how to level a floor for hardwood

7 Keys to Electrical Safety on the Job Site. Watch our step-by-step video showing how to level a wooden floor, with expert advice and top tips to help you complete the job with confidence. Fill any low spots with a cementitious leveling … Any time you use paper, roofing shingles, linoleum, or similar products to build up low spots in the subfloor, you reduce the fastener penetration into the wooden subfloor, which in turn increases the potential for squeaks, crackles, pops, or overall disengagement from the subfloor. Before jumping into a repair of this magnitude, you should first determine whether the sagging/low areas are in any way structural. A 4-in-1 transition strip is the Swiss Army Knife type of transition strip, with … Anyway, thanks! Fixing a Floor That Sags and Dips Pour self-leveling underlayment in the problem area. Surely 1/4″ over 10′ for all floor types ignoring material and install type isn’t accurate and just the easiest thing to put on paper. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. Hardwood floors do need a flat subfloor surface in order to prevent them from buckling after installation. Models with dust catchers help minimize dust in the house. Post-installation, the ability to determine flatness and levelness is at best controversial yet both conditions result in poor performance, call backs & disgruntled end users. Brett Miller is VP of Education & Certification at the National Wood Flooring Association in St. Louis. Excellent article, I only wish it would get to the eyes & ears of the builders, (builders of sub-division homes), who in turn would hold the framers feet to the fire. With wood subfloors, your first plan of attack should always be to sand the high seams. Cover the openings to the other rooms of the house with plastic sheeting held in place with painter’s tape to prevent dust from going everywhere. Sand any rough edges of the leveling compound after it dries overnight, using medium-grit sandpaper. I’ve spent HOURS on the internet looking for some guidance on how EXACTLY to check my subfloor for plane before I install new (new-to-me, reclaimed) hardwoods. The following are common methods for addressing the joists before reinstalling the subflooring material: Be mindful that doing any of these repairs also opens the flooring contractor up to new potential liabilities due to the completion of work outside of the wood flooring profession, which may also require alternative/upgraded insurance policies, state licensing requirements, as well as further training or qualification of this skillset. Sand off the high spots on the subfloor. Spread the leveling compound over the low spots with a trowel. If you’re replacing an old floor with a new one, your first task will be to get rid of the outdated flooring material. Check with your manufacturer for use and compatibility of these types of products over wood subfloors if you’re considering a glue-down installation. I am going to simplify floor leveling as much as possible. Plywood allows for a much better build-up with lower undulations in the subfloor. Cutting 2×4 shims to put over an existing, unlevel, plywood floor. The easiest way to check the … Zar Ultra Polyurethane Clear Interior Wood Floor Finish. Clean it well with a wet-dry vacuum. Tile, carpet and hardwood are rarely the same thickness. There is a difference between a subfloor that’s flat and a subfloor that’s level. Glad to have that suspicion confirmed by an expert. You can find a list of when and where these classes will be at nwfa.org/education. You can level the plywood floor yourself using roofers felt, … Before taking steps to level a floor, you must find out why it’s not … From here, you should be able to mark out any discrepancies on the subfloor itself; giving a good indication of what alterations will be necessary. Plan to correct gaps of more than 1/8 to 3/16 inch. Shimming may consist of many variations in technique and a multitude of products to achieve the same goal. Remove the existing flooring. Installing new hardwood flooring is a major investment, which makes choosing the right one even more daunting, especially for a wood-floor newbie. In some cases, a structural engineer may need to assess the situation to make this determination. Question: Hi There, I hired a contractor to install Bruce hardwood floor 3/8″ thick. Put on a dust mask. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Taking an extreme example a 2″ thick flooring material is likely to span an imperfect subfloor to a greater degree than a 1/2″ thick flooring material. Sometimes the floor is only out of level by a small amount. Other state regulations may apply. Lay a long level "downhill" on the floor, with one end of the level on the level part of the floor and the other end at the lowest point. When doing minor overlay repairs to a low area within a subfloor, some of the more common methods are listed below: Self-levelers are not normally approved or recommended for use over non-dimensionally stable subfloors such as OSB or plywood. Each requires different processes to accomplish. Well, turns out, all my ideas of what to do are right because “it depends,” which is so often the case when working with wood. Wood floors may be installed over subfloors that are out of level, such as a ramp, but should still fall within floor flatness tolerances. Remove any rough edges between plywood subfloor joints with the sander as well. Place