How to Level a Floor Without Leveling Compound: 4 Methods

Leveling your floor can be challenging, but there are ways to do it without resorting to a floor-leveling compound

You can use various materials to level your floor, including self-leveling concrete, plywood, and shims. 

The most important thing is to ensure that whatever material you use is level before laying on the rest of the material.

Stay tuned as we discuss the best options for leveling your floor to perfection without using any leveling compound. 

Why is it important to level your floor?

man checking the floor with a bubble level

Floor leveling is essentially the process of evening out an existing floor so that it is level or flat. This way, the floor becomes much more functional, aesthetically pleasing, and ready for the installation of different types of flooring.  

Having uneven floors can cause various issues, including: 

  • Trip hazards
  • Uneven wear and tear
  • Damaged flooring
  • Unsightly appearance

Now that we have all the basics out of the way, let’s look at the importance of having a level floor.

1. Base for flooring

A level floor is essential for tiling, so if you’re planning on doing any tiling work in your home, leveling your floor first is a must.

If you have any flooring that needs to be installed, such as hardwood or laminate, a level floor will make the installation process much easier and result in a better-looking final product.

2. Maintenance and appearance

Level floors are also much easier to clean and keep dust-free since there are no nooks and crannies for dirt and dust to accumulate in.

Even if you don’t have any immediate plans to do any work on your floors, leveling them now will make any future work much easier and will help extend your floors’ life.

Finally, having a level floor looks better and can give your home a more finished and polished look.

3. Safety

There’s also the safety factor, as uneven floors can be a trip hazard. Leveling your floors is an important safety measure for children and elderly relatives.

Uneven floors can also result in uneven wear and tear, as furniture and appliances are more likely to tip over on a rough surface

So, by leveling your floors, you can help to protect your belongings and furniture from damage.

Leveling a floor is also an excellent opportunity to solve any existing problems with your floor, such as gaps, cracks, or holes. 

By taking care of these problems now, you can help prevent further damage to your floors in the future.

How to level a floor without leveling compound

What’s a leveling compound?  A leveling compound is a material used to fill in low spots on floors, creating a more level surface. You can do this with a self-leveling compound, which is spread over the floor and then left to dry and harden.

However, it can be challenging to spread correctly, especially if you’re a beginner. This is why we’ve found the best methods of leveling your floor without using any leveling compound

Note: Before you attempt any fixes it’s important to be sure you are safe. Always wear safety glasses, mask, and gloves when appropriate.

1. Shims

photo of wood shims for leveling floors

Shims are thin pieces of wood used to level a floor. You can use shims to level a floor by placing them under the legs of furniture or by inserting them into cracks and gaps

You can also use shims to level a floor by installing them along the room’s perimeter.

To install shims, you will need a hammer and nails. Begin by measuring the distance between the floor and the furniture or gaps you want to level. 

Use a saw to cut the shims to size. Next, position the shim in place and nail it into the floor. Repeat this process until the floor is level.

Finally, it’s important for you to know that shims can become visible after they have been installed. If you don’t want that, then you should consider painting them, so they match the color of your floor or furniture.

If you don’t think you’ll have the time for all that, then you should consider using self-adhesive shims instead. These shims are less likely to give away their presence.

To use them, simply peel off the back of the shim and stick them in place. That’s it, you don’t need to nail them in place.

2. Plywood

man screwing plywood to floor

Plywood is another good choice to level your floor without a leveling compound. You can level your floor using plywood by attaching it to your floors using screws and washers. 

However, you will want to ensure that the plywood is level before you attach it. Once again, use a level to check for any high or low spots. If there are any, use shims to even it out.

After the plywood is in place, you can install your flooring on top of it. This can help you avoid using a leveling compound, but it will add an extra step to your project.

Since plywood is essentially a bunch of thin layers of wood sheets glued together, it is not uncommon for there to be some unevenness in the panels themselves. 

So before laying your vinyl floor covering or any covering for that matter, make sure that your plywood subfloors (i.e., the panels) are level.

When installing a plywood subfloor in your home, you must ensure the panels are level before you begin. 

You can do this by using a level or a laser level. Once you have determined that the panels are level, you can install them.

It is key to begin at one end of the room and work your way to the other. You will want to use a chalk line to make sure that the panels are installed in a straight line. 

Once the first panel is in position, use screws or nails to secure it to the floor joist. You will want to continue installing the plywood panels until the entire subfloor is complete. 

Once the plywood subfloor is installed, you can begin installing your vinyl flooring or any other type of flooring over it.

If you follow these steps, you can install a plywood subfloor in your home quickly. This will ensure that your floors are level and that they will last for many years to come.

3. Sanding

man using a sander to level a wood floor

Another method of leveling your floors without a floor-leveling compound is sanding – especially if you want to get rid of a high spot.

There are different types of sanders that you can use depending on the type of flooring you have and the severity of the unevenness. 

You will want to start with a heavy-duty sander and then progress to a lighter one as needed. Sanding is more time-consuming, but it can be effective if done correctly.

To properly sand down the floor, you must move the sander in different directions. For example, if sanding a hardwood floor, you will want to start with the wood grain. 

However, if you are dealing with a more severe unevenness, you may need to go against the grain to level out the surface. 

Once the sanding is finished, vacuum or sweep away the debris before applying a finish on the sanded floor. This can be done with various products, such as polyurethane or lacquer. 

Depending on the flooring type, you may need to apply more than one coat to get a smooth, even finish.

If you are not comfortable sanding your floors, you can always hire a professional to do it for you. This may be the best option if you have very delicate flooring or if the unevenness is severe. 

Hiring a professional will ensure that the job is done correctly and that your floors are left looking their best.

4. Tile floor leveling

pouring bucket of self-leveling mortar on floor

If you have tile floors, you may wonder how to level them without using a leveling compound. 

The good news is that you can do this in a few different ways. One option is to use self-leveling mortar

This type of mortar is designed to flow into all of the cracks and crevices in your floor, so it can help to level out an uneven surface.

Another option is to use tile leveling spacers. You place these small wedges between each tile to level them out. 

This is a relatively simple process, but it can be time-consuming if you have a lot of tiles to level.

Final Thoughts

Leveling your floors provides multiple benefits that can simplify home maintenance and enhance safety.

While leveling compounds offer an effective solution, there are also alternative options to achieve a smooth surface. Strategically using materials like shims, plywood, sanding and tile spacers allows you to bypass leveling compounds.

Each method comes with its own advantages whether ease of access, versatility or cost-effectiveness. Carefully considering your goals, budget and resources will determine the ideal approach for your situation.

With some preparation and diligence, leveling your floors without compound is an achievable do-it-yourself project. Addressing any uneven areas now, sets your home up for proper flooring installation and functionality down the line.

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