Self-Leveling cement

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Bosun, Sep 25, 2007.

  1. Bosun

    Bosun New Member

    Messages:
    89
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    Wow--I've never used this stuff before--it's terrible. I'd say the "self"-leveling includes me! Not as easy to use as the people at my local big-box would have you believe.
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,313
    Location:
    New England
    If you understand the stuff, it can work wonders...if you don't, it will create a big mess. The surface tension of the stuff requires you spread it to wet the surface of interest, otherwise, it will act sort of like water on a newly waxed car. Once all surfaces are wetted, and you have a deep enough layer, it will self-level on its own with no further action. Also, people often try to use it too thin, or work it like concrete. While they all say you can feather it out, it takes some skill to do that. Flood an area with a thick enough layer, and it works great. Depending on the forumula, the temperature, and the substrate, it can start to set up in less than 10-minutes...you have to work fast. Anything you try to do after that starts is a disaster waiting to happen. Also, it is imperative to use the primer and cover it within the prescribed timeframe, or the bond will be suspect as well.

    There's a good thread on this subject at www.johnbridge.com in their "Liberry" (sic) done by a guy who has been in the industry for decades...a good reference. I've only used it once, and it did exactly what I needed and wanted. Slick stuff, but expensive.
  3. ditto. It can be a waste of money, a headache, and a setback preventing you from finishing your project. It can cause huge problems.

    Or, it can do what it is supposed to do.




    All the employees at big box stores are hired for their ability to make you feel quietly confident. They all act as if you are able.

    -- Anything else, and they don't get hired.

    Whether they make you feel overconfident, is not a concern.
    Whether they mislead you in judging yourself, is not a concern.
    Whether they mislead you in judging what to take on, is not a concern.
    Whether they give bad advice to you, is not a concern.
    Whether they give bad advice technically, is not a concern.

    So What is the attitude of the store management.





    When you go to a small store, the employees think a lot about what it will be like when you come back later with a sour face and ask them to explain again what they told you.


    David
  4. Bosun

    Bosun New Member

    Messages:
    89
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    Big stores indeed...

    Of course, these products are not widely available at stores other than a big box. Or, they are at a store that is open M-F 8-4. That is essentially impossible for me.

    Ahh, depth. Of course, it's difficult to pour much at one time, for the average joe like me, who doesn't have a helper. One 50lb bag is my max.
  5. PEW

    PEW DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    487
    If you have a larger job, get a friend involved.

    It helps to have a couple of mixing containers to work from, and premeasured water. One guy to mix, one to pour and level. Makes life a lot easier.
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,313
    Location:
    New England
    Most of the instructions say to mix in two-bag batches. Doing it one at a time, you'll run into more problems, too much time inbetween which means curing, which means not flowing where you want it.
  7. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,395
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    You don't indicate what size/type of job you are doing. I have used this stuff to level a basement bathroom floor with pretty good success. I also used it under a shower stall instead of mortar because setting the stall into an alcove required too much jiggling and wiggling just to get it in place and level without mortar to mess with. I did have to use some rags to caulk around the stall until the concrete set up, but that was not a big deal. Feathering edges required a little effort, but came out OK. The product I used was made by Armstrong, but I don't remember the exact name of it. I mixed it in a 5 gallon bucket with a VS drill and paint mixing paddle. As the name implies, this is just for floor leveling, not structural use.
  8. Old Dog

    Old Dog G.C. 22+ years(in 3 states)

    Messages:
    82
    Location:
    Hawaii
    If you have a large area,you really need a helper.I use a least three buckets when I've had to use this stuff.I split a bag in half between two buckets.It spins up fast this way and my helper(usually my son!) can keep up so I have a continous "fresh" supply to work with.Too thick/too thin=disaster!Just like porridge,must be just right!!(too thick you got mountains,too thin the surface dries and leaves dust like talcum powder).Prime the floor first or you could have adhesion problems later.
    When done right it's great,when done wrong...
  9. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,313
    Location:
    New England
    It is VERY sensitive to proper mixing. You must use EXACTLy the water it calls for, mix it NO LONGER than they say, and at the proper speed. If you don't use the right mixing paddle, you either won't get it mixed in the specified time, or you'll end up with a lot more air in it than it is designed for (this will affect the surface finish and the strength).
  10. Bosun

    Bosun New Member

    Messages:
    89
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    Better results

    I switched products, with positive results. I'm just doing a 1924 basement bath addition--the area is about 25 sf. The stuff I used last night mixed up nice, poured well, the edges were a little tricky, but everything worked out.
  11. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,313
    Location:
    New England
    For others, it might help indicating what you used, and why you liked/disliked each. Note, with all of the magic components in slc, it is very sensitive to age - it has a shelf-life. The bags are usually marked somehow with a manufacture or use by date. I highly suggest you search those out. Old stuff or improperly stored stuff just doesn't work well, which could have been the case. Most have a shelf life or around a year, when properly done. Newer stuff really does work better. All of the addatives in that mix just don't fare well if they sit too long or the humidity is high.
  12. Bosun

    Bosun New Member

    Messages:
    89
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    Shelf Life

    I noticed this--the good stuff mixed up real easy and was smooth in no time. The stuff I didn't like was difficult to mix and was compacted together--difficult to get rid of all the lumps. (You dont want to waste time with this stuff!)

    Correct tools are a huge plus. I was using a 5 gallon bucket, but might have liked a bigger container to mix two bags at once. I bought a mud paddle which was then attached to my brother's right angle drill. This seemed to work well for mixing--I don't think I could have done this w/o that.

    Follow the directions closely!

    The bad stuff came from *******.

    The good stuff came from Home Depot. (flooring section)

    Can't remember names, I am at work now.
  13. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,313
    Location:
    New England
    It sounds like the original stuff had already hydrated (i.e., partially cured) as the result of being too old, or stored incorrectly and had moisture get to it. If you ever find any cementitious product that has lumps in it, take it back. That means that it has absorbed some moisture and will not work properly. All cement products should be in a powder, with no obvious clumping.
  14. Mike50

    Mike50 DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    699
    Location:
    Southern California
    great tip......

    Right Jim. I had the misfortune to lay a few saltillo tiles in my bathroom a few months ago. Naturally I assumed the left over bag of grout from a few years ago would do just fine. WRONG.

    It was stored all wrong and had cured into a big useless block of cement.

    Mike
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