leveling floor for laminate

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leveling floor for laminate

Postby creekside » Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:07 pm

should i leave the "mobile home site" for this problem even though it is in my trailer? what is a good product to level my plywood floor with before laying my laminate. It's is more than pits...there is a gradual falling starting a foot away from the wall...toward the wall...and ends up about 1/4" lower. My level definitely rocks that little bit. The floor seems surely stable and sound but i do need to level this with a self leveling liquid? Is this beyond the amateur that i am?
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Re: leveling floor for laminate

Postby Greg » Mon Apr 11, 2011 7:15 pm

are you saying that the floor is level until about a foot from the wall and then drops off?

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Re: leveling floor for laminate

Postby JD » Mon Apr 11, 2011 9:11 pm

I like ARDEX Feather Finish, but any brand of thin set should work, Henry's, Mapei, Versabond etc. The Ardex states up to 1/2" thick, but that is really thick for floor compound.

It works like troweling concrete but easy. You can use a trowel or wide putty knife, depending on how much you are doing and what works better for you. A level or straight board to will help you check your work. You can mix the stuff up in a bucket but most guys mix it directly on the floor. After you have the floor flat and smooth, let the stuff dry for 30 minutes or so, much longer if it is thick. Then "sand" the trowel edges and bumps with a putty knife. The compound needs to be soft enough to scrape off easily but hard enough to stand on without damage. Catch it at the right time and all you will need is the putty knife and a sanding block (real wood, real sandpaper). If you wait too long, it is a pain to sand down. You may need a second coat to get the floor straighter and fix irregularities.

A true self leveling floor compound takes experience to get right. I won't do them. I would end up with way too much float on the floor.
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Re: leveling floor for laminate

Postby creekside » Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:44 am

greg - my floor is level from one side of the trailer to the other...until about a foot away from one of the side walls, the floor, for several feet, gradually falls to a low of no more than 1/4" right at the wall. I have a piece of wood between my teeth...gimme the news.

JD...Does Ardex give me the time to work slowly? Can I call it a day and join fresh ardex with new ardex the next day? My low spot is a solid area of one foot by several feet along a wall. The low being no more than 1/4" A looong level goes along the floor well with a low spot along one end of the level right at the wall only. Saying that, I envision laying a self leveling compound (SLC) along the wall, and with a little help from my friends...dragging, or shimmying or whatever motion works best, the loooong level along the (SLC). Does the (SLC) lend itself to this type of manipulating with ease or is it stubborn. I appreciate your advice but do like to ask questions.
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Re: leveling floor for laminate

Postby joedirt63 » Tue Apr 12, 2011 7:07 am

i think you're talking about a crown in the floor. the roof is supported by the side walls witch are supported by the rim jiost of the floor.because there are only 2 metal beams under the trailer and some out riggers to support the floor.the floor joists bow over time under the weight of the roof. i had the same problem only mine was 1/2 and better. perimiter blocking will help a good deal many here posted these issues and used this method to correct it. i used a diffrent method but same principle. i used cement cap block to form a platform cement block and then 3 house jacks (screw type) with a 4x4 brace under the rim joist .remember level is relative ,nothing is truely level in these m/h. perimiter blocking is like a foundation on a stick house . my m/h park owner will not let us dig or put down any kind of footings. witch is why i went with the house jack set up. i was able to get about 1/2 out of part of the floor , enough to make it feel and look level. one prob i found is that once the floor joist take a set,they don't always straighten out.
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Re: leveling floor for laminate

Postby Greg » Tue Apr 12, 2011 4:27 pm

Joe, That's where I was going, I just wanted to be sure that was indeed the problem. You just beat me to it.

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Re: leveling floor for laminate

Postby JD » Tue Apr 12, 2011 7:28 pm

Joe described the problem that mobile homes tend to have, but personally, I have never been able to straighten multiple curved joists. Many years ago I over jacked one side of a home and set perimeter piers. Went back a month later and there was no change. The curve just elevated and did not straighten.

You can try the self leveling compound. I would imagine that it would work. Screeting off of the straight part of the floor should make a pretty flat and nice subfloor. I have used additives with the Ardex to make it self leveling, but I found the mud harder to work with.

If you do use the regular Ardex stuff, only mix up only what you can use in 20 minutes or so. Once the stuff starts getting stiff, it is hard to work with. (don't know about SLC) Also, wipe off your trowel and putty knife onto a card board box or scrape them clean into a trash can. There will be little pieces that dry and turn into hard chunks. You don't want that stuff going into your fresh clean mud. If you see any part of a staple, screw or nail head coming through the float, knock it in with a punch and smooth out the hole. And yes, you can add another layer the next day or whenever.
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Re: leveling floor for laminate

Postby joedirt63 » Wed Apr 13, 2011 6:30 am

sorry greg,but it's not too often i actully know what i'm doing :? but when something comes around i've encountered and was able to correct, i feel good. ( patting self on back ) heh heh. I'm not a pro like some onhere just a m/h owner do it youselfer like alot of us. back to the level prob. i would still jack or support the floor even if you used that leveling compound just so it doesen't get worse. :mrgreen: JD out of the 12 foot span i tried the lift i had to replace only 3 and those people(manufactures) who build this stuff don't know what 16 on center means.
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Re: leveling floor for laminate

