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 are 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-leveling compound that does not require extra preparation.
What is a Self-Levelling Compound?
A self-leveling compound is a mixture of chemicals that smooth out uneven concrete or wooden floors.
It is perfect for filling in dips in wooden floors or for smoothing out concrete ones.
When laying ceramic tiles or any other sort of flooring, it is critical to ensure that the surface is level since uneven surfaces might cause tiles to fracture or crack.
A self-leveling compound can be used both indoors and outdoors.
However, it is important to note that this type of compound should not be used on fresh concrete since it can cause the concrete to crack.
Usage and benefits
Self-leveling concrete is most often used as an underlayment for carpet, tile, or other floor coverings.
A self-leveling compound is generally spread over the surface that needs to be leveled. It is then left to dry and harden.
Once it is dry, it can be sanded down to create an even surface.
There are several benefits of using a self-leveling compound.
One benefit is that it can save a lot of time and effort. leveling a floor by hand can be a very tedious and time-consuming task.
Another benefit is that it can create a much more even and smooth surface than what could be achieved by leveling the floor by hand.
Finally, using a self-leveling compound can also help to reduce the risk of injuries since it eliminates the need to use power tools such as jackhammers.
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, a self-leveling compound is applied in a thin layer. This means that it will flake away when applied to a Bitumen surface 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 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 typically requires a 4” angle grinder that uses a diamond grinding disc.
The result will be not only 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.
1- Use the PVA Primer
This is another excellent 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 thoroughly 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, correctly applying 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.
2- Try Out Ardway Plan
If the above two methods are not for you, you can use Ardex’s 2-part self-leveling 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, providing a smooth cover even if you have little to no experience 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—you have a self-leveling compound that really works.
3- Do Not Pour Thick Compound
The maximum thickness of the self-leveling compound is 50mm.
While you can apply a self-leveling compound at a thickness of between 0.5mm and 50mm, it’s important to note that most self-leveling compounds are only designed to be applied in thin layers of 3mm-15mm.
This is because they’re designed to simply cover the entire surface, smoothing and eliminating any flaws in the subfloor.
And also, remember that every product is unique. Therefore, you’ll need to consult the manufacturer’s product datasheet or check the side of the bag for specific information.
Can You Paint over Self-Leveling Concrete – What Paint to Use?
Unlike traditional surface levelers that are challenging to coat, self-leveling concrete can be painted over with concrete dyes, acid stains, water-based stains, or a two-part epoxy paint topcoat.
In fact, painting and polishing self-leveling concrete is a great way to add a unique and stylish touch to your home.
There are, however, a few things you should remember when painting self-leveling concrete.
First and foremost, it is important to make sure that the surface is completely dry before painting.
Self-leveling concrete can take up to 60-72 hours to fully cure, so it is important to wait until the full cure time before painting.
Secondly, it is important to use a primer designed for concrete surfaces before painting.
This will help the paint to adhere better to the surface and will also help to prevent it from chipping or peeling.
And finally, it’s essential to use paint that is designed for concrete surfaces.
These paints are usually thicker and more durable than regular paint, and they will help to protect the self-leveling concrete from wear and tear.
The Bottom Line
While putting a self-leveling compound on Bitumen floors is not recommended, there are a few other tricks that can help, like applying PVA primer.
If you are not familiar with how to use a self-leveling compound, you can also consider purchasing the Ardex 2-part self-leveling compound or another celebrated compound that combines latex with the concrete or other major element in the product.
Most of the time, professionals use the 2-part compound because it delivers fast results. It also takes less time to apply compared to traditional self-leveling 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.
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Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.