Concrete is a building material made from Portland cement, water, sand and gravel. It is known for its versatility, affordability and ease of use. Even though it is relatively simple to work with, when proper installation techniques are ignored, the concrete can suffer from problems down the road. The most common problem is sinking, which occurs when the concrete is poured over an unstable base. The base will shift over time, creating or widening voids or air pockets under the surface. When this happens, the concrete will sink or crack. While severe cases will require removing the entire surface and repouring, more moderate sinking problems can be fixed quickly and affordably using one of several potential methods.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Expansion tape
- Concrete mix
- Self-levelling concrete
Try slabjacking. This process works best for concrete patios and other small surfaces. Here, a concrete company will lift the edge of the slab using a backhoe or similar equipment. While the slab is raised, they will pump gravel or another base material underneath. When the slab is lowered, it should be smooth and even.
Consider mudjacking. Under this process, small holes are drilled in the existing concrete and extend all the way to the subbase below the slab. More concrete is poured into these holes to fill the empty cavities under the slab. This will lift and level the concrete while providing a stable base to prevent future sinking.
Use a self-levelling compound for larger surfaces, such as a concrete floor. Before you start, use expansion tape to build a 1/2"-wide dam around the perimeter to the room. This tape will control the flow of the compound.
Fill any holes or cracks in the floor using a blend of concrete mix and water. Apply the mixture using a trowel and wait 4 hours for the patched areas to dry before proceeding.
Mix a self-levelling compound with water in a bucket or wheelbarrow, being sure to only add the minimum amount of water directed by the manufacturer's instructions.
Pour the self-levelling mixture across the floor in roughly one foot wide strips. Gravity will spread the compound and cause it to fill up dips or spaces caused by sinking.
Tips and warnings
- Self-levelling compound is a good solution for slow-sinking floors where little cracking is visible. It is not a permanent solution for severe sinking or structural damage.