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how to fix very unlevel/not flat floor

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Topic by eruby posted 02-15-2011 04:47 PM 17526 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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eruby

9 posts in 2802 days

02-15-2011 04:47 PM

Topic tags/keywords: kitchen floors laminate unlevel flooring

This is my first post here so please forgive me if the topic has been covered elsewhere.

My wife decided that I was going to replace the nasty vinyl floor in our kitchen with some laminate flooring she found at the local Orange box store. The problem is we own (well our bank does anyway) a 90yr/old row house and the floor isn’t even close to flat let alone level. Under the vinyl is the original wood floor that will more than likely be in very rough shape (there is evidence of old fire damage in the basement directly under the kitchen).

My initial thought was to use some thin plywood or even chip board.

I am looking for some strategies to fix this latest challenge and welcome any and all ideas.

Thanks

Eric

-- Eric Baltimore MD



View Todd Thomas's profile

Todd Thomas

735 posts in 3590 days

02-16-2011 04:24 AM

well well well…..mmmmmmmmmm….a few ideas come to my empty head….
how big is the area? if not to big you could use floor leveler on it, that is if you can keep in on the floor and not leaking into the basement…..

you say it is un even or not flat…need more info or pictures would be great….

figure out ho out of level it is and let us know that as well

could use luan over it but need the other information to be sure, I would say….pictures would be great…..oh did I say that already:-)

-- Todd- Oak Ridge, TN

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eruby

9 posts in 2802 days

02-16-2011 03:32 PM

Todd,

Thanks for the reply. I didn’t have a chance to take any pictures last night, but I did knock together a very rough sketch of the kitchen. Kitchen_sketch

The arrows indicate the direction of “noticeable sag” in the kitchen floor from high to low. I did check how out of level the small hallway between the kitchen wall and the stairs. It was about an inch maybe a hair less out of level over the 3’. I have not checked to see how bad the rest of kitchen is.
All of the houses in my neighborhood (at least the one I have been in) have a similar “problem” because the floor joists run left to right (in my sketch) which means when the stairs were put in three or four joists had to be cut.
I am more concerned about getting the floor into the same plane (flat) because very little in the house is square and level.

-- Eric Baltimore MD

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

331 posts in 3850 days

02-16-2011 08:44 PM

If the sagging is indeed due to the joists cut when the stairs were put in, can you fix the sagging problem by installing a post and additional beams in the basement? A screw-adjustable steel column with the appropriate beam supporting the neighboring joists would probably let you jack the floor back up to level.

I was going to write that I wouldn’t worry so much about level as flat, but on looking at your drawing and seeing an inch over 3’, I’d definitely be worried about stopping the sagging.

When I think of Luan, as Todd suggested, it’d have a bit of a smoothing effect, but in a potentially wet area my gut says go with the concrete backer board. Same thickness, stiffer, still has some flex in it, but also better water behavior.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/

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eruby

9 posts in 2802 days

02-16-2011 10:41 PM

Dan,
Thanks for the reply. I’m pretty sure the sagging has stopped. (the house is 90 years old including the cutout for the basement stairs).
I’m afraid jacking the floor level again over a relatively short period of time will create more problems than it would solve. Perhaps a combination of the two ideas?

-- Eric Baltimore MD

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Dan Lyke

331 posts in 3850 days

02-16-2011 10:55 PM

I should note: Any advice you get from a professional is likely to be better than what I’m gonna give you. I’m just another guy buying a house back from the bank. Having said that:

Given that, from your drawing, it looks like the whole thing is slanted towards that stair edge, getting the whole thing into the same plane without raising the floor seems pretty huge.

I’d get a post under that sag, just to convince myself that it wasn’t moving any further. I respect your concern that forcing it back into place could cause more problems than it’d solve. If you’re really out an inch(!), then one possibility might be ripping 2-by lumber into tapered strips that you could overlay on the existing joists and put a layer of floor sheathing on top of it? I’ve never tried to pull a floor before (mine is diagonal boards, so would be easier to pull and replace than one which is sheathed with ply).

I don’t have a picture of what Todd was suggesting with the Luan, but maybe it’s possible to shim the thing level a quarter inch at a time with thin sheets? (Of course if you start doing that then you’re opening up the “changing the height of that top step” can of worms).

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/

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popztoolz

16 posts in 2798 days

02-19-2011 03:24 AM

Eric: As a contractor, yes Dan is correct. I own a house that is over 125 years old. The sagging will continue, slowly, but it will continue. Also correct is the fact in jacking up the floor with move everything above. I ended up jacking my stair well because of the same exact problem. Only my sag was 4” in 6 feet. That said, Yes you need to position a post under the lowest point of the sag on a joist. Probably at the right corner of your stairs in your drawing. Next you need to determine if you can take the sag out as Todd said using the post, without damaging too much and having to do costly repairs. If you can not raise the floor with the post then the next best way is to bring the level of the floor up by, 1- placing shims( ripping 2×4’s) under the luan before installing the new flooring to even out the floor. 2- If possible troweling floor leveler to even out the floor before installing luan, then the laminate. 3- Most expensive, shim floor then lay 3/4” tongue and groove plywood sheeting down, with laminate over top. Last method would give you the strongest floor, but it will also raise your floor where it meets other rooms. Your decision, your wallet. As for using the concrete backer board, if your were putting down ceramic tile, then yes that would be best, but since not, it is only an extra cost. Hope this helps. Not an easy project, but take it slow and it will turn out good.
William G. Yasovsky, Michael Yasovsky Construction Bellefonte, PA

-- William G. Yasovsky, Michael Yasovsky Construction, Bellefonte, PA

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eruby

9 posts in 2802 days

02-19-2011 05:20 AM

William,
Than you for the very detailed response.

I was thinking about trying to figure out where I could put a post in the basement to keep things from sinking any further.
I think I will choose something along the lines of approach 1 to make the floor flat enough to accept the laminate flooring. Do you think roofing shingles would make good shim material? I could stack them like playing cards under the low spots?

Eric

-- Eric Baltimore MD

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popztoolz

16 posts in 2798 days

02-20-2011 07:14 PM

Eric: I probably would stick to wood, just because you can always glue any finished flooring to it,where with shingles they would need changed if you change the flooring from the laminate you are putting down. William

-- William G. Yasovsky, Michael Yasovsky Construction, Bellefonte, PA

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eruby

9 posts in 2802 days

02-22-2011 12:12 AM

William,
I meant using the shingles as shims under the plywood to level the low spots instead of ripping a bunch of 2×4s.

-- Eric Baltimore MD

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popztoolz

16 posts in 2798 days

02-22-2011 11:59 PM

Eric:
I did understand that, I personally prefer wood. It is more common material in construction of floors.
What you want to do will work, it would be similar to what was used back in the 40’ and 50’.
They used to use the black tar paper similar to what is used under shingles before installing a floor.
Willliam

-- William G. Yasovsky, Michael Yasovsky Construction, Bellefonte, PA

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eruby

9 posts in 2802 days

04-19-2011 03:40 AM

William,
Thanks again for all the good advice and I understand your preference for using wood.

I got sidetracked and am actually ready to start tackling this project.
Can the adjustable columns be installed permanently?
If so are there any columns that I should avoid?

-- Eric Baltimore MD

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eruby

9 posts in 2802 days

11-15-2011 04:59 PM

simi,
how far out of level was your floor?

-- Eric Baltimore MD

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