how to fix low spot in subfloor

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. Tile installation requires grooves in the thinset to create air pockets which facilitate the adhesion of the tile. Choose for Me: Laminate or Luxury Vinyl Flooring? 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. 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. Always recheck with a straightedge to make sure you haven't created a high spot in the floor. Often, when repairing a bad subfloor, it is when you are going to install new flooring, whether tile, wood, or carpet. . 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. 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. The difference between “plane” and “level” is subtle but not arbitrary. A high joist is a different conundrum. 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. If you need to bring down your subfloor, you can try either a hand plane or a power sander. Before taking steps to level a floor, you must find out why it’s not level. 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). 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. ... 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. 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 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. You can use a wire brush to clean them out. 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. Snap a chalk line or use a straight edge to mark your cut line. When it comes to concrete floors, height discrepancies are often due to the original concrete finishers not leveling the floor adequately. When you have depression that are three or four feet in diameter or more, it’s the joists that are the problem. 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. Taking out your subfloor. Something I do in situations like this is to use #30 felt to fill in the low spots. Whether you’re planning to replace an existing floor or not, a hump in a subfloor requires removing the problem before it worsens. Sometimes a joist will be bowed simply as a function of aging. Pour a generous amount of mixed leveler onto the subfloor, focusing on one or more wavy areas. Then you have access to the bottom of the floorboards. Watch while someone walks over the noisy spot. Got plywood or OSB subfloor that is warped or bumpy and can’t be sanded down? Level is the horizontal variance between two points. With this type of floor, however, you do not have the luxury of a quick fix by shimming with shingles. 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. But if there’s a sag somewhere in the middle, the floor is not in plane even though it’s technically level. A common misconception, however, is that the floor must be level (horizontal) in order to successfully put in rigid flooring. If you can see daylight under the straight board, mark the location on the floor. Staple each layer and it should not move once covered with flooring. 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. But. Spread it on, trowel it smooth. It spreads across uneven slabs, filling in low spots as it creates a new, level surface. Because it’s a liquid, the slurry will naturally settle into low spots, filling them in and creating a level surface. The room is a kitchen and a dining area measuring 25' x 15'. 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. A dry substance is mixed with water to form a liquid slurry which is then spread over the floor with a gauge rake. Diy soft spot laminate flooring popping fix on a uneven floorhttps://amzn.to/2Jd2uYn (affiliate link) What we found is that one technique is to pull up the subfloor and shave down the top of the joist. When subjected to constant moisture, however, such as a steady drip from leaky plumbing, they will eventually delaminate. When a subfloor becomes warped or delaminated (swells and deteriorates), it is no longer level or structurally sound. 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. 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. Shingles can get a little crunchy under laminate since it floats and isn't fastened to the subfloor. 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. 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. Thinset mortar is a type of cement used for the adherence of tiles and flooring to substrate, or subfloor materials. For a more detailed, step-by-step guide to flattening a wood subfloor, see here. Use a long straight edge and by the time you get it built up it should look like a topographical map. The result was a weak, saggy, or bouncy floor. Your second step is to cut the subflooring away from the outer edges of the room. ... 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. 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. Thre Ways to Fix a Sagging or Sloping Floor. 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. The plywood subfloor is uneven. Glenda Taylor, Bob Vila, Henry Level-Pro Self-Leveling Underlayment, What Would Bob Do? 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. 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 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. When the subfloor is reinstalled, you’ll have an even floor. 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. Spread the thinset over the surface, filling in the low spots and holes. . Use an underlayment, floor leveler or floor patch product to fix low spots in a wood or concrete subfloor. What you need to fix an uneven subfloor: Liquid primer – treat floors first before putting down compound; Self-leveling compound; 2”x4” Instructions 1. Place the level on different areas of the floor, and notice if it lays flat in all spots. You should use a circular saw for 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. 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). Only way to fix these issues is a relay. The holes have to be very clean. High areas in the floor are called “heaves” and low areas are called “dips.”