Self Level Prep

Getting Started

Basement bathrooms are notorious for being wonky. Concrete floors typically slope toward a drain, which isn’t great for bathrooms.

One of the first steps when building a basement bathroom, even before framing and plumbing, is to assess the floor.

Our course, for now, doesn’t have video footage for framing or plumbing the basement bathroom. But we’d be happy to answer those questions and will add those videos once they’re ready.

This bathroom is getting a bathtub and needs the floor to be completely level for the tub to drain properly.

If the floor is more than 1/4″ out of level then address the problem. Anything more than 1/4″ will make it difficult to set the tub, toilet, vanity, and tile work.

Anything less than 1/4″ out of level, for example 1/8″, can be fixed with shims or mortar.

Use a four foot level to check the floor’s slope; place it across the width and length of the floor. In this bathroom the floor was about 1″ out of level, which is bad. So we had to level the entire floor.

Take a 2×4 and find the high point of the floor. This helps establish how high to set concrete screws, which will serve as height indicators for the self leveler.


Add Concrete Screws 

Concrete screws, also called Tapcons, can be used as height indicators. We strategically drilled holes in the concrete using a hammer drill and masonry bit.

Without concrete screws, it’s difficult to see how much self leveler to pour over the concrete.

Start this process by drilling a hole in the corner of the bathroom. Then use an impact driver to set the Tapcon height, e.g. 1/4″ off the concrete floor. Continue drilling holes in the floor along the perimeter of the room, setting Tapcons, and checking them with a four foot level (3:20).

It’s only necessary to have about 6 different Tapcons in small bathrooms. We had to use both 2″ and 1-1/4″ Tapcons because the floor was so out of level. In fact, you’ll see Steve react to the terrible floor height in the video (3:33)!


Clean, Prep, and Prime

The next step is to shop vac the floor, seal wood framing, and add a perimeter expansion joint.

Block off the bathtub plumbing using 2x4s (6:10) and add latex caulk to the bottom of all wood plates (6:27). This prevents self leveler from oozing out of the bathroom. Tool latex caulk with a finger to compress it against the concrete floor and wood.

Then wipe down the concrete floor with a damp sponge (7:17) and staple sill plate foam along the wall perimeter (7:35). This foam provides the necessary 1/8″ expansion and contraction joint for the self leveler.

By the way, this is the same foam required underneath wood framing in basements, i.e. lay this foam between concrete floors and wood framing.

Once the self leveler sets up, the foam can be cut using a utility knife. Staple foam to either studs or drywall (8:15).

Finally, apply primer to the concrete floor. Always use primer made by the company who manufactures the self leveler. For example, we used LATICRETE PRIME-N-BOND primer because we used LATICRETE’s NXT self leveler.

Simply paint primer onto the concrete floor using a 3/8″ nap roller (8:50). Primer helps the self leveler bond to concrete floors.

Watch our video for more great tips.


What Could Go Wrong?

This section addresses the Top 5 mistakes that you could make:

  1. Incorrect Tapcon height: it’ll be hard to know how much self leveler to use
  2. Skip plumbing trough: self leveler will fill the plumbing trough and cover P-trap
  3. Forget latex caulk: floor leveler will ooze into adjacent rooms…huge mess
  4. Omit foam joint: self leveler could crack and cause tile to crack or tent
  5. Ignore primer: self leveler may not bond to concrete and chip off floor


Tool and Material List


Questions for Tutors 

If you’re reading this you’re the first to view our new course.

How cool is that!!

We’d love your thoughts:

  1. What did you like and what did you dislike?
  2. Should we add pictures to clarify certain points?
  3. Should we do a second video explaining tools and materials?
  4. Do you want a list of tools and materials, or links to them on Amazon?
  5. Should we timestamp certain tips for easy reference in the video?

Add your thoughts to the comment section below and we’ll respond.

Best regards,

Jeff and Steve

P.S. Many thanks to Jerome McManus for the great feedback!


  1. Connie Tucker says:

    Hi Jeff and Steve. I enjoyed your video. You are a good team. I do have some thoughts to share. Please know that I have no knowledge about this process at all. I used to help my father with home improvement projects. (I was mostly “the Gopher”) He would explain (like you) why you had to do certain things in order to have it work correctly. So I am a real, real novice. If I could, I would probably just hire you two to do my bathrooms and not worry anymore! So, know that is where I am coming from when you read this.

    First of all, I liked how you began. You spoke clearly and slowly enough to be understood and to process what you are saying. I liked how the video moved to Steve showing how you are working in the bathroom. In explaining how to level the floor-(at 1:52) It wasn’t clear enough to me in the video how Steve determined where to start with the tapcon screws to begin the leveling process. Is the highest point in the backside? If so, Steve needs to review that again. He says to measure 6 different places – it would be good to see a full view picture of the 6 screws after he measures out all the places.I didn’t think you showed this process as clearly as you emphasized the necessity of doing this..

    Steve shows caulking the area. You say to finger press the caulking and perhaps Steve should show that as well. Do you need to let it dry before putting the foam spacer up over the caulking?

    I like how you explain why you are doing each step of preparation. The foam spacing explaination is very good. The Laticrete explaination as well.

    I think pictures are a great idea to emphasize or clarify certain points.

