorway (no doors installed yet), and caulk to close the "gap".
For the rest of the room, I was thinking of using duct tape. Is this OK?
For the toilet drain, I'm not really sure what to use...it's as high as I need the SLC to go to if I lay the level on the top of the flange.
Can I caulk a toilet flange on there to give some extra height, or is there something better?

The total height I have to raise the lowest spot by is almost a half inch.
Not know what brand of product I am going to use, should I consider 2 pours regardless of product?

And finally....
I was thinking of using a squeegee that i would cut notches in to use to spread the SLC around.
Do I need to move the stuff or will it always find it's own direction?

Sorry for all the questions at once, it all just came up at once and I had a few minutes.

I've attached a floorplan, the highest spot is the corner opposite the doorway, and the lowest spot is the corner under the vanity (beside the toilet)

Cheers, and thanks for the help as always.

Will
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Old 03-04-2011, 11:53 PM   #2
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Scared of Self Leveling Concrete


OKAY, here we go!
First of all you are going to have the time of your life. SLC is one of the absolute best products to come along in decades, you are going to love it. Absolutely nothing to be scared of but using it does require some special attention.

But first the shower tray.
Quote:
In the shower area it is relatively level however has some minor dips, about 1/16" and a few lips where I cemented after moving the drain.
Will thinset alone be enough to properly adhere the Kerdi pan, or should I self level this area?
All you need to do in this case is to install your thinset neatly. Comb it all in one direction using a 1/4" X 1/4" X 1/4" square notched trowel. Then place the tray. If you have a little wiggle room it's better I think. Place the tray and wiggle it slightly to get it to nest into the thinset. That's all there is to it. Any small gaps (at the edges) can then be filled with thinset. Be sure to poke the thinset down into the gaps then strike it off smoothly on top of the tray. That's it.

Now the SLC. I can tell you that the SLC will find its way into any crack or crevice that it finds and you don't want that.

Dam the doorway and caulk the dam as you suggest.
The toilet flange can be covered with a one gallon paint bucket centered over the flange, you can buy the bucket at a big box for one dollar. Caulk or glue the bucket to the floor and allow it to dry. Later (after you pour) the bucket will easily collapse for removal.

If the vanity is to stay in place also caulk it to the floor.

If there is an HVAC floor vent. Block it with something. I usually use the foam waste from the Schluter curb I have left over when that is available. If you use something rigid like a block of wood it will be very difficult to remove later.

Now here's a main key to the installation. Use foam sill-seal along all the walls and the vanity. It is to be applied to the walls but placed tightly against the floor at the same time. Use spray adhesive to attach the sill-seal. It will be about four inches wide but you will later cut it off above the poured SLC or pull it out if it releases easily. The SLC must have a gap at the walls for expansion and the sill-seal will provide that gap.

There are two very important things to remember.
1. You must use primer. All SLC's have a recommended primer they want you to use. Once the primer is applied to (painted on) the floor you have twenty-four hours to pour your SLC. The primer will prevent the SLC from curling upward at the edges.
2. Follow the mixing directions EXACTLY when mixing the SLC. Be sure to use cold water. The colder the better if you are using rapid setting SLC.
Place all of the required water in the mixing bucket then slowly add the dry SLC powder. Don't get in a rush but don't waste any time when mixing. Usually the mixing time is two minutes. Don't shorten up on the two minutes. Time it if you have to. A slower rpm mixer is recommended-about 350 rpm. Keep your mixer in the water and under the surface so as not to entrain to much air.

The SLC will (for the most part) actually be self-levelling but you may have to encourage it to fill a corner or get around behind a toilet flange.

Keep your subsequent pours close together so that they will marry-up nicely. Once you pour a bucket of SLC you have a few minutes to move it and adjust it. Don't mess around with it after about five minutes. A squeegee may get you into trouble by moving too much product at one time. I have a gauged squeegee made for the purpose but you can use a simple garden rake. A rake will move product but not allow you to dig holes.

After about five minutes don't try to adjust anything.

Don't try to use a fan to speed up the drying time either.

Quote:
Not know what brand of product I am going to use, should I consider 2 pours regardless of product?
I would recommend you use Level Quick RS from Home Depot.
How big is this area? You should do it all in a single pour.

This is really easy but you should have a helper. Once the mixing starts have someone keep mixing subsequent batches while you pour and piddle.

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Last edited by Bud Cline; 03-04-2011 at 11:58 PM.
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Old 03-05-2011, 06:31 AM   #3
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how much would you need for approximately 35sq feet at an 1/8inch thick?
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Old 03-05-2011, 07:22 AM   #4
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blazer that would be about 2/3 of a bag I believe....


Bud thanks so very much for taking the time to respond to my post... you have put my mind at ease.
Will pick up the sil seal and will prime tonight for tomorrow's pour.

Still a little nervous as cement is just such a permanent thing to me and again this is my first time doing anythign related to tile.