Postby mdnagel » Tue Apr 19, 2011 6:43 am

I've only had one experience here, though it was pretty intense... Ended up using perhaps a couple hundred pounds of compound. Much of this story can be found here: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=7996

My floor (of my newly purchased 1997 home) looked like it was manufactured by someone whose main line of work was in building roller coasters! All the T-joists were high (or everything else low?), and the other joists tended to vary. And in between the joists in many places the particle board flooring was dipped. Oh, and in one prominent spot I had this mountain (OK, I exaggerate, but it was an extremely high spot).

My home sits on a full concrete pad and, according to a laser level, appeared to be very level (no problems with doors or any signs of cracking). I poked around underneath and made some minor adjustments on some jacks in an attempt to help settle high spots (that darn mountain!), but I don't think that it really did anything (and I wasn't going to do any radical adjusting).

I could have alleviated the between-joists depression issue, but that still left me with the problem of varied heights in the joists. And, like you, I seemed to have sagging in the floor near walls (nothing consistent though): I suspect that it probably wasn't any more common than the rest of the flooring, but along the walls is really a pain to deal with.

So, leveling compound was the medicine that I chose to take. I used Henry's (547? no particular reason other than that's what was available at the store closest to me).

Being a total novice to all of this, here's what I learned:

1) Mask off your walls (that you're going to need to level up to/against)- I used cardboard from the boxes that my laminates came in; initially I didn't do this and I ended up spending way too much time trying to finesse my way around and caused me to then rush as things started to set up on me;

2) Establish level/flat high points to screed on/from- I found that I had to sand in several places (used a long straightedge and a level [although realize that it's all relative- try to average things out so that there's no sudden changes- often I'd find that checking in one direction showed a high spot, while checking 90 degrees out would show it low! it got to the point of being more "art" than construction!);

3) Look to apply on the high side rather than low, lest you burn yourself out mixing more batches (and all the cleanup!)- I was really, REALLY, stupid and didn't figure out that I could take down high spots using a good belt sander equipped with 40 grit paper, I thought "hey, that's concrete, no way I can sand it!", rather than trying to use a chisel! (yes, I spent WAY too much time chiseling); be prepared, however, for lots of dust! (connect sander to a shop vac, dust mask etc.);

4) Do walk-through tests of how the screeding is going to go- I ended up using flooring laminates, which worked out well (once I figured out that I should be screeding across joists, etc. etc.); make sure to keep the screeding board as perpendicular as possible, otherwise you'll end up low; make sure everything is clear!

5) Mark depths in fill areas to assist in pouring the mixture- this helps from having it pile up where you don't want it, and not having enough where you need it- I found that using a small trowel to help distribute the mixture along the face of the board helped (as well for use in cleaning off the board when I'd have to pick it up- NOTE: by being more strategic about depositing/loading up the mixture you'll minimize the need to pick up the board and backtrack- every second adds up when this stuff is setting up);

6) Vary your mixture based on the pour you need- if you've got a lot of deep spots then make the mixture a bit thicker (thin will just tend to dish down, that's what happened to me);

7) Start in the middle of the floor and work out- create level/flat surfaces to work off of, as near walls your board will likely be free-floating (I don't even want to say the stupid ways that I was trying to navigate this);

8) If you're going to be hopping all over the place and working some tight or difficult areas (around ducting holes etc.) do smaller mixes; toward the end I was able to gauge things pretty well, getting up to about 20 lbs batches;

9) Be sure to keep track of your mixing ratios- measure twice, pour once! :lol: I found that measuring and pouring the additive into the bucket first would buy me a bit more time (doing it the other way mean that I'd have some additive mixed while fiddling with measuring and pouring additional): NOTE: one could measure and pour the additive into a separate container and then pour it into the bucket with the compound, but I wasn't that smart(?) (would mean another container to have to deal with);

10) Spend the time mixing well- screeding around a bunch of chunks sucks; mixing was better when I went heavy on the additive (I'm sure I violated some laws here [didn't help my budget $$! :lol: ]); I used a drill and a mixing paddle (spiral kind);

11) Have your cleanup area ready to go before you start mixing!

12) Don't drink a lot of liquids while working with this stuff- that is, unless you make sure you take bathroom breaks BEFORE you start mixing! (once you're committed you can't stop);

13) Figure on about an hour a batch- pre mixing, mixing, pouring, leveling and clean up;

14) As you work repeat the phrase "this is necessary," often! :lol:

I feel pretty good with the last section of flooring that I did. For the earlier ones, well... flooring covers a multitude of sins (unless those sins result in an obviously failed floor!): never would get hired for flooring work if anyone saw what I'd one early on :lol: I probably spent at least three times as much time on sub floor prep than I did in putting down the laminates (and I had some significant cutting to do).
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