Sloping or uneven floors are a common problem for Raleigh homeowners, especially in older houses. Even though they're common, uneven floors need to be addressed and repaired, as they may be a sign of structural problems, including foundation issues, or can lead to more serious concerns over time. Fortunately, when uneven floors are caused by the house settling (as opposed to broken floor joists or a failing foundation), floor leveling is an effective solution. However, most homeowners don't know much about the process or how it works with different types of subflooring and substrates. To clear up any confusion, we are taking the opportunity to answer the questions we're asked most often by customers with uneven flooring.
How Does Floor Leveling Work?
In most cases, floor leveling is performed with self-leveling cement. A fluid cement mixture is poured on the floor, and, mimicking the movement of water, it will flow to the lowest points. While this sounds like an easy project that can be done as a DIY, there are a variety of factors to consider, including:
What kind of flooring will go over top of the cement? Some leveling compounds can be nailed through for hardwood flooring, others can't.
Weather, heat, and other factors can affect the cement mixture.
If it's not done properly, the cement can begin cracking and breaking.
There are multiple variables in the compound itself. For example, you have to know how much water to add, how long to mix the compound and whether or not a bonding agent needs to be added for your unique floor.
A professional will mix and pour the compound, allowing it to flow across the surface. Then, he or she will use a gauge to ensure the top of the surface is smooth and even all the way across and ready for a new layer of flooring to be laid on top after the cement has cured.
How Can I Level an Uneven Concrete Basement Floor?
Again, you'll definitely want to rely on a professional to repair uneven basement floors in your Raleigh home. Before we begin the leveling process, we want to make sure the foundation is solid and there aren't any structural issues that is causing the slope or spaces. If we determine that it's simply caused by minor settling or even low standards when it was poured, we will apply a self leveling compound like we described above. First the basement is completely emptied of any furnishings or stored items, and any trim around the bottom of the walls is removed. The floor is thoroughly cleaned, rinsed and dried to ensure proper bonding of the compound and a leveling bar is used to check for high and low points in the floor. Then the compound is poured and spread across the floor so it can flow to the lower points, then checked for accuracy. However, with basements, it's important to factor in any drainage necessary, so we will also cover any floor drains and ensure the surface is flat while allowing for drainage.
Can We Pour Self-Leveling Concrete Over a Vinyl of Linoleum Floor?
If you have an old linoleum or vinyl floor, you may wonder if we can apply the self-leveling compound over top of the existing floor, allowing the linoleum to act as a kind of subfloor. This is definitely the easier option, especially if asbestos is a factor in the floor, as the concrete can encapsulate the floor and reduce risk. However, easy doesn't always mean best. If there are air bubbles or loose pieces of flooring, or there is any possibility of moisture coming through the vinyl or linoleum, that can cause serious damage to the concrete, requiring all of the current flooring, concrete, and vinyl to be pulled up. Additionally, if there is asbestos, you may have to disclose that information when you sell your home.
Is It Possible to Level Uneven Floors in an Old Home for Hardwood Flooring?
Like we mentioned before, it's important to determine the cause of the slope or sag. If a deteriorating floor joist or a failing foundation is the cause, we may have to try floor jacking to raise the structure and repair the problem. After this is complete, hardwood flooring can be laid over the existing subfloor. Otherwise, a better option for a sloping floor is to lay a plywood subfloor down, use a self-leveling compound like we discussed above, then hardwood flooring could be installed on top of that.
Contact Us for Professional Floor Leveling in Raleigh
If you have uneven, sloping, or sagging floors, we can help! We will provide you with a no-obligation estimate and walk you through what needs to be done to ensure your floors are level and even. Contact us today at 919-847-7072 or fill out our online form to get started today!