Basement Bathroom

How To Use Self Leveling Concrete.

Oh, my aching back.

 

That’s all I can really think about as I write this.  This morning I had my first every “Self Leveling Concrete” attempt.

 

The project in question is the concrete floor of our work-in-progress basement bathroom.  We had a serious hot-mess in the worst possible ways:

Before

Before

  • Out of Level by 3/4″ over 10 feet
  • Countless peaks and valleys
  • Three different types of concrete from previous trenching and patching

I researched every website I could find on how to use self leveling cement (SLC), and started to get an understanding on what the heck I was supposed to do.  The only SLC I could get my hands on was Custom’s Level Quick RS.

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All I really knew for sure was, I needed to move fast!

 

I assure you, I was fast.  I mixed and poured four 50lb bags of SLC in 20 minutes flat.  It was like a terribly messy crossfit workout that involved buckets, cement, and a power drill.

 

It was a success. Here’s how it went, in case you have a floor that needs a similar treatment:

 

Prep The Space

Dam It:  SLC moves like pancake batter as it “finds it’s level”.  That means you need to corral it, block it, and stop it from going anywhere you don’t want it to go.

 

I used Gorilla tape to build a dam around the bathroom perimeter, around the existing toilet flange, and in the thresholds.

Basement_Floor

Prime It:  Since our existing floor was such a disaster, there was no way I would skip this step.  The primer looks like nonfat milk when it goes on.  I didn’t roll it on, I mixed it equal parts with water, dumped it a little at a time on the floor and worked it in every direction with a stiff bristled brush.

Primed Concrete

Primed Concrete

The primer dries clear, and kind of shiny, in about 2 hours.  I let ours dry overnight since I was so generous with the application.

 

GATHER THE GOODS

Preparation is key when doing a project where time is of the essence.  Each batch of the SLC will begin to set within 10 minutes, so there’s no a lot of wiggle room to dilly dally.

 

Since I was working alone, I treated this like an assembly line, getting all of my supplies ready to go before the first bag was mixed.

  • I had 4 buckets of water ready, each bucket had 5.5 quarts in it.
  • My corded drill (not battery operated) with the mixing beater was ready.
  • I pre-cut 3 of the 4 bags of SLC, so I didn’t waste time opening the bags in between pours.
  • My trowel was in the bathroom near the area I was pouring first.

 

Custom's LevelQuick RS

Custom’s LevelQuick RS

Suit Up

  • Goggles
  • Respirator
  • Wrist Watch
  • Heavy Duty Gloves 

 

say cheese!

say cheese!

 Go!

The SLC gets mixed with a beater in a bucket of water (5.5 quarts), for a total of two minutes. It becomes apparent at just about the 2 minute mark that it’s all mixed together.

  • Drag and dump the first bucket of SLC in the lowest corner of the room.
  • Use a trowel to help push the SLC into every nook and cranny you want it to go in.

 

Once the first batch is down and looking good (which you have 3 minutes to determine), mix the next bucket.

 

Pour your next pre-measured 5.5 quarts of water into the mixing bucket and get going again.

 

The second batch of SLC should be poured very near, and feathering into, the first batch.  And keep repeating this until you’re done.

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Then you get to clean up the very big mess you made- if you’re anything like me.

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Yes, these are my “work crocs”.

 

WAIT

Rapid Setting SLC will be walkable in 4 hours, and ready to tile on in 12.

The ridges aren't really ridges.

The ridges aren’t really ridges.

It dries with wavy movements of sand, looking like it’s got ridges, but it’s an illusion- the finished result is very flat and smooth.

Ready for tile.

Ready for tile.

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And that’s it.  Now I get to relax, ice my back, and get ready, because over the next few weekends I’m going to be finishing this bathroom of ours.

Renovation: Basement Bathroom.

I love good before and after pics.

 

If you haven’t noticed, my version of home improvement tends to involve ripping everything down to the studs and rebuilding it from scratch. But it has finally occurred to me that’s not always the best option. Sometimes the projects have to be quick and dirty.

 

We have a super creepy basement bathroom. It was added by the previous owners, but never fully completed. The grout was falling apart, the corner seams in the tile were unfinished, the walls were barely primed, and no matter how hard I would scrub it down, it still looked disgusting.

 

Frankly speaking, when we get around to finishing the basement this bathroom will eventually get torn apart (and turned into something super fabulous) but for the time being I just want it to look passable. To keep the basement bathroom cost down, it just needed a little TLC… And by TLC I mostly mean new grout.

before and after

before and after

Operation Basement bathroom:

 
1. New bright white grout (leftover from my previous projects )
2. Freshly painted walls (excess paint from the master bedroom)
3. New mirror (scored a Home Goods)
4. New shelf (left buy the previous owners, never mounted)


This project was only $50 and lots of elbow grease, but it was totally worth it. Even though this is like putting a silk hat on a pig, it finally feels clean!

 

I’m telling you… When in doubt- regrout!