SLU screw up. Pro advice needed

Discussion in 'Floor Preparation' started by Learn2build, Aug 10, 2019.

  1. Learn2build

    Learn2build Member

    Hello all, I am new DIYer member and am in the middle of slight bathroom remodel. Tub and surround staying since it is our only bathroom in household of four. I have been working around it and have made moderate progression. Currently working on the flooring prep and it has been an uphill battle where I am a standhill since I messed up. I am also a member over at DIYchatroom and it was suggested to seek advice on a forum where pros gather. I have read some posts on this site of similar issues but not quite the same. I believe I might be okay to trudge forward, but would really appreciate sage advice. TIA.
    I used TEC EZ Level 323 Self Leveling Underlayment and Primer from Menards and aside from it being not flat, it has developed hairline spiderweb type cracks over the whole pour.

    Flooring: Lowes Smartcore Pro LVP (Shaw Flooring)
    Subfloor: 23/32 T&G OSB with 2×10 Joists @ 16" OC and floor joists span roughly 22 ft (the width of the house) with 8" beam at 10 ft. where the bathroom entryway (load bearing) wall starts. The beam is in a finished garage space with a hard lid.

    Sub Floor was just over an inch out of level from where two load bearing walls to the diagonal corner which is where the partition wall meets the exterior wall. Also, there was a valley on either side of the joist that sits down center of the entryway where 2 OSB sheets were loosely butted together.

    Read a few things and watched some videos and I figured floor leveling was the best option. I mean what could go wrong? :doh:

    What I did:

    1) The subfloor was stapled and glued down but I predrilled and put 2-1/4" deck screws every 4"-6" to make sure is was tightly secured to the floor joists.

    2) Replaced the 1/4" plywood underlayment with new IntegraPly 1/4" (Exterior Glued, Tile Approved stuff). Ran it parallel with the OSB which is perpendicular to the joists and overlapped OSB joints. Air stapled SS 1/4" crown by 3/4" long at 1/2" in and every 2" on all perimeters and cutouts and then diagonally at every X (every 4").

    3) SLU prep: Attached adhesive weather stripping along my framing, tub, around toilet flange, built a frame and attached stripping for floor vent cut-out, built dams for main door and pocket slider doorway and attached weather stripping to them.

    4) Swept, shop vacuumed, and damp toweled the floor.

    5) Let air dry. Applied TEC primer with brush and roller at 3:1 Ratio, Let dry for over and hour. Applied second coat at 2:1 Ratio. Let dry over night.

    6) Next day: Measured out water into 3 brand new buckets. Divided bags in 1/2 into 2 bucket groups so my wife could dump SLU into water bucket while I mixed with corded Hitachi drill (850 RPM max no load speed) for 3 minutes. Onced mixed I dumped and spreaded at far end (the lowest point). Came back did that two more times. Didn't use all of 3rd bucket.

    8) Cleaned up buckets and tools

    9) Came back watched it for hour or so.

    10) Realized I screw the pooch.

    Things quickly went to hell in a handbasket: the main doorway dam failed to seal at a corner and didn't notice at first. When I did stop the leak, it was already too late since the damage was already done and it was already setting up.

    Never caught the fact that part of the seal failed on toilet flange at the front where it it was a bit higher than the floor. That SLU actually went past/under the OSB.

    I now have a valley or low areas around the toilet and by the door. Plus, it was rough in those low areas. The SLU has also developed hairline cracks the spider webbed out. Unfortunately, even with all my reading of directions and watching videos, which was typically over concrete subfloors not plywood. I somehow completely missed the fact that you are supposed to use lath/mesh stappled over the plywood. :instructions:

    11) So, I tapped all over the SLU with a screw driver handle and couldn't hear any hollow sounds as I read in someone elses post. Tried to pry some up at the cracks at both door ways but it doesn't budge. I believe the bond with the 1/4' plywood is good. Therefore, I figured that they were cracks from shrinkage and carved out a V along the hair cracks and troweled in TEC PerfectFinish 320. Unfortunately, the cracks have just come back in some areas.
    12) I also used the TEC PerfectFinish 320 product to build up and level out the low areas. That has been and extremely slow process. I am very limited on my trowel work and it sets up quickly. It still has several low areas.

    Advice needed: Do I ignore the cracks and continue forward with another light spread of self leveler to get it flat for the LVP? Is this even okay to do since I used the FeatherFinish to try and level it out? Or did I royally screw up and this a total loss? Are the cracks are going to cause me more misery down the road? Aside from the lack or lathing is there something else I did wrong?

