Whether you need to level out existing tiles, concrete, timber or any other substrate, self levelling compound is the perfect solution. As long as there isn’t too much of a discrepancy, it’ll work on all types of uneven substrates.
In terms of checking how much a floor is out of level, you can use a golf ball. With the ball to hand, drop it on the floor in multiple spots to get an idea of where the floor is at its lowest.
Once you’ve found the lowest point, use a spirit level (at least 6 foot) and hold it up at the lower end of the level until the bubble is in the middle. You can then measure the gap between the floor and the raised end of the level.
Depending upon how uneven the floor is will determine which self levelling compound you require. Most will provide a maximum depth of 5mm but there are many different mixtures you can use to best suit your requirements. For our tutorial below, we used the Bostik Cempolay Ultra Strong formula and it was very easy to mix and use.
How Does It Work
A self levelling compound uses gravity in order to self level an uneven surface and this is made possible by the inclusion of latex within the formula. The use of latex gives the mixture high flow characteristics and the flexibility to move without cracking. It also requires very little water and once mixed up, it can simply be poured onto the uneven substrate. After pouring, you can then move it around to achieve the perfect finish to your floor.
What You’ll Need
- Self levelling compound
- Straight-edged timber
- Protective mask
- Paddle mixer
- Spiked roller
How To Lay Self Levelling Compound
1. Prepare The Substrate
Before you begin, it’s always good practice to brush and vacuum any loose debris because it may effect the compound from bonding with the surface. If there is any dirt and debris that won’t budge, you may need to use a scraper to clear it.
2. Build Any Barriers (Optional)
Whether you want to stop the self levelling compound going into another room or anywhere that you need to access at a later date, you’ll need to build a barrier.
As you can see in the photo, this particular section of the floor was underneath a bath and there is plumbing and electric cables that we needed access to at a later date.
In terms of building the barrier, you’ll want to use a straight-edged piece of timber and a suitable sealant to stop the self levelling compound passing through. The barrier itself doesn’t need to be incredibly sturdy because all its stopping is the flow of the self levelling compound.
3. Pour The Self Levelling Compound Into A Bucket
Once the substrate and any barriers have been prepared, you can proceed to mixing up the self levelling compound. To begin, find a suitable bucket and pour the compound of your choice into it. Depending upon the area you are levelling will determine how much of the compound you’ll need. On the bag, there should be instructions that state the exact measurements you require.
As you can see in the image, there may be a kick-up of dust as you pour the self levelling compound into the bucket. Therefore, we would recommend that you wear a protective mask for peace of mind.
4. Add Water & Begin Mixing The Compound
With the self levelling compound in the bucket, you can then continue to add the required amount of water. Depending upon the mixture you use will determine the amount of water that’s required. For our particular mixture, the 20KG bag required 3.8 litres of water.
To mix the water and compound, we used a paddle mixer but you can use a cordless drill with the appropriate attachment if required. Before it’s ready to be poured, you’ll want to continue mixing it up until its lump free and at the right consistency. After mixing, if you feel that its too lumpy, add more water but if its too watery, you may need to add more of the compound.
5. Pour The Compound Onto The Substrate
Once you are happy with the consistency of the mixture, you can pour it onto the substrate. Ideally, you want to pour it onto the farthermost part of the room and work backwards because this will avoid having to walk on top of it. As shown in the video of us pouring our self levelling compound below, it should pour without any user input required.
6. Mix & Pour More Mixture If Required
After pouring your first mixture of self levelling compound, you’ll then need to decide if you need any more to cover the entire floor. If you do, repeat steps 3, 4 and 5 so that the entire floor is covered. Alternatively, if you are working upon large or deep areas, you can section off the area using lengths of timber.
As you can see in the image, the 20KG bag didn’t cover the entire floor and we ended up using 60KG in total to cover the floor (end result shown below).
7. Spread All Areas Using A Trowel
After you’ve covered the entire floor with the mixture, you’ll want to ensure it has reached all of the edges.
The best way to achieve this is to use a smooth edged steel trowel to work the compound in sections (as shown in the image). After it has been spread and its nice and smooth, you can use a spiked roller to eliminate any air bubbles. Although there are many people that don’t do this step, it’s always advisable because if there is trapped air, it may cause issues once the compound has dried.
We used a budget spiked roller and all you need to do is run it through the compound for it to do its job.
The End Result
Although there are lots of steps involved, using self levelling compound is a relatively easy task. As you can see in the image below, the end result is nice and smooth and we successfully sectioned off areas where it wasn’t required.
How Long Does Self Levelling Compound Take To Dry
Once you’ve laid your self levelling compound, it’s crucial that you give it enough time to cure and dry out completely. Ideally, you’ll want the room to have an air temperature of around 20°C and plenty of ventilation. You may even wish to use a suitable dehumidifier to remove excess moisture within the room.
In terms of how long self levelling compound takes to dry, it dries at approximately 24 hours per 1mm of thickness. Therefore, if the thickness of the compound is 5mm, it’ll take at least 5 days for the self levelling compound to completely dry. However, in terms of it being suitable for foot traffic, some compounds can be walked on as soon as 30 minutes whereas others may be a few hours.
Compatibility With Underfloor Heating
If you’ve installed underfloor heating and are looking to level the floor, it’s crucial that you check that the compound you use it compatible. The majority can be used but it will specifically state on the bag if you can use it with underfloor heating. It’s important to note that you shouldn’t use the underfloor heating as a method of speeding up the drying process because this may result in cracking of the floor.
Hopefully our guide on how to use self levelling compound gives you the confidence to try it out yourself. However, if you need any further information, feel free to get in touch and we will provide our assistance where possible.