Should a Bathroom Floor Be Level?

by Charlie
Should a Bathroom Floor Be Level

Anyone who is doing up the floor in their bathroom knows that this is a pretty challenging task – and you might be wondering how much things like levelness matter. Does a bathroom floor really need to be level, or can you get away with a slightly slanted floor if necessary? How much does the leveling process matter?

In some cases, you might actually want to slope your floor in a particular direction to encourage water to drain in that direction. You may be wondering if there are drawbacks to doing this, or if it’s a good strategy for keeping your bathroom dry and controlling the movement of moisture in there.

Should a bathroom floor be level? Most people recommend that you level your bathroom floor carefully before finishing the room, because a level floor is safer for people to walk on, and may look more aesthetically pleasing. Sometimes, you might want to slope the floor to ensure that it drains better, but this should only be done in a wet area.

How Much Does a Level Floor in a Bathroom Matter?

In many cases, the flatness of your subfloor matters more than how level it is. However, you still want a floor to be as level as possible before you consider it finished. A floor that is not level will be less safe, because there’s a risk of somebody misjudging how far the floor is from their foot, and stumbling as a result.

A level floor also makes a big difference to how the floor will drain, which may be particularly relevant in a bathroom. If you have moisture on the walls and it runs down onto a floor that is not level, the water will pool at the lowest point.

Of course, you can use this to your advantage if you want to ensure that water runs toward a drain and the floor is therefore left dry and safe to walk on – but be aware that you’ll need a fairly significant slope to achieve this in most cases. You probably won’t want to make your whole floor slope this much, as it could be unsafe.

On the whole, a non-level floor should only be used in an area that is specifically designed to get wet and drain – such as in a wet room. The rest of your bathroom floor should be as flat as possible to make it safe and ensure it looks right.

Do You Need to Level Your Bathroom Floor?

If you plan to tile your bathroom floor, you are very likely to need to level it first. Although it is possible to tile a non-level floor, this can be seriously challenging, and most people don’t do it. Leveling the floor will make it far easier to get your tiles level, because you will be working on a flat surface already.

If your floor is not level enough when you lay your tiles, you will find that they stick up in odd places, because they don’t flex at all. They won’t conform to any bumps or dips, and therefore lips of the tile will stick up. This poses a pretty major trip hazard, and needs to be avoided. Your tile floor must be smooth.

If you aren’t laying tile, you should still aim to get the floor as level as possible. Although other kinds of flooring may be somewhat more forgiving than tile, they are still likely to create an uneven surface if they are laid on a subfloor that isn’t level. They are also more likely to split or buckle, because they won’t be properly supported.

How Do You Level a Bathroom Floor?

Most people use a self-leveling compound to level their bathroom floors, because this is the quickest and easiest option. You should start by inspecting the subfloor and cleaning up and repairing any holes. Grind down any major hills, and then wipe the floor down with a damp cloth to remove the dust.

Next, you should seal the floor using diluted PVA or another similar sealant, such as acrylic primer. Let this sealing layer dry, and then you can mix your leveling compound according to the manufacturer’s directions. Mix as much as you will need to completely cover the subfloor, and then start at the farthest corner from the door.

Pour the compound on and use a flat trowel to spread the compound until it is at the required thickness. The compound should mostly level itself, but you can help if necessary. Don’t overwork the mixture, however, as this could leave marks on it.

Work slowly until you reach the door of the room, and then leave the compound to dry (again, follow the manufacturer’s directions). This may be just a few hours, so then you can check that it is level all over. When it’s fully dry, you can prime the surface of the self-leveling compound.

This priming level will help prevent any moisture from creeping through, and will also make the tiles stick better, so it’s certainly worth taking the time to do it.

How Do You Tell When a Floor is Level?

This is impossible to check by eye; you will need the proper tools. In most cases, that means using a level tool, such as a laser level, a bubble level, or a beam level. The size of your room will influence what sort of level you need, so make sure you have one big enough for your bathroom.

Don’t skip the leveling step just because you don’t have the tools; get them and make sure you do it. If you don’t, the floor you lay may be unsafe to walk on, and might split, crack, or warp. A level floor is crucial for both safety and longevity.

Final Thoughts

A bathroom floor should be level, unless you are specifically building in a slope to encourage water to drain in a certain direction. If you are doing this, you should only do it in the area that needs it; the rest of the floor should be level so it’s safe and comfortable to walk on.

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