    20190810_224607.jpg 20190810_224731.jpg
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2019
  2. Learn2build

    Learn2build Member

    Pictures are worth a 1000 words, so here are some close up pictures:

    20190810_131233.jpg 20190810_130953.jpg 20190810_125828.jpg 20190810_131047.jpg 20190810_125906.jpg 20190810_131051.jpg 20190810_125932.jpg 20190810_125546.jpg 20190810_130753.jpg 20190810_130821.jpg 20190810_130834.jpg 20190810_130936.jpg 20190810_125818.jpg
  3. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    How does a pro respond to that? There’s a whole lot of misunderstanding. So I suppose Army Corp of Engineer’s have a little tougher job damming up Earth.

    The whole evaluation of situation is done at beginning maybe initially by a pro on site.

    Height issues, Deflection which is not major concern for vinyl plank but substrate shouldn’t move.

    Mechanical bond to subfloor of leveler ensures it to be sound/solid, otherwise it’s susceptible to separating, probably not fail with floating floor, with a tub, vanity, bowl, it would probably still hold up sufficiently, ruler on back of hand, don’t do that again capiche?
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  4. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    A tool called a “smoother” is used on self levelers. It reduces surface tension and flattens better. I guess it brings some more water to surface as well but my concept is only visual verse scientific like tapping dirt/sand brings water in ground/beach sand to surface. Some levelers also use spiked rollers to help flatten. And some levelers are more efficiently flattened at 1” thickness. I’ve found TEC didn’t flatten for me as other levelers have at least in box store. That was 10 years ago and I assume they have more varieties other than GP, they’ve also bought some chemical companies so. Installers can dial in their favorite levelers for specific needs as they store info from using products like an elephant they’ll decline when someone pushes a certain product on them. One example epoxy grout! I’m sure there’s nightmares on that if you’re unfamiliar.
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  5. Learn2build

    Learn2build Member

    I am electrician by trade but did some home remodel work for a handyman ages ago. Have tackled some major projects on my own home but, admittedly, it wasn't without consulting with carpenters before I dove in. I realize now that I should have hired out for the flooring in the beginning or at least consulted with a flooring pro. I figured, at least with my limited understanding of deflection, I would be okay with the self-leveler. Also, everything looks easier when someone who has been doing it by trade does it. Being over confident in my trade can get you killed, so I should have known better. I'll lick my wounds for now.
  6. Learn2build

    Learn2build Member

    Unfamiliar with solid flooring, my limited flooring experience involves linoleum, VCT, peel and stick, carpet tiles, and floating laminate. BarbaricalIy, I used a garden rake to move it around, as well as a hand trowel. I contacted a couple concrete supply companies that we use in my trade for footings and transformer pad pours, but they were not very helpful when I mentioned SLU and some of the tools like a spiked roller, also used for epoxy flooring.
    Other than reading reviews of TEC I havent found out much about the quality of it in the forums. The more I have read about SLU in general is that it doesn't like to self flatten until at about the 1 inch depth. However, at that depth is where it seems to have been the worse, presumably from product loss at the toilet flange.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
  7. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    The hand trowel acts like a magnet to the leveler, the smoother is drastically different flattening especially large areas. Strange because we try to tell/manipulate product to doing what we want, it doesn’t listen with a hand trowel.
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  8. Learn2build

    Learn2build Member

    I found some info on the smoother that you were talking about. Definitely takes some skill to use it. None of the local big box stores really sell any these specialty flooring tools either. Probably more of a wholesale house thing. I think at this point I won't try to use more self leveler, I am bit intimidated after the first go and would hate to screw up twice. Probably will just continue with filling and feathering with a hand trowel. I appreciate all your help and info thus far.
  9. Learn2build

    Learn2build Member

    On second thought, I don't think I will be able to get this all flattened out with feathering it out. All my high spots are at the cracks and there are a fair number of them. It is like it is slightly buckled at each crack. Does this indicate something more problematic than cracks from shrinkage?

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
  10. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    You’re saying the high point is at cracks? Then yes when it dries it constricts and will heave up since it’s not mechanically locked in to substrate(plywood)

    If you take maybe a coin upright and listen to it going across the crack and sound changes it may be hollow underneath. With weight going over top it may start sounding crunchy with flooring over it.

    Self leveler is a different animal, it’s not just fast setting Portland cement. Portland mixed that watery would turn to dust, it’s different science.