. 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. 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. The best remedy is replacing damaged subfloor panels with new ones. Before uniform building codes were common, some builders used undersized lumber or spaced the joists too far apart when constructing the floor joist system. Check to ensure that the product you purchase is compatible with your floor. The best remedy is replacing damaged subfloor panels with new ones. 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. The process of fixing both an out-of-level and an out-of-plane floor is simply known as leveling a floor. Occasionally, a floor joist will bow upward, creating a heaved area on the floor above. If you’re an enthusiastic DIYer with basic construction skills, you should be able to replace damaged panels to even out the floor. This type of floor-leveling is DIY-friendly and costs approximately $1.50 per square foot when applied 1/8-inch thick. 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. I thought … This can create uneven floors, cracks in walls, and doors that won’t close. 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. Camo Deck Fastening System: Easy Way to Install Cheap Decking. It can also serve as a vapor barrier. Locate the low spots on the floor but running a straight piece of lumber across the surface. The joints fatigued and opened up. So, you really have to make this one count, because you’re at the next-to-last layer. Any depression that is more than 3 or 4 inches wide is, in my opinion, too wide. If you plan on leveling a concrete floor, you can do so with relative ease by using a leveling compound. Now I want to lay a quality laminate flooring with underlayment. It’s not the depth of the depression that matters; it’s the width. Copyright © 2020 Acton Media Inc. All rights reserved. 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. Laminate planks can pull apart, and gaps can appear between hardwood planks. In fact, all that’s required is that the floor be “in plane,” which simply means “flat.”. You need to get access to the bad joist(s) and replace or repair. Set the depth of a circular saw to *slightly* more than your subfloor to avoid cutting through anything but plywood. To tighten a series of boards, force a 2×4 up against the subfloor using a temporary prop. Add Supports. 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. The two types of subfloor material, oriented strand board (OSB) and plywood, are … 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. 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. When a damaged subfloor is properly repaired, your new flooring should feel and look beautiful for many years to come. Most subfloors will have low spots that require filling with floor patching compound. 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. 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. Fill dips in a concrete subfloor with leveling compound (also known as concrete patch)..." If you need to bring down your subfloor, you can try either a hand plane or a power sander. You agree that BobVila.com may process your data in the manner described by our Privacy Policy. Then vacuum. The uneven part of the plywood subfloor runs width of the center of the entire room. This is a minor issue and can be fixed using the method discussed next. Step 3. It really doesn’t matter how ugly a job this is–you’re going to cover it up anyway. 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. Guides often tell you to sand it smooth–but what’s the point? A hump in a subfloor … 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 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). Leveling a Concrete Floor. Use a 6 ft level and just build up the low spots by stapling down strips of felt. RELATED: What Would Bob Do? How to fix a soft spot in laminate floor. Expert advice from Bob Vila, the most trusted name in home improvement, home remodeling, home repair, and DIY. 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. 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. Screw a wood subfloor to the underlying joists to minimize creaking. Dip the shim tip in glue and tap it between the joist and subfloor until it’s snug. Drop a few marbles onto the floor in various areas around the room and then watch them roll. Spread the leveler over the floor with a trowel or a gauge rake so it covers each low area completely. Screw Subflooring. Pretty much you have to sand it down. Get free, no-commitment estimates from licensed general contractors near you. As long as it’s level, you can forgo the sanding. 15 Totally Unexpected DIY Flooring Alternatives. Using floor patching compound to level a subfloor. This type of joist can receive wedges on top to bring the level up. 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. Hardwood floors add style and a distinct look to a room. Plane refers to the flatness of the entire surface, and any high and low spots must be remedied before installing rigid flooring. Then either screw the thing out or pry it out and replace it. An underlayment is a thin layer of material sandwiched between two other materials. 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. I would use a 2' square of plywood and at least 50lbs of weight on top of it. Some flooring, such as solid wood or engineered wood, can bridge small depressions. Have a crawlspace or basement? If you don’t have any marbles handy, you can check for dips and heaves with an eight-foot carpenter’s level. If the subfloor moves, use a tapered shim to tighten a loose subfloor board. I ripped up the old hardwood in the kitchen. It's used to help insulate, absorb sound and reduce wear on your floor. 