Mixing self leveling underlayment

Discussion in 'Floor Preparation' started by Ken Benson, Jan 5, 2011.

  1. Ken Benson

    Ken Benson Member

    I've got a bare concrete floor in a new room that I want to level (concrete contractor didn't do a very good job). I bought 20 bags of Henry's 555 LevelPro Self Leveling Underlayment. Yesterday I primed the floor with Henry's 554. I read in another topic here that I would be smart to use a helper as it cures quickly and I won't be able to mix and spread fast enough. So I'll wait until the weekend when I can get my wife to help.

    The directions say that I need a 5 gallon bucket to mix in. Will a 40 lb bag of cement and 5 quarts of water fit in a 5 gallon bucket? It doesn't look like it will.

    Ken Benson
  2. Tandy Reeves

    Tandy Reeves Resting In Peace Charter Member I Support TFP Senior Member

    I would suggest you get more help than your wife. Not selling her short, but opening pouring bag of dry mix lifting and pouring them into container with proper amount of liquid, then running mixer will have her busier than a one armed paper hanger. For you to stop leveling to help her will only make your job much more difficult to make floor smooth and flat. I would have 3 doing the mixing and pouring mixed material on the floor for you to work. Good luck.
  3. Incognito

    Incognito No more Mr. Nice Guy! I Support TFP Senior Member

    800 lbs is a heavy load for the average home owner to handle. Tandy's 100% right and I'll go one step further. You're best off getting a larger bucket and mix two units at a clip. That's how Ardex designed their basic mixing kit. You're going to get the best results the faster you get everything mixed, poured out and spread evenly across the area. With one guy it's going to start setting up where you started applying the patch before you're able to get the next batch blending in there. This isn't light work and timing can be critical. Here's a picture of the standard mixing set-up we'd use for a job of your size. Any big pail you can haul around on a dolly will do fine.

    Get a third guy (or very strong gal) and eat your Wheaties that morning!

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 5, 2011
  4. Ken Benson

    Ken Benson Member

    Taylor Rental here has a "wheelbarrow mixer" that's supposed to be able to mix one and a half 80 lb bags (which should be the same as three 40 lb bags). Is that more realistic? I'll see what I can do about a third helper, although I'm not sure where the third person is going to fit in. I see my wife mixing and myself spreading and leveling. What's the third person going to do?
  5. Barry Carlton

    Barry Carlton I Support TFP Senior Member Published

    You need at least one person pouring the powder into the water, one person mixing, and one spreading and smoothing. Preferably two of the units BrainM pictured and one more man to help pour the 2 bag "bucket".
  6. Ken Benson

    Ken Benson Member

    I'm going to rent a powered mixer, so there is no one really mixing, just someone operating the mixer. My wife puts water and cement into the mixer, turns it on, turns it off, dumps it on the floor, and then mixes another batch. Where's the third person fit in?
  7. Incognito

    Incognito No more Mr. Nice Guy! I Support TFP Senior Member

    It's something that certainly can be done with 1-2 people. A third person in the middle can expedite both operations of mixing and pouring so the persons there can stay on task.
  8. Ken Benson

    Ken Benson Member

    Another question: The instructions say to spread into place with "the gauged spreader". The flooring guy at Home Depot ended up selling me a 1/8" toothed trowel, but I'm starting to think I need something bigger. What is a gauged spreader?
  9. polestretch

    polestretch Senior Member

    Go back to Post #3. In the picture it is the white thing lying on the ground. It has little feet that you can adjust to the depth you need to spread. Also wear golf shoes while spreading so you can walk around in it while spreading.
    The more people the easier it will go!:D
  10. Tandy Reeves

    Tandy Reeves Resting In Peace Charter Member I Support TFP Senior Member

    Yes you need the proper gauged trowel. Be sure and use the correct rpm mixer and mix ONLY the proper amount of time to do otherwise can be a real mess.

    I know you think two people can do it, but if you wind up with a tear out mess - just tear it out and do it again. That third person will be used in mixing, measuring, hauling, pouring and spreading.

    Brian gave you the way to do it along with a picture of tools and equipment. Do as you wish and good luck.
  11. Ken Benson

    Ken Benson Member

    Please don't think I'm arguing. This is just my way of trying to understand.

    Brian's picture was very helpful, but it's a picture of tools I don't have and don't know where to get. I do have a 5 gallon bucket and a mixing paddle, but I seriously doubt (despite instructions on the bag) that I can fit a 40 lb bag and 5 quarts of water in a 5 gallon bucket. I don't know if my drill turns at 650 RPM. Taylor Rental doesn't have a mixing bucket like the one in Brian's picture, but they do have a wheelbarrow mixer. I'm sure it doesn't mix at 650 RPM (probably more like 10 RPM), but I'm guessing the reason for 650 RPM is so that it gets mixed fast, and I think a mixer will be faster than a drill with a paddle anyway.

