I am levelling some floorboards, with a view to painting them afterward and having a wooden floor. Previously there was a lot of scrap wood shims under there. Because these are only thin cheap wood many have been split when the nail passed through so I don't think I can reuse them.

As I am replacing the nails with screws, I had the idea of using rubber, plastic or metal washers for the levelling (if I can find a big bag of thick ones), so I can stack 1, 2 or 3. Rubber might even help make the boards quieter.

Is this a stupid idea or does anyone have a tried & tested way of doing levelling?

  • What's underneath now -- just the joists, or is there some other subfloor or slab? – gregmac Jun 26 '12 at 18:21
  • Old joists reinforced with ply in both directions. They didn't lay the plumbing deep enough IMO, some of it is touching the underside of the boards. Thanks – MachineElf Jun 26 '12 at 18:56

Shimming a floor is the wrong way to get it level, it creates lots of pressure points that will result in cracking and more leveling problems in the future.

If the joists are unlevel, you need to sister on a new joists to the side that is level. It should extend well past the unlevel section or to the next load bearing structure.

If the subfloor isn't level, then you need to put down a self leveling compound (you'll find it with the cement in the big box stores) Take care to mark the location of your joists before putting this down, and make sure any holes are patched or blocked off ahead of time since this will flow right through them.

Also note that this will make a surface level, not flat, so it may not be the best solution if the entire floor is out of level. If you need a flat surface on an unlevel floor, you want something thicker than the self leveling compound (possibly thin set, though I have no personal experience) and a long straight edge to spread it evenly between any high points.

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    Wow I'd not heard of that stuff, just watched this vid: youtube.com/watch?v=ftDET1SqBL4 I didn't mention that I wanted to keep the wooden floor look (painting the boards afterwards, amended my question) so am assuming I can't use this. – MachineElf Jun 26 '12 at 14:08
  • @MachineElf, self leveling compound can also be used for a wood floor, though I've seen it more with a tile floor. See the product description here: homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1v/R-100192482/h_d2/… – BMitch Jun 26 '12 at 15:00
  • I think my boards are too gappy this time, but I will definitely use this next time I'm laying tiles or trying to match up boards + a hard surface. Thx! – MachineElf Jun 26 '12 at 19:03

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