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Old 10-29-2009, 02:39 PM   #1
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Default Self-Leveling compound? I have questions for a basement floor

I have a portion of my basement that is my brewery. The room is ~11x22 feet or 252 sq. ft.

The floor is rough concrete with a couple repaired spots and is generally uneven. I want to level the floor and I want to do it myself. Is this possible? I looked up quikcrete's self leveling compound and it looks like that would work, but I was hoping there were some contractors or other craftsman who could give me some direction.

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Old 10-29-2009, 02:46 PM   #2
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It works. It's basically just a lightweight concrete mixed thin.

Are you intending to level the enitire floor or just the rough spots?

If the former, you'll prolly be looking at a 1" topping slab. First, you'll have to locate the highspot (water helps with this as it'll pool in the low spots) and use that as your starting point. It'll also help with the bonding to either use a bushing hammer or a concrete grinder to rough up the existing surface. You might even look for a bonding agent but, I've not had much luck with those. Expect a crapload of dust IN EVERYTHING!

That said, it'll be a LOT easier to bush down the bad spots and level those back in.

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Old 10-29-2009, 02:55 PM   #3
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I was planning on just the whole floor. I though 1" sounded right too. Is it pretty easy to do?

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Old 10-29-2009, 03:03 PM   #4
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The prep work is a PITA. Finding the highpoint, roughing the surface, cleaning the dust, blocking at door openings, marking the level line at the perimter, undercutting doors, etc...

But, the actual pour is easy peasy (of course, I have poured a LOT of concrete).

Also, you might want to consider a jamb saw too. and undercut the door jambs to allow the concrete to flow under the jambs. Otherwise, it will likely separate leaving a unsightly gap at the jambs.

Will you be flooring over the topping slab? If yes, you might even consider just flating the slab on a sheet of visqueen vapor barrier. For heavy use areas you might even consider diamond lathe (typically used for plaster backing) reinforcement to mitigate crackage.

Once poured, it's all wait as it tends to dry slowly.

I used to build hotels. My largest was a 3 story wood framed, all suite, 96 room. Every wood hotel I have built (20 in my record) has received a 1" to 2" lightweight topping slab for which I personally had to prepare the building to receive.

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Old 10-29-2009, 03:24 PM   #5
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OK. So, the cleaning and roughing the surface I get. Building my dams and undercutting the jams I understand. What I am not sure about is how the stuff actually works.

You say I need to mark a level line. Is that just so I can get the pour close, to that line before letting it "self-level"? Or do I need to trowel this stuff flat and it only "self-levels a little bit?

I am not completely sure what I am doing on top of the slab. Either tile or staining.

What is flating? Do you mean, lay down a vapor barrier, then pour the SLC on top of the barrier?

For the diamond lathe, I would just lay it down then pour over the top?

I have done some concrete work, but am basically ranked as a hard core home DIYer. I have poured two concrete drives and done some masonry repair work, but I don't know the terms and need to have the steps pretty well defined.

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Old 10-29-2009, 03:24 PM   #6
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Do you know approx. cost per 50 pound bag? I will need around 32-40 bags.

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Old 10-29-2009, 03:53 PM   #7
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Home depot sells a RS which stands for "rapid set" I think. It was the cheapest of the self levelers I've found. I think it was $22 for a 50lb bag. They recommend a bonding primer be painted on to the surface of whatever it's going on. It can be feathered out to a thin edge so it doesn't have to be 1" thick unless you really have low spots that bad. I don't know that I'd attempt 252 sqft without having a few helpers. It sets up really fast and you need to have a given section fully poured out in about 5 minutes. In other words, you don't mix, pour, mix pour. Someone has to be mixing constantly and just handing you buckets. While it self levels to a certain degree, it needs help being spread out in the first 2 minutes.

I wouldn't use this stuff if you don't intend on putting some finished flooring over it.

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Old 10-29-2009, 03:55 PM   #8
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40 bags!??? wow.

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Old 10-29-2009, 04:00 PM   #9
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Yeah, I generally try to avoid quick drying stuff as I have found regular drying products to provide a better end result. Hopefully that will buy me a little more time.

I will definitely have a crew of helpers. Likely about 4-5 guys.

So I can likely count on about $25 per bag? That comes to about $800.00 for 32 bags, which I can probably swing at a thinner thickness.

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Old 10-29-2009, 05:20 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boerderij_Kabouter View Post
OK. So, the cleaning and roughing the surface I get. Building my dams and undercutting the jams I understand. What I am not sure about is how the stuff actually works.

You say I need to mark a level line. Is that just so I can get the pour close, to that line before letting it "self-level"? Or do I need to trowel this stuff flat and it only "self-levels a little bit?

I am not completely sure what I am doing on top of the slab. Either tile or staining.

What is flating? Do you mean, lay down a vapor barrier, then pour the SLC on top of the barrier?

For the diamond lathe, I would just lay it down then pour over the top?

I have done some concrete work, but am basically ranked as a hard core home DIYer. I have poured two concrete drives and done some masonry repair work, but I don't know the terms and need to have the steps pretty well defined.
It works by being very liquid and the liquid will seek out it's own level. Problem is, it's suceptible to spalling and cracking because it's not re-inforced with an aggregate. IIRC, there are some variants that have a fiber mesh but that is nasty stuff and you will definitely need to cover it. the level line is just to get the pour depth.

As to staining, just know that the mix is suceptible to pinholes too. Cauysed by air pockets worki9ng themselves out during the curing.

Yes. Typo. Meant to write floating.

Yes. Just lay the lathe down and pour over it. It you can pin it down it'd be best. That stuff can move in a heartbbeat and is sharp as a razor.

I wouldn't use a quick set unless it was for a small area. The slower dry time will reduce cracking, and spalling during shrinkage. The longer set time will allow a more monolithic pour and more time for self leveling.

There are also machine rentable from construction supply houses that allow one person to dump the mix and add the water, while the other pours the mix from a hose. If you dont go woth that you'll definitely want a barrel mixer.

I however, have no experience with exposed finishing of topping slabs and I am not sure it's be worth the effort.

For exposed concrete, I'd recommend patching and spot leveling and then a non slip coating.
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