    Maybe I should get a professional to do this for me. Any recommendations for someone in Western Massachusetts? Should I look in the phone book under Flooring or Masonry?
  12. Incognito

    Incognito No more Mr. Nice Guy! I Support TFP Senior Member

    You do need to mix correctly, meaning the correct paddle and the correct RPM for the correct amount of time. Too much is no good, too little is no good. I measure everything carefully and look at my watch to make sure it's mixed adequately. There are chemical reactions needed to blend the water, cement and bonding and leveling agents. The size and shape of the bucket isn't critical. How about a small trash can? Could you pick one up at Ace Hardware? Then just clean it out well and there's always a use for a small trash pail around the house, right?

    Don't get too discouraged. It wouldn't hurt to call around for a quote just to get an idea of what you're saving by doing the job yourself. This job is a challenge but not impossible for most folks.
  13. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain Owner/Founder Administrator

    I know we have pro members from Massachusetts, but unfortunately none of them have taken me up on the opportunity to have a FREE listing in our business directory here: Look for Massachusetts Floor Installers in the The Floor Pro Directory

    Yet another of many times a consumer or DIYer has come here looking for something and our members don't take advantage of the opportunity. :hu:
  14. Sean Moore

    Sean Moore Pro Member

    You're right, Ken. That 40lb plus 1.25 gallons might fit in a 5 gal bucket but JUST barely. You won't be able to mix it.

    Do not underestimate this stuff, it's tricky. Get a third or even a fourth person over to help. Don't make them do much but having those extra two or four hands might come in REALLY handy.

    You can make your own "gaged spreader" (we call them a rake here) simply by nailing some nails partially into each end of a board. How deep do you need this stuff? I've overpoured some things late at night when it was time to go. As far as I know, it didn't fail. YMMV.
  15. Ken Benson

    Ken Benson Member

    Gauge depth has to be variable. The slab is sloped, so the high end should be 1/8" deep and the low end about 1" deep with some deeper dips and valleys. I need to check Taylor Rental for a gauged spreader.

    I was thinking a screed and rail system might work better than a rake. I can snap a line on the walls at level, make two-by rails (basically two long, thin triangles) and then glue the rails along the level line with shims where necessary. Is this too complicated? It's 13 ft across. Even if I pour to my level line on the sides I'm worried about the middle being the same depth as the sides. I could probably do about the same thing with a screed with screws or nails on the ends, adjust the depth of the screws by turning them in further as I go up the hill. Existing floor may not be smooth enough to slide screw heads without catching.

    I'd rather avoid overpouring. This stuff is $30something/bag, and the 20 bags I bought was just a guess. The more I can return the less this will cost. It would also be nice to minimize the step up at the doorway (which is level now).
  16. Tandy Reeves

    Tandy Reeves Resting In Peace Charter Member I Support TFP Senior Member

    A little hint to keep material from cracking. Get a roll of 1/2 inch wide foam insulating tape, and go around each outside corner with the tape. Leave tape in place and after material has gotten hard the surplus heighth can be trimmed level with the rest of the floor. About a 6 inch strip should be enough to go around the corner.
  17. Barry Carlton

    Barry Carlton I Support TFP Senior Member Published

    A self leveling compound is just that...selfleveling. It is lie water and will go to the lowest points first and only fill to "level".The guage is only to push it around to the general vicinity you want it.
  18. Ken Benson

    Ken Benson Member

    Thanks, Barry

    That makes sense and was what I envisioned when I first went to Home Depot. I saw myself just mixing and pouring until I got it up to a level line I snapped on the wall.

    Maybe this will be easier than I'm thinking.
  19. Mike Sahli

    Mike Sahli Pro Member

    Excellent idea, also you can get longer flow time from the leveler if you use very cold water in the mix.

    Fill some garbage cans with water and cool them down by putting ice in plastic bags and placing them into the water filled cans. If you have to mix small batches in 5 gal. containers this will give you a lot more working time.

    Get enough help so as you dump the bucket you have another ready to go one after the other. One guy dumping buckets, two guys mixing and at least one more guy cleaning buckets for the next batch and shagging water.
  20. Incognito

    Incognito No more Mr. Nice Guy! I Support TFP Senior Member

    Technically it's just a few basics that I hope have been covered. You don't need those specific items in the kit I showed, just something similar to accomplish the same task. Our advice to get help is primarily aimed at saving your back and as far as the depth gauge it's designed to make sure a minimum amount is applied. You see it can be adjusted quite deep because there are cases where that's needed. To go from zero to one inch do as you plan. Fill the low spot to your reference line and then work away from that to cover the entire area. I've never used a notched trowel. I never even thought of that. I either use the stand-up squeegee or a standard (large) cement floating trowel depending on how large and how deep. You could use a piece of lumber with screws or nails or anything basically to smear the stuff where you need it to go.

    Easy? We'll see about that. It's still 800 lbs and that's if your math is right. It's not uncommon for us to be running back for a few (or a lot) more sacks.

    Now there's where a third person might be needed.

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