Whether you want a carpet, tile, or wood covering, a self-leveling compound (SLC) provides a stable, even surface to lay your floor. And while it has several advantages, SLC can be expensive, often prompting homeowners to search for a cheaper alternative. So, what are some effective, Cheaper Alternatives To Self-leveling Compounds?
One of the cheaper alternatives to a self-leveling compound is a sand mix. A sand mix is a mixture of sand and cement that you can use to smooth out irregularities in your floor. But unlike the original product, the sand mixture will not spread evenly. Instead, you’ll need a flat tool like a trowel to flatten it. It took some effort, though.
There are more options you should explore and select according to your needs and comfort. Every alternative requires a little budget for materials. But before that, You must learn about what a Self-Levelling Compound is and at what level other options are relevant.
What is a Self-leveling Compound?
The self-leveling compound is a material used to create a smooth, flat surface. It is often used on floors and walls that are not perfectly flat, and it can be an alternative to traditional leveling methods such as shimming or plywood.
Self-leveling compounds are made from various materials, but the most common type is concrete. A concrete self-leveling compound is mixed with water to create a liquid that can be poured onto the surface that needs to be leveled. Once it sets, it will harden to a smooth, flat surface.
There are many advantages to using self-leveling compounds instead of traditional leveling methods. Self-leveling compounds are straightforward to use and dry quickly. It can also be used on surfaces that are not perfectly flat, making it ideal for repairing uneven floors or walls. However, the self-leveling compound is more expensive than traditional shimming methods and less intense than concrete.
Self-leveling compounds are tough and durable, making them ideal for many construction and remodeling projects, from bathroom and kitchen floors to significant ceilings. Using self-leveling composites offers greater energy efficiency benefits than other building materials. As their application does not require additional heating and lighting. This makes them ideal for sustainable construction projects, and their applications can help reduce construction costs and carbon emissions.
Self-leveling compounds are a valuable tool in construction and remodeling because of their ability to create uniform surfaces quickly and easily, Their strength and durability, and their energy efficiency. With their wide range of applications and multiple benefits, it’s easy to see why self-leveling compounds have become a popular and versatile building material in construction and remodeling.
5 Best Cheaper Alternatives to Self-leveling Compound
Although a self-leveling compound is a reliable solution to leveling concrete floors, it can be expensive. In such situations, you can adopt the following methods to get an even floor in your home or shop without spending a lot.
1. Sand mix
This option is most common and once you choose a sand mix with the right consistency, you can finish your concrete floor. Moreover, this option helps you get the desired results at a significantly discounted price.
Start by spreading the sand mix on the floor. You can use any clothes and towels to do this. If you don’t have one, you can use any flat-edged tool to spread the sand mixture over the entire area. Make sure that there are no gaps. Cover the area with more sand mix if necessary.
Once the entire area is covered, wet it with water. Instead, sprinkle the necessary moisture on the floor and let it sit. After the whole floor is wet, leave it to dry. Afterward, use a bristled brush to remove dust particles from the floor. This will give you an uneven concrete floor without spending a fortune.
With Self-Levelling Compound, the playing field is leveled without requiring special knowledge or skills. The only disadvantage is that it can be expensive, especially for large projects.
How to Prepare and Apply Sand Mix?
Step 1: Prepare the floor
Before you do anything, you need to set the floor first. If you want to ensure the floor is prepared, take a pressure washer to it. Comb the bottom and corroborate that it’s free of grease, oil painting, and dirt.Any loose material should be removed.
Step 2: Make sure you have the correct sand mix
Before pouring concrete, make sure the sand mix you use is correct. If not, leveling will be challenging and may not have the desired effect. A reasonable rate is one part of Portland cement to 3 corridor beaches. In addition, you can always ask experts for advice.
Step 3: Apply that sand mixture to the floor
Whenever you achieve the right consistency of the mixture, it’s time to spread that sand mixture in the appropriate amount on the floor. Significant differences exist between sand composition and SLC, so it will not flow evenly. As you go for the former, you must use a trowel or other flat tool to level it.
Significant effort will be involved, especially if you are restoring a large area. But if you are consistent and patient, you can achieve your goals and save significant money.
Step 4: Wash your floors
Once dispersion is complete, water uptake becomes the next step. Use a theater sock to spray water on the bottom. If it doesn’t, you’ll have to start over because too much effort will dislodge the sand composition. So make sure the sock is set to a gentle spray.
Step 5: Allow your floor to dry
After wetting the surface, it is now time to dry. Its length will vary depending on the temperature and humidity of the area. On the other hand, make sure the entire area is dry, not even a few isolated areas.
Putting your hand on the soil instantly tells if it’s already dry. You can go after allowing the area to soak for a day. If the floor is wet, you must allow more time for drying. After a day, recheck your results. Before proceeding with the following steps, ensure the entire surface is dry.
Step 6: Get rid of sand particles
Once the sand has dried, the next step is to remove the sand particles from the floor. To do this, use a bristles brush. This will help flush out any contaminants still stuck to the surface. Handle it carefully to avoid scratching the floor. Yet again, this step is only sometimes necessary. There is no need to remove anything if there are no pieces of sand on the floor.
We recommend using this method if you don’t mind paying extra to have your concrete floor self-leveled. Before proceeding, you need to have round-edged trowel, primer, self-leveler, and spiked roller.
