Are you renovating the property? Want a cheap way to level concrete floors without spending too much?
If so, keep reading!
To save money, you’ll need to do some DIY work. But it does pay off, where you save 90% on otherwise fast alternatives.
With that, a DIY job needs care. So we have a list of tips below for you to follow!
How Much Does Leveling a Concrete Floor Cost?
If you’re going for the fast alternative (this being self-leveling concrete), expect to pay a lot.
You’ll need $600-$850 per 100 sq.ft (or 9 square meters).
For example, let’s say you’re leveling a fill office floor. The average office floor is around 10,000 square ft.
If you’re using self-leveling concrete, you’re spending $60,000 to $85,000 for the job!
That money can buy you property, expand your business, or act as an investment pool for future projects.
And this leads us to an important tip…
Avoid Self-Leveling Concrete
But first, what is self-leveling concrete?
Self-leveling concrete is mixed in a way that lets it level the floor without loss of strength.
You’ll get floor strength similar to original concrete, if not tougher. And it’s perfect if you don’t have the time for construction work.
But as we discussed, this option will cost you thousands of dollars. The cheaper alternatives we’ll propose are a fraction of that cost.
You’d rather save that money for the rest of your renovation work. It gives you more options as to what you can build of add in!
Cheap Alternative #1: Adding a New Layer of Concrete to Your Floor
You don’t have to add too much. You simply want to add enough to re-level your floor.
The new concrete surface shouldn’t raise the elevation of the floor too much. That is, you don’t want to find your floor a few inches higher than before!
Adding a new concrete layer means you don’t need to buy specialized products, or to break and rebuild the surface again.
Can You Pour Self-Leveling Concrete Over Existing Concrete?
You can, but again, this is an expensive option. You’d rather use regular concrete mixes while doing the leveling job yourself.
But whatever option you choose, you will need to prepare the old concrete surface before adding a new layer.
Not doing so means the new layer won’t adhere to the floor properly, creating a shaky bond between each layer.
This means a less durable floor surface, with higher chances of cracks and breaks.
To prepare the old concrete, do the following:
- Sweeping dirt and debris from the concrete. Ensure the floor is clean, else nothing will bond with it. The sweeping should take off leaves, gravel, dirt, or anything that would ruin the process.
- Get debris out of concrete cracks. You’ll need a bristled broom to do so.
- Get a pressure washer to remove stubborn debris. The washer should have a pressure of 3000 PSI. Make sure you clean every area with it!
- Clean stubborn spots off the concrete. You’ll need to apply a degreaser or liquid detergent to get those stains off, which may include mold, algae, and mildew.
If the situation is really dire and the stains are endless, you might need chemical products to clean your concrete floor.
For that, we recommend getting a commercial cleaner “specifically designed” for concrete.
Where Can I Find a Concrete Detergent?
It’s a degreaser that works on multiple surfaces, concrete included. It works for floors, walls, and any greasy item you own!
So even if you do end up with leftovers, you can still use it for different purposes!
Detergent aside, you might still need a pressure washer. Those aren’t too expensive, costing $50 to $200 based on the model.
A cheap and well-reviewed model to try is the Twinkle 15” – which works at 3100 PSI. It’s only $60, and it isn’t for an item you’ll use once and cast aside!
Something Else You Can Pour Over Regular Concrete: Sand Mixes
It’s similar to the previous option. And, it’s still a cheaper alternative to self-leveling floors and is easier than adding new concrete.
You’ll need to buy sand mixes specifically advertised to work with concrete.
Those mixes include concrete. It’s mixed in with a consistency that allows for easy leveling properties.
Picking a Sand Topping Mix to Level Floors
Don’t just settle for the cheapest option. Look for a sand mix that works well, while justifying you not using self-leveling options.
One of the best products you can try is Quikrete, which only requires you to add water!
It’s highly rated, durable, and cheap, costing less than $20!
The only problem with the product is that it takes time a long time to dry, so you need some patience after applying it!
Isn’t it Better to Just Remove the Old Floor and Pour New Concrete?
It is, but this takes way too much time. Plus, you’ll need to buy greater quantities of concrete mixes than you originally intended.
Removing the old floor does have an advantage though. It lets you check the sloping of the subfloor.
It’ll help you identify whether the leveling problems come from the concrete, or the floor structure itself.
But whatever option you pick, the DIY process of pouring and leveling concrete is still similar, and we’ll discuss it below…
Next: How Do You Level an Uneven Concrete Floor?
By now, you should have settled on what you’ll pour over the old concrete. And you should be prepared the new mix.
After preparing the mix (as indicated by the product’s instructions), you’ll need to start spreading it on the floor.
Any tool is viable, though we recommend something flat-edged.
Why? This ensures that no gaps are created as you spread the new mix, which may lead to future weaknesses (thus cracks).
Also, when spreading the mix, focus on spots that are already cracked. Look for holes to be filled and stuff it with the sand mix.
Be thorough when applying it, and spread it well before adding water.
Soaking With Water
After pouring the mix, you’ll need to soak the floor with water. But unlike the previous option, you can’t use a pressure washer. Too much force will make the floor uneven.
You need to sprinkle the water. The goal is to simply add moisture.
Again, be thorough, and ensure that the moisture is applied well to the entire floor surface!
After the water’s added, you need to give the mixture time to dry. You don’t want it to harden excessively though, as you’ll need to modify the floor’s sloping using…
A Rotary Laser Level
This is the device you’ll use to check your new floor’s leveling.
There are many types of laser levels. The simplest projects a laser that checks and indicates sloping as a bubble on your device.
The device will detect floor parts that are a little too elevated (or drooping). You can then add or remove concrete as applicable to fix the sloping!
They were not expensive either. One you can try BLACK+DECKER Laser Level (BDL220S), costing less than $17 on Amazon!
Final Tip: Look for Quality
Make sure any product you buy is worthwhile and well-reviewed. After all, you don’t want to redo the floor work again!