What Are the Drawbacks of Using a Self-Leveling Compound?

Someone spreading a self-leveling compound.

A self-leveling compound is ideal in smoothing out uneven wood floors and concrete floors. Concrete floors may have bumps, especially if poured incorrectly; wood floors often have problems with dips and bumps. It is important that the floor is leveled and smoothed when planning to do a ceramic floor tiling.

When a floor that is to be placed with ceramic tile is uneven, there is a greater chance that the floor tiles will crack and not last over time. A self-leveling compound will prevent this, although it's not always a perfect solution.


A self-leveling compound can dry extremely fast. You may only have about 20 minutes to mix, pour and even out the self-leveling compound. Therefore it's important for a person to have all the tools and materials needed in mixing, pouring and spreading the self-leveling compound.

Self-leveling compounds do not provide stability on the subfloor or the surface where the tiles are to be placed. If the wood subfloor loosens, the self-leveling compound may break up, causing the loosening and eventual damage of the ceramic floor tiles. It is therefore important that the stability of the subfloor should be ensured first, before applying any self-leveling compound on it.

Another disadvantage of using a self-leveling compound is that it does not stick well to a subfloor with dust and grime. The subfloor needs to be cleaned from dust and grime before a self-leveling compound is applied; it needs to be spotless.

Preparation Concerns

A self-leveling compound needs to be carefully mixed to the right consistency before it's poured in the subfloor. The self-leveling compound does not even itself out, so using a squeegee or trowel is essential in smoothing it out. Again, since there's only about 10 to 20 minutes before the self-leveling compound dries out, you have to move quickly to spread and even out the mixture.


A self-leveling compound can also break up easily when it's mixed with extra water. Never try to put additional water in the self-leveling compound mixture to try to loosen it up. Instead, focus on quickly working and spreading the material to the subfloor surface.

A self-leveling compound will be set after half an hour or so. In two to four hours, the surface that was applied with self-leveling compound can be walked on. Ceramic floor tiles, however, can be used 24 hours after the self-leveling compound was put on the subfloor.

Self-leveling compounds can also remain glued on tools like the trowel and the bucket. It's important to immediately wash the tools used in applying and smoothing out the self-leveling compound, otherwise these tools will permanently have the compound affixed to them.

Health Hazards

Before using a self-leveling compound, read the directions first. Always ensure that safety procedures are followed while working with the it. Breathing in dust that comes from the application of the self-leveling compound can pose health risks.

You should know the drawbacks of using a self-leveling compound. Knowing these will ensure that you are better prepared when handling and using it.