Start by mixing primer and water in a 1:1 ratio. This will allow sticking to the self-leveling concrete floor. Once thoroughly mixed, apply the primer to the floor with a roller. If you want to make it easier, pour it over the entire area and use the roller for an even application. Let the primer wet and dry for about three hours.
Now, it’s time to mix the self-leveler with water. You can adjust the ratio of water according to the required consistency. However, you must be aware that going overboard with the amount of water can cause your floor to separate and even compromise its strength. As a rule of thumb, you should mix 5 quarts of clean water with a bag of self-leveler.
After you prepare the mixture, pour it onto the floor and spread it with a rounded-edge trowel. Apply slight pressure on the first slab. Once it settles, apply some more mixture and spread it without extra stress. After covering the area, use a spiked roller to remove any air pockets and ripples from the floor. Move it in one direction to remove bubbles from the freshly-leveled concrete floor.
3. Floor Grinder
Sometimes, you may notice a few bumps on your concrete floor. Since these bumps are confined to certain parts of the floor, it is not profitable to level the entire area. In such situations, you can try this method.
For this you may need a floor grinder only.
Plug in your grinder and place it on the concrete floor. Move it across high spots and bumps on the floor. Its grinder wheel will eat away the bumps in the floor and keep the floor smooth. Since this machine works like a sanding machine, you must walk behind it.
4. Portland Cement and Sand
Another great cheaper alternative to the self-leveling compound is a mixture of Portland cement and sand. This DIY solution can be used for small patch jobs or larger projects, but it will have a different smoothness and strength than a pre-made self-leveling compound.
Mix Portland cement and sand in a 1:3 ratio (1 part cement to 3 parts sand) with enough water to form a spreadable consistency.
Apply evenly to the desired area and allow it to dry completely before walking on or adding floor covering. Remember that this DIY option may require more frequent maintenance and repair than a professional self-leveling compound.
Moreover, sand and Portland cement may only be suitable for some types of flooring. It is best to consult a professional or do thorough research before using this option on floors that require a certain level of smoothness or strength.
5. Gypsum-based Compound
In addition to a sand mix and a Portland cement and sand mix, another inexpensive self-leveling compound option is a gypsum-based compound. These compounds are typically used for small, smooth surfaces like countertops and can be applied directly with a trowel or smoothing tool.
However, because gypsum is not as strong as a mixture of sand and Portland cement, it may not be suitable for heavy traffic areas or heavy weight-bearing floors.
Following the manufacturer’s instructions for application and drying times is essential before walking on the surface or applying the finish. Overall, leveling products can save time, money, and effort in creating a smooth, even surface for floors and countertops. It is always best to consult a professional contractor or expert to determine which leveling product will work best for your project.
How to Choose a Cheaper Alternative to Self Leveling Compound?
If you’re looking for an affordable but still durable self-leveling compound, go with a sand mix or a mix of sand and portland cement, depending on the project. Although a gypsum-based compound is inexpensive and easy to use, remember that it is not the best choice for heavy-traffic areas. Self-leveling foam can offer the easiest application, which is very important if you are a beginner. Buying a drywall compound is more durable and affordable.
What is the Best Cheap Self-leveling Compound?
There are several types of self-leveling compounds on the market, and the best one for you will depend on your budget and the work you have to do. For smaller jobs, such as leveling out a few dips of the floor, you may need a cheaper option like Dap self-leveling floor compound. If you have a large job or need a smooth finish, consider something like Henry’s self-leveling floor compound.
Can I Use Cement as Self-levelling?
No, cement itself cannot act as a self-leveling surface. If you use the cement alone, due to the stability of sand, it will dry out and break very easily.Consequently, leveling your soil with cement is not a good idea. Slurries can be made using it well, but self-leveling is not possible. We all know that concrete and water combine to create energy. There is no doubt that it is not just water. To create a solid base, you must mix cement and sand.
How Thick Should Self-leveling Be?
Applying self-leveling is not a do-it-yourself job. You need to hire a professional builder to do this for you. Generally, the cost will depend on your area’s size, and it is expected to pay around $200 for a small room and $1000 or more for a large room. The self-leveling thickness should be about ⅛ inch(3 mm). Applying too thick a layer will take too long to dry and may crack very soon. If it’s too thin, it won’t layer properly.
Can I Use Grout as a Floor Leveler?
No, you cannot level the floor with Grout. Grout is often used to fill gaps or cracks between tiles. It is not intended to be used as a self-leveling compound. Grout must have the qualities required for this work, making it unsuitable for leveling floors. Generally, Grout is a mixture of sand, cement, and water. It cannot be compared with mortar. Because Grout is much thinner in texture than other types of filler, it is commonly used to fill joints.
Can You Make Your Self-leveling Compound?
A fundamental self-leveling compound is one cement to 4 fine triple wash sand. Add a small amount of synthetic plasticizer, about 3 tsp. Mix with clean water and mix for no more than a few minutes. Starting around the corner, pour it around.
The self-leveling compound is an ideal way to level your floor and establish a smooth and even surface.It works as a more affordable option, although you have to trowel the surface for it to work. But due to its high cost, some people are looking for cheaper options. Luckily, we have things like sand mixes for that. Here we share some Cheaper Alternative To Self Leveling Compounds.
Although this method is time-consuming and requires a lot of elbow grease, you can save a lot of money. At the same time, it will provide reliable results in the form of a flat and smooth concrete floor. So, if you are looking for an inexpensive yet durable self-leveling compound, the sand mix is your best bet.