Finding that your concrete floor is out of level can be extremely concerning, and it may seem like the right solution is complicated and difficult to achieve.
Here at A-1 Concrete Leveling, we've seen our fair share of uneven concrete flooring over our 30+ years and business, so we know that's typically not the case.
Uneven concrete floors are a common occurrence, and many homeowners end up with smooth or even concrete after performing one or more of the repairs listed in this guide.
Here, we'll walk you through the different leveling options best suited for different causes of unlevel concrete, and the steps needed to level your concrete the right way.
Your Concrete Floor Leveling Options
Self-leveling concrete compounds, grinding, and professional concrete leveling are the best options out there for leveling your concrete floor.
1. Self-leveling Concrete Compounds
Self-leveling compounds are cement-like mixtures that spread out across the surface of the concrete in order to fill any divots or dips in the slab's surface.
This option is best used in situations where the subsurface is stable but the surface of the slab is uneven. The initial concrete pouring process can leave you with dips in the concrete after it is cured. Many people use this method to achieve a level surface in order to install flooring on top of the slab.
Self-leveling concrete compounds don't do anything about any of the causes of settling concrete, but will only cover the concrete with a material intended to fill surface imperfections.
Concrete grinding is when uneven parts of the concrete, especially trip hazards, are ground down in order to create a level surface.
This is typically recommended as a last-resort option for leveling uneven concrete. Typically it doesn't do much to actually level the concrete, but rather smooth out the uneven joints between slabs.
This option also damages the finished surface of the concrete, oftentimes revealing the aggregate core of the slab, thereby opening it up for more opportunity for damage from the elements, like surface spalling, crumbling, or cracking.
3. Professional Concrete Slab Leveling
Professional concrete leveling works by drilling strategic holes in a settled concrete slab, then pumping a leveling compound through the holes in order to lift the slab into a level position.
In many cases, this is the best option for leveling a concrete floor. It works by getting to the root issues of the uneven concrete, which is an unstable foundation holding the slab up. The leveling compound creates a new, strong, and stable foundation for the slab to rest on.
Professional leveling services level the whole concrete slab, not just the surface. And it leaves you with the original surface that can last significantly longer than any surface-layer repairs would.
Concrete Floor Leveling
Interior concrete floors, just like exterior concrete slabs, can be raised using A-1's concrete leveling process. To do this, we simply pull back the carpeting, lift up the tile or hardwood, and pump the floor back into a level.
Step-by-step Guide to Leveling a Concrete Floor
Concrete leveling right isn't typically something you can do yourself. as it requires specialized equipment and experienced technicians. The good news is it is often significantly cheaper than you may have thought it would be.
Step 1: Determine the best type of concrete leveling for your job
The two main options are typically injection foam leveling or grout leveling. Both have their pros and cons, so it's important to know what you're looking for.
- Injection Foam Leveling: Foam leveling is often a good choice if you're looking for a low-mess solution, with smaller holes. Be aware, that even if your concrete floor is inside, this isn't the only option, but if moving furniture and floor coverings isn't something you're able to do, this might be the way to go.
Read about the pros and cons of foam concrete leveling.
- Stone Slurry Grout Leveling: The stone slurry grout method is most often a less expensive option. It does use larger holes, but does a better job of completely filling any voids you may have under the slab and it produces a more solid base than foam materials can give.
Step 2: Concrete leveling process begins
First, the leveling technicians drill holes in your slab in strategic locations. It is important to note that lifting slabs properly requires holes in places you wouldn't expect. Material needs to be injected under the slab in places that assure a complete filling of the void. Attempting to raise a slab by just drilling holes along the edge to be lifted can put undue stress on the slab and cause cracks to form.
Read more: What to Expect at Your Concrete Leveling Appointment
Step 3: Voids are pumped with leveling mixture
After the holes are drilled, a mixture of either foam or stone slurry grout is pumped through the holes to fill any voids underneath. Once those voids are filled, the concrete can then be lifted.
With injection foam leveling, the lifting occurs as the foam expands. So you may see your technicians injecting foam and then waiting for a few seconds for it to expand. This is repeated until the slab is raised back into position.
For stone slurry grout leveling, the leveling occurs as pressure builds up from more material being injected under the slab. This is typically a more precise method of lifting because any movement of the slab stops instantly when the material is no longer being pumped.
Read more: How Does Concrete Leveling Work?
Step 4: Repair is finished
Finally, after the concrete floor has been leveled, the floor is cleaned up, and the holes are filled with non-shrink grout. Any floor coverings that were moved during the process can be moved back, and the floor can be used immediately.
Can my concrete be leveled?
Concrete naturally deteriorates over time. Without proper maintenance, it can be damaged beyond repair in as little as a decade or two. This may seem like a long time, but if the concrete is properly cared for, it can last a lifetime. If the concrete is too old and broken up, then concrete leveling is probably not going to be a viable option.
You may think that covering the concrete with a skim coating of new cement, or some kind of epoxy would be an option, but without a good, stable foundation these types of fixes would quickly deteriorate, putting you back at square one.
With concrete like this, your only real option is to tear it out and replace it.
If your concrete is mostly in one piece, with maybe a few cracks, and unevenness between slabs (separated by expansion or saw-cut joints) then congratulations, you probably have a good candidate for concrete leveling.
Your Next Steps
Now that you've learned a little more about the different options for making your concrete floor level, you're ready to decide which one will best fit your needs.
However, you don't have to stop here. A-1 Concrete Leveling has an entire library of resources and content dedicated to concrete repair and maintenance topics!
Next, read one of these related topics from our Concrete Academy:
- Why Concrete Settles
- Can You Pour Self-leveling Compound Over Existing Concrete?
- Concrete Grinding vs. Replacement vs. Leveling
Interested in seeing what professional concrete leveling services can do for your settled floors? Click the link below to request a free onsite estimate with one of the A-1 experts!