Replacing uneven flooring does not have to mean calling a contractor and saying good-bye to the better part of your remodeling budget. Whether you are working with concrete, wood or tile, there are less expensive ways to get the job done. Invest some time, invest some hard work and save your dollars for something else.
One of the least expensive ways to replace an uneven floor is to provide support to the sub-floor by adding shims. Place the shim between the sub-floor and the joist, check to ensure the sub-floor is now level, then nail down through the sub-floor and shim straight into the joist.
Asphalt roofing shingles can even out larger high and low spots in wood or concrete sub-flooring. Swing a six-foot long straightedge in a 360-degree circle at various points on the floor to identify these spots and fill in as needed with shingles. The shingles do not require nailing down but tacking into place will keep them from shifting.
Self-Adhesive Carpet Tiles
Self-adhesive carpet tiles are very inexpensive and can work well to either fill in low and high spots or level an entire floor. Installation is the same as for roofing shingles without the need to tack into place to keep them from shifting. Using carpet tiles in a kitchen or bathroom is not a good idea, as they may not hold up well should they become wet.
Self-leveling compounds are a good choice for uneven concrete or wood sub-floors. The first step in applying a self-leveling compound is to apply a latex primer to the sub-floor. This will ensure a good bond between the self-leveling compound and the sub-floor. Fill in all low areas first, and then spread a thin coat over the remaining sub-floor.
Laying a mortar bed is a good choice if you need to even out specific low areas and not the entire floor, or if you want to lay a new floor directly over the old. Common mortar bed projects include ceramic tiling or laying linoleum. Mortar, grout, a trowel, wire mesh and a level are the basic items required for this project. The disadvantage of this method is it while it may be inexpensive it is not easy.
Backer board can go over an existing floor in preparation for re-tiling. For kitchens and bathrooms, concrete backer board is a good choice, as water cannot damage it. Backer board is a material, and while a common utility knife will cut through it, a better choice would be a carbide-blade cutter. A layer of thinset mortar goes underneath the backer board and galvanized nails secure it in place.