Leveling a sloped concrete floor takes careful planning, concentration, and the correct tools. The process also varies depending on the age of your home and the building’s overall foundation. The process on an older home requires extra steps to protect the foundation of the building. However, it is fairly easy and may be attempted by even hobbyist DIYers.
How To Level A Sloped Concrete Floor
Concrete floors are not meant to lay smooth forever. Once you notice that there is a crack in the concrete floor, there is a risk that the floor will raise, leading to a slope. The eight steps highlighted below will use special tools to help you fix the problem.
Tools and Material Requirements
- Floor Cleaner
- Cleaning Brush
- 5 Drying Rags
- Concrete Grinder
- Wooden Planks
- Eye protection
- Concrete bonding agent
- Paint brush or nap roller
- Hand mixer
- Self-leveling compound
- High Pressure water hose
- Protective Mask
1. Take time to plan accordingly
It takes approximately two days to plan a leveling of concrete floors. This is because there are a lot of drastic differences from floor to floor. Not all concrete floors with slopes develop the same way, meaning each concrete slab needs unique solutions.
If you want to rush the process and finish leveling your sloped concrete floor, it is possible to finish the task in 24 hours, but you will need extra fans to fully dry the concrete.
As you take time to plan, also look for the materials in advance. Some materials are harder to find in your local hardware store.
But, what happens if you have an older house? Old houses that were built over 50 years ago need special attention. There can be cracks or dents in the concrete that are hidden from your view. Since there is a direct connection between concrete floors and walls, one accident during the leveling process can result in damage to the framework of your home, which is not something you want!
The leveling process also takes almost two full days to complete because of the bonding agent and compound. You will need to prepare to store your large items away until the leveling process is complete.
Not only does planning include gathering the materials, but also trying to figure out the cause of the slope in your concrete floor. Sometimes, slopes develop as concrete ages. Normal wear and tear is nothing to worry about, but if the culprit is water damage, you may need to do more than just level your sloped concrete floor.
2. Clean the area and clear the floor of large appliances
The second step is to clean the area you will be grinding properly. Preparing the old and uneven concrete is important. If you do not clean and clear the area you will be working on, it can cause damage to the concrete and lessen the chances that the old and new concrete will bond.
To clean the area, you will need a special chemical cleaner, eye protection goggles, gloves, and a large cleaning brush. Scrub the old and uneven concrete with the chemical cleaner for approximately 15 minutes. You will need to clean and scrub the surrounding areas as well.
Once the cleaning is complete, blast the dirt and debris with a high-pressure water hose. If you have a pressure washer, that should do the trick! Make sure that no small or large pieces are left over. If there is still dirt and debris, it could affect the effectiveness of the concrete bonding agent.
3. Dry the floor properly, getting rid of debris
Once the dirt and debris are out of the way, it is necessary for you to properly dry the area. There should not be any wet spots as the bonding liquid will lose its adhesiveness.
Air drying also takes time, it may be easier to install fans in the area to dry the concrete floors faster. The most popular way to dry your concrete floor is to use a vacuum, leaf blower, or other high powered cleaning device to get rid of the small bits left behind.
4. Grind the floors until they are leveled
Using a professional and industrial concrete grinder, smooth and grind the unleveled areas to make room for the bonding agent and compound. The machine is strong and can buff the floor if necessary. This concrete grinder only works well if the slope is at a minimum.
This is especially true if there is a large gap with empty or broken concrete. You will need to clean out these small areas before using concrete bonding agents and additional self-leveling concrete.
5. Add concrete bonding agent and let it dry
Next, you will need to purchase a concrete bonding agent at your local hardware store and follow the instructions. Typically you have to mix various ingredients to create a liquid. The liquid is thin and is necessary to create an adhesive bond between the old concrete and the new self-leveling compound.
Once the mixture is ready, use a tough sponge or large brush to ‘paint’ or move the concrete bonding agent around the general area. During this step, experts recommend using a face mask and goggles as the toxins and fumes can cause complications. It is also important to use a brush with a long handle. Try not to touch the concrete or bonding mixture directly with your hands as it can lead to rashes and negative reactions.
