How To Level A Floor In An Old House


One of the common problems of an old house is sagging floors. When the floor has dips and sags everywhere, it gets very annoying. Floor sagging can also be an indication of a worse problem and can become difficult to make right again. There can be many causes for a sagging floor, and identifying the problem is important before fixing the floor.

 Before you call a contractor determining the problem and fixing the problem on your own can work. If you don’t know how to level a floor in an old house, this article is for you. We have mentioned some quick ways to fix uneven floors. Here are some common causes behind the saggy and uneven floors and ways to fix them.

Causes for Floor Problems

  • Inspect the Floors support beam

The perimeter of the floors is constructed over a deep and sound foundation, and this is the reason why the floors tend to settle at the center of the house. If you experience any kind of sloping, you should inspect the support beams.

If your house is built over a basement, then you must inspect the posts and beams where they meet the floor. You should ensure that the wood post is not set on dirt floors or on a concrete poured base. Such posts can melt into the floor and rot it, and the house will start settling from the bottom. 

You can test the rooting floor by pushing a screwdriver into the post. If you find a mushy area, then this is the cause behind sloping floors.

  • Inspect Floor Joists- If the floor was cut improperly for wiring, installation of pipes, or HVAC ducts, then this could be the reason the floor is sloping. Improper notches and holes for service lines, alterations can weaken the joists. There should not be penetrations or cuts in the third middle part of the joists or even at the bottom part of the joist.                                                                                                                    
  • Look For Moisture/ Water Damage- If the basement of your house is chronically damp, inspect for insect damage. Powder post beetles leave beams and joints riddled with holes. Carpenter ants are the first sign of warm spring weather. Termite damage by leaving telltale mud tunnels on posts and foundations. Then fix the moisture problems under or around the house.

Powder post beetle

Different Types of Floor Problems

Every floor problem is different, like sagging and slanting floors. Below we have categorized the different types of floor problems.

  • Saggy/Dipped Floor- The floors that have dips or sags. Like a dining floor is leveled from end to end but have various dips and sags in between. Foundation issues may not be a problem in this case. It can be caused due to joists and beam below the floor which needs shoring up.

 Pouring the floor leveling compound can also fix this problem.

  • Sloping/ Slanting Floor- Floor slants and slopes are common in old houses. A slope can be recognized over 15-20 horizontal feet course, the floor slants down 1-2 inches, and the rest of the floor is flat. The issue behind general slope problems could be the foundation. In such cases Shoring up a foundation or assistance of a general contractor will be required.

How to Level a Floor In an Old House? 

To fix a sagging or sloping floor, you can do a variety of things. The only requirement is that the plywood should have been installed correctly. Below we have mentioned different repair methods to fix the floor. 

  •       Sistering The Framing Members- As per the need of the situation, you may be required to strengthen or repair the framing members, like the roof rafters, floor joists by adding a reinforcing material. Placing the member on both the sides of plywood helps in this condition to provide strength and stability to the wood.                             
  • Leveling Floor Joist- If you are facing the problem of an uneven floor, you may require to level a sloping floor with shims. Sagging floor repair cost is around $1000-$5000. For leveling the shims, you will have to attach a thin, wedge-shaped wood on the lower areas to make the top joists even. If you know how to operate floor joist jack and other equipment properly, you can do this job on your own
  • Bridging the Floor- Lay down the new hardware flooring on top of the existing floor. The plywood subfloor acts like a bridge for minor dips or uneven wood floors. Ensure that jots are strong enough to handle the extra weight from the additional plywood floor.  

old floor

Equipment / Tools You will Need
  • Laser level
  • Bubble level
  • Carpenter’s pencil
  • Adjustable steel columns
  • Cordless drill
  • Auger bits
  • Rotary level
  • Framing hammer
  • Tape measure
  • Electric miter saw
  • House jacks
Materials Required
  • Self-leveling underlayment (a floor leveling compound)
  • Bolts, nuts, and washers
  • Two-by-sixes or two-by-eights ( to sistering floor joists)
Steps To Fix Slanting/Sloping Floor

The foundation problem of the floor can be due to rot, termites, water, or carpenter ants in the foundation. There are companies specialized in repairing the foundation. Steps to do it on your own are:

  1. The portion of the house that is sloping needs to be jacked up by placing new footers. Jacking a house takes time. A 20-ton house cannot be jack up in a single day. You need to do it slowly to avoid drywall cracking and preventing windows, plasters, and other structural elements in the house.                                                                                         
  2. Take the jack off, after some time and stabilize or re-level the flooring.

floor joists

Steps To Fix Sagging Floor
  1. Pour floor leveling compound in the problem area. This will help in correcting dips or sagging that are 1 ½ inch deep.                                        
  2. If you have a basement, you can jack up the joist dip and then sister the joists so that it remains straight after removing the jack.                     
  3. Place steel columns (adjustable) below the joists and keep them propped up. This requires the column base to be secured to the floor of the basement or crawlspace and the top column to be secured with the joists.                                                                                                                 
  4. You can also lay down a new plywood/ hardwood on top of the floor. This will help in correcting minor dips or sags in the floor. Make sure the joists are strong enough to handle the weight of the hardwood.

Top 3 Wood Flooring Contractor, Leveller and Repair Service Provider Near You

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