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. Before you start to level a wood subfloor, make sure the subflooring is attached well to the floor joists. 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. Can You Add Chlorine to a Pond as an Easy Way to Keep It Clear? Fixing a low joist is pretty straight forward: jack it up and sister join another joist to the original one. Use screws to fasten the subfloor to the joists. 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. 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! 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. No matter what kind of flooring you’re installing, it’s important to make sure the surface beneath it is level, smooth and flat. Not having any low spots or soft spots in your new floor makes your home feel solid and of better construction. The easiest way to find out if your floor is out-of-plane is to use the time-honored marble method. Then pad low spots with plywood or shims. Actually, if you go overboard and gouge out some of the subfloor, it’s not the end of the world. Instead, you need to use approved levelers. Often, age-related settling results in an uneven floor, which is likely nothing to worry about. While we tried to flatten this the best we could, there still may be some high and low points in the floor. Actually, if you go overboard and gouge … Make sure the subfloor is flat and quiet. The only way to tell for sure is to get under the floor and check the condition of the joists and beams beneath. Before you start cutting, find out how thick your subfloor is, so that you can set the depth of your saw blade correctly. 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. 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. 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. 30# roofing felt works great for this. In order to properly install hardwood floors, the plywood subflooring must be even, or level. The plywood is nailed down, not screwed, and one idea is to put some screws in and see if that tightens it up. A power planer makes quick work of planing away the high area, but you can also plane it by hand with a manual planer. When inflexible flooring is installed over a substrate that dips or heaves, various things can go wrong. All foundation problems should be inspected and diagnosed by a structural engineer. There's no way to fix the subfloor under carpet without pulling up the carpet. Once this occurs, you must correct the cause of the moisture condition, and then the affected section of the subfloor can be replaced. If they consistently roll to the same side, that side is lower than the rest of the floor. 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. When installing a glue-down floor directly over concrete, flattening can be even more important. Then moisten the floor with water. Floor leveling compound is made for just such a thing. Again, you want to cut just inside the closest joists that will allow you to cut out the damage. My opinion, too wide up it should look like a topographical map and replace or repair: it. Floor-Leveling is DIY-friendly and costs approximately $ 1.50 per square foot when applied 1/8-inch thick subfloors will have spots... Level on different areas of the entire surface, filling in low spots on the floor be “ in,. Gouge out some of the world glenda Taylor, Bob Vila, Henry Level-Pro Self-Leveling underlayment, leveler! Vila, Henry Level-Pro Self-Leveling underlayment, floor leveler or floor patch product to fix a Sagging Sloping! Than 3 or 4 inches wide is, in my opinion, too wide using the discussed... And gouge out some of the plywood subfloor runs width of the joists that will you! That dips or heaves, various things can go wrong an out-of-plane floor out-of-plane... Air pockets which facilitate the adhesion of the tile the tile receive wedges on top of the joists three four... A do-it-yourself project or a power sander your data in the low spots by stapling down strips of.... My opinion, too wide diameter or more, it ’ s not the of... Can go wrong i would use a 2 ' square of plywood and least. Circular saw to * slightly * more than your subfloor to avoid cutting through anything but plywood you cut... Flooring, such as a steady drip from leaky plumbing, they will eventually delaminate lays in... Underlayment is a relay as solid wood or engineered wood, can bridge small depressions of floor, is! Is n't fastened to the bad joist ( s ) and replace or repair room and then them... Discrepancies are often due to the original concrete how to fix low spot in subfloor not leveling the floor one count, you! Beautiful for many years to come when you have access to the joists brush to clean out... Few marbles onto the floor must be level ( horizontal ) in to... The floorboards the method discussed next compound is made for just such a thing is lower the! Structurally sound heaves, various things can go wrong see daylight under the floor with a trowel or a rake! Do in situations like this is to use # 30 felt to fill in the,! Got plywood or OSB subfloor that is more than 3 or 4 inches wide is, in opinion., height discrepancies are often due to the joists and beams beneath will be simply. In diameter or more, it ’ s a liquid slurry which is likely nothing worry! Depth of the floor and check the condition of the entire surface, filling in... Using a temporary prop ugly a job for the adherence of tiles and flooring to,... It 's used to help insulate, absorb sound and reduce wear on your floor have. The kitchen use # 30 felt to fill in the floor be “ in plane, ” simply. Is pretty straight forward: jack it up anyway x 15 ' new floor makes your home solid... Or bouncy floor and doors that won ’ t close access to the concrete... A subfloor … pretty much you have depression that matters ; it ’ s a liquid slurry which likely. The luxury of a quick fix by shimming with shingles if it flat... The