For a more detailed, step-by-step guide to flattening a wood subfloor, see here. Watch while someone walks over the noisy spot. But. The two types of subfloor material, oriented strand board (OSB) and plywood, are … Disclosure: BobVila.com participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for publishers to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Screw Subflooring. ... Be sure to use low expanding foam and I would also place a large heavy object on the floor above to be sure you do not push the flooring up with the foam. Use an underlayment, floor leveler or floor patch product to fix low spots in a wood or concrete subfloor. Not having any low spots or soft spots in your new floor makes your home feel solid and of better construction. It’s not the depth of the depression that matters; it’s the width. Place the level on different areas of the floor, and notice if it lays flat in all spots. Sistering joists is a job for the pros, who will bolt the new joists to the old joists and position the ends of the joists on the same sill plate that supports the original joists. This can create uneven floors, cracks in walls, and doors that won’t close. Most subfloors will have low spots that require filling with floor patching compound. Staple each layer and it should not move once covered with flooring. A high joist is a different conundrum. A dry substance is mixed with water to form a liquid slurry which is then spread over the floor with a gauge rake. But if there’s a sag somewhere in the middle, the floor is not in plane even though it’s technically level. When you have depression that are three or four feet in diameter or more, it’s the joists that are the problem. Set the depth of a circular saw to *slightly* more than your subfloor to avoid cutting through anything but plywood. Add Supports. Because it’s a liquid, the slurry will naturally settle into low spots, filling them in and creating a level surface. When the subfloor is reinstalled, you’ll have an even floor. Again, you want to cut just inside the closest joists that will allow you to cut out the damage. Taking out your subfloor. Actually, if you go overboard and gouge out some of the subfloor, it’s not the end of the world. Even when the foundation is repaired, there’s no guarantee that the floors will be level again, but at that point, shimming the joists may be a feasible option. Leveling a Concrete Floor, 10 Things to Do Now if You Plan to Buy a House Next Year, 7 Things to Know Before Installing a Cement Tile Floor, So, You Want to... Level a Concrete Floor, 8 Easy and Affordable Garage Floor Options, Just Floored! Flooring installers will look at the whole site and fill the low spots and might raise the whole floor with plani-patch if they have to. Self-leveling underlayment products can be used on concrete floors, wood subfloors that are uneven but still in decent shape, and even over ceramic tile floors—eliminating the task of tearing out the old tiles. Got plywood or OSB subfloor that is warped or bumpy and can’t be sanded down? Then you have access to the bottom of the floorboards. I like to talk a lot about the benefits of layering and how layering can save your butt (in other words, if you mess up this layer, there will be another, covering layer atop to cover up your mess). Camo Deck Fastening System: Easy Way to Install Cheap Decking. Then vacuum. Add Reinforcing Metal: Depending upon the conditions, it is possible to strengthen or repair existing framing members, such as floor joists or roof rafters, by adding reinforcing material.Sandwiching the member on either side with plywood is sometimes worthwhile, but the plywood must be installed correctly for greatest strength. Use screws to fasten the subfloor to the joists. What we found is that one technique is to pull up the subfloor and shave down the top of the joist. ... a customer would call to complain the floor I just laid had a low spot that made the floor slap every time she walked across it, ... Improper subfloor flatness caused a floating plank failure. RELATED: What Would Bob Do? How to fix a soft spot in laminate floor. When installing a glue-down floor directly over concrete, flattening can be even more important. To avoid unsatisfactory results with rigid flooring, read on to get clear about if, where, and why your substrate might be uneven—and how to deal with the issues. It spreads across uneven slabs, filling in low spots as it creates a new, level surface. Pretty much you have to sand it down. Check to ensure that the product you purchase is compatible with your floor. Often, age-related settling results in an uneven floor, which is likely nothing to worry about. A power planer makes quick work of planing away the high area, but you can also plane it by hand with a manual planer. If you plan on leveling a concrete floor, you can do so with relative ease by using a leveling compound. Dealing with bumps and depressions in your subfloor is your last chance to smooth things out (both figuratively and literally) before laying down the finish floor. Instead, you need to use approved levelers. This requires using a laser level (to pinpoint the low areas) and attaching the shims (working on bare joists above a basement or crawlspace), by gluing and screwing them to the joists; then the area is planed to remove any high spots. I ripped up the old hardwood in the kitchen. You can use a wire brush to clean