leveling subfloor Help!!!

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Old 05-01-06, 03:32 PM
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leveling subfloor Help!!!

We are leveling the cement subfloor of our utility room to then tile. Our first mistake was to try to do it ourselves without really researching it too much and we have gotten into a mess. First it was too thick and dried too fast before we could level it. Then on second try was thinner but lumpy. Now we want to remove and do over. Here is the question. Is there any hope? How can we remove the leveling stuff and begin again and how can we do this better?
 
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Old 05-01-06, 04:40 PM
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How about you mention exactly what product you used on the first try.How did you apply it? How big is the area you are trying to level? Are there any floor penetrations of any kind? C'mon, you gotta help a little!
 
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Old 05-01-06, 05:09 PM
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I am so sorry I did not give enough info. Chalk it up to fustration talking.The product we used was Armstrong Patch underlayment and leveling S194. We applied it with a trowel just skimmmed it on the floor. The area we are working with is 72 square feet.There are no floor penetrations of any kind.
I hope this helps some. If you need more info. Just let me know. Thanks
Abby
 
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Old 05-01-06, 08:20 PM
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OK I'll take a stab at this.

First of all Armstrong specializes in commercial flooring installation products and their professional products have never been very user friendly when it comes to DIY. This isn't to say they don't have residential products but one should be versed in exactly what these products are for and what they can do. I would suggest the first thing you do is quickly move away from all of the Armstrong products in this case.

Now, If I'm not mistaken Armstrong's S-194 is an embossing leveller product. This means it is intended for skim-coats only and is used to smooth existing textured vinyl sheet flooring. It may also be their "fast drying" patch and leveller (I can't remember for sure) which is the absolute last thing you want to try to use. It will not fill and it has little to no pot life and it can be very difficult to trowel especially for a novice. If you have added the latex additive, well just let me say God bless you.

Are you talking about installing ceramic tile or vinyl tile. If it's vinyl then I can see why you must have been directed to these products, if you are preparing to install ceramic tile then you are on the wrong course 180 degrees I'm afraid.

So, if you could please clear this up (which tile) then we can move on, hopefully in a more constructive direction.

At any rate everything you have done so far must be removed before you will be able to do anything.

What color is this product?
 
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Old 05-02-06, 07:07 AM
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Oh boy! I am afraid I have really messed up this time or actually was given the wrong stuff by the store person. I am laying ceramic tile. The Armstrong stuff is grey when down.
My big question now is how do I get it up? Then what stuff do I need to put down?
 
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Old 05-02-06, 08:24 AM
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First of all....what supplier are you dealing with in your area.

My resume would include thirty years in the building trades and the past five years in this type of Internet participation helping DIY'ers along the road to the successful completion of their flooring home improvement projects. Probably the best thing that has ever happened in favor of DIY'ers is websites such as this.

During these five years on the Internet one thing that stands out more than anything else is the inadequate information that is being dispensed to DIY'ers from home improvement warehouse stores. I assume this is your source.

These stores are seriously lacking in the training of their employees. The products are many and the potential for a satisfactory home improvement project is certainly great if you can get the correct information. Reading the instructions on the label isn't always enough information and the terms and techniques are confusing not only to the consumer but also to the employee of the store.

My point is.....you cannot depend on the seller's employee to understand the products or to know how to use them, this is an unfortunate and serious fact of life in the industry.

Slogans such as "Improving Home Improvement" and "You can do it we can help" are sadly a joke at this time and very misleading. These stores always portray their employees as experts when in fact nothing could be further from the truth.

OK, the fact that the product you used is grey in color tells me it is a portland cement product as opposed to a gypsum product, the gypsum would be easier to remove.

Maybe the first thing to do is to try to scrape the product from the surface hoping that it did not bond too well. Assuming it did bond and that you have already tried the scraping then the next thing to do would be to rent a machine that will either chip-up the product or grind it off the surface. There is more than one way to achieve this removal and it WILL NOT be effortless.

You still haven't said what your ultimate goal is and what end product you intend to use. Ceramic or vinyl?

OK, your turn.
 
