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Old 09-22-2012, 06:43 PM   #1
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homemade self leveling compound

Decided to put some laminate flooring in. I've used the $30 a bag self leveling material elsewhere. I keep scratching my head wondering what is in it and why so expensive. I think so expensive because it solves a big problem and saves time and that's money. For laminate flooring is there a inexpensive option that would level itself as well? I have a few dips so yea probably just spring for the $30 stuff but really what could it be other than some blend of Portland cement and some latex material perhaps. My home brew thinking is along the line of thin set with latex and extra water but maybe big risk. Anyone experimented along this line? My dips are mild grades or about .5 centimeter so not that deep.
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Old 09-22-2012, 07:30 PM   #2
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Hi David,

Discussion like this is best suited for the Pro's Hangout. I'll move it over there.

I think the chemistry is more complex than your formula. The compression psi values are very high in the data sheets and using as much water as you're referring to would lower that IMHO. And shrinkage would be an issue as well. But it's your money to experiment with, so experiment away.

I, too, used to think SLC was a bit pricy. For example: a given room may need 8 bags and it's a couple hundred bucks. But when you realize that if you switched over to 8 bags of thinset and it would cost nearly the same $$$, it makes you realize it's the volume of material and not so much the bag price that makes it seem high $$$.

Try finding Latilevel 84. It doesn't set as fast as its more expensive Latilevel 86 brother, but it's only $23/bag. But realize prices vary by shipping region throughout the US.

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Old 09-22-2012, 07:48 PM   #3
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I've found that paying for a little self leveler will make you money down the road. When your floor is flat you can roll with the square footage.
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Old 09-22-2012, 08:45 PM   #4
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This is more intellectual than cost I think

I can't find any thing on the web where someone figured this out. It appears to be a polymer modified cement. There is some magic ingredients that makes it flow out but still most of the products do not flow at .125" depth. You have to move it about as well to get it to go places when its a thin. All the manufacturers are around $30 so suppose the ingredients are expensive else someone would undercut the other guy. So off to Depot tomorrow to pick up a sack and do some leveling. Life is short so get it done and move on.
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Old 09-22-2012, 10:08 PM   #5
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the fact that you mix it to the consistency of thick water makes it flow, liquid stays level. that s not the magic. the magic is mixing cement that thin but having it not shrink, and still dry super hard. if you mix thinset that watery, it's going to shrink and crack whether you add more latex or not. an amount of latex added to a mixture of any type of mortar that exceeds the max amount of water you would use for that mixture will just make it stretchy, and soft.

if your dips are that small you can use quality thinset. burn it into the slab then drag the thinset over while it's still wet. if it's a wood substrate, use self leveler and primer.
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Old 09-22-2012, 10:29 PM   #6
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I was speaking with a guy just the other day who used to work for one of the big setting materials companies as one of their leading accountants. We got on the subject of cost to make vs. msrp and of course self leveling came up. He said that a bag that normally sells for about 35 cost only about 7-8 bucks to make.

Obviously there is a decent amount of cost in transportation, plus you generally have at least two companies who need to make profit before it even hits your hands, and then labor involved in manufacturing and sale of materials.
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Old 09-22-2012, 11:42 PM   #7
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$30 is expensive is it, try paying up to $70
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Old 09-24-2012, 03:13 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by David
There is some magic ingredients
Yep, the ingredients of pixie dust and foo foo powder are well kept secrets. If you just need to flash/skim coat to a feather edge why not use Ardex Feather Finish or Proma Fine Patch? Way cheaper and sets a lot faster for same day installs.
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Old 09-24-2012, 10:47 PM   #9
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with tile as well as laminates the need to feather finish is not that important. Why not just use thinset,ardex, tar paper or mud to fill low spots. I never really found self-leveling practical for tile or laminates personally.(except maybe for in floor heating).
That secret ingredient in self-leveling cements is important. I would not try to make my own. too much water = shrinkage,curling off the floor,weakness, and too much shrinkage means an extra coat at least so where have you gained?
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Old 09-26-2012, 12:45 PM   #10
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Home made self- leveling