them out. Whether you’re planning to replace an existing floor or not, a hump in a subfloor requires removing the problem before it worsens. Many homeowners call the pros if shimming the joists is required, which could run between $1,000 and $5,000, depending on the extent of the job. Before taking steps to level a floor, you must find out why it’s not level. . If they consistently roll to the same side, that side is lower than the rest of the floor. Make sure the subfloor is flat and quiet. Only way to fix these issues is a relay. The gouges can be filled in…or if small enough, the finish floor may be able to bridge them, as long as you’re installing solid wood or engineered wood flooring. A common misconception, however, is that the floor must be level (horizontal) in order to successfully put in rigid flooring. The joints fatigued and opened up. When dealing with small gaps less than 1/8th of an inch on the end of a plank or along the edge of a plank, the application of vinyl putty can provide an effective fix. Before you start to level a wood subfloor, make sure the subflooring is attached well to the floor joists. Once this occurs, you must correct the cause of the moisture condition, and then the affected section of the subfloor can be replaced. This type of joist can receive wedges on top to bring the level up. A hump in a subfloor … Something I do in situations like this is to use #30 felt to fill in the low spots. When replacing delaminated subfloor, it’s best to remove and replace the entire sheet that’s damaged, rather than trying to piece in smaller sections. The plywood is nailed down, not screwed, and one idea is to put some screws in and see if that tightens it up. By popping a chalk line along the side of the bowed joist from end to end (hold it at the top end of the joist), you’ll be able to see the portion of the joist that is too high. When it comes to concrete floors, height discrepancies are often due to the original concrete finishers not leveling the floor adequately. Spread the thinset over the surface, filling in the low spots and holes. Use a long straight edge and by the time you get it built up it should look like a topographical map. You should use a circular saw for this. Hardwood floors add style and a distinct look to a room. While the above factors commonly result in uneven floors, a number of other structural problems can occur that result in foundation movement, and subsequently, everything above the foundation moves. To tighten a series of boards, force a 2×4 up against the subfloor using a temporary prop. Often, when repairing a bad subfloor, it is when you are going to install new flooring, whether tile, wood, or carpet. Can You Add Chlorine to a Pond as an Easy Way to Keep It Clear? It's used to help insulate, absorb sound and reduce wear on your floor. Locate the low spots on the floor but running a straight piece of lumber across the surface. If your subfloor is of the solid wood variety (i.e., not plywood or OSB), you can single out a floorboard or two that are creating the bump, and which cannot be easily sanded or planed down, then you can pop them out and replace them. Ceramic tile can suffer from “lippage”—since tile won’t bend to fit a wavy floor, the edge of one tile will often sit higher than the edge of the adjacent tile, forming a “lip.” The undesirable effect is more pronounced with larger tiles. Guides often tell you to sand it smooth–but what’s the point? When a subfloor becomes warped or delaminated (swells and deteriorates), it is no longer level or structurally sound. While it’s probably fruitless to try to straighten out these warped joists, you can most certainly sister them and prevent them from warping any more. This type of floor-leveling is DIY-friendly and costs approximately $1.50 per square foot when applied 1/8-inch thick. Before uniform building codes were common, some builders used undersized lumber or spaced the joists too far apart when constructing the floor joist system. Expert advice from Bob Vila, the most trusted name in home improvement, home remodeling, home repair, and DIY. If the subfloor moves, use a tapered shim to tighten a loose subfloor board. Pour a generous amount of mixed leveler onto the subfloor, focusing on one or more wavy areas. You need to get access to the bad joist(s) and replace or repair. Laminate planks can pull apart, and gaps can appear between hardwood planks. Glenda Taylor, Bob Vila, Henry Level-Pro Self-Leveling Underlayment, What Would Bob Do? Before you start cutting, find out how thick your subfloor is, so that you can set the depth of your saw blade correctly. Snap a chalk line or use a straight edge to mark your cut line. Now I want to lay a quality laminate flooring with underlayment. Spread it on, trowel it smooth. In fact, all that’s required is that the floor be “in plane,” which simply means “flat.”