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How Do I Level My Sub Floor?
Question: My sub floor settled over time or was not installed level to begin with so how can I fix this and how do I decide what is the best way to proceed?
1. First you will need to determine the structural integraty of your sub floor. There are several methods you may use to decide whether or not your floor is stable and whether it can handle additional weight of the repair materials. L/360 is desired
a). If you don't feel that it is safe to walk on the subfloor then immediately contact a structural engineer or inspector to assist in repairing the structure.
b). Assuming that it is now safe to walk and work on you will first want to know will this support the addition of leveling materials. If the floor seems stiff with little or No deflection then you will most likely be able to put 14 pounds per square foot on it without worry of over load. You must have a qualified licensed professional determine this in writing for you to be sure.
2. Next determine the best method to level your sub floor. There are 4 general methods used to level a floor.
a). Some will level the floors by lifting the entire structure if it is a sinking issue.
b). While others will level floors by jacking the floor up from the floor below and setting spin jacks to hold it in place.
c). A Carpenter will most commonly repair from the top of the sub floor by using wood, sleepers and shims. this method is labor intensive but it can save weight when leveling very deep sections by creating a level platform over the original subfloor.
d). A Tile or Masonary installer will want to level the floor using wire lathe for structure and then blending a damp mixture of Portland Cement and Fine Sand. The reason for the wire is that the mud set as it is reffered to does not have enough moisture to create a bond to the sub floor. So the wire holds the portland and sand mix together.
e). Floor leveling professionals will not use any of the above methods though they will occasionally suggest this for people in certain situations to save them money when there is a job that is to small to warrant the cost of floor leveling crews on site.
Instead Floor Leveling professionals preffer using pourable materials that will bond to the subfloor and not require additional reinforcement in most cases. Also because they are installed in a liquid state they will have a smooth flat finish with typically 3 to 10 times the strength of other methods.
3. Determine the High Point in a room. There are three devices you may use to find the highest point in a room.
a). First you can use a long water bubble type level and set nails or shims under it to record the differance. This method can be time consuming but it does not require a major investment for a laser or altimeter.
b). Your second option would be to use leveling or self leveling laser. First level the laser then take a ruler and go around the area looking for the lowest number on the ruler when set on the ground. Once you find the lowest numerical value mark the spot as your highest point in the area.
c). The Third tool you can use to is made by Nivicomp and Ziplevel. Both are good but the zip level has more function and is made in the US. These are both altimeters with digital readout the ziplevel may be purchased at www.ziplevel.com, for Nivicomp contact Drytek.com for distributers.

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