Maintaining a home is not an easy job. From the walls to flooring, sometimes it is impossible to keep up. What if you found that your bathroom floor is not level? What can you do? If an unleveled bathroom floor is what you are trying to fix, we have gathered the answers for you.
Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
You may have noticed some bathroom floor areas are uneven, but is the entire floor not level? The first step to leveling a floor is determining the cause. Depending on your bathroom's location, construction, moisture level, and potential insect infestation, you'll need to find the cause and weigh the repair options. You have the following options to level a bathroom floor:
- Self-leveling compound
- Replace the subfloor entirely
- Install shims to support the subfloor and joists
- Install floor underlayment
Now that you know the steps to take, you might have more questions to ask. What may have caused the floor to become unlevel? Can the options be explained in depth? If you more questions that need answers, keep reading ahead to get an in-depth approach to the situation.
Tips to Pinpoint an Uneven Bathroom Floor
You might have felt that your bathroom floor is not flat. Some areas are higher than others or, maybe there are dips around some parts. So, how do you evaluate which parts of the floor are even? The following three tricks can help you pinpoint the uneven areas of the bathroom floor.
The Marble Method
As the name suggests, this trick involves marbles. Get some marbles and place them on the bathroom floor. Now examine their movement. If the marble always rolls down in one direction, that means the area is lower than the rest of the bathroom floor. Similarly, if that marble stops in a specific spot after rolling down, it indicates a dip in the bathroom floor.
Laser Light Pointer Method
This method is simple. You will need a laser light pointer. Place it directly on the floor from one side and turn on the light. Now, notice if the light reaches the wall on the other side of the bathroom. If yes, then the floor is level.
However, if the laser light disconnects and touches the ground, it means the bathroom floor has bumps. Now move the laser light pointer horizontally across the bathroom floor to inspect the entire area.
Carpenter's Level Method
The carpenter's level method is by far the easiest way to determine if the bathroom floor is level or not. Get a carpenter's level, it is a tool used in woodwork, and place it on the floor. If the bubble in the leveling tool stays right in the middle, it means the floor is level. However, if the bubble leans on either side of the level, it indicates an unlevel bathroom surface.
Causes of an Uneven Bathroom Floor
Uneven or saggy bathroom floors have many causes. It can occur due to a foundation problem. Other times, it is due to crawl space issues. Since there is no definite answer, we have listed the signs that will help you determine the cause of an uneven bathroom floor.
If the uneven floor is due to foundation issues, you might see signs such as:
- Jammed doors
- Floor cracks
- The floor is sagging in the middle
- Mold or rot in the crawl space
Another clear indication, the floor might slope from one side to the other.
When the crawl space is the reason behind bathroom floor unevenness, the signs you might notice are gaps between doors, walls, or the floor underneath. A jamming door and interior wall cracks also indicate crawl space issues.
Joists are the most common cause of uneven floors. Over time, joists may sag due to improper structural support. Likewise, joists may start crowning if they come in constant contact with water after a while.
Lastly, if you notice uneven spots, you may have a problem with your subfloor. The plywood used for the subfloor may be bulging or may be loose. Bulging/unsecured plywood causes dented or bumpy areas on the floor.
Options To Level A Floor
Now, you have to consider the options for each case.
Subfloors and Joists
To fix uneven floors caused by the subfloor and joists, you have two routes to choose from. You can go the DIY route and replace the subfloor if there is enough damage. However, you can also contact a professional to do the work for you. If you are going the DIY route, you have the option to use self-leveling compounds to fix the issue. Alternatively, you can opt for shims to place between the joists and subflooring to make the flooring level.
You may also try sistering the joists. For subfloor issues, you will likely need to strip and replace the existing plywood. If it is not damaged, you will have to secure it. Contacting a professional will cost you more money but, there will be a higher guarantee they will fix the problem.
Foundation and Crawl Space
The only solution to crawl space and foundation problems is to hire a professional. Unless you have built the house yourself, professionals will assess the situation and deal with proper protocols to fix the foundation. You may get an impulse to do it yourself but, you should take precautions. If you do not follow protocols properly, you may threaten the structural integrity of the foundation. You do not want to pay avoidable repair costs.
Minor Floor Inconsistencies
What if you only suffer from small amounts of unevenness? Do you need to consider the other options? Fortunately, no. You can consider easy solutions such as install floor underlayment to smooth out minor inconsistencies. Alternatively, you can apply more adhesive to tiles for specific areas.
Now that we have gone over some causes and fixes, you might be wondering, what is the point of leveling? Do floors need to be level? We will cover this and more ahead.
Does a Bathroom Floor Need to Be Level?
The simple answer to this question is yes. To know why that is, we first have to acknowledge what is meant by level. When someone mentions a level floor, it means a floor that is parallel to a horizontal place. In other words, it is horizontal to the ground. A floor should be level to help the flooring last longer, maintain its looks, and preserve floor structure.
However, a floor should not be level if there is an issue with draining. For example, a garage can be flat but not level. It is not level to ensure water does not build up inside during rainfalls, floods, etc.
Since a bathroom floor will not be in constant contact with water, it should be level. If you are having problems keeping your bathroom floor dry, we can offer some advice. For more information, click here.
Can Tile Be Laid On An Uneven Floor?
Generally, no, it is advised not to lay tile on an uneven floor. Laying tiles on an uneven bathroom floor can cause cracks in the grout or, tiles may loosen over time. It may also wear off quickly. One of the most noticeable disadvantages of laying tiles on an uneven bathroom floor is protruding corners.
However, if you still want a way to lay tile on uneven floors, here are some tricks to help you achieve this goal:
- Apply more adhesive to tiles in areas that need it.
- If the bathroom floor is extremely uneven, you can use mosaic tiles. These smaller tiles are easier to lay on an uneven floor.
- In case the bathroom floor is mildly uneven, you can place a flat board on the tile and beat it with a rubber mallet. It will slightly level the tiles.
What is the Best Flooring For An Uneven Floor?
Floating flooring is the best for uneven bathroom surfaces. The main reason behind this is in the name. It floats above the subfloor. Floating flooring requires no adhesive to place on the floor. Due to lack of contact with an uneven floor, the flooring surface remains level.
This type of flooring comes in several options like engineered wood, luxury vinyl tiles, and laminate. If you decide to level your floor and now need options for flooring, we can offer some advice. For more information, click here.
Remember, it is essential to weigh your options before you take action. Seeking professional help can be the life-saver of the situation because they might spot something you would not have. Regardless of the path you take, we hope you have found all the answers you have been looking for. We also cover other bathroom topics so, don't be afraid to look around!