• January 30, 2024
  • by Ricky Attard
  • 57

Tiling can be a fun task, especially when you get to see the finished result of all your planning and hard labour. However, in order for your tiling project to come out perfectly, it needs to be done on a level floor. Usually, tilers will level the floor with concrete, but can tile adhesive also be used to level a floor?

Yes, tile adhesive can be used to level a floor before tiling. Tile adhesives work best when used on unlevel floors anywhere from 1 mm to 12 mm thick, and different types of tile adhesives would be suitable for levelling. 

In this article, we’ll guide you through using tile adhesive to level out floors. Let’s go!

What is tile adhesive?

Tile adhesive is the glue that is used to stick or bond floor tiles to the surface you’re placing them on. Whether you’re tiling a wall or a floor, tile adhesive is used to ensure your tiles are fastened to the surface. 

It’s not usually considered a material for levelling floors. When a floor is unlevel, tilers usually use a floor levelling compound or a self-levelling underlayment to level the floor. Tile adhesives contain different ingredients like cement, sand, polymer, fillers and other modifiers that improve their strength and flexibility. These materials are similar to the ones used in tile grout or the levelling compound, meaning that they may work similarly. 

Both compounds are usually designed with cement that can be spread over the floor to blend in with the floor underneath seamlessly. However, the composition of tile adhesive gives it some capabilities when it comes to levelling floors. 

What should I know about floor levelling?

Levelling a floor isn’t as simple as it sounds and can be quite a hassle if you don’t know what you’re doing. When it comes to levelling a floor, these are a few things you need to consider:

  • You need to pinpoint all the uneven areas
  • Try to find the underlying problem
  • Check if you can use a self-leveling underlayment
  • Use a marble test

When levelling a floor for the first time, using a levelling device is the go-to method of checking whether or not the surface you’re working with is level. But if you don’t have the tools, all you need to do is grab a few marbles and roll them over the area. 

If the surface is unlevel, the marbles will roll in the direction that the tile dips. This will help you mark all the areas that may be unlevel. Mark the areas and check for the underlying issues.  

What should you consider before using tile adhesive for floor levelling

While tile adhesive can be used for levelling a floor, there are one or two things that you may want to consider before using it. 

Firstly, you need to check the levelling requirements needs. Adhesive isn’t designed for levelling floors, so if you have a large area that needs levelling, then it may be better to use a levelling compound. 

Then, you also want to check that your type of adhesive will work with the flooring you’re using. While most adhesives are relatively versatile, they may be product-specific. A good example is if you’re tilling an area that has a lot of moisture. Usually, for most areas, you would need to use products that are designed to work in moist conditions. If they aren’t, then you might be opening yourself up to other problems somewhere along the line. 

Drying time is also something you need to consider. Certain tiling compounds are designed to dry quickly so that the area is primed and ready to use. Adhesive might not produce the same quick-drying results, so be sure to check your drying time first.  

Lastly, temperature can also play a role in how adhesive sets, so you want to ensure that the area you’re working in is within a good temperature for the adhesive to cure properly. 

Steps to Leveling a Floor with Tile Adhesive

So, how exactly do you use tile adhesive to level a floor? Follow these steps to use adhesive to level your floor:

  1. Check the floor for any cracks and assess how uneven the surface is
  2. Ensure the area you’re working on is clean, free from dust and dry before you begin
  3. Choose and prepare a suitable adhesive for the tiles and area you’re working on
  4. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing the adhesive. Ensure that you follow the instructions to the letter so that the adhesive functions correctly
  5. Apply the adhesive onto the floor using a notched trowel. Spread it over the area you’re trying to level and ensure that it is spread evenly across the surface
  6. While the adhesive is still wet, use a tool with a straight edge or a leveller to ensure that it is smooth and level. 
  7. Allow for it to dry without interruption. Check the estimated drying time on the adhesive so that you can get an idea of how long it’ll take to dry
  8. Once it’s dried, check that it is level one more time; if not, you may need to restart the process. 
  9. If all is level, then you can continue tilling the area.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

When it comes to using things like adhesive, it can be a nightmare when you make a mistake. That’s why learning from others’ mistakes is so valuable. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when using adhesive to level the floor:

  • Using the wrong adhesive
  • Not preparing the surface correctly
  • Using the wrong ratios when mixing the adhesive
  • Applying the adhesive inconsistently
  • Not allowing the adhesive to dry properly

What are Alternative Methods for Floor Leveling?

There are some alternative methods to floor levelling, some of which may actually be a better solution. Self-levelling underlayment is a specialised compound designed to level floors, but you can also use a plywood underlayment to prop up the area or grind or sand an area that’s raised until it’s level with the rest of the floor. Floor screeding is another popular method for fixing unlevel floors. It involves applying a layer of sand and cement to create an even surface over the floor.