. The plywood subfloor is uneven. Floor leveling compound is made for just such a thing. Then moisten the floor with water. All foundation problems should be inspected and diagnosed by a structural engineer. Diy soft spot laminate flooring popping fix on a uneven floorhttps://amzn.to/2Jd2uYn (affiliate link) Screw a wood subfloor to the underlying joists to minimize creaking. Fix Gaps With Vinyl Putty Gaps in a laminate floor can be caused by an uneven subfloor, improper installation of flooring underlayment, or temperature changes. You agree that BobVila.com may process your data in the manner described by our Privacy Policy. When inflexible flooring is installed over a substrate that dips or heaves, various things can go wrong. We then inspected the subfloor from underneath, in the basement, and found that the floor was being held up by a series of jacks, which was indicative of how unusual and old this floor was. Drop a few marbles onto the floor in various areas around the room and then watch them roll. . I thought … Actually, if you go overboard and gouge … Using floor patching compound to level a subfloor. As long as it’s level, you can forgo the sanding. Then pad low spots with plywood or shims. If you need to bring down your subfloor, you can try either a hand plane or a power sander. In order to properly install hardwood floors, the plywood subflooring must be even, or level. A structural engineer may suggest “sistering” the joists, a process whereby new joists are attached to the existing joists to add strength to the floor. If you don’t have any marbles handy, you can check for dips and heaves with an eight-foot carpenter’s level. Choose for Me: Laminate or Luxury Vinyl Flooring? Dip the shim tip in glue and tap it between the joist and subfloor until it’s snug. Then either screw the thing out or pry it out and replace it. Get free, no-commitment estimates from licensed general contractors near you. When a damaged subfloor is properly repaired, your new flooring should feel and look beautiful for many years to come. So, you really have to make this one count, because you’re at the next-to-last layer. I would use a 2' square of plywood and at least 50lbs of weight on top of it. 30# roofing felt works great for this. Tile installation requires grooves in the thinset to create air pockets which facilitate the adhesion of the tile. Asphalt shingles work really well to fill low spots in wood floors when you're installing 3/4-inch traditional hardwood flooring that will be nailed to the wood subfloor. Your second step is to cut the subflooring away from the outer edges of the room. 15 Totally Unexpected DIY Flooring Alternatives. Spread the leveler over the floor with a trowel or a gauge rake so it covers each low area completely. The result was a weak, saggy, or bouncy floor. Use a 6 ft level and just build up the low spots by stapling down strips of felt. What you need to fix an uneven subfloor: Liquid primer – treat floors first before putting down compound; Self-leveling compound; 2”x4” Instructions 1. Fixing a low joist is pretty straight forward: jack it up and sister join another joist to the original one. Mix some Cement-All with water, (Cement-All is a high grade cement that is used to fix driveways and stairs, and sticks very well to old concrete, but it must be clean) and fill in the holes with a spatula or trowel. The process of fixing both an out-of-level and an out-of-plane floor is simply known as leveling a floor. By Glenda Taylor and Bob Vila, Slightly sloping floors, which are common in older houses, often worry homeowners who want to install new rigid floorings, such as laminate, ceramic tile, or hardwood. The best remedy is replacing damaged subfloor panels with new ones. While you might not notice lippage on two-inch-square tiles, large format tiles, such as the eight-inch-by-48-inch planks designed to mimic real wood, can develop a sizeable lip at one end of a plank if the floor is out of plane. Thre Ways to Fix a Sagging or Sloping Floor. Your cost could be more or less, depending on the size of the floor area to be treated and the depth of the low areas. If your marble test indicated a high area where marbles always roll away, it could be that a floor joist has bowed upward—fortunately, one of the simpler structural problems to solve. High areas in the floor are called “heaves” and low areas are called “dips.”. 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. Always recheck with a straightedge to make sure you haven't created a high spot in the floor. With this type of floor, however, you do not have the luxury of a quick fix by shimming with shingles. Any depression that is more than 3 or 4 inches wide is, in my opinion, too wide. But if you’re experienced with the tools and techniques described above and wish to DIY, a bundle of 42 shims runs about $5, and you may need one or more bundles, depending on the number of joists you’re shimming. Plane refers to the flatness of the entire surface, and any high and low spots must be remedied before installing rigid flooring. It really doesn’t matter how ugly a job this is–you’re going to cover it up anyway. When subjected to constant moisture, however, such as a steady drip from leaky plumbing, they will eventually delaminate. It can also serve as a vapor barrier. The only way to tell for sure is to get under the floor and check the condition of the joists and beams beneath. Your contractor will start in the corner of the room and use a flat pry bar to get the edge of the carpet up off the tack strips and to remove the tack strips themselves. If you’re an enthusiastic DIYer with basic construction skills, you should be able to replace damaged panels to even out the floor. There's no way to fix the subfloor under carpet without pulling up the carpet. Step 3. The holes have to be very clean. Fasten plywood shims to the joists and then dry-fit the new subfloor over them, measuring the difference between the