I'll post a few pictures once the pour is done.
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Old 03-05-2011, 07:36 AM   #5
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I think you'll be fine----Good luck! Have fun.--Mike---
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Old 03-05-2011, 08:02 AM   #6
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Hey Bud, by sill seal, you mean the foam gasket that I used under the framing, between the foot plate and the concrete floor?

this stuff?
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Old 03-05-2011, 09:02 AM   #7
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Quote:
Hey Bud, by sill seal, you mean the foam gasket that I used under the framing,
That's it!
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Old 03-06-2011, 07:14 AM   #8
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So to continue this...

I swept the floor, shop vac'd it and sponge washed it twice.
Around the room where the framing meets the floor I caulked with kitchen and bath caulk.
Created a dam at the doorway with a piece of 1 x 2, caulking under the 1 x 2 and also at the base of it where the SLC would meet the dam at the floor.
Used spray adhesive around the bottom of the drywall, and stuck the sill gasket to it. I tried to get the gasket to pool on the floor just a little bit. Kind of like a "J" but only by barely 1/8" onto the floor.
Used a tupperware container and caluked it onto the toilet drain, caulking again around the joint between the tupperware and the floor.

NOTE: If you are doing anything like I am, remember to ask the wife if you can use the tupperware BEFORE it's caulked onto the floor and she freaks out cause that was the one she takes her lunch to work in....

Pulled out the primer (which said to dilute 1:1 with water) which I did in a small plastic cup.
Poured the primer in small batches around the floor.
Used and old broom that I washed well before using to spread the primer around.
Made sure with the primer to not leave and puddles.
It spread around nicely and the tapered broom I was using allowed me to get nicely into the corners.

I should mention that before priming, I pulled out the 6ft level and planned my pour. The entire room doesn't have to be built up, only around 40 sq ft near the toilet and vanity wall.
I marked with a sharpie on the concrete the limit of where I want the SLC to end up.
Need to build up about 3/8 of an inch it looks like.

This morning is the pour and I am still a little nervous.
I bought 3 bags and if I mix each bag for 2 minutes and have 10 minutes max to work the stuff, that only leaves me 4 minutes or less.....

I have a large paint mixer that I will use and directions on the bag will be followed exactly.
one guy mixing, one guy pouring. when the mixing is done, the guy mixing will use a garden rake to move the pour around very briefly.

Since I am laying Ditra over the floor, I'm not too concerned about feather edge. Might lightly use a drywall knife if it looks like it needs help.

Thanks again for all the help folks. I do have pictures of every step and once I find my cord...I will upload them.
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Old 03-06-2011, 08:01 AM   #9
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Perhaps I've been lucky (for 20 years)--But I've never had any problems using SLC.

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Old 03-06-2011, 10:46 AM   #10
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WW,

You will be surprised at how easy this really was when it is all done. All of your fears will have been for naught.
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Old 03-06-2011, 12:18 PM   #11
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So it didn't go to bad really.

There are a few little lumps but they can be sanded down.
I would have liked it a little thinner as flaring the edges wasn't as easy as initially thought.
I eventually left the edges and stopped playing around with it.

Thinset should fix the little lip that's there and I anticipate that the ditra will lay down well.
(however I do still have to put a level on it to see for myself the final outcome)

Next time I will use a hard rake instead of the leaf rake I used.

Thanks for the tips and the confidence boost guys, I'm no longer scared of SLC.

On to the Kerdi shower next...

will
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Old 03-06-2011, 12:37 PM   #12
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Quote:
So it didn't go to bad really.
Tollja!

Quote:
I would have liked it a little thinner as flaring the edges wasn't as easy as initially thought.
SLC isn't intended to be used for feathering edges. It can be done but does require some touchup with another product after it has dried.

Quote:
Next time I will use a hard rake instead of the leaf rake I used.
Now that is a real surprise to me. I would have never thought in a million years someone would have tried to use a leaf rake.

Glad to see that one behind us!

Are you also scared of KERDI ?
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Old 03-06-2011, 12:45 PM   #13
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what is the minimum thickness this can be spread?
can i mix a full 50lb bag in a 5 gallon pail?
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Old 03-06-2011, 01:41 PM   #14
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awdblazer,

Please do not hijack someone elses thread.
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Old 03-06-2011, 03:58 PM   #15
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a note for anyone doing this using the sill gasket to creat expansion joint.

Be patient and wait for the SLC to completely dry and be absolutely sure that it is dry.

I pulled a test spot and it came off easily with a little dust left over. But, as it got to the deeper areas of the pour, the SLC wasn't dry yet and it pulled out a bit of the material.

Lucky for me it's under the vanity so i'm not terribly concerned.

A cement sanding block will easily fix any loose particles that stuck to the top.


Bud, I'm not as scared of Kerdi although I have never used thinset before.
I'm pretty decent with drywall mud, and I figure that moving the product around can't be that different. (Lots of reading starts now though...)

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