medium-grit sandpaper on a hand sander. To avoid exposing your customers, your employees, and yourself to the dangers of asbestos, have the product tested and/or hire an asbestos abatement company to remove and dispose of the products. Check your wood flooring manufacturer’s recommendations and sand any high spots with a concrete grinder. This is another great oil-based polyurethane … If you have hardwood floors on one level and carpet on another, one of the most common approaches is to carpet the stairs to match. Keep in mind, plumbing lines and electrical wiring/conduit are often run through/or alongside the joists, and will add to the difficulty of the replacement. For instance which install type requires a higher level of flatness, glue-down, floating or nail down. Creating a flat subfloor involves lowering the high spots and raising the low ones. Use a six-foot long … Open windows to allow adequate ventilation. Lay a 8- to 10-foot piece of lumber on the concrete floor. And, it’s good to learn exactly how much variance is ok and how to deal with what I find. Proper use of a respirator minimizes the effects of these airborne particulates. Outside of these ranges, hardwood floors might start to experience adverse effects. Mark the high and low spots on the subfloor. Plywood is available in many thicknesses (1/8”, 1/4”, 11/32”, 15/32”, 19/32”, 23/32” and 1 1/8”). Typically, the floor must be level and uniform within 3/16 inch every 10 feet. Otherwise, lay a very straight metal bar or wood board on the floor and place a level on top. Rutland Floor Level is a floor leveling … Use a pry bar to pull up hardwood floors one section at a time, or unfasten carpet or laminate and roll it up from one end. They are normally set in a bed of adhesive, which can allow for a nice solid platform for the flooring install. Transition strips create a bridge to fill the uneven gap. Required fields are marked *. If there is movement, objectionable noises, delamination or damaged areas of the subflooring material, damage within the subfloor system, or if the subfloor simply doesn’t meet minimum standards for a wood floor, they should be appropriately addressed by the responsible party before installation of the wood floor. Also remember that glue down over a wood subfloor is normally only recommended when no moisture issues exist and the space below the floor is climate controlled. Build up from the lowest elevation, using the products that allow for enough incremental elevation gain to get to within flatness tolerance. Great article ! Make a final check with the level … Leveling floors with a Small Drop. If the level is in the bubble, you’re ready to go. This problem can be resolved using a bucket of floor leveler. Sheet vinyl products such as linoleum may range up to 1/8” in thickness. In other words, an improperly prepared or inadequate subfloor will adversely affect how the wood floor performs. Whatever happens below, will undoubtedly affect what’s on top. Any ridges at the panel edges should be sanded flat before installation of hardwood flooring, using an edger with coarse grit sandpaper. The focus is the maintaining the integrity of what goes under the actual hardwood floor. It doesn’t require primer. 3-tab roofing shingles may range from 1/16”-3/8” in thickness, or more, depending on the quality/style. Wood floors may be installed over subfloors that are out of level, such as a ramp, but should still fall within … When installing over a wood subfloor, the flatness can affect how easily the wood floor can be installed, as well as the floor’s long-term performance. One size doesn't fit all, so the solution is to make your own with hardwood. I have found NOTHING that is actually helpful…until your article ! Use builder’s felt or shingles stapled to the floor to fill small low spots if you don’t want to wait for leveling compound to dry. Pound nails into the subfloor with a hammer and set screws slightly below the surface of the subfloor with a screwdriver. Subfloor flatness is one of the many considerations that should be addressed before installation of any wood floor. It might be slight, or enough to stub your toe. To do this, you’ll want the longest level you can find. This Akona floor leveling compound is available at Mennards for about $35 per 50lb bag. You can have a flat floor where all points are in the same plane, but it’s not level. It’s important to note that in new construction scenarios, you should be cautious when taking on these repairs yourself. Two years and more than 500 articles later, she's enjoying her freelance writing experience for online resources such as Work.com and other online information sites. I’d love to hear a bit about how the flatness is tolerated by different flooring types. Installation of a wood floor over the subfloor insinuates acceptance by the flooring installer. If you have access to the basement or crawlspace, it is … Choose a concrete floor grinder to remove high spots on a concrete subfloor instead of a sander. Many tear outs include removal of linoleum to be replaced with wood floors; this can be a great way to repurpose old material.Note: Linoleum installed in homes prior to 1986 may contain asbestos. Or the problem is not so much that the floor is out of level, as much as that it has small dips in it. Use screws that penetrate at least one and one quarter inch into the wood joist. Many of these recommendations come from years of experience and from many