How to Use Self-Leveling Compound Part 1

A person smoothing concrete.
  • 4-6 hours
  • Intermediate
  • $70-300
What You'll Need
Measuring tape
Dry cement powder
Stiff-bristled push broom
Power sander
Self leveling compound mix
Concrete surface primer
Soft-bristled long broom
Rubber threshold strips
Mixing drum
Power drill with mixer paddle
Screed board
Steel trowel
An assistant

Applying self-leveling compound is a necessary step when refinishing an old concrete floor with a fresh concrete surface. Part one of these directions involves assessing and cleaning the existing surface, and how to apply primer before mixing and applying the self leveling compound. You will also learn correct techniques to apply the compound once it is mixed. (To move ahead to part two, click here.)

Step 1 - Measure the Concrete Floor Area to Be Leveled

Measure the full length and width of the concrete floor area. This will enable you to purchase the correct quantity of primer and self-leveling compound for the task.

Step 2 - Clean the Concrete Surface

Sweep the concrete surface thoroughly with a stiff-bristled push broom. Sprinkle dry sawdust over any grease or oil spots, and allow the sawdust to rest overnight. Sweep up the sawdust and discard it in the trash. If any oily residue remains, dust the area with dry cement powder. Leave the powder overnight to absorb the oil, and sweep up the next day.

Discard this cement in the trash. Do not rinse it off the floor into the sewer system.

Step 3 - Lay Rubber Threshold Strips

Across all doorways into the area with the concrete floor, lay rubber threshold strips. These will prevent seepage of the primer, self-leveling compound, and your final concrete pour into other rooms or outdoors.

Step 4 - Apply the Concrete Surface Primer

Pour the surface primer onto the floor in long narrow sections. Using a soft-bristled long broom, spread it out over the floor in rows the length of the surface. Sweep out excess primer from the hollows and mark them with a pencilled circle. Draw a rectangle around ridged areas. Once the primer has dried, use the power sander to level out the ridges. Sweep off the sander dust.

Step 5 - Mix the Self-Leveling Compound

In the mixing drum, add nine of 10 parts (90 percent) of the water required to mix the compound according to the directions on the compound bags. Two bags of compound will level an average garage floor. Attach the mixing paddle to the power drill and turn it on. Have your assistant pour the compound mix into the mixing drum slowly to avoid lumps. Mix up only as much compound as you can apply in 20 to 30 minutes.

Once the compound is evenly blended, add the remaining water slowly as you may not need it all. Continue stirring with the paddle for two more minutes to smooth the self leveling compound.

Step 6 - Pour the Self-Leveling Compound

Pour the self-leveling compound onto the concrete in long thin strips about 12 inches wide. Start at the farthest edge from your exit doorway and work toward that exit.

Proceed to part two to continue. You will learn how to spread the compound, mix more compound to complete the task, about drying times, and how to lightly sand to create the best finish.