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Old 05-02-06, 08:54 AM
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We went to Lowe's. You probably couldn't guess that this is not our first time DYSing by the way this has been botched up. We are usually more careful and research more. I guess we got a little too cocky. Boy is it humbling. Our final project is to lay ceramic tile down. Since this stuff will not be removed easily can we not just put some thing over it then ceramic tile on top? Maybe the real leveler we were suppose to use? As you can see I am not looking forward to renting a machine to chip this stuff off.
Abby
 
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Old 05-02-06, 11:24 AM
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Yes you could go over it if height is not an issue. You would want to use a "REAL" Self Levelling Compound but keep in mind they are expensive. You can pay around $30 per fifty pound bag and one fifty pound bag will cover approximately 50 square feet at only 1/8" thick. I don't know how high above the subfloor your highest point of filler is now but I am almost positive it would be a lot less costly to remove what's there.

You can rent an electric 'chipping hammer" for a reasonable price and try it. Rent it for the usual four-hour-minimum and if it isn't going to work take it back real quick.

Also keep in mind the longer you wait the harder that existing filler is becomming.
 
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Old 05-02-06, 12:07 PM
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If I rent the machine and chip the stuff away won't I have to buy the self leveling compound anyways to level the subfloor? In other words start over. Also which kind of self leveling compound do you recomend? Again this is to the put ceramic tile down.
 
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Old 05-02-06, 12:38 PM
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If I could see this it would of course be much easier to analyze the problem. Can you post some pictures?

I can only imagine how thick this filler must be based on my experience with fast-drying filler and patch products, some of that stuff can be really frustrating if you aren't familiar with it and even if you are familiar with it it can test your skills under some conditions.

My imagination sees this filler product chipping away with some reluctance with the use of an electric chipping hammer, then I see where it may be necessary to use a floor machine with a coarse sandpaper to dress it down even further and smooth it out, but if you have never used one of these machines then this isn't the time to learn how, they can also be destructive monsters.

In the case of lack of experience with the second machine then YES Self Levelling Compound may be in order but it wouldn't take near as much (SLC) once the height has been reduced.

This is sort of difficult over the Internet.

Why don't you call a handyman and have him give you a price to remove the filler and smooth-out the floor, and nothing more.

I try to save folks money where I can but since I own all of the necessary machines to do this with it is sometimes hard for me to know what your desire or ability is especially if you have to rent equipment that is alien to you.

Where are you?
 
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Old 05-02-06, 01:23 PM
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I live in Kingwood ,TX which is north Houston. It really isn't that thick. Height is not a problem here. All we want is to make it flat to be able to lay down tile. I think I could get away with using a leveling compound without having to sand down or renting a chipper. So what would be the recommended leveling compound to use.
Abby
 
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Old 05-02-06, 03:33 PM
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Well everybody has one (SLC).

I am familiar with the Custom Building Products brand sold at Home Depot.

You need to buy the primer also. You want to have plenty of bags on hand to do the job because once you start you want to be able to finish.

You will have to close any place that the SLC can run into, floor vents, cracks under walls, things like that. The toilet flange will have to be covered with a thick foam or board the shape of the flange. The door will have to be dammed. None of this is a big deal, it just sounds complicated.

Follow the mixing directions on the product and don't change anything. In the case of SLC you should measure the water don't guess at it. You will also need a large mixer on a large drillmotor. In your area the humidity is usually high and so is the temperature so be sure to use cool water to mix with.

SLC is an amazing product and real easy to work with, I love the stuff.

Scared yet?
 
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Old 05-02-06, 04:18 PM
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Let me begin by thanking you for all your advise and time in answering all our questions. I just have one more question before wedecide to either give up and let someone else do it or continue on and finish what we started. What do we need the primer for and what kind do we need and how do we apply that? That was more like three questions in one I know! Knowing this will tell us if it is worth it to us to do it ourselves. Again thanks a lot for all your help. I will let you know what we decide and how it turns out.
Abby
 
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Old 05-02-06, 06:46 PM
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I have used several different brand SLC's and they all have mandated the use of their specific primer. The primer in some cases seals the existing substrate and at the same time creates a compatible bonding tooth for the SLC. SLC has been known to seperate and curl up from the substrate if primer is not used. It has to do with the rapid drying/curing of the product and its contents.

You can pour SLC and be back installing tile in about four hours.

I don't know how involved you want to get in this phase and of course your skill-level remains to be seen with the SLC but please don't let me scare you off from doing it yourself if you think you may be comfortable with doing it, it is not that difficult. It takes longer to write it than it does to install it almost.
 
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