Most professional installers agree the ultimate success of any flooring installation largely depends on the condition of the subfloor that lies underneath. It doesn’t matter what type of floor you put down if the condition of the subfloor is in such poor condition that it results in adhesion failure, telegraphing or other anomalies that can plague an installation.
To that end, manufacturers of subfloor-prep materials are doing their part to address this issue by offering self-levelers to ease installation issues for flooring mechanics while ensuring a more professional renovation project in the end.
Following is a sampling of the various self-leveling systems installers favor.
Ardex K 22 F and Ardex K60 are designed to accelerate even the tightest construction schedule. Ardex K 22 F is a high-flow, self-leveling underlayment that is reinforced with microfibers to increase product flexibility. This installation can be done as thin as 1/8-inch without the need for a liquid admixture or any sort of mesh fastened to a wooden subfloor. The product eliminates the need for putting down lathe. It is also fiber reinforced and low tension, allowing it to go over challenging substrates with less floor preparation than the most common self-levelers.
Also available is Ardex K 60 Arditex—a rapid-setting, self-leveling latex underlayment. It is mixed only with a latex additive and can be installed over a wide variety of substrates without the use of a primer. Ardex K 60 is a versatile product that eliminates the need for sourcing water. It also saves significant time by reducing the need for floor preparation.
The Laticrete SuperCap ready-mix delivery service is a new turnkey service that delivers blended self-leveling underlayment (SLU) through the company’s patented pump truck technology directly to the job site. According to the manufacturer, this service significantly saves both time and cost while providing a safer, cleaner work environment. With the ability to blend and pump up to 30,000 pounds per hour—the equivalent of 600 small bags per hour—the SuperCap ready-mix delivery service benefits the entire project from design to completion by providing predictable results.
Schönox offers AP Rapid, a synthetic, gypsum-based, self-leveling compound designed for fast-track installations on most substrates in interior areas such as apartment complexes, assisted-living facilities and educational facilities. Schönox AP Rapid can be installed up to 1⁄2-inch, in small, well-defined areas without limitation. Also available is AP Rapid Plus, a self-leveling compound based on “Hybrid Active Dry Technology” designed for deep-pour, fast-track installations on most substrates in interior areas such as apartment buildings.
Schönox AP Rapid Plus can be installed above 1⁄8 of an inch up to 3 inches in small, well-defined areas without limitation.
Other Schönox self-leveling systems include S1500 and XM. Schönox S1500 is a cement self-leveling compound designed for a multitude of projects with a depth of 1⁄4-inch to 11⁄2 inches. Schönox S1500 is noted for its very low shrinkage and PSI of 4900.
Schönox XM offers a self-leveling, cementitious smoothing as a leveling compound with very low VOC, good working properties, standard preparation and cost-effective applications. This high-flow self-leveler is designed for layers from 1⁄6-inch up to 1⁄2-inch with a PSI of 4300.
Sika unveiled its Level-425 and Sika Level-525 self-leveling products. Sika Level-425, a low-dust solution, offers innovative dust reduction technology, preventing excess dust from spreading around the job site during the mixing of the product. Sika Level- 525, which is designed to work quickly, rapid cures in 90 minutes, offering installers the opportunity to cover the underlayment with a floor in the same day.
Sahara is one of Taylor’s most aggressive moisture vapor barrier products on the market. Sahara is engineered to withstand the most extreme moisture installations, and is designed to control concrete substrate vapor emissions. For glue-down applications it is designed to be paired with the company’s all new Enhance bond promoter. Sahara can be applied directly to a clean and porous concrete substrate, meaning installers can eliminate expensive and time-consuming bead blasting or scarifying, also making it easier for the flooring contractor to comply with the new OSHA regulations on crystalline silica dust.
As a self-leveling, one-part trowel applied product, Sahara is ready to use straight out of the pail. It creates a smooth, solid surface for excellent flooring installations and is ready for next steps in approximately eight hours.
Floating floors can be installed directly over Sahara and hardwood can be glued directly to it using the Taylor Signature Series line of wood flooring adhesives.