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Unread 01-05-2011, 10:41 AM   #1
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Unlevel subfloor causes transition issue

Hi all -

My husband and I are getting ready to tile our kitchen floor, plywood over wood joists, with 12"x24" porcelain tiles. The floor is solid and level for 90%. But the entry (coming from hardwood floor) and area where the refrigerator sits has quite a dip in it (we think the framing turns 90 degrees and is why it is only this small area). We can use SLC to level the refrigerator area, but my concern is at the transition. Right now, the subfloor drops enough at the entry that "level" is from the subfloor about 2' away to the top of the hardwood (about a 3/4" drop in the subfloor). To make things worse, this drop in the subfloor tapers from 3/4" to 0" across the opening (about a 4' opening). If we use SLC to make the tile area level, we will be VERY high at one edge of the wood (1/4" backer on mortar, 7/16" tile on mortar - almost an inch??) AND not level with the wood (because the wood is not level). Does anyone have recommendations for this situation? We could put a trim piece over the transition but for that much of a difference I'm not sure it will work. Plus, if the hardwood is not level, then I'm not sure how the trim will sit against the hardwood if we level the tile. Is there ever a situation that supports not leveling tile and matching adjacent floor finishes instead?

Sorry for the long post, I'm new at this. Thanks for help in advance!!
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Unread 01-05-2011, 11:18 AM   #2
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AS far as trim from the level to not level, that isn't so hard. All you have to do is get a piece of unfinished trim, (or just a board) that is the height of the highest part, and then just sand or cut by hand the slope needed, I have done it many times in older houses.

Ascetically, however is really up to you. That is a pretty big difference. One option is to split the difference. So you level out the floor a bit, but not all the way, so the transition doesn't look too bad, but the floor also isn't noticeably unlevel.

One problem I can foresee is the if you try to make 12'x24" tiles follow a curve you will get some big lippage.

As far as standards, that is a matter of opinion. I am sure some people would say it is never OK to lay a new tie floor unlevel. However if there is no reasonable way to fix the problem, sometimes you have no choice.

One thing I would make sure is that the areas that the floor has sagged are structurally sound, you don't want them moving any more after you have a new floor.

Good luck

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Unread 01-05-2011, 06:27 PM   #3
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Tile wants flat, level is nice, but not essential. Level does make leveling things like stoves, friges, etc. a lot easier, though. You could pull up some of the hardwood and shim underneath to spread that transition across a longer baseline. the bigger the tile, the more you really want it flat or it's hard to set and make it look good.
Jim DeBruycker
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Unread 01-05-2011, 07:50 PM   #4
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Try to break it on a grout joint in order to "bend" the floor. Of course your probably going to lay it running bond based on the size of tile.
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Unread 01-07-2011, 09:47 AM   #5
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Thanks for your posts, we are actually running it running bond in the direction that would allow us to break it along a grout joint, so we might try that. We will probably also put a piece of trim down like muddman suggested. Thank you guys for your help!
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