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We plan to have a contractor install new hardwood over existing heart pine that is not refinishable. An area of one room is unlevel in this 100+ year-old house. At least one flooring contractor suggested folding over and layering roofing paper in the low area, then adding luan over that, before installing the new hardwood. Is this a reasonable solution? We do not want to pull up the old floor and level it from underneath.

  • Have you considered self leveling epoxy or similar? You have to tape all of the cracks in the low area because it is so thin it will drip through them - but it should give you a level subflooe. – Ramrod Jan 25 '17 at 3:14
  • Thought about the steps you were thinking of taking. Before I can answer- how uneven is the area of floor? Is the entire area uneven... This info can/could save time and money – Rascal2307 Jan 25 '17 at 3:54
  • Yes, that is mportant. It is 1.7" in the outside wall corner. My recent followup comment speaks to the solution we have chosen- removing that area of the subfloor and fixing that way. Thanks for your time. – Bananahead Jan 26 '17 at 12:52
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There is nothing wrong with using roofing paper or even shingles (my favorite) if there is a floor slight out of level. Floor leveler is an option too but I usually use floor leveler for floating floors and shim traditional hardwood with shingles.

The reason for this is leveler sometimes has issues with staples or nails going through it. I prefer shingles vs any other type of shim because shingles don't break, take nails well, and they don't need to be compressed. There are limits to how much you can shim but that is true with a leveler too. But innately there is nothing wrong with shimming flooring with roofing paper/shingles.

One thing I would add. If you are redoing all the flooring, if you can have the joists checked out below it is a good time. The flooring guys probably don't care about this - as the trades usually don't mix. But the flooring might be able to be leveled with a set of jacks and the new floor could be installed without shims or leveler.

  • Thank you for the advice. Because the one corner is 1.7 inches lower, and that's where the refrigerator will be placed, we have decided that would be too much layering, even with shingles. We will instead remove the subfloor and have a carpenter scab the joists. My husband and I have "GC'd" this remodel, and you are so right. The trades don't mix. – Bananahead Jan 26 '17 at 12:47
  • Almost 2 inches is way too much for any sort of leveler. It is really nice that you fixed the real problem. Using shims can get you by on a 1/2" but anything more and the joists need to be looked at. Since it is in the corner it is usually a little easier and cheaper to do. Getting it done right will keep you from a mountain of small issues in the future. – DMoore Jan 26 '17 at 15:09
  • Wow 1.7 " is crazy , but 100% agree with shingles and felt for a small adjustment.+ – Ed Beal Nov 23 '18 at 3:23
  • @EdBeal - at almost every big box they will have an open/damaged package of shingles. I have bought "half" packages for $5. Those half packages might help me shim 5-6 installs... So doing it right and doing it for $1 per install is a win win. I have pulled up more than a few hardwood floors and saw broken floor leveler. I have pulled up some using roofing shingles and things like that... and basically have a hard time telling they were even used until I prong them out. – DMoore Nov 23 '18 at 20:01

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