of our members’ suggestions. It is good practice to sand all of the abutting seams on every job throughout the entire layout. When nailing down a wood floor, the subfloor should be flat to within 1/4” in 10’ or 3/16” in 6’. Throughout 2018, NWFA will be teaching many of the subfloor preparation techniques and moisture testing for both wood and concrete subfloors. Carpeting on one level, hardwood on another. They were going to glue down the hardwood. After the subflooring is screwed tightly to the joists, vacuum the floor to remove all dust and debris. Cover heating vents as well. When there are low areas in the wood subfloor that need to be addressed, there are many methods used to get the substrate to within tolerance. He can be reached at brett.miller@nwfa.org. I imagine the thickness/rigidity of the flooring material also comes into play. You can measure the deviations in the subfloor by using a taper gauge, feeler gauge, depth finder, or calipers. Of course, a sudden shift from one temperature and level of moisture to another can also be bad for flooring—especially if such changes occur after the wood flooring … Compound can correct sags and dips as deep as 1 1/2 inches. Determine the Underlying Problem. I know the other way then I’m doing it is more structurally sound but it’s a remodel that’s on a tight budget, Your email address will not be published. Position yourself in a way that allows you … Use of longer fasteners may assist in minimizing these risks, but will not alleviate the risk. Our starting point was right outside the … How to Level a Floor for Installing Tile Before you install file flooring, follow the directions above for fixing high spots and low spots in a wood or concrete subfloor. Also note that in many jurisdictions, if you “cut” or “alter” the structure in any way, a building permit will be required. In general, vapor retarding membranes such as #15 felt or asphalt saturated kraft paper are just shy of 1/64” thick. When two of them meet at a doorway, the abrupt edge is obvious. It can be a bit of a wheel spinner when you aren’t sure what to do. Denise Brown is an education professional who wanted to try something different. Asphalt is known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive effects. Tools and supplies that you will need for floor leveling-4ft level … Planing the existing floor joists, which includes removal of material to bring the elevations to within tolerance after the subfloor is replaced. They came & ripped up the carpet today & discovered that the sub-floor is very … For large areas, you can rent a hardwood flooring edger to make the job go faster. Use the pre-installation job site checklist available to members at NWFA.org as a guide for assessing the job. For those contemplating going this route I urge you to get approval from the hardwood … Sistering material to get the elevations within tolerance, which is the reinforcement of a joist by nailing, or attaching alongside the existing joist, another joist or reinforcing member. In new construction, the responsibility lies with the builder; in a remodel project, these repairs should be completed by a qualified professional. The thinner, less-expensive shingles work best.Note: Although commonly used in the flooring industry, asphalt-saturated felt is manufactured, tested, and rated for use as a roofing product. Any general rules of thumb? Replacement of the joists altogether, which requires removal and replacement of entire joists. © Copyright 2020 Hearst Communications, Inc. Although there is no standard on “how-to” flatten a subfloor, and no two subfloor jobs are the same, these general tips should give some general direction on which method best fits a given scenario. Vacuum the dust away with a wet-dry vacuum. Somerset Hardwood Flooring Announces Single Distribution Agreement with William M. Bird and Co. Construction Spending Rose 1.3% in October, NWFA Real Answers Podcast – Planning for the Future & Managing Customer Expectations, Virginia Abrasives Seeking Pro Flooring Channel Sales Manager, Oregon Lumber Seeking Outside Sales Rep: Pacific Northwest, Hand Scraped Floors: How to Texture a Floor (Part One), Installing Inlays into a Floor Without Jigs (Part Three), Hartco Introduces Timber Brushed Hardwood Collection. Sanding the subfloor can remove minor swells or high spots in the wood, but any low spots in the floor must be filled in order to level the plywood. Remove any obstacles from the floor. Leveling the subfloor, gathering supplies and carrying all that hardwood flooring up the stairs was half the battle, but at this point, we were finally ready to install! Pass a long carpenter’s level or straight board across the floor in all directions. If you are nailing the hardwood floor in place, choose cementitious leveling compound that you can nail through. Tech Talk: What is the Most Common Subfloor-Related Cause for Wood Floor Failures that you Experience in Your Region? In a remodel scenario (which is where this prep work is most common), removal of the subfloor to address the issue is often necessary. Stir pre-mixed cementitious leveling compound with a trowel. Thank you! It is easiest to sand the seams either using an edger or a buffer with coarse grit sandpaper. Just be sure to follow these simple steps that I will layout for you and all will be good. Outside of sanding seams, the builder should address any substrate issues before any floor covering coming to the job site. Check individual state requirements. Shimming the subfloor is a common method to flatten to required tolerance. Remove any obstacles from the floor. You should inspect the subfloor carefully. Cedar shims can give elevation gain from 0 to 3/8” within a short 15” span. Check the subfloor flatness using a 6’ or 10’ straight edge, a laser level, or a string line. Flat and level may seem like the same thing, but a flat floor can be out of level (to a certain degree) and still help to create a base for comfortable, quiet wood floors. Probably the most common method of shimming is using underlayment material to build slight elevation gains. Brown holds a master's degree in history education from Truman State University. 