How Much Floor Slope is Acceptable?

by Charlie
How Much Floor Slope is Acceptable

Have you ever wondered how much floor slope is considered acceptable in your home? You may never have thought about it before, but it’s surprising how sloped some house floors are, especially when you get down and look at them closely. You might think your floors are totally flat, but it’s very likely that they aren’t!

You might then be questioning whether it really matters. If they are flat enough to walk on, won’t that be sufficient?

How much floor slope is acceptable? A small amount of slope on your floors is pretty normal, and most people aren’t concerned about this if it occurs. Old homes tend to have more slope than new homes. There are some different standards, but many experts agree that a slope under half an inch over a 20 foot distance is acceptable.

How Much Should a Floor Slope?

Ideally, all floors would be flat, but this is rarely the case, particularly in old properties. According to the National Association of Home Builders, a floor should slope less than 0.5 inches over 20 feet. Some experts are less strict, and say that anything under 1.5 inches should be fine.

It can be pretty hard to judge how much your floor slopes, especially if you have a room full of furniture. You might think it doesn’t matter very much, but in some cases, you will need to know whether your floor slopes. If you’re thinking about replacing your flooring, or if you’re concerned about general house deterioration, you should pay attention to this.

How Can You Tell If Your Floor Slopes?

There are a few different methods you can use to test for a sloping floor. One involves taking a marble and placing it in the center of the floor to see if it rolls. Another option is to use a long level, which will show you exactly where the slope is and how major it is. A laser level is a third option.

If you think your floor slopes, it’s worth looking into this, because slopes can be an issue. They are usually the result of the house “settling” over time. Gradually, as the weather warms up and cools down, the house’s materials will expand and shrink, and it will move a little. This movement often results in the subfloors shifting and becoming uneven.

It can also cause the joists in the house to move, and possibly bend. In some cases, however, an uneven floor will simply be the result of a bad installation. If the floor has been installed recently and has a noticeable slope in it, follow up with the company that laid the floor as soon as possible to get it sorted out.

Is Having a Sloping Floor Concerning?

In some cases, a sloping floor is a cause for concern. It may mean that there is an issue with the house’s foundations. If this is the case, it will usually be coupled with other visible problems, such as cracks in wall tiles, or around the windows and doors. If you can see cracks in your visible exterior foundations, this is a strong indication that there is a problem.

If you are worried about this, you should get an expert to come and assess your home’s foundations as soon as possible. They should be able to tell you if there’s anything you need to worry about.

If you are thinking of doing something like adding a basement to your house, getting the foundations inspected and any issues taken care of will be a particularly important step, so don’t neglect to do it.

In many cases, a slight slope to your floors is nothing to worry about. It may have been caused by the house settling, by a slightly uneven subfloor, or simply by somewhat shoddy workmanship. However, it is better to find out for sure one way or another.

Do Sloped Floors Increase the Risk of Falls?

In some cases, a sloping floor will put you at greater risk of tripping over, but a mild slope isn’t likely to do this. On the whole, humans can compensate well for walking on a somewhat uneven surface. However, in other cases, a sloping floor does increase the risk of you falling over, and should be dealt with.

You will probably notice quickly if a sloped floor is presenting a trip hazard, because you will find yourself stumbling on it more frequently. Get a professional out to look at it if this is the case.

What’s the Difference Between a Sloping Floor and a Sagging Floor?

A sagging floor will have a dip in the middle, with higher sides. A sloping floor will usually slant down to one point, rather than having raised sides. Either can be a problem, but it’s important to recognize the differences. Sagging floors are often caused by framing issues, but this isn’t always the case.

Can You Fix Sloping Floors?

You will usually need to get a professional to assess a sloping or sagging floor to determine what has caused the problem. Most issues can be fixed, but foundation issues may be expensive to address. As with many problems, the faster you notice and resolve the issue, the easier it is likely to be.

Sometimes, fixing a sloping floor will involve improving the drainage around the foundation, and sometimes it will just mean replacing a joist. This is why it’s so important to have advice from an expert so you know what the issue is and how you should go about addressing it.

If you don’t get this advice, you might spend a lot of time and money fixing the wrong problem, and still have a sloping floor when you’ve finished.

Final Thoughts

In general, your floors shouldn’t slope by more than 1.5 inches (maximum) across 20 feet. Some experts suggest that even this much slope is unacceptable, and floors should slope less than 0.5 inches across this span. Remember that it’s common for old homes to have some floor slope, and in many cases, you don’t need to worry about a small amount of unevenness.

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