Floor levelling is an attempt to correct the unevenness of a floor’s surface. It is done to modify the substrate before installing a new floor. It’s no secret that concrete slabs are notorious for being uneven, even when precautionary measures are taken. One way of levelling the underlying floor is by using a liquid floor leveler. This article will give you useful insight into the liquid floor leveler.
What Is The Liquid Floor Leveler?
The liquid floor leveler is self-levelling concrete. This liquid concrete is polymer-modified. It doesn’t require large amounts of water for its mixing before placement. It is in the form of thick cement. But, it doesn’t require the vigorous labor of preparing cement for it to be used. It makes the substrate flatten out and gives it extra contractive strength. It is suitable for levelling a hard floor base before fixing a new one.
Concrete, plywood and ceramic tile are some floor bases where the self-levelling concrete can be used. You pour it over the base in its liquid state and allow it to spread throughout the floor. You can use a gauging tool for its spread. Following its uniform spread, it gives the floor about a 1.5-inch even surface.
The floor leveler requires minimal effort to use compared to the regular cement. It can also be beautified with concrete suitable stains. However, this leveler is not without its downside too. It’s not all perfect and you can make a blunder while using it. Mixing it right may be harder than it seems and it sets faster than the regular cement. Also, deciding whether or not it is appropriate for an environment may prove difficult.
Installing The Self-Levelling Concrete
The self-levelling concrete is one suitable for a DIY project. You don’t have to be a professional contractor to get it done. You can chunk down its content yourself to achieve an evenly flat surface. However, to reduce the risk of things going wrong you’d need to be prepared. Ensure the floor is not excessively exposed to moisture. This may cause the breakdown of the levelling compound over time.
Also, your equipment needs to be in place and your floor prepared. The deal is the window period between pouring the leveler and its setting is short. Hence, things can go wrong if you are not cautious. Below are steps to using the self-levelling concrete.
Step 1: Make The Floor Ready.
a. In preparing the floor, the room to be levelled should be cleared. Take out the furniture, movable cabinet and other appliances. The baseboard (if any was used) should be removed too. This is due to the chances of a heightened floor after the use of a floor leveler. Use your scraper or putty knife to carefully pull out the baseboards. Starting from one edge through its length till it comes off completely loose from the wall.
b. Clear off debris from the floor, sweep and vacuum the space. Put your metal scraper to work. Scrape off loose chips, concrete, fragments of old tiles or carpets. Sweep up scrapped residues and trash them, then vacuum the room. Avoid using the regular vacuum if the underlying floor is concrete. This may cause it to spoil from gulping in heavy cement chunks. A shop-vac is preferred for it. You can hire one for this DIY project.
c. Fill fissures, holes, joints, cracks or any other opening with a filler and sealer. To fill concrete slabs, direct the beak of the concrete filler into the fissure. Squeeze out its content and fill the hole. Alternatively, you could use a trowel to put in filler. Then, allow it some time to dry and seal completely. Though you can use the self-levelling concrete on the floor without filling the holes. However, you wouldn’t want to do that because the dent will only be covered by the leveler but not corrected.
d. Prime the floor. Some self-levelling concrete product comes with a primer. However, most products don’t, thus, it is necessary to have the floor primed. Check through your product description to know what primer is suited for it and the floor you work on. To apply a leveler primer on a concrete floor, you use a soft-bristle push broom.
Use the push broom to spread the primer across the floor while applying downward pressure. Then, even out puddles made by the primer to achieve a smooth coat across the substrate. Also, aside from a push broom, a long-handled paint roller can be used. Just pour primer into a paint tray. For a floor of 37 square meters, 4 liters of primer will be enough.
e. Give the primer time to dry. Leave it to dry till it arrives at a glutinous finish. Drying the primer should not exceed 24hours. If it is more than 24hours, you need to re-prime the surface. Also, just
Step 2: Mixing And Pouring Of The Self-Levelling Concrete
a. You will need a cement mixing paddle, a big bucket preferably 5gallon, a drill, trowel, and the self-levelling cement. Check the products description on the amount of water needed for its mixing. Add the amount of water the product requires into the bucket.