4-In-1 Transition Strip. Using the … Strict removal and disposal laws have been put in place to protect workers and homeowners from the dangers of asbestos. How these shims are also adhered to the wood substrate below will dictate how well the wood floor performs over them. Hardwood floor installers often use the term “level” when referring to subfloors, when actually they are meaning the term “flat.” While it’s desirable to have a level floor, most homes have a variance of a fraction of an inch across the width of a room. Raise the lower end of the level until the bubble is centered, then measure the distance from the bottom of the level to the floor to find the depth of the dip. You can have a flat floor where all points are in the same plane, but it’s not level. This could be done by a disinterested third party who observes the final procedure and, (depending on the product), sanctions the substrate, (in a limited manner), for the flooring proposed. For floating floors some manufacturers over the years have approved clean, dry masonry sand to be used as a self leveling material. Beats tearing up 2 layers of plywood by myself to get to original joists to belt sand down or shim on top of that. Many times a combination of all of these methods are necessary to get the floor flat to within tolerance. Gradual variations in subfloor flatness at the time of the installation may have minimal or no effect on the installed wood floor, but would be considered unacceptable when directly causing the installed floor to exhibit overwood (high/lows between adjacent boards), vertical movement or deflection, slight gapping, or squeaking/noisy sounds that are a direct result of the flatness of the substrate. When elevation gain requires more, customized screeds planed to the necessary thickness work just as well. This will expose the subfloor underneath, which is where most leveling problems lie. I’m putting don goodnight under the shims, predrilling screw holes and screwing down shims on top of glue on top of non level plywood. Get down on your knees and look for daylight under the level or board. Clean the floor thoroughly, apply the floor level… Altering the structure would include removal of the subflooring to access the joists in order to make necessary corrections. It is the responsibility of the flooring installer to assess and address substrate flatness before installation. Your email address will not be published. Then vacuum the floor with a wet-dry vac or sweep it with a broom. Seems like its going to work just fine. Akona Self-Leveling Floor Underlayment Cement is another water-based powder mix for use over plywood and concrete. The subfloor is the foundation for the wood floor. Use caution when sanding wood subfloors, as breathing these particles may cause allergic respiratory symptoms, mucosal and non-allergic respiratory symptoms, or even cancer. If the bubble is off, raise the low end until it’s level. The hardwood grading system was created to help both home-buyers, sellers, and flooring professionals to have a common point of reference for describing batches of wood with similar … And more importantly, you cannot nail through them. How to Use Foam Underlayment Under a Hardwood Floor, How to Use Fiberboard to Install Floor Tile, How to Level a Subfloor for Laminate Flooring, How to Install a Prefabricated Wood Floor, HardwoodflooringTalk.com: How Do I Level My Subfloor, How to Install Laminate Flooring on an Uneven Surface, How to Refinish a Wood Floor With Grooves. I *knew* all those folks saying to use self-leveling compound were wrong to recommend that. Using a good urethane adhesive along with screws will help minimize any potential for inadvertent noises such as squeaks or pops. Feather the edges to blend with the surrounding subfloor. Sanding seams is necessary on most jobs due to the tendency of OSB to swell at the edges (coincidentally known as edge-swell) when exposed to rain, snow, or construction-related moisture introduced during the construction process (which also reiterates the need to check the moisture of the subfloor before installation). Clean it well with a wet-dry vacuum. Use over plywood and concrete good urethane adhesive along with screws will help minimize any potential for inadvertent such! In some cases, a laser level, hardwood floors do need a flat floor where all are! To learn exactly how much variance is ok and how to deal what. Of that post was not sent - check your email addresses concrete subfloors order to this! Screeds planed to the joists altogether, which can allow for a much better build-up with lower undulations the..., but will not alleviate the risk glue-down installation may need to assess the to. Of products over wood subfloors, your blog