Self Leveling Concrete – What Is It?

Unlike traditional concrete which typically requires more labor to resurface an old floor, self-leveling concrete only requires hours and a few people to do it.

What is self-leveling concrete?

It is a unique and relatively new concrete technology that is used to create smoother and flatter indoor surface prior to the installation of floor finish. Contrary to traditional concrete which requires the addition of large volume of water for application, self-leveling concrete has a flowing consistency making it easier to apply as it pours and spreads easily over a surface.

Forms

Self-leveling concrete comes in two forms of materials – underlayments and overlayments.

The self-leveling underlayment material is usually intended for leveling and correcting existing problematic surfaces to make them suitable for installation of floor finishes such as vinyl tile, sheet vinyl, ceramic tile, hardwood floor products and carpet. Installation of underlayment surface may vary in thickness which usually ranges from 0.125 inches to about 0.25 inches.

Self-leveling concrete overlay serves for the same purpose, but it can function as a finished floor overlay. Self-leveling floor overlays can be colored, epoxied or polished to create a finished wear surface. This type of concrete overlays can be used for many applications.

There’s a variety of self-leveling concrete products available nowadays. Some products are only suitable for indoor applications such as restaurant, warehouse and basement floors, retail stores, light industrial as well as institutional floor finishes. There are also self-leveling concrete products that are used for outdoor applications like patio, driveway or sidewalk resurfacing.

Characteristics

Self-leveling concrete is a type of concrete that is combined with polymer and has high flow characteristics. It means that it just flows and levels easily when poured. No trowelling is needed since only a gauge rake is required to pull the material to the exact height. The surface is further smoothened and evened out by a tool called “smoother”.

When applied as a floor finish, it produces a low maintenance, functional and decorative floor. It also creates a stronger, highly compressive, leveled surface when applied as an underlayment.

Self Leveling Concrete Curing Guide

The best thing about self-leveling concrete curing is that it is only a matter of hours. A characteristic not found in conventional concrete.

This is actually one of the advantages you get by using a self-leveling concrete material to your floor repair, resurfacing and finishing projects. Learning about the concrete curing process and how long it takes allows you to decide on which material gives you the best advantage. The following process can serve as your guide.

Spreading

Apply the self-leveling concrete mixture to the surface with a trowel. It is advisable to mix only the amount of concrete you can use in a 15-minute interval since it dries quickly than conventional concrete.

Smoothing

Smooth out the poured mixture using a squeegee and work on all corners as quick as you can.

Drying

You will need to wait for about 30 minutes for the poured concrete to set up and get into place. Then leave to dry for 12 hours, you can also dry-cure it if you’re working in a moderate climate.

Misting

During hot or windy conditions, spray the self-leveling concrete area with water. Do this for the first three hours after working on the entire surface to prevent it from drying quickly.

Curing

Let it dry after spraying with water and allow it to dry naturally. After 12 hours the concrete curing is complete and ready for final floor covering.

 

   

Types of Self Leveling Cement Compound

Self-leveling concrete comes in several types.  This type of cement is popularly used as resurfacer and finish for indoor or outdoor floors primarily because of its self-leveling properties.

Self-leveling cement compounds

Self-leveling cement compound is a type of plaster or screed. It is poured onto structural concrete either to reduce the passage of heat over a surface or to prepare it for another material. This material essentially helps prolong the life of floors. It comes in two varieties – the acrylic-based mixture and water-based mixture.

Acrylic-based mixture

The acrylic-based mixture requires an acrylic polymer liquid to be mixed with the cement powder. The concrete produced from this mixture tend to be hardwearing and bonds well with concrete sub-floor. Drying this mixture takes longer and more expensive than water-based mixtures.

Water-based mixture

In contrast, the water-based mixture simply requires water to make a thick liquid that can be poured onto the sub-floor. Drying time approximately takes 15 to 20 minutes, which means you need to have your tools handy as you pour the cement on the ground and spread. You may need the help of a few people if the area you’re working on is too big.

