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Slightly OT: shop floor leveling


Mar 3, 2007
Cleveland Ohio
I'm renting a small space (about 700 sq ft) in a larger building for my hobby/side-gig shop. Bridgeport, 14" lathe, 6x18 surface grinder, plus fabrication. It is an old building and parts of the concrete floor are pretty rough. There is also about 6 ft of an old track, like railroad track but narrower, and with a trench in the middle where there was a drive chain to move whatever ran on the track. See the photos.

I will be moving machinery, cabinets, and such mostly with a pallet jack, sometimes with a forklift (very little maneuvering room for the forklift). I will also have tooling carts and other stuff on casters and will be moving that around on an on-going basis. So I need a smoother floor. Nightmare scenario is moving a top-heavy cabinet or machine and the pallet jack gets stuck in a hole while the item keeps going and tips over.

Since it's rental, I can't spend a bundle and I can't rip out stuff. But I can fill. I'm going to fill the trench in the middle of the track with regular concrete (it will only take a couple bags of premix). The rough spot and the sides of the track are more difficult. The track tapers from about 1/2" deep at the rails to a feather-edge in the center next to the trench. And the rough spot is maybe 1" in the middle, again tapering to a feather edge. Concrete won't work that thin.

There are lots of self-leveling underlayment mixes that claim to work down to a feather edge. But they are all underlayments; meant to go under other finish flooring.
Does anyone have experience using self-leveling underlayment in a shop with nothing on top?
Any suggestions for a better way to make the floor wheel-friendly?


Home depot has an 13$ bag of 60 pound economy tile cement, it needs 6 quarts of water, it is is far, far easier to work with than the 7$ bags of 80 pounds of type s morter which needs 4 quarts of water.

But its a lot less expensive than the 30$ bags of tile cement that have the special non newtonian flow dynamics the tile setters love.

To get the best strength, mix the whole 60 pound bag with the 6 quarts of water in a closed container, then pour it onto the pre wetted cement and put a little effort into vibrating it down. It should flow pretty easy.

Put a plastic sheet over it for a few days to keep the water in so it will develop full strength.

If i had to hazard a guess.. take a bag of the 13$ 60 pound tile morter mix and mix it with a 40 pound bag of sand and you got type s morter mix.

As for moving stuff, today I helped a friend move a 5500 pound machine with a pallet jack rated for 4400 pounds, over a flat driveway with the standard chamfered edges of expansion joints with the 1" radius. You need 4 people pushing to get the machine moving but it rolls right over the joints once it is moving. The 6" casters only fall about 1/8" inch into the joint.
Before pouring anything get a masonary blade on a skil saw and run a shallow cut at the end of the feather edge. Any depth will probably be fine, I would shoot for 3/8" deep but read the label on the bagto see if there is a minimum thickness. Chisel out what is shallower up to the saw cut. Rough is good so the new mix will have something to grip.
You should probably power wash the area where you want the cement to stick.
I used several bags of HD leveling compound to fill a hollow before tiling an outside porch. Seemed to set up pretty hard.
Pic 1:
The depth is too shallow for any fill to hold up.

Pic 2:
Fill those straight line cracks and the area will eventually crack along the straight lines.

You should look at mixing additives into your mix. I can't recommend any but here is a start.

Fill it 1/4" shy of the top with grout or cement or something. Scatter some quarters and dimes on top. Fill the last 1/4" with clear epoxy.
Fill it 1/4" shy of the top with grout or cement or something. Scatter some quarters and dimes on top. Fill the last 1/4" with clear epoxy.
There was a family in my neighborhood who glued a quarter to the sidewalk.
Their security camera watched people trying to pick it up off the ground.
They are gone and so is the quarter. Somebody must have used a chisel. :drink:
Thin spread stuff will give you problems when rolling heavy items over it. Rolling shear can break it up because there is nothing to hold it together.
I would try using epoxy to hold the leveling material in place. Clean floor best you can and make sure it is dry. Mix the epoxy and roll it out like paint, full wet coat. Do a small section at a time and spread coarse sand over the area. Be generous with the sand as you will sweep up what does not fully adhere. You do not want the sand so thin that it gets encapsulated by the epoxy. Use clean stone chips for thicker areas.
Allow full cure and add top mix. The exposed sand will become part of the topping compound and all epoxied down.
I know for a fact that epoxy will adhere to a dirty floor, even a soaking wet floor. Clean and dry is better.
Having grown up around a precast concrete and redi-mix plant, unless someone has reinvented cement, nothing you add over top of that will stay, especially if you roll heavy items across it. My brother did (quality) epoxy overlays, and said those won't hold up as a leveling surface, either. I was just wanting to level a hangar floor...
Cover the floor with 3/4" Advantec T&G subfloor panels. Home Depot sells the panels for about $29.00 for 4' x 8' panel. You would need 32 panels for 700 sf.
Cost around $1000.00 total. The surface is smoother than plywood and would not need underlayment if you decide to install vinyl tile or similar flooring later on.
Since the thread has revived itself I figured an update was due. I used two bags of Quikrete ReCap concrete resurfacer (which isn't cheap, $33 per bag). Filled in the bulk of the railroad track with regular $5/bag concrete mix first, then used the ReCap. Holding up OK so far. I've driven forklift and pallet jack over the patches in the doorway.