Sealing Particle Board before putting leveler down

Discussion in 'Floor Preparation' started by jmsland, Sep 9, 2013.

  1. jmsland

    jmsland New Member

    hello all
    I am renovating my house and during the process i have removed one of the load bearing walls that was separating my kitchen from the living room. In the space where the wall set i have placed a 3/4 inch plywood to fill the void but now i have noticed that the floor in the living room (3/4 inch particle board) is not even with the kitchen floor (plywood). My first thought was to use a self leveler but that being water based it will make the particle board swell up so now i am thinking about applying some kind of a paint/primer/sealer to the particle board prior to putting down the self leveler. I know that many of you will say that i should just replace the particle board with plywood but i feel that its too much money and work for this project.

    The plan is to put a Armstrong click and lock engineered hardwood floor in the kitchen as well as the living room (which is actually just one big room now).

    What are you thoughts on this? What product would you recommend that i use?
  2. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain TFP Owner/Founder Administrator

    How long do you expect the hardwood to last? Wanna bet the life expectancy of the particleboard is a LOT less? Are you even sure that particleboard is 3/4" thick and not just a thinner layer over the top of your actual subfloor?

    Have you ever used self-leveling cement before? Did you know it isn't actually self-leveling? And for the beginner, it is quite labor intensive to get it right. Maybe pulling up crappy particleboard isn't as difficult as you think - and doesn't require a whole lot of expertise. Not to mention the total lack of structural stability of pboard and the fact it will flex and break the SLC at the slightest provocation. Compare the costs of primer and SLC with appropriate plywood and fasteners and the cost difference might not seem so far off, especially when you consider things like DIY ability and life of the finished floor.

    Maybe someone else will chime in and tell you that the primer necessary for all SLC will work as the sealer for the particleboard as well. That's not what I would do though.

  3. jmsland

    jmsland New Member

    the PB is actually 3/4 inch think as i have replaced few sections in the corners (cat urine). no i have not used the self leveler before but i figured that there might be some feathering to do in addition to just pouring it on.

    I originally thought about ripping all of the subfloor out and putting down new ply wood and then normal 3/4 inch hardwood floor on top of it but then i found out that i would have an issue with the kitchen cabinets and few other areas of the place. I ended up buying Bruce click and lock engineered hardwood flooring (with lifetime warranty) and i figured that if i was to screw down all of the sheets or PB and take care of the uneven sections i should be fine. At this point i don't think that i can return the floor that i got and even tough its not the perfect way of fixing the level problems i feel that it will work.

    In either case, thank you for your input on this.
  4. jmsland

    jmsland New Member

    One more thing... there are only three sections that are not leveled (and they are off by maybe a 1/4 inch) two of them are were the wall used to be (we are talking about 3 feet max each) and the 3rd one is by the stair case. So the area that needs to be leveled is not that big - maybe 15 sq feet all together. The rest of the floor is nice and level. I am just wondering if you thought that i will be leveling the entire 500 sq foot room in which case you are correct with just ripping and replacing it with something decent.

  5. Kman

    Kman Tile Expert I Support TFP Senior Member Published

    I understand you not wanting to go to the expense and mess of removing the particle board, but have you found a self-leveling compound that is recommended to go over particle board? I've never heard of one. Not saying one doesn't exist, but the reason might be that sealed or not, particle board is not suitable to accept any type of portland-based compound.

    One problem that comes to mind: When using SLC, a primer is used to ensure a strong bond between subfloor and SLC. If you're sealing the particle board to keep moisture out, wouldn't you in fact be defeating the purpose of the primer?

    I hate to jump on the bandwagon to make more work for you, but I think Jim is right when he says you need to get rid of that particle board. Sorry. :eek:
  6. jmsland

    jmsland New Member

    so after reading your posts and looking again at the floor i decided that you are both right so i ended up ripping out 3 sheets of the pb and replacing it with 3/4 plywood.

    Having said that, i have noticed that the kitchen floor has an overlay of 1/4 inch plywood. I am not sure if you can see that from the pictures. Now, i know that the correct way is to go and get more 1/4 sheets and overlay the living room but i am also thinking if a patch would feather that out enough for it to be not noticeable while walking on it. I put a 4 foot level on the floor and i found out that about 2.5 feet way from the quarter inch overlay the floor seems to be even. What is your suggestion for this one?


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  7. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain TFP Owner/Founder Administrator

    You will be installing a floating floor, which can cause problems with certain floor prep products. Walking over a floating floor can cause a vibration that could break apart a floor patch. I've had luck with high quality floor patching compounds, like Ardex Feather Finish, but I also put down a primer or sealer (I kept 5-gal. containers of Lee's Everseal in stock) so the patching compound would stick better. I've also seen or heard of other installers using layers of saturated felt (15 and 30# roofing felt).

    The standard for flatness is 3/16" in 10'. You might be able to get that with some 15# felt paper.

  8. LVT Man

    LVT Man Pro Member

    Pull the chip board out and put down plywood. It costs more but it's done right. Putting a sealer onto chip or particle board will act as a bond breakeer when you put a self leveler down on top of it. More money and a big mess.
  9. Incognito

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

    I don't see much particle board in my work (commercial) so I'd be cautious as you are with cement based patch over that substrate and under a floating, engineered wood.

    I think layering felt paper is a better choice to avoid any issues with bonding to the particle board or perhaps structural movements that could weaken, crack or otherwise compromise the integrity of cement based patch products.

    IF I were disposed to use cement based patch I would not use a self leveling product. Ardex Feather Finish or Webcrete 95 would be my choices. A lot of this is based on what we as installers, sales folk or store owners are most familiar and comfortable in addition to whatever the various standards and specifications read out for each product's technical department.

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