    Same with patch, it’s formulated different with additives.
  11. Learn2build

    Learn2build Member

    It doesn't sound any different from any other places on the pour. Also, tried dropping the coin and hitting areas with a handle of a screw driver all sound the same. I think I am just better off tearing it out and getting a pro in to assess the situation at the subfloor level.
    How do you feel about Mapei? I had a guy out that suggested using Mapei and would be better, but I heard mixed things about that product in different forums. When I told him I didn't use lath he thought I was referring to felt paper. I said wire mesh he looked at me weird. He works for a flooring company, but makes me wonder how much he knows. I would assume more than me, but after that it made me doubt him. Have you heard of using felt paper as lath for SLU on wood substrates?

    He also used my straight edge on parts of the floor and felt it was flat enough to install the vinyl planks as is if I chose not to tear out and start over again. Well of course, that would be after feathering out my rough patches. But wouldn't all my cracks that are heaved like in the picture show through in the flooring?
  12. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    I’d say go ahead and install it probably. What’s done is done. The floating plank tolerate a little out of flatness. He doesn’t sound knowledgeable enough to do a superior job. Mapei is a brand, they make many levelers. I’ve used various and did a building that was inches out of flatness for prosthetic limbs so flat was critical(slab) I’m not sure what advancements they’ve made for plywood and I’d first call manufacturer for specific product and I’d wait till my distributor got it in. But yes, felt with galvanized mesh attached would be securely fastened if leveler is thicker than lath and beyond. Leveler gets in between mesh locking in then mesh is nailed into plywood 6” on center 2” around edges.

    I say again, install and deal with it way down the road. You know exactly what you’ve done so any issues you’ll know why. Get your bathroom back in operation, in future if need be you can demo around tub, vanity, but toilet will need to come out to put flooring back around flange. Wood sucks to work with, that’s why I like block and concrete.

    The economics of this is hurting me as well, reminds me of me! Stubborn sob I am.
    • Funny Funny x 1
  13. Learn2build

    Learn2build Member

    You got it. I will move ahead and stop fretting and will take your stubbornness as well as mine as a compliment. Thanks again for all your help.
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  14. Learn2build

    Learn2build Member

    Worked out of town for a week. I had someone suggest in another forum to grab a block of wood a give it a whack with a hammer to see if new cracks appeared. I did and got zero results.
    Was having a tough time trying to figure out my low spots with a straight edge since the hair line cracks were humped. So I decided to sand down along the cracks with an orbital sander to get rid of the humps. Had to wet sand since dry sanding just polishes and burnishes the concrete.
    Using a spray bottle to keep the areas wet, I noticed small lines that were drying quickly. They were cracks so small I couldn't see them when the floor was dry. I wetted the areas again, grabbed my block of wood, and gave it a rap of the hammer. More lines appeared and this is where I am at today:

    Attached Files:

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  15. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    So you had a rough week and took it out on the floor? Maybe I have a strange take on life.
  16. Chris 45

    Chris 45 Director of P.R. on some deserted island. I Support TFP

    I can understand where you’re coming from. I wanted to bash in a gas pump yesterday and a few nail guns have taken flight over the years. At least now you know what needs to be done for your next pour.
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  17. Learn2build

    Learn2build Member

    For sure, I have launched a few tools and folded a few conduits in half when things are going ary. Some days it could be raining ***** and some how I get hit with a ****.

    I am going to get it down to the subfloor and sand down the high spots, but first going to have a floor guy out to evaluate my subfloor and structure. Should have done it to begin with. Not one to cut corners and this is precisely why. I was thinking of going to an SLU with fibers in it that claims there is no need for wire mesh, but still doing the wire mesh for added strength. It may be overkill but not much more cost for the small area that it is for the added insurance. Have you any experience with H.B. Fuller's TEC Skill Set brand?
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2019
  18. Chris 45

    Chris 45 Director of P.R. on some deserted island. I Support TFP

    Not a fan of Tec. That’s box store crap to me. Ardex, Mapei, Schonox...
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  19. Learn2build

    Learn2build Member

    Okay, I will look into those brands.

    :D No I had a good work week just wasn't home to make any progression. I figured with more hairline cracks appearing I was doomed in the long run. Want to do it right and not have to rip out the floor after the vanity and toilet is set is all.
  20. Learn2build

    Learn2build Member

    I was just doing some research and am thinking Ardex K 22 F is my best bet. That is if I can find it locally here in Des Moines, IA.

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