Encountering uneven floor height during renovations can set your schedule back significantly. It may also affect your overall budget depending on what approach you choose to go with. Which methods to raise your floor height are the cheapest overall?
The cheapest ways to raise your floor height include filling the floor with some insulation material, installing a wooden frame subfloor, using a floor leveling compound, and using deck mud. The best approach to use is often determined by the flooring material in use for the project.
In this article, I’ll look at these various ways to raise floor height, how to apply them, and all you need to know about their pros and cons.
Why Raise Floor Height?
Raising floor height is important when there’s a need to make the affected floor space equal to the floor level of the surrounding areas. In many cases, this need comes up during a renovation.
Think about a bathroom or kitchen where the floor isn’t flush with the passageway. Apart from how such an arrangement is usually not aesthetically pleasing, it could be a mobility bottleneck if you’ve got a senior citizen in your home.
Stripping away old flooring when trying to change from one floor type to another can also highlight a sunken floor that needs to be raised for the new material to work, which is especially true when you’re making the switch from wood to tiles.
What Are the Cheap Options for Raising Floor Height?
The cheapest options for raising floor height include deck mud, floor leveling compound, and insulation materials. The best option will vary from one project to another, as some of them are most suited for specific situations.
Let’s take a closer look at each of them.
Depending on the size of the area, you can stack a few sheets of thick insulation material to help you make up the missing floor height.
Cut it down to the shape of the space, and stack multiple pieces to get the height you’re looking for, which is a cheap DIY approach you can complete in a few minutes.
However, it will only work when you intend to use carpets as the flooring material. Some people place light concrete screeding over the insulation material, but this can significantly increase the difficulty and overall cost of the project.
Also, it’s not an approach to consider if the floor you’re working on will receive a lot of moisture, such as in a bathroom. The excess water will chip away at the insulation material until it decays, which is in addition to the unpleasant smell bound to emanate from the floor.
So, it’s not an option for your bathroom or kitchen floor.
Framed Wooden Subfloor
Another cheap way to raise your floor height is as simple as measuring the height deficit and constructing a wooden base that is the right match. This works great when the wood is the main flooring material, but it can also work with other types of flooring materials such as carpets, or vinyl.
When constructing the wooden base, you need to be careful with the measurement.
For example, consider the height of individual floorboards if you’ll cover up the base with wooden flooring. The top floor has to be flush with the rest of the house for a neat job, so keep checking the floor height to ensure you’re maintaining the right levels.
You should also consider giving the wooden base a termite treatment to ensure it lasts long enough.
With the base installed, check to see that your electrical circuits and insulation are where they should be. Cover the base with plywood of ¾ inch (1.90 cm) thickness to complete the project, and the floor is ready for the top layer.
Floor Leveling Compound
A floor leveling compound is a cheap way to raise the floor in one room to match the rest of your house. It works great when applying it directly onto concrete, so you should probably skip this approach if you’re not working on concrete.
You can find floor leveling compounds at your local home improvement store or online. The Henry WW Company from Amazon.com is an example you can go with. It’s a premixed leveling compound that delivers 16-20 sq. ft. of coverage per gallon.
The application process is often straightforward. Here’s what you should do:
- Mark out the height you’re aiming for, considering all other factors such as your flooring material.
- Clean the floor thoroughly to eliminate all grease and dirt and make sure the compound will stick.
- Check the instructions for the leveling compound to see if you need to use a coat of latex primer first. Apply the primer first if required and wait for it to dry.
- Get a 5-gallon (18.92-liter) bucket and mix the leveling compound with water.
- Attach a paddle mixer to a drill to get a perfect and consistent mix.
- Pour the compound on the floor, from corner to corner.
- Work quickly to meet the 10-15-minute setting time.
- Mix and apply more compound as necessary until you reach your desired height.
- Allow the leveling compound to set and cure for a day.
Once the leveling compound has fully cured, you can continue with installing your chosen material.
This method works great for most types of flooring material, but the wait time and application process means it’s not the quickest approach. There is also the possibility of getting a final finish that’s far from smooth.
The protrusions may stick out if you intend to use some light carpet over the floor.
Additionally, the process can get costly quickly if you are working on a sizable space where you’ll need multiple cans of leveling compound. So, weigh up the costs to ensure it’s the best approach for you.
This is the best approach to go with if you intend to use tiles on the surface. It’s a bit tasking as you need to first prepare enough deck mud to use for the project, but once you have this sorted, it’s straightforward.
Once you have the mud sorted, here’s what you should do:
- Clean the floor. It doesn’t need to be squeaky clean, just enough to make sure you have a bare floor to work on.
- Layout chicken wire across the floor.
- Start pouring the mud, starting from one side of the room to the center and from the other side of the room to the center.
- Use a level and a compactor to make sure the mud is compact and level.
- Be sure the mud is high enough to get it flush with the existing floor.
- Once you’ve got a flush and compact finish, complete the process by pouring the mud in the center.
- If you get the job done correctly, you won’t find any dips or gaps in the floor, which leads to a straightforward tiling process in the end.
You can watch this video to see a demonstration of this process:
This is one of the most durable ways to raise floor height overall.
The thickness achievable is such that you don’t have to worry about the floor cracking underneath even after you’ve laid the tiles, but it’s the closest thing to pouring concrete on the floor.
I haven’t included concrete here as a possible method of raising floor height because it’s often costly and very demanding. However, if you want something close to that level of solidity, deck mud does a decent job overall.
You may also like: What Type of Flooring Can You Put Over Tiles?
Raising the floor height for any part of your home shouldn’t be a costly process.
You can choose from any of the methods we’ve highlighted above, considering your unique flooring needs. Using the wrong approach can end up very costly in the medium term.
Using deck mud (and other concrete derivatives) is typically the most solid way to raise floor height. However, it requires a lot more work, and you’ll have to incorporate the lengthy wait times into your refurbishment schedule.
Get professional help if you’re unsure of the best approach to go with.