Why is floor levelling important?
Floor levelling might not be something that you have often thought about. However, it is a very important step in the floorboard laying process. Floor levelling plays a part in the wider preparation of your floor and is completed primarily to prepare the slab for laying floorboards (or other floor coverings) with minimal tolerances.
So, what is floor levelling exactly? It is the necessary process of identifying humps in concrete slabs which may pose an issue for your flooring further down the track, and levelling them. Concrete grinders are used to reduce the size of any humps in the slab, followed by a levelling compound that fills in any low areas.
Levelling that Meets Australian Standards
It is critical that before any flooring is installed the existing surface is as flat as it can be. When concrete floors are first laid, they are usually not perfectly level. This is common and can be caused by a number of factors, including multiple slabs being poured.
This is where levelling comes into the equation. Levelling is required when there is a variance in height that exceeds the maximum recommended tolerance for laying flooring solutions such as timber, laminates and vinyls.
There are standards that exist within Australia regarding levelling floors. These standards require that there must be 10mm maximum tolerance within any room and 20mm maximum tolerance over the entire building footprint. When looking at timber floating, direct stick and parquetry timber, a tolerance of 3mm over 3m is allowed. Anything outside this will require leveling to ensure the successful installation of your floorboards.
To find out more about the standards, take a read through the Tolerances data sheet from Cement Concrete & Aggregates Australia. If you are in Sydney or wider NSW you can also check out the NSW Guide to Standards and Tolerances.
What if my Floor is Not Level?
If your home has floors that are not level, it can be noisy. This is because uneven floors can result in a bouncing effect in the timber when laid over higher spots and a hollow sound when laid over lower spots in existing concrete.
Many new developments have slabs poured to carpet specifications. This is great… If you plan to carpet! However, the acceptable tolerance for carpet (which ranges between 8 – 12mm over 3m) is not adequate for timber flooring. Therefore, levelling will need to take place before your floorboards (or similar flooring options) can be laid.
Fortunately, with vinyl flooring, there is no specific slab specification. But, it is more aesthetically pleasing when the slab is level.
Humps and low areas are notorious for showing up around large open areas and doorways, so ask your leveller to pay special attention to these spots. If slabs are not poured correctly, the integrity of the slab or the levelling compound used could lead to failure of the floor. The cleanliness and moisture content of the slab are also important considerations.
Floor Levelling Top Tip
Hire a Professional!
While you may find various articles on the internet that claim floor levelling is a ‘fun’ D.I.Y. project, we highly recommend hiring a qualified professional to complete the task for you.
Firstly, calling in the pros is likely to save you money in the long term. By hiring those with expertise and knowledge in the field, you reduce the risk of the job not being done properly or completed in line with Australian standards.
You will also avoid dealing with mixing self-levelling compound, which can be sticky, messy and challenging! Choosing which compound to buy will depend on the environment that you are levelling, personal preferences, and budget.
A few more reasons why we recommend getting a professional to do the job can be found below:
- Once you mix the compound, every minute not spent levelling is another minute you risk the concrete or self levelling compound drying. Depending on the product, you can have as little as 20 minutes to mix, pour, and finish a surface. This short window of time can be stressful as the stakes are high!
- Self-levelling concrete does not reinforce the underlayer on which it is laid. If anything goes wrong with either layer, long-term damage can be done.
- Self-leveling concrete is a pain to get off and out of things! It can stick to tools, walls, floors and even your clothes. Extra care is needed when using it.
So save yourself time, stress and money, and get a licenced professional to complete your floor levelling and floor installation.
At Back to Timber, we know floors and we understand the importance of levelling an area before the flooring is laid. That is why we offer both levelling and floorboard installation – which is not very common in this industry. It’s our standard practice to make sure the floor is level before we install your beautiful new timber flooring, and ensuring that we can look after your new flooring project from start to finish. This sets us apart from the competition, but that’s not why we do it. We do it because it looks better, reduces noise, and makes your floor safer and last for longer.