b. Gradually pour the self-levelling powder into it and mix as you do. Mix thoroughly with the cement mixing paddle mounted on a high-powered drill. Continue mixing till you are set to pour the mixture. Because it will begin setting if you stop mixing. Also, be careful to protect the sides of the bucket to prevent spilling of the mix.
c. When the mixture has met the expected consistency (more like the thickness of paint), pour. Pour the mixture on the already set floor. Do this carefully, uniformly and at a fast pace. Begin from one end of the room to the other. You may start from the extreme and proceed towards the exit. Sometimes, the mixture will require you to use a trowel to get it to unreached corners. If there are splashes, clean immediately. It will be more challenging to do when set.
d. You wait. Allow the self-levelling concrete to dry per product description. The initial drying phase should be between ten minutes and two hours. While waiting, wash up the tools used immediately after use. You don’t want the mixture drying on the tool as it will be harder to clean then.
e. While it is setting, avoid marching or touching the floor as it can smudge it. Check the product manufacturer recommendation on how long to wait before installing the new floor. The drying time may be influenced by room temperature and humidity. However, 6hours should be enough for it to be walked on
The Two Types Of Self-Levelling Concrete
The self-levelling concrete comes in two major forms. The Acrylic-based and the Water-based.
a. The Acrylic-Based Levelling Compound: The levelling concrete is created by mixing a latex liquid (acrylic liquid polymer) with the cement powder. The latex liquid is included with the product. When mixed and applied, you get a rather elastic floor for concrete. This leveler is also tolerant of abrasions. Compared to the other self-levelling compound, it takes a longer time to set.
b. The Water-Based Levelling Compound: This one uses water for its mixing. Because it uses water as its solvent, when applied you get a floor that feels like concrete. It sets fast and dries quickly. It comes as a powder and you get the water for its mixing. Also, it is more preferred for a DIY project.
Pros Of Self-Levelling Concrete
1. It is easy to use and suitable for a DIY project. You don’t have to be a trained builder to use it. So, you can save up the cost of hiring labor.
2. It is less messy compared to the regular cement. It only requires the prescribed amount of water for its mixture. Hence, there are fewer chances you would overwater the mix if you follow instructions.
3. It makes a smooth and strong underlying floor. It can be used to level not just concrete but ceramic tiles and other hard surfaces. The self-levelling concrete can also be used as the main floor itself. And, it is excellent for strengthening concrete construction.
4. Compared to the traditional concrete it is less likely to cause an allergy and dries faster. It is also unfriendly for the growth of mold.
Cons Of Self-Levelling Concrete
1. The fact that it dries fast is one of its biggest con. You need to fast with it or it will set on you. When ready pour fast but cautiously. You have about twenty minutes to finish applying the mixture once you stop mixing. Because it starts setting almost immediately.
2. If left on the tool for long, it sticks and won’t come off easily. To avoid this, wash tools once you are done applying. You can do this during the waiting period.
Cost Of Self-Levelling Concrete
According to Fixr.com, the cost of materials and labor per square feet is about $1.8 to $5. It costs an average of $35 for every 50 Ib. bag. This price may vary per location, store and brand. For every 0.45 cubic feet, you will require about 50 pounds of self-levelling concrete.
Precautionary Measures When Handling The Self-Levelling Concrete
1. Before you begin, read the product label. Oftentimes, on the label lies instructions on what to do if there is a mishap. There are also directions on how best to work with the product to get the desired result.
2. Put on your protective gears. This includes goggles, rubber boots and gloves. It protects your eyes and skin. Wash your eyes with clean water if it gets into it and seek medical help immediately. If it comes in contact with your skin wash off as quickly as you can. For contact with clothes, wash clothes and sun-dry.
3. When inhaled you may experience coughs and sneezes. These are signs that your airway is irritated. Leave the room for a well-ventilated space.
4. The self-levelling concrete is meant for indoor use only. The room temperature should be between 18°C to 29°C during installation. It also shouldn’t be used on floors with over 0.5% inclination.
The self-levelling floor is easy to use the method of levelling a base before fixing a new floor. It is a project DIYers can handle. Like everything with nature it has its pros and cons.