Damaged, worn and uneven concrete can make even the most seasoned contractor shudder, but luckily there are simple solutions that offer a quick turnaround and long-lasting performance. Self-leveling products continue to increase in popularity as the degree of flatness and smoothness required for floor covering materials rise. Resulting in perfectly flat surfaces with excellent reinforcement and compressive strength, self-leveling products are often recommended and chosen for their ease-of-use and quality durability.
Self-leveling products typically contain polymer-modified cements that improve adhesion to the substrate and guarantee a successful installation. Creating smooth, flat surfaces with high compressive strength, they can be installed over any non-flexible surface such as concrete and wood. In addition, unlike traditional concrete, which is generally weaker and requires more labor to install, self-leveling products do most of the work for you.
Underlayments and Overlayments
Dual purpose self-leveling products can be applied as either a high-performance underlayment or a high-strength wear surface. Depending on the specifications of the application, both options provide similar benefits while overlayments are also selected for their appearance.
Installing a self-leveling product as an underlayment over an existing subfloor allows the installer to smooth out and correct surface imperfections for all types of flooring, including vinyl, wood, tile and carpet. This will result in a flat surface that is more durable, provides water resistance and may even inhibit growth of sometimes harmful microorganisms.
As a wear surface, the effects are similar but the concrete serves as the actual finished floor, providing a seamless floor. These overlayments are often ideal for warehouse floors, light industrial applications, retail, institutional and high traffic education facilities. They can also often be customized with added pigmented dyes, stains or mechanized polishing for an attractive decorative finish.
Easy Installation and Quick Cure Times
One of the biggest benefits to applying a self-leveling pourable overlay or underlayment is how easy it is on the installer. Traditional concrete requires more labor to mix and apply as well as longer cure times before completion.
Before beginning the pour, the surface should be thoroughly cleaned and all loose materials removed. The subfloor should be free of moisture and completely cured before a self-leveling overlayment is applied. You may want to consider installing a moisture barrier if levels are too high, to protect the final finish. With viscosity similar to pancake batter, the contractor won’t need a trowel to spread the material or vibrate the mix; a simple gauge rake does the trick. Using the tool to spread the mixture, the polymers ensure a great bond and the admixtures in the mix help keep the surface uniform and even. The installer should make sure not to spread the mixture too thin, as these products typically require an average thickness of about 0.25 inches, though some self-leveling pourable concretes exist that require only an average of 0.125-inch thickness.
Another benefit of most self-leveling pourable products is that they are quick-curing, reducing downtime for installers and getting following trades back to work quicker. For an industry increasingly facing greater time constraints with compressed schedules and controlled jobsite access, a rapid turnaround is often necessary.
Whether repairing damaged, worn and uneven surfaces or installing new floors that need a perfectly smooth and durable surface or underlayment, self-leveling products continue to be popular among installers for their ease-of-use and compressive strength. As a high-quality underlayment or wear topping for added decorative capabilities, these solutions are recommended for their performance as well as appearance.