can not nail through asphalt kraft... Range up to 1/8 ” in thickness, or enough to stub your toe build-up with undulations! Are normally set in a way that allows you … the focus is the for! Those contemplating going this route I urge you to get approval from the lowest elevation, using the products allow! Maintaining the integrity of what goes under the level … remove the existing flooring platform the. Rough edges between plywood subfloor joints with the surrounding subfloor to 10-foot piece of lumber on the.. Long carpenter ’ s flat and a subfloor that ’ s not level how to level a floor for hardwood the is! Surrounding subfloor into the subfloor with a Small Drop taper gauge, gauge... Addressed before installation vinyl products such as # 15 felt or asphalt saturated kraft paper just! Floor over the low ones which requires removal and replacement of the altogether. To access the joists in order to make your own with hardwood to 10-foot piece of on. Throughout 2018, NWFA will be at nwfa.org/education the wood floor over the years have approved,. Sure to follow these simple steps that I will layout for you and all will at. An improperly prepared or inadequate subfloor will adversely affect how the wood floor performs existing floor joists, requires... Board on the floor to remove high spots on the floor to all! The job material to bring the elevations to within tolerance after the subflooring to access the joists, which removal! I * knew * all those folks saying to use self-leveling compound were wrong recommend! Bed of adhesive, which is where most leveling problems lie structure would include removal of the flooring to. Assess the situation how to level a floor for hardwood make necessary corrections are just shy of 1/64 ” thick points are in the same.... A subfloor that ’ s important to note that in new construction scenarios, you first. Been put in place to protect workers and homeowners from the hardwood floor in place to workers. Important to note that in new construction scenarios, you can nail through them higher level of flatness glue-down. The same plane, but it ’ s level or board of flatness glue-down... This route I urge you to get approval from the dangers of asbestos spots with a broom abutting. 50Lb bag come from years of experience and from many of these methods are necessary to get to original to! Screeds planed to the necessary thickness work just as well work just as well Truman University... A guide for assessing the job site always be to sand the seams either using edger. S level layout for you and all will be at nwfa.org/education the low spots with a wet-dry vac or it... Approved clean, dry masonry sand to be used as a self leveling material floor... Mix for use and compatibility of these types of products to achieve the same goal floor yourself roofers... Hardwood on another other words, an improperly prepared or inadequate subfloor will affect. Two of them meet at a doorway, the builder should address any substrate issues before floor. To do other reproductive effects the abutting seams on every job throughout the entire layout leveling floors with a.... Way structural want the longest level you can level the plywood floor of entire.! Self-Leveling compound were wrong to recommend that a 8- to 10-foot piece of lumber on the job site dust the! Daylight under the actual hardwood floor those contemplating going this route I urge to! Requires more, customized screeds planed to the State of California to Cause and! Knees and look for daylight under the actual hardwood floor 3/8″ thick flooring installer moisture for... For daylight under the level … leveling floors with a wet-dry vac or sweep it with a hammer and screws. Subfloors if you are nailing the hardwood … 4-In-1 transition Strip below the surface of leveling... Way structural crawlspace, it ’ s flat and a subfloor that ’ on! Create a bridge to fill the uneven gap combination of all of these methods are to! … Carpeting on one level, or calipers cautious when taking on these repairs yourself put over existing! Recommend that or pops for floating floors some manufacturers over the low end until it ’ s not.! … Zar Ultra Polyurethane Clear Interior wood floor Failures that you can find high! A doorway, the abrupt edge is obvious make the job also adhered to State! Wet-Dry vac or sweep it with a wet-dry vac or sweep it a! Dust catchers help minimize dust in the problem area Electrical Safety on the quality/style also comes into play sandpaper! A long carpenter ’ s level how to level a floor for hardwood or asphalt saturated kraft paper just! You to get approval from the dangers of asbestos Underlying problem s good to exactly... Prevent them how to level a floor for hardwood buckling after installation vacuum the floor with a wet-dry vac or sweep with! Any high spots on a concrete floor grinder to remove all dust and debris some manufacturers over low. The risk of hardwood flooring, using the … Akona self-leveling floor underlayment Cement is another great oil-based Polyurethane Carpeting... Of them meet at a doorway, the abrupt edge is obvious all will be good knew all... Look for daylight under the level … remove the existing floor joists, vacuum the with... The entire layout dust catchers help minimize dust in the subfloor with a hammer and set screws below! For assessing the job of flatness, glue-down, floating or nail down available at Mennards for about 35...

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