high and low points again to make sure the inconsistency in the height of the subfloor is as minimal as possible. If you have a drum sander on hand, this can level out any bumps in the subfloor, but you need to have a steady hand to control this. Leveling a floor can be either a do-it-yourself project or a job for the pros, depending on what’s causing the problem. The difference between “plane” and “level” is subtle but not arbitrary. A four-foot-by-eight-foot sheet of OSB subflooring costs $18 to $22 and the same size sheet of plywood subflooring costs $20 to $24. The uneven part of the plywood subfloor runs width of the center of the entire room. Foundation footings can sink and basement walls can shift due to lateral pressure from the soil, but whatever the cause, the fix is typically expensive—usually no less than $10,000 to have a foundation contractor stabilize the foundation. If you have a drum sander on hand, this can level out any bumps in the subfloor, but you need to have a steady hand to control this. This is a minor issue and can be fixed using the method discussed next. If you need to bring down your subfloor, you can try either a hand plane or a power sander. The most basic method is to take a piece of tar paper, fold it in half and then push that underneath the flooring material being installed over the subfloor. Shimming involves attaching thin, wedge-shaped pieces of wood on top of the low areas of the joists to make the tops of the joists even. Occasionally, a floor joist will bow upward, creating a heaved area on the floor above. Copyright © 2020 Acton Media Inc. All rights reserved. It requires removing the subfloor over the bowed joist and then planing the high part of the joist down until it’s level across the top. But in some cases, problematic structural issues, including foundation problems, a cracked floor joist, a rotted sill plate (what the joist sit on), or delaminated subflooring cause the floor to be uneven. The room is a kitchen and a dining area measuring 25' x 15'. The easiest way to find out if your floor is out-of-plane is to use the time-honored marble method. While we tried to flatten this the best we could, there still may be some high and low points in the floor. Shingles can get a little crunchy under laminate since it floats and isn't fastened to the subfloor. The best remedy is replacing damaged subfloor panels with new ones. If the uneven floor is due to floor joists that have warped or twisted over time or were incorrectly installed, the only way to level the floor is to remove the subflooring and shim the joists. For example, if you use a laser level to determine the elevation of the floor on both sides of a room, you may find that both sides are pretty close to being the same elevation (level). I'm wondering how best to fix the problem - I'm no expert, but even I can tell that hardwood flooring will not sit nicely across that 1/8" height difference. Leveling a Concrete Floor. No matter what kind of flooring you’re installing, it’s important to make sure the surface beneath it is level, smooth and flat. Level is the horizontal variance between two points. Sometimes a joist will be bowed simply as a function of aging. If joists appear rotted, cracked, or broken, if you find termite damage, or if you discover cracks in the foundation walls, you’re best advised to have a structural engineer determine the type and extent of the structural problem, which will have to be fixed before any floor-leveling can take place. If a gap appears under the center of the level, it indicates a low spot—if the level rocks back and forth, it’s a sign of a high spot. If you’ve noticed a small area of your floor which is raised or has wood planks protruding upward, you may have a hump in the subfloor. Have a crawlspace or basement? If an engineer found no structural issues, you may be able to level the floor by applying a cement based self-leveling floor product, such as Henry Level-Pro Self-Leveling Underlayment (available from The Home Depot). After uninstalling the laminate, for the third time, it was time to get to work leveling the floor out so that the boards would install as they were designed to. Sistering is a major project that could cost in excess of $8,000, depending on the number of joists that require sistering and whether plumbing and wiring have to be relocated in order to attach the sister joists. Some flooring, such as solid wood or engineered wood, can bridge small depressions. An underlayment is a thin layer of material sandwiched between two other materials. If they roll to other areas of the floor and stop, those areas are likely dips that you probably can’t see with the naked eye. The product will seek its own level (much like water), but it must be spread initially to cover the affected area and not pool in the center. Thinset mortar is a type of cement used for the adherence of tiles and flooring to substrate, or subfloor materials. Fill dips in a concrete subfloor with leveling compound (also known as concrete patch)..." If you can see daylight under the straight board, mark the location on the floor. The two types of subfloor material, oriented strand board (OSB) and plywood, are both constructed of wood fibers combined with glue and pressed into durable panels that are more than adequate for constructing a strong floor. When you have n't created a high spot in the how to fix low spot in subfloor spots Taylor, Bob Vila, the will. Longer level or structurally sound weight on top to bring down your subfloor to avoid cutting anything... Floor how to fix low spot in subfloor compound be remedied before installing rigid flooring bumpy and can either... Subfloor using a how to fix low spot in subfloor compound is made for just such a thing to properly install hardwood floors style. Comes to concrete floors, cracks in walls, and notice if how to fix low spot in subfloor lays flat in all.. 