I've already asked about how to level concrete, but now I'm
contemplating going after my main living level. I'm going to replace
the carpet with laminate, and thus, any imperfections will likely be
much more visible (and I don't want any imperfections period!). I
also know there are a few areas I'm going to have to work on, as they
have 1/4" dips over 2' areas.
I'm wondering if anyone has any sage advise that could save me some
time. If there's any really good tools that I might need, if there's
a preferred way to measure levelness, or if there's any practices I
Had a similar problem (generally a larger slope but some dips) on the
second floor in a large room where I wanted to use a finished oak. I
ripped up the carpet, to find press wood, ripped that up to find
plywood. Used a laser level coupled with a long carpenters level to
determine they size of straps to place on joists. Not at all an easy
job and I was concerned about the accuracy at the time but it did turn
The laminate with it's underlayment can go over small level heights just
I had a much more severe problem due to the age of my house. Any long
straightedge should give you a good indication of how flat the surface
is, level has little to do with how the laminate will go down.
As far being level, the carpenters level was easier to deal with than
the laser level for distances on the order of the length of the level.
Is the unevenness caused by different thicknesses of plywood or the
odd 2x10 being slightly crowned, or a more structural problem? If the
former, then you can probably get away with planing and shimming. The
latter would obviously be problematic, and if you don't intend to fix
it you will have to live with it and shim as best you can. I had both
when I did my family room a while back. For the minor stuff I planed
the edges and used layers of 30# roofing felt. In some spots I was up
to about 3 or 4 layers (and the whole floor had a layer of 15# on top
of that - you may be using the spongy stuff normally recommended for
laminate). Actually, I underdid it in some areas, could have done
with another couple of layers. My learning from this is that you
should not skimp on this preparation. Start by doing a detailed
survey of the whole room with your straight edge (use a 4 or 6 foot
level) and spray paint or chalk to note your high and low spots.
Remember that you need to graduate your adjustments, so plane high
spots smoothly and add felt for the lows. If you need several layers
of felt, make them smaller as you get higher (bit like a contour
map). Get your straight edge and don't stop until you have good
smooth level (keep in mind it will compress). My experience has been
with hardwood, nailed down. But I would imagine you need the same
level of prep for laminate - to avoid some spots sitting up and moving
when you walk on them. For hardwood I've found that humps running
parallel to the run of the boards is more problematic (causes the gaps
between the boards to differ) but with laminate I would imagine the
humps perpendicular to the hump are more of a problem (because you're
not nailing down to conform to the hump). If you have some small but
extreme dips you can use thinset to build them up, but I used some
leftover 12x12 self-adhesive linoleum tiles in a couple of areas.
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