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Old 12-22-2014, 04:24 PM   #1
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Basement Floor Leveling Prior to Wood Install


I have a bone dry basement (17 years and counting), half of which is finished and carpeted; the other half was the same until I pulled the carpet and pad up and installed my wood shop in it. Now I want to install an engineered floor in the wood shop.

It's easy to see from the gap between the concrete floor and the existing baseboard that some parts of the floor are not level. Can I just use a floor leveling product in those two areas? Does it thin out to the edge on its own? Do you need to trowel it to blend at the edges? Never have used the stuff but have seen it on TV.

The other question concerns how one determines where else in the floor there are dips or hills large enough to warrant floor leveling with the product. It is an L-shaped space about 550 square feet. It doesn't seem practical to run a 48 inch aluminum straight edge everywhere and I don't have an expensive laser. What amount of void or "hill" is of concern? How do you find? Thanks.
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Old 12-26-2014, 04:44 PM   #2
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Gosh, I didn't think it was such an unusual question...
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Old 12-26-2014, 05:05 PM   #3
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Sorry---Yes, use a self leveling compound--and the appropriate primer---

Get a 10 foot straight edge and look for gaps---you need FLAT not level.

The manufacturer of the floor will tell you the acceptable deviation for their product.
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Old 12-26-2014, 06:32 PM   #4
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Using SLC may be the wrong product if your floor is not level and all you wanna do is make it flat. The SLC will want to go downhill and you may not want it to go that way. It's also our experience that most basements are not poured to be level or flat. It cases where you have a floor drain it was purposely dished towards the drain. That makes it difficult to flatten as you'd like.

Do as Mike suggested and get a good straight edge to determine what you've got to work with and if it's feasible. You're right, a 48" straight edge is not long enough. Which specific engineered wood will you be using?

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Old 12-27-2014, 01:33 AM   #5
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I haven't made a selection of the product yet. Since it is my shop, and I will continue to use it as a shop, cost will be the big driver. You are both correct as I meant "flat" but said level. In the old days, for a long straight edge, I'd find a good 2x4. Nowadays, those are alsmost impossible to find. Any other ideas...???
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Old 12-27-2014, 07:29 AM   #6
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just curious. what is the deviation of the floor. I know it can differ from section to section. and is there a drain.
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Old 12-27-2014, 09:51 AM   #7
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String lines are cheap.
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Old 12-27-2014, 10:01 AM   #8
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Quote:
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just curious. what is the deviation of the floor. I know it can differ from section to section. and is there a drain.
In this section of the basement, there is no drain. An adjoining utility room has a drain for the overflow from hot water heater, humidifier, etc. So there is no intentional pitch to worry about, just incidental.

To put some numbers on it, on one sixteen foot wall, the baseboard is 1/2 inch above the bare concrete. In the middle of that span, the concrete is 1 inch below.
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Old 12-27-2014, 10:22 AM   #9
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SLC will be the easiest solution if the overall area is level. Otherwise it'll run to the low areas as mentioned and make more of a mess than it's worth. Mapei makes a product called Quickpatch that works well for flattening the floor manually. More work this way but depending on the situation it might be all you can do. http://www.mapei.com/US-EN/Concrete-...em--Quickpatch

You can get a metal stud at least 8 feet pretty cheap to use as a straight edge if you don't want to put the money into a proper one.
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Old 12-27-2014, 11:40 AM   #10
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I like to use a 1x4 hardwood as straight edge, but make sure it's really straight. The basic requirement is no more than " deviation in 10', some materials require within ⅛" in 10'. An 8-10 footer and a shorter one come in handy. A string is excellent too, if you have a good helper.

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Old 12-27-2014, 01:03 PM   #11
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Thanks for all the information. I think I'll go with the metal stud for a straightedge; I know the floor is essentially level, so I'll try the SLC (also because I've always wanted a reason to use the stuff). With the SLC do I wait until it is partially set and then feather the edges?
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Old 12-27-2014, 01:55 PM   #12
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Quote:
With the SLC do I wait until it is partially set and then feather the edges?
I wouldn't do that, it's liable to get messed up. It'll flow the first few minutes, but it may need some help. They make rakes to help it flow better. You can use a steel garden rake. Minor tweaks can be done later using a patching cement like the one Poppameth suggested.

Plan on using more material than you instinctively thought. Don't forget the primer for the SLC.

Jaz
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Old 12-27-2014, 02:24 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JazMan View Post
I wouldn't do that, it's liable to get messed up. It'll flow the first few minutes, but it may need some help. They make rakes to help it flow better. You can use a steel garden rake. Minor tweaks can be done later using a patching cement like the one Poppameth suggested.

Plan on using more material than you instinctively thought. Don't forget the primer for the SLC.

Jaz
Thanks for the tips!
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Old 12-27-2014, 11:23 PM   #14
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The Mapei SLC calls for 48 sf per bag at 1/8" depth. It's hard to gauge depth on something like that though. Take your deepest and shallowest measurements and average the whole area then add a couple more bags to be safe. If at all possible you don't want to have to do multiple pours.

Make sure you have help too. You need to mix and pour pretty quick to get it all running together. If one batch sits on the floor too long before the next batch they won't flow into each other well. Once it's done, leave it alone and avoid the temptation to keep working it. If you need to do a second pour wait until the next day and don't forget to prime it again.

After it's pretty close to what you want do any patching needed to get it the rest of the way. If you have some high spots in the original floor or your pour doesn't come out good and flat you may have to do some grinding as well. You pretty much have to pour it and see what you get to determine what else needs done.

Oh and biggest tip I can give you is this. Check the date stamp on the bags. Mapei now puts a clear expiration on their bags. Some other brands do not. If it's expired don't buy it. Expired SLC does not flow out correctly and becomes a nightmare really quickly. I tend to stick with Mapei because it is clearly marked. I've had some suppliers ship material to me that is already expired while sitting in their warehouse. It gets refused every time. We made the mistake of using expired SLC once and it cost quite a bit of time and material to fix.
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Old 12-28-2014, 10:29 AM   #15
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Perhaps I will document my adventures here...
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