How to best level a kitchen floor?
December 21, 2012 10:18 AM   Subscribe

I've gutted my kitchen, and the concrete floor is uneven. Can I get away with only leveling the floor where I'll install the floating flooring, or should I really pour leveler where the cabinets will rest, too?

I'm renovating my kitchen, and so far I've cleaned it out completely, and I've already poured one layer of self-leveling compound, which took care of the big problems with the concrete's level.

Because I was a little too eager with the trowel, there are some areas of the leveled floor that will need more work -- and those patches are right in front of the sink cabinets and right where the refrigerator will sit.

I'm ready to clean and prime the floor (again) and pour some more leveling compound, but I'm a bit concerned that the area under the cabinets is a bit off-level, too, and I don't particularly want to pour expensive self-leveling compound where the cabinets will sit, since I could instead shim the cabinets to the level of the floor before I screw them to the wall.

Basically, I realize that I need a stable, level base for the flooring to sit on. Is it a bad idea not to continue that level underneath the cabinets?
posted by jacob to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
I wouldn't worry about it myself. The most important thing is to get the concrete level enough (usually level to within a couple of mm per metre, or the imperial equivalent) for the floating floor. Tiny variations in that level will be compensated for if you use a good-quality foam underlay, so there's no need to achieve absolute perfection.

Unless you have a major levelling issue under the cabinets, I'd say you'll be fine if you just compensate with shims or whatever.
posted by pipeski at 10:43 AM on December 21, 2012

There is not much point in levelling where the cabinets go, because you can level those yourself anyway.
posted by RustyBrooks at 10:45 AM on December 21, 2012

According to these guys, as long as the base is stable you should be fine.
posted by VelveteenBabbitt at 10:45 AM on December 21, 2012

How bad is it? I've noticed gaps where floors weren't properly leveled while apartment-hunting, and it definitely put me off.
posted by snickerdoodle at 11:03 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Unless you are absolutely certain you will never want to re-arrange the kitchen, or try to sell or rent the place without the refrigerator, it is probably a whole lot easier and cheaper to do it correctly now than to come back and re-do it later.
posted by uncaken at 11:39 AM on December 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

It's a pain to have the fridge on a non-level floor, so I improved the floor level under it. I wouldn't worry about the cabinets.
posted by theora55 at 12:09 PM on December 21, 2012

It is often more work and more of a pain to "do it right" especially where you can get away without doing it right without much penalty, but if you're still there in 20 or 30 years and re-do the kitchen again, you'll be swearing at the people who didn't take the time to do it right during the last remodel.

The key is in your question: yes you can "get away" with it. But know this: you are "getting away" with it.
posted by jgreco at 12:55 PM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

If necessary, you can level the other areas later. It's not an all-or-nothing situation.
posted by pipeski at 3:06 PM on December 21, 2012

From personal experience: it is much easier to make the whole floor level, and then put the cabinets in. Based on my experience setting tile and grouting, it would also have been easier to do that bit first and THEN put the cabinets in as well, rather than levelling - install cabinets - tile - grout, as there was a lot of fiddly bits with working under the toekick, etc.
posted by dubold at 3:49 PM on December 21, 2012

I redid my kitchen and just shimmed under the cabinets to level them. That seemed a lot easier than trying to level the entire floor under them first. I really wonder if you could even get the floor level enough that you wouldn't need any shims under the cabinets here and there.
posted by orme at 9:15 AM on December 22, 2012

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