These innovative cement mixtures create a thin, flowing consistency yet makes for leveled, smooth surfaces with increased loading capacity. There’s a variety of self-leveling cement compounds for specific uses. The type of self-leveling compound to be applied depends on the surface needs.

Unlike traditional concrete, self-leveling concrete has special bonding agents which make your surfaces stronger and free from crumbling and cracking.  What makes it even better is that you don’t have to worry about trowelling in order to level a surface.

 

 

 

 

 

How To Use Self Leveling Concrete Mix

Self-leveling concrete can be your best friend if you know how to properly use it.

Whether you’re doing your floor project yourself or hire other guys to do it for you, your knowledge in the proper use of this new concrete cement can serve as a guide.

Prepare the surface

The key to using the self-leveling concrete successfully is in the proper cleaning and preparation of the surface. Whether you are repairing or resurfacing a cement or wood surface, the area should be properly cleaned with a vacuum to remove dirt and debris. Holes should be patched to fill and even the surface.

Apply primer 

To ensure that self-leveling concrete adheres and bonds well to the floor, apply latex primer using a brush or roller. Wait until the primer has completely dried up to avoid making your concrete mix less stable.

Locate uneven areas 

The areas with irregularities will be your first target. Locate them by sliding a framing square over the surface and mark them with a pencil.

Prepare for the mixing process

Make sure to have your tools ready.  It is also advisable to work with gloves and avoid breathing the dust from the concrete mix as it may lead to cough and allergies.

Mixing

Add the cement to approximately 6 quarts of cold water. Stir the mixture with a power drill and continue mixing until you achieve a flowing consistency. You can also use a cement mixer for mixing. Keep in mind to follow the packaging guidelines.

Pouring  

Pour the mixture over the uneven areas you’ve previously located and wait for a few minutes to spread out.

Smoothing

Smooth out the self-leveling concrete using a smoothing trowel or rake to spread evenly.

And that is it.  There really isn’t much to the process, which makes understanding how to use self leveling concrete so easy.  If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below or simply reach out to your local hardware store.

Good luck with your concrete project!

5 Impressive Advantages Of Using Self Leveling Concrete

self leveling concrete advantagesSelf-leveling concrete has become the most preferred concrete floor underlayment and finish. Its popularity has increased for a lot of reasons.

The advantages of this new concrete technology is actually quite many, here are some of them.

Time and money savings

Self-leveling concrete products are generally easy to use. Unlike traditional concrete which is typically stiffer and needs more labor to spread and smoothen over a surface, self-leveling concrete has a thinner consistency which spreads and levels easily. It also dries up in just minutes.

This means that less labor and time are needed to repair or finish a surface since all you have do is mix it according to instructions and apply it in a properly prepped surface. The application process only takes minutes.  As a result you save money from less labor requirement and time from the less drying time requirement.

High degree of smoothness and flatness

With proper preparation, any surface can be laid with self-leveling concrete. The thin, flowing consistency locates patched holes, dips and flattens uneven areas of a surface, similar to rainwater finding its way to hollow areas.

The polymer-modified overlay produces a high quality smooth concrete floor finish making it suitable for decorative inlays which creates highly artistic floors.

Easy application

Self-leveling concrete products are relatively easy to apply since they come in ready to use mix. A particular mixture just sets all by itself without the need for special equipment or extraordinary tool to apply it.

High compressive strengths

The high compressive strength is another impressive quality of a self-leveling concrete product, which is relatively higher than traditional concrete. This means, that its capacity to withstand loads is higher than other concrete products we’re used to.

Solves flooring height issues

One of the major issues when it comes to flooring projects is that little consideration is often given to the height, and the worse thing is, only to find it out later in the project. The self-leveling characteristic of this new concrete technology solves this issue as there is a gauge rake that serves as a floor leveler to get the concrete to the desired height.