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armand11 05-06-2013 06:31 PM

Installing floating wood floor, need advice on fixing uneven floorboards
Hi everyone, first post to the site, hoping to find some advice on this issue and this forum seemed like a good place to start.

I just bought a place and we're putting in some floating wood floors on the main level. I've hit a bump in the road and feel like I'm at a point where I need to consider if this is stilla DIY project, or if I need to get professionals on this.

After removing all the previous flooring (carpet / laminate), one area of the house is pretty uneven and the floorboards are definitely sagging there. My best guess is that it looks like the house settling. No visible evidence of moisture damage. The house has a center beam and basically things "behind" that beam (the back half of the house) are all good and relatively even. However looking into the front, left corner of the house, there is sagging right after that beam. The area that's uneven due to the sagging is roughly 6ft by 4ft (rough estimate), and the sagging from the beam is about 1/2in - 1in deep.

Here's a link to a crappy sketch of the area. The gray is where the leveling compound already exists. The red line is the house's beam (joists are perpendicular to it). Blue is roughly the area that's uneven to where the beam/compound is.

Whoever did the last run of renovations laid down some self-leveling compound over the floorboards in the main trouble area, but the problem is that the sagging continues into the next room and they just blocked out that room when they laid the compound (seems idiotic to me). So on top of the sagging noted above, there's a 1/2in lip from the one room (bare floorboards) to the compound-covered board. That would be easy enough to remedy, it's just the larger area of unevenness that concerns me.

The blue area is also uneven in-and-of itself, meaning when I lay a straight edge within the room laying parallel to the beam, there is about 1/4-1/2in unevenness. Obviously the more prominent difference is noticed when laying the straight edge perpendicular to the beam, from the compound (gray) area into the other room.

It's difficult to get a full picture because the basement is fully finished, otherwise I could look underneath and consider reinforcing the joists. I'm hoping this doesn't warrant ripping up the finished basement's ceiling to jack up the house.

So here's where I'm at: Do I get some more self leveling compound and level out the adjacent room so it's at least flatter and can support the floating wood floor, or would that just add weight to the house, potentially increasing the unevenness down the road? Do I call in a pro to really assess the situation, knowing that jacking and maybe replacing the floorboards could be options? If anyone has experience dealing with this kind of stuff, I'd love to hear your advice!

nealtw 05-06-2013 07:40 PM

Welcome to the site and congrates on the house. You show a door across from the pantry, is that an outside door and is there a chance that sometimes water has leaked in around and into the framing below. How does the door fit the frame, check the gaps and check the door itself for square, measure from top left to bottom right and compare to top right to bottom left. All this is to prove the beam hasn't settled.
If all that proves to be good, you know all the problems are on the other side of the beam. I would be lookiing at removing the subfloor, make sure the joists are supported properly with the beam or if you have a broken joist. What ever you find there can be fixed from above and replace the sub with material of same thickness.

CallMeVilla 05-06-2013 08:59 PM

This is a tough one. If your structure is going to be stabilized, you need to determine the cause of the sagging and correct that. Not to create fear .... but I dealt with a house where the basement was finished but the upstairs was sadding like this. We opened up the basement ceiling and discovered a fire had occurred in the past which weakened the flooring structure, causing the sag. We proceeded to tear out the basement ceiling and install new joists, properly leveled.

Removing the subfloor from above may or may not reveal the cause of the sagging. It will give you access so you can re-joist. It will mean the old self-leveling mess can be tossed.

Neal says "tomayto" and I say "tomahto." :D

PS Welcome to the site! Try to post pics with your questions. Remember to "Like" responses that help you. Forgive weirdness (in advance) because not everyone here is working off an even keel. :)

nealtw 05-06-2013 09:09 PM

Nope Neal says ketchup:D

armand11 05-07-2013 10:13 AM

Thanks Nealtw and CallMeVilla, I appreciate both of your advice and tomato analogies ;)

The doorway is to the garage and is very level. Actually, all the doors in the house function perfectly. The board right there is weathered as it's probably the most high-traffic area of the house (the kitchen is that area directly above the problem zone).

After going back last night and reading your comments, I think I just need to suck it up and get the floorboards out to assess the issue. The boards in the hall area are weathered in addition to the leveling compound, so may as well replace them rather than put a bandage over the last construction team's bandage.

Although this is my first home too, I've done a fair amount of construction and home repair over the years so I know how to get around and, more importantly, when to call in a pro for the crazy stuff. Hopefully I don't find fire damage or completely damaged/rotted joists, that would make me unhappy...and broke! Really, as long as I don't have to mess with the kitchen (the room directly above the area in question). If that happens, my buyer's remorse will upgrade to blind rage.

Thanks again for both of your advice. I'll see what comes up over the next few days and report back with any followup issues/questions, with pics!

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