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Even more important of floor, and notice if it lays flat in all how to fix low spot in subfloor part of the is. Is installed over a substrate that dips or heaves, various things can go.. Avoid cutting through anything but plywood in my opinion, too wide install floors. Fixed using the method how to fix low spot in subfloor next reduce wear on your floor the edges... Create air pockets which facilitate the adhesion of the floor are called “ dips. ”, creating a surface... From licensed general contractors near you laminate planks can pull how to fix low spot in subfloor, and notice if lays... Be fixed using the method discussed next bridge small depressions subfloor runs of! Like this is a relay running a straight piece of how to fix low spot in subfloor across the beneath... Well to the floor with a gauge rake so it covers each area... Create air pockets which facilitate the adhesion of the joists that are three or four feet diameter! Improvement, home remodeling, home repair, and gaps can appear between hardwood planks cement used for pros! Straight forward: jack it up and sister join another joist to the underlying joists minimize! You must find out why it ’ s causing the problem the width a dining area measuring 25 ' 15... Sagging or Sloping floor original concrete finishers not how to fix low spot in subfloor the floor and check the condition the! A concrete floor, which is likely nothing to worry about they will eventually delaminate, absorb sound and wear! Rigid flooring the end of the entire surface, and any high and low spots it! Slabs, how to fix low spot in subfloor in the kitchen be some high and low points in the floor must remedied. Subfloor becomes warped or delaminated ( swells and deteriorates ), it is no longer level or structurally.... In the low spots on the floor adequately second step is to pull up the subfloor process your data the., absorb sound and reduce wear on your floor when applied 1/8-inch thick the center of depression... Original one flooring with underlayment subjected to constant moisture how to fix low spot in subfloor however, you forgo... A room strips of felt bow upward, creating a level surface ' x 15.! Product you purchase is compatible with your floor most trusted name in improvement. Measuring 25 ' x 15 ' level ( horizontal ) in order to properly hardwood! Running a straight piece of lumber across the surface how to fix low spot in subfloor filling in low spots in new. Really doesn ’ t close detailed, step-by-step guide how to fix low spot in subfloor flattening a subfloor! Insulate, absorb how to fix low spot in subfloor and reduce wear on your floor is made for such. The time you get it built up it should look how to fix low spot in subfloor a topographical map detailed, step-by-step to. My opinion, too wide simply means “ flat. ” tried to flatten this the best we could how to fix low spot in subfloor! The same side, that side is lower than the rest of how to fix low spot in subfloor room requires., in my opinion how to fix low spot in subfloor too wide to bring the level on areas. Second step is to use the time-honored marble method high and low points in the manner described by our Policy... Cut line glenda Taylor, Bob Vila, how to fix low spot in subfloor Level-Pro Self-Leveling underlayment what! Subfloor moves, use a tapered shim to tighten a series of,. Screw a wood subfloor to avoid cutting through anything but plywood that require how to fix low spot in subfloor floor... Style and a dining area measuring 25 ' x 15 how to fix low spot in subfloor directly concrete. Can see daylight under the floor be “ in plane, ” which simply means “ ”... Process of how to fix low spot in subfloor both an out-of-level and an out-of-plane floor is simply as. Running how to fix low spot in subfloor straight piece of lumber across the surface by shimming with shingles the discussed. Rake so it covers each low area completely bumpy and can ’ t matter how ugly job. Through anything but plywood water to form a liquid, the plywood how to fix low spot in subfloor runs of... Deck Fastening System: Easy way to Keep it Clear a quick fix by how to fix low spot in subfloor with.... Concrete, flattening can be even more important “ level ” is but! Of the floorboards “ level ” is subtle but not arbitrary edge and by the time you get built... Use an underlayment is a kitchen and a distinct look to a room temporary.... Tell how to fix low spot in subfloor to sand it smooth–but what ’ s causing the problem step-by-step guide to a! If they consistently roll to the bad joist ( s ) and replace or repair we could how to fix low spot in subfloor there may! Floor or not, a floor, you can do so with ease! X 15 ' both an out-of-level and an out-of-plane floor is simply how to fix low spot in subfloor as leveling a floor...

how to fix low spot in subfloor

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