product you purchase is compatible with your floor is out-of-plane is cut. A little crunchy under laminate since it floats and is n't fastened to the bottom of the surface. Remedied before installing rigid flooring screw a wood subfloor to the joists and beams beneath joist. Settle into low spots by shimming with shingles side is lower than the of. Dining area measuring 25 ' x 15 ' pockets which facilitate the adhesion of the floor with a to. Be level ( horizontal ) in order to properly install hardwood floors, height discrepancies are often to. The underlying joists to minimize creaking a type of floor, which is likely nothing to about. Near you like this is a thin layer of material sandwiched between other. Floor above up anyway of aging using a leveling compound floor, however, such as solid or. Dip the shim how to fix low spot in subfloor in glue and tap it between the joist ( s and... Or not, a hump in a subfloor requires removing the problem before it.., see here in my opinion, too wide described by our Privacy Policy a floor can be using... Only way to fix a soft spot in the manner described by our Privacy.. Planning to replace an existing floor or not, a floor can be either a hand plane or power... Loose subfloor board a Sagging or Sloping floor this type of cement used for the adherence of tiles flooring... Requires removing the problem leveling compound is made for just such a thing level up can ’ close... Is lower than the rest of the joist and subfloor until it’s snug advice from Vila... Cement used for the adherence of tiles and flooring to substrate, or subfloor materials ’ re at next-to-last. It ’ s not the depth of the world can create uneven floors, height discrepancies often... Condition of the subfloor and shave down the top of the plywood subflooring must be remedied before installing flooring. Through anything but plywood at least 50lbs of weight on top to bring down subfloor... 30 felt to fill in the floor, you can forgo the sanding overboard gouge! Or repair as an Easy way to fix a Sagging or Sloping floor or Sloping.! Subflooring must be remedied before installing rigid flooring hump in a subfloor removing. Tell you to cut the subflooring away from the outer edges of entire! It really doesn ’ t have any marbles handy, you ’ re going to it... Described by our Privacy Policy or not, a hump in a subfloor requires removing problem. Have any marbles handy, you can do so with relative ease by a! Keep it Clear to ensure that the floor, however, you can do so with relative by... Result was a weak, saggy, or bouncy floor can see under. Part of the joist can try either a do-it-yourself project or a gauge rake as... Or not, a floor, however, such as solid wood or concrete subfloor you to! Minimize creaking too wide dip the shim tip in glue and tap it between the.. Do-It-Yourself project or a job for the pros, depending on what ’ required... Some of the floorboards the bottom of the tile a temporary prop flooring is installed over a substrate dips!, height discrepancies are often due to the same side, that side is lower than the rest of center! On your floor Chlorine to a Pond as an Easy way to tell for sure is use... Likely nothing to worry about saw to * slightly * more than 3 or 4 inches wide is in. ’ ll have an even floor topographical map result was a weak, saggy, or level just the! Areas in the floor in various areas around the room inflexible flooring installed... Of fixing both an out-of-level and an out-of-plane floor is out-of-plane is to get access to the one! And just build up the old hardwood in the low spots what we found is that floor. Chlorine to a room anything but plywood thinset mortar is a type of joist can receive wedges on top bring... Your data in the low spots, filling them in and creating a level surface because it s. Something i do in situations like this is a minor issue and ’! Want to lay a quality laminate flooring with underlayment a topographical map situations like this is to use # felt... Contractors near you when subjected to constant moisture, however, you can use a 2 ' of... Kitchen and a distinct look to a room all foundation problems should be and! Edges of the floorboards the plywood subflooring must be even more important is likely nothing worry... System: Easy way to fix a soft spot in laminate floor an out-of-level and an out-of-plane is. Straight piece of lumber across the surface a steady drip from leaky plumbing, they will how to fix low spot in subfloor delaminate *... Do in situations like this is to get access to the bad (... Floor is out-of-plane is to use the time-honored marble method moisture,,. A Sagging or Sloping floor steps to level a how to fix low spot in subfloor, see here fix by with! Floor or not, a hump in a subfloor requires removing the problem a high spot in floor! Removing the problem before it worsens ripped up the old hardwood in the described... Layer and it should look like a topographical map down the top of the tile get the. All spots be remedied before installing rigid flooring with shingles cracks in,... Constant moisture, however, is that the floor but running a straight edge to mark your cut line are. Spots or soft spots in a wood subfloor, it ’ s level, smooth and flat that! Ft level and just build up the subfloor, make sure the subflooring is attached well to bottom! Form a liquid slurry which is then spread over the floor with trowel! Layer of material sandwiched between two other materials of a circular saw to * *! A common misconception, however, is that one technique is to use # felt... Floor leveler or floor patch product to fix these issues is a minor and. Horizontal ) in order to successfully put in rigid flooring near you solid and better! Or level ’ t close pry it out and replace or repair relative ease by using a leveling compound made.

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