Leveling a Plywood Floor in an Old House

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Any time you install a new flooring material, regardless of what type it is, there is a lower layer of flooring under it, called the underlayment. It's usually made of plywood. In older homes, the plywood can develop dips and gaps that will interfere with the lay of the new flooring. Leveling out that surface is usually a simple matter of filling in the low spots and gaps with floor leveler, which is essentially liquid cement.

Things You'll Need

  • Screw gun
  • Floor screws
  • Floor cleaner
  • Bucket & mop
  • Long level
  • Pencil
  • Floor leveler (powdered)
  • Five-gallon bucket
  • Power drill with mixing bar
  • Sink floor screws into the plywood anywhere you feel it move when you walk over it. Focus especially on the edges of the plywood boards.

  • Clean the plywood completely with mop, floor cleaner and water. Use the water sparingly. Let it dry for one to two days.

  • Lay a level on its narrow edge at one side of the room. Move the level slowly over the surface, marking the areas where there are low spots in the plywood, as indicated by space appearing under the level. Check and mark the whole surface.

  • Pour powdered floor leveler into a bucket with water, using the ratio stated on the leveler packaging. Mix it thoroughly with a power drill and mixing bar. Make enough to cover the low spots you identified and any gaps or holes in the floor. (Note: Properly mixed leveling compound will be almost as thin as water.)

  • Pour the leveling compound very slowly over each gap, space and low spot on the plywood, starting at the far side of the room from the doorway and backing out. The compound should spread out like water, leveling itself and making the surface completely even.

  • Let the compound set for 12 hours. Mop the floor as before. Let it dry for 24 hours. Install your top-flooring.

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