When smoothing out uneven wooden or concrete floors, a self-leveling compound is often used.
This is particularly true for dips and imperfections in the flooring that can be quickly remedied by using a self-leveling compound.
If you are planning on placing ceramic tiles or other types of flooring that is subject to cracking on uneven surfaces, then you will definitely need to use a self-leveling compound and for good reasons.
But can you apply a self-leveling compound on Bitumen floors?
The answer is no, you cannot directly apply the traditional cement-based product which is mixed with water on top of the Bitumen.
If that’s the case, you will need to further prepare the sub-floor before you can start adding the compound.
The one exception is the 2-part Latex-based self-levelling compound that does not require any extra preparation.
Why Can’t You Apply Self-Levelling Compound to Bitumen Floors?
Because the Bitumen is non-porous, the self-leveling compound has nothing to grip when applied to the surface.
A self-leveling compound, like most adhesive products, requires a porous surface to allow for the material to properly grip the flooring.
Since Bitumen is non-porous, the self-leveling compound will simply slide right off.
In addition, self-leveling compound is applied in a thin layer. This means that when applied to a Bitumen surface it will flake away even faster.
You’ll want to avoid this, so that means you will need to apply the compound to the surface which is properly prepared.
Otherwise, you will simply waste time, effort, and money in trying to get the product to stick.
What Can You Do to Ensure That the Self-Leveling Compound Does Stick?
The very first thing you can try is a mechanical plan.
By roughening the surface using a mechanical grinder, you can provide a rough surface that allows the self-leveling compound to stick.
This normally requires a 4” angle grinder that uses a diamond grinding disc.
The result will not only be a rough surface, but also quite a bit of dust.
So, you will need a good vacuum to properly clean up all the dust before you can begin to apply the compound.
Be sure to wear a mask and goggles before you begin grinding or sanding down the surface.
Once you have roughened the surface, take extra care to sweep and vacuum away all the dust before you start to apply the compound.
Use the PVA Primer
This is another great alternative you can try.
The primer or PVA plan starts with applying a PVA product, such as Regular or Undiluted PVA that will stick to the surface.
You’ll want to fully coat the surface with the PVA straight from the tube or tub depending on which one you purchase.
You will need to let the PVA set until it becomes tacky before applying the compound.
The good news about PVA is that it is a cheap, effective product. All you need is a paintbrush or roller that is from 4’ to 6’ in size to get started.
However, the downside is that the PVA must be tacky for you to begin adding the compound.
This requires precise timing as PVA that is still too wet or too dry will not work.
Plus, to properly apply the PVA to the surface will require walking back and forth to apply downward pressure.
Be prepared to have PVA stuck on your shoes and perhaps your knees depending on how much pressing down is required.
Try Out Ardway Plan
If the above two methods are not for you you can use Ardex 2-part self-levelling compound which is a product often used by commercial contractors.
The advantage is that this product is relatively easy to use and can be applied to many different types of flooring.
- Bitumen, Concrete, and Floor Screed
- Ceramic, Porcelain, and Quarry Tiles
- Floor Paint, Plywood, Terrazzo, and Old Adhesive Residues & More
Another advantage is the flexibility of the product, allowing it to be applied to flooring such as timber that may move on occasion.
This means that it will not crack if the movement is subtle compared to concrete-based compounds that may crack readily.
There is no need to measure out the product as the compound and latex are already at the perfect ratio.
Add to this the latex which helps spread the compound easily, so that it provides a smooth cover even if you have little to no experience in laying out such a product.
Because it sets in as little as 4 hours, you can start applying the floor covering rather quickly.
It’s also an economical product since a little will go a long way. Add to that the mixture being perfect and you have a self-levelling compound that really works.
The Bottom Line
While it’s not recommended to put a self-leveling compound on Bitumen floors, there are a few other tricks that can help like applying PVA primer.
If you are not familiar with how to use a self-levelling compound, you can also consider purchasing the Ardex 2-part self-levelling compound or another celebrated compound that combines latex with the concrete or other major element in the product.
Most of the times, professionals use the 2-part compound because it delivers fast results. It also takes less time to apply compared to traditional self-levelling compounds.
Spread it out on the floor to achieve the desired results. And then start the next process in a relatively quick fashion.
The result will be a smooth process where you can use the mixture right away.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for more than a decade to serve the customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques that are being implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.
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