As a mfg of patch and self-leveling products I want to share several bits of info on this.
1. Using thinset to patch or level your floor is extremely dangerous as it shrinks and cracks when applied too thickly and without the proper trowel teeth being used.
2. There is a huge amount of chemstry and technology in today's self-leveling products, mostly polymer based, but in some products there are some really gee whizz stuff added also, and it isn't just sand/cement in a bag.
3. I see the margins on our products and believe me when I say the distributors and retailers make far larger margins on the products than we do making the stuff. We make our money on selling thousands of bags. Whoever told you $7-8 equals $35 is lying - don't buy anything from that guy.
4. There are extreme differences between products designed as PATCH versus SELF-LEVELING, so don't even try to just water one down and make it flow.
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Old 09-27-2012, 03:43 AM   #11
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Has anyone ever noticed when you remove carpet and under the pad their are puddles of fine dirt thoes are the low spots so Back in the day when I installed laminate I just used silica sand, you can quickly level with a straight board cover with padding then install laminate, if it's not quite level the sand will find the low spots and self level, just from walking on floor. This will work on floor up to that are out 3/4". Don't forget to seal holes though.
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Old 09-27-2012, 08:13 PM   #12
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Figured I could chime in on this one as I make concrete countertops and have quite a few years of experience in concrete repair on highrises.

The way to get concrete to pour in a self consolidating fashion is quite simple all you need is the appropriate ratios of:

Portland Cement
Sand--usually three or more different grades &shape matters too
Pozzolans--either a fly ash, metakaolin, Silica Fume or Slag- or a combo thereof
Heavy doses of Superplastizers, maybe a polycarboxylate type(makes the mix watery without using lots of water)
Viscosity modifiers to aid in the flow
then a shrink reducer -to prevent curl and cracking
Latex or acrylic additives(to make it stick to the floor)

Ohh and I almost forgot then you want to add some Quix so that it sets off quick--but not too much or you wont be able to get it out of the pail.

This is all obviously very tongue in cheek, but after having fooled around with various types of concrete I never have been tempted to make my own self leveling cement. Instead I gladly pay what ever it is the local store is charging me and keep my experimenting to the countertops.
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Old 11-04-2015, 03:04 AM   #13
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Although it would probably be best to take the advice posted by the more experienced members and pay the $30, those interested in this topic should GOOGLE: SELF LEVELING ADDITIVES and check out Patent US-5403394. It provides background info for previously used ingredients (consisting of casein powder added to dry cement, then mixed on site with sodium carbonate and water) as well as its drawbacks, and the need for a more suitable product which is stated in this excerpt from site:


It has now been discovered that the addition of a formaldehyde based resin and a water retention agent to cement based materials renders the materials self-leveling once poured as a mixture with water without the need for any casein. Preferably, the resin is melamine formaldehyde. Preferably, the water retention agent is xanthan gum, hydroxyethyl cellulose, or a combination thereof."
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Old 11-05-2015, 10:36 PM   #14
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The way I see it: for laminate the floor patch is just a spacer. I'd do it with a perfectly ordinary thinset for $10/bag. So what if it cracks a little. If you don't mix it thin it likely won't anyway. The trouble is that a lot of guys try to make thinset behave like self leveller and add lots of water. then you get the aforementioned curling and cracking.

The biggest difference is that with a high end self leveller, you can prime and level the floor and be laying the laminate an hour or two later. With thinset you have to wait 24 hours and spend time sanding out the imperfections.

At for making your own, the chemistry is way too complex. The plasticizers needed to make concrete self level without adding more water are fairly high tech and proprietary.
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Old 11-09-2015, 06:47 PM   #15
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On commercial jobs We used to throw a couple shovels of bar sand, and cement in with the thinset and use that as self leveling. It would mix to the same consistency, and feel as slc. I don't think you could pour it and have it level off though. We would run it with a straight edge. As far as I know there was never an issue, and I'm sure its a hell of a lot cheaper than slc.
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