Alongside taking precautions, you will need to leave the concrete bonding agent to dry until the agent is no longer soaking wet. However, it should still be sticky enough to work well with the concrete.
6. Mix self-leveling compound
Just like the concrete bonding agent, you will need to pay close attention to the self-leveling compound you choose. Typically, these compounds require the use of water which mixes well with the powder used to self-level.
The consistency of this self-leveling compound is similar to concrete. However, the texture is smoother and it has a different purpose. Mix the solution using a large electric mixer or with a wooden stick.
Note: If you have an old uneven concrete floor, it is necessary to check the structure and for any ‘invisible’ cracks. Although you may not see the cracks directly on top of the concrete, there can be dips and fragile areas with water damage.
If you do not feel comfortable looking for yourself, don’t be afraid to call a contractor with years of experience. They have specialized tools that can take a clearer look in the concrete.
7. Add self-leveling compound to the ground
Once the self-leveling mixture is complete, use the Squeegee to move the mixture around the ground, specifically targeting the unleveled areas. Your mixture should be thick with a strong smell, you should keep your mask on until you are in an open space with air circulation.
The process does not take longer than 15 minutes, but keep in mind that you cannot return to the room or place your items back until the concrete floor is fully dry.
8. Let the compound dry before modifying the floor
Smooth out the mixture until you are satisfied with the leveling job. If you would like, use a wooden light board to smooth out any wrinkles or air bubbles. Stay clear from the concrete floors for a minimum of 24 hours or as directed by the self-leveling compound instructions.
Once it is dry, you have the choice and free reign on what to do! After the compound is dry, if you would like to add a splash of color, install vinyl, tile, laminate floors or even paint over the self-leveling compound.
However, in order to add laminate or tile, you will need mortar. The leveling also has to be flawless, any bumps or cracks can cause the laminate floors or tile to look off. If possible, open a window to air out the room before moving furniture.
Frequently Asked Questions
Although this is an effective way to level a sloped concrete floor, there are other options that can successfully aid in balancing the concrete floor.
How do you level an old uneven concrete floor?
Old and uneven concrete floors are complicated. When leveling an old and uneven floor, experts recommend using a self-leveling concrete compound over the old uneven concrete or use wooden stakes as a base to hold the concrete in place.
You should note that old houses and uneven concrete floors require special attention. Before making a decision on how to level the concrete floor, you will need to look over the home’s structure. One mistake can cause a collapse in your home and further damage.
What is the cheapest way to level a concrete floor?
There are various affordable options when it comes to leveling an uneven concrete floor. Keep in mind, however, that affordable and cheap options are not always the safest or most durable. If you want to simply save on money, level the concrete floor with a simple self-leveling coating. If you purchase a self-leveling compound that is light and thin, it may take more than one coat to finish the entire floor.
You only need to add this coating concrete to the cracks and tears in the concrete. However, it may not level the floor entirely. It is a repair that is temporary and could be hiding a major problem underneath.
Another way to make this process of leveling a concrete floor cheap is to focus on only leveling the small area that needs to be leveled. For instance, if there is a concrete slab that is out of place, only grind and use self-leveling concrete on that slab. This can complicate things though in the future, but you will save money on supplies.
Can you pour self-leveling concrete over existing concrete?
One of the easiest solutions to an uneven concrete floor is to pour self-leveling concrete over existing concrete. While this is an option, experts recommend cleaning and buffing the old and uneven concrete first.
Large pieces of concrete rocks and debris can cause major problems if left behind. Once you pour the self-leveling concrete, it is too late to remove it. However, if there are disruptions, it could cause the adhesive and self-leveling concrete to not work. Concrete needs a sturdy and clean base.
Overall, fixing and leveling a sloped concrete floor takes time, dedication, planning, and patience. Although there are cheap and quick ways to complete this task, they can lead to further damage.
It is important to be extremely careful with concrete floors as they are typically connected to the overall framework of a building.