Self leveling compound sounds like it would do an entire job for you, making just about everyone assume that it is easy to use. What ends up happening most of the time is that someone begins to tackle a project that they aren't ready for, and the result is a disaster. If you have a self leveling job gone bad to deal with, follow the tips below to fix matters.
*Note that not all the materials may be used for your particular job.
Step 1 - Assess the Problem
You need to figure out what kind of issue you're dealing with. If the compound is too soft to where you can make a fingernail mark in it, you will need to remove it all and start over. Otherwise, you will not have a steady surface to work with. If there are non-level areas of the floor, you may be able to sand it down. Worse comes to worse, just remove and start fresh.
Step 2 - Prepare Yourself and the Floor
When you sand or remove the self leveling compound, you'll find a lot of fine dust flying around. Protect yourself from inhalation by putting on your face mask, gloves, and goggles. Also spray some water on the floor so the dust is heavy and will be less likely to float in the air.
Step 3 - Remove the Bad Compound
If you are looking to just get rid of some not-so-level parts of the compound, try lightly chiseling them to be almost level with the ground. Then use an orbital sander or something similar to try to get it down. It may also be okay to make a slight valley in the old compound that you can fill with new compound once finished.
If you have to remove all of the compound, try breaking up as much of it as possible with a hammer and then pick off the remains with a paint scraper. If more heavy duty tools are necessary, respond accordingly. Get rid of as much of the compound as you possibly can.
Remember to spray everything down with water from time to time to prevent dust. Wear safety goggles and a face mask while sanding to keep particles out of your body.
Step 4 - Mix the New Compound
Follow the instructions on the self leveling compound very strictly. Most people have issues in the first place because they did not mix their compound properly. In the end, you should have something that looks like thin milk. You'll need to move quickly after this, so be ready.
Step 5 - Use the Compound
Again, follow the instructions for your mixture to fill in either the valleys you made in the old compound or the spot where the compound was. Allow a day for the product to dry completely. Then check to see if you have yet another job gone bad, or if you solved your own problem.
Step 6 - Your Last Option
If the job just seems like too much to actually do yourself, don't hesitate to call in a professional. Knowing your own limitations is often the biggest part of a job.