As part of our kitchen remodeling project, I want to put down a new floor. The kitchen subfloor is uneven and I want to get it right. Do you recommend a self-leveling compound for the job? It's a slab subfloor. I hate to resort to grinding. What about putting plywood above the concrete slab? What's the most cost-effective answer?
Stuart P. ~ Tampa, Florida
Stuart, if the existing slab subfloor in your kitchen is in decent shape and has only a few minor dips, then a self leveling compound can be a sufficient and inexpensive solution to your problem. It is important to have a level subfloor on which to install your new kitchen floor, especially if you are going to use a ceramic tile, as they are very susceptible to cracking if installed over uneven surfaces. Keep in mind that a leveling compound is great for filling low areas in your subfloor, but you may still have to grind down high areas and other small bumps that could negatively effect the installation of your new kitchen floors.
Installing plywood over the concrete slab in your kitchen can be another way to create a level subfloor, but this may cost significantly more money than using just a self leveling compound, and there are potential problems with this solution. The biggest problem is that you're possibly raising the level of the finished floor by the 1/2 to 3/4 of inch, depending on the thickness of the plywood you use. Even a small increase in floor height can cause problems with the room's doors, base trims, and with the transitions to other adjacent floor surfaces. The ideal situation is to try and match the height of the new kitchen floors with the height of the old floors, while ensuring that there is a stable and level subfloor underneath. Keep in mind that some floor coverings require a specific type of subfloor or underlayment beneath them, so it is important to choose the type of kitchen floors you want to install, before you prep the subfloor. Good luck with your project!