Installation: Self-leveling products keep the flooring world flat

May 17, 2016

May 9/16, 2016; Volume 30, Number 23

By Ken Ryan

When it comes to a quality flooring installation, the axiom, “It’s what you don’t see that makes the difference,” rings especially true regarding subfloor preparation and self-leveling products. Proper substrate preparation creates the foundation for floors with exceptional aesthetics and performance capabilities. Conversely, taking shortcuts or misusing products can lead to telegraphing and uneven floor surfaces that are not only unsightly but can lead to claims.

Given today’s technology, however, there is no shortage of versatile products from which installers and tile setters can choose. Following are some recent entries to the market and their advantages.



Customers came to Ardex seeking clearly defined solutions for the range of leveling challenges they typically encounter. The company responded with products that possess specific differentiating qualities branded under the Choose Your Solution program. Choose Your Solution provides leveling choices for standard, exceedingly absorbent and non-absorbent concrete; non-porous surfaces; non-water-soluble adhesive residue over concrete; epoxy coating systems; and even steel or metal.

“If you have a product that makes everybody’s life easier they are going to buy it—especially if it is cost effective,” said Greg Hunsicker, category business manager, flooring and finishing segment, Ardex. “We’re cutting out steps in the installation process, making it more efficient and [resulting in] a better floor.”

Ardex has launched three solution-oriented products. Ardex K-10 with a 25-minute heal time can be reactivated with a spike roller that allows for better blending of pours to create a level finish. Ardex K-16 installs at a thin coat with high compression strength. Moisture-insensitive tile and stone can be installed after six hours; most other flooring surfaces can be installed after 16 hours. Ardex K-60 is a versatile product that does not require water or priming for most applications. “Every now and then you are on a job site and need water but don’t have a source for it,” Hunsicker said. “You don’t need water with this product; you get a perfect mix.”


Custom Building Products

Custom Building Products uses its proprietary CustomLite technology in its LevelLite product that is positioned as 40% lighter than other self-leveling underlayments, meaning it is easier to pour and carry. It is most suitable for installations in which weight is a concern.

The company said a 30-pound bag of LevelLite covers the same area as a comparable 50-pound bag of another product. LevelLite helps level floors prior to the installation of ceramic tile, natural stone, resilient flooring, carpet, wood and other flooring options. This quick-setting underlayment can be applied to 2-inches thick in one pour and seeks its own level in minutes. A specially formulated curing technology helps eliminate installation problems such as bond failure, crumbling and staining of resilient flooring caused by the free moisture found in traditional underlayments, the company said.

Another product from Custom Building Products, LevelQuik RS, is a quick-setting underlayment that can be applied to 1.5-inches thick in one pour and also quickly seeks its own level. With proper installation, the use of LevelQuik RS can achieve an extra-heavy rating for high-impact use in food plants, dairies, breweries and kitchens.


HPS Schönox

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 11.24.01 AMHPS Schönox, known for its synthetic subfloor levelers, recently introduced a self-leveling compound that can be used as a top level wear layer in addition to a new moisture-resistant acrylic adhesive for use with resilient flooring.

DSP is a wear rated, cement-based, self-leveling compound for use as a concrete topping with a wide range of uses including installations in retail spaces, restaurants, public buildings, entryways, offices, warehouses and even manufacturing areas with moderate industrial loads. With a compressive strength of 7250 psi, Schönox DSP provides an extremely dense and durable surface that can be stained, sealed or polished in interior and exterior areas.

HPS 92 is an acrylic adhesive made for use with resilient flooring including VCT, vinyl enhanced flooring, solid vinyl, and luxury vinyl tiles and planks. It is moisture resistant with subfloors not exceeding 92% RH and can be used over porous and non-porous substrates.

“There is a significant need for a high quality, durable wear layers like DSP as well as the moisture resistance HPS 92 provides,” said Doug Young, executive vice president.

He explained avoiding costly removal of existing substrates and floor coverings is a big concern; as such, Schönox’s synthetic leveling compounds are designed to be poured directly over wood, vinyl, ceramic and a variety of other flooring products or subfloors, eliminating the need for removal that would add to down time.


UFloor Systems

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 11.23.54 AMUFLoor Systems, the North American subsidiary of Uzin-Utz AG of Germany, is based in Aurora, Colo. However, its U.S. products are made in a new manufacturing facility in Dover, Del., and sold under the Uzin brand.

Its first batch of U.S. products includes a special raw material technology known as Level Plus Effect. According to Jim Muggleton, product manager, Level Plus Effect provides exceptional flow characteristics to achieve smooth, uniform surface appearance. NC 170 LevelStar, for example, is a product that utilizes Level Plus Effect with a self-drying cementitious leveling compound that provides an extremely smooth finish without depth limitations.

NC172 BiTurbo offers a highly plasticized leveling compound that will allow foot traffic after approximately 60 minutes. “You can hit the job one time, put together a consistent layer and you will have a surface to walk on in one hour,” Muggleton said.

BiTurbo is ideal for use in heavy-duty and industrial areas. As a result of its ability to dry rapidly, complete renovations are possible within one day. Muggleton noted the product was recently used in a hospital project; by the next morning medical staff was walking on the surface. “Cover-ready substrate finishes save the contractor on labor for reduced time in applications.”

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