    At the end of the video you need to summarize what we saw. Perhaps emphasizing how taking these steps will avoid having what could go wrong in your list before moving on to the next video.

    I like the idea of timestamping certain tips as a reference.
    Absolutely provide a list of tools and materials. As well as suggestions or links of what to buy or where to get it.

    Are you providing the written instructions as well? I found it helpful to be able to read the information and then watch the video.

    This is a lot of hard work, gentlemen. You are doing a good job. Thank you for asking me to help. I will always try to support you.

    1. Jeff Patterson says:

      Thank you Connie, great suggestions. Unfortunately we can’t go back and get some of the footage but that’s where asking us questions is helpful. You’re correct, about starting at the back side of the room. We should have shown an expanded view of the six Tapcons. Good tip about summarizing. That’s something I could easily do in videos to help folks. I’ll add a list of tools with links, we also felt that would help but wanted your input.

      We could provide a printable PDF of the instructions, thanks again for all your help!!

  2. Henry Zaczek says:

    I loved the Tapcon levleling tip and the fact that you tell people that expansion can be taken care of by using the pink foam. I never knew about the primer . This is very important to know. The timestamp idea is really good. After viewing the video however I immediately recalled the video. Good job. Also I have some typos and suggestions that I can provide screens shots of if you give me an e-mail address to sent them to.

    Q.) I would like to know if that Tapcon screws should be removed before the concrete dries. Is the timing of the removal critical? Perhaps you cover that in the next lesson.

    1. Jeff Patterson says:

      Thanks Henry, primer is critical and always use the brand that’s made by the company who makes the self leveler. Tapcon screws should be left in the concrete because they won’t hurt anything and the screw heads are covered by self leveler. You can send an email to jeff@bathroomrepairtutor.com. Thanks for all your great suggestions.

  3. Helmut says:

    My feeling is that a size definition is needed when you make reference to a “small bathroom”. I believe that my small 12 x 7 foot bathroom is smaller than some I’ve seen online yet much bigger than others.

    You state that you “strategically” drill the holes for the tapcons. What is the employed strategy?

    Definitely insert screen captures of the scene you reference by time. Not the exact time at which the scene begins but an image that highlights the pertinent point. An additional option is to hyperlink the picture to the position in the video so that if the picture is click on the video starts at the beginning of the scene.

    Videos about the tools used can be a separate project. If you have a set of videos that deal with specific tools, 1/8 inch trowel vs. 1/4 inch trowel, and where/when they are used then you can link to these from any one of your courses. The tool listings in the course should link to the videos for each tool.

    I like the idea to timestamp tips and to draw attention to them. There have been times when I couldn’t remember where/when I saw a particular tip.

    1. Jeff Patterson says:

      You’re right, small is subjective. In general, the tips in this video can be used for any bathroom. We placed Tapcons about every 3 feet so that we could ‘connect’ them with the level, i.e. place the level on both Tapcons to see if the screw need to be raised of lowered.

      We could make tool videos and embed them at the end of this Module or elsewhere, wonder which would be best. We could always hyperlink the tool video link within the written instructions. But overall I agree that having a separate video about the tools and materials makes sense.

      We’ll keep the timestamps and likely add pictures that highlight specific tips. Thanks again for your awesome suggestions.

  4. Ken Bronson says:

    Great video! I would like to see a video on framing the walls of the bathroom (both wood and metal studs) and tips on laying out the bathroom.

    Also, many builders install plumbing rough-Ins when building new houses. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out why they placed pipe stubs where they did. Tips or suggestions on how you can deal with various plumbing stub locations when laying out and building a bathroom would be great.

    1. Jeff Patterson says:

      Thanks Ken, Steve and I are definitely going to get footage of how to plan and frame bathrooms. In general, make studs 16 inches on-center. This helps with backer boards, too. Builders could place pipe stubs because they’re planning for a specific tub or shower pan. The good news is modern shower pans can be cut to size to accommodate different drain locations, e.g. Schluter, Wedi, KBRS, etc.

  5. Edie Boyer says:

    Hello – thank you for allowing the opportunity to read and watch your tutorial! Please see below for my responses to the questions:

    1. What did you like and what did you dislike?
    ° having a step by step AND a video is beneficial. What I found was I would read the step by step first before viewing the video as it would help me know what to expect as I am watching. If I watch the video without any step by step, sometimes I would miss things or it would go too fast and I would need to go back and re-watch the step.
    ° providing a voice over helps in providing a important note.
    I didn’t have any dislikes with this video or the step by step instruction. It was very clear, appropriate pace, and easy to follow.

    2. Should we add pictures to clarify certain points?
    You do a great job adding a voice over in the video in clarifying certain points; perhaps adding some sort of a visual in the video at the same time (a note or whatever) would be helpful. Having said, this would probably be more beneficial than having a picture.

    3. Should we do a second video explaining tools and materials?
    No – my opinion is time would be better spent elsewhere as this would not be value added.

    4. Do you want a list of tools and materials, or links to them on Amazon?
    This would be helpful as it would provide a quick way to see what is needed or where to buy tools.

    5. Should we timestamp certain tips for easy reference in the video?
    It would probably be helpful but not necessary. If it is not too hard to add this piece, I would say yes.

    Edie Boyer

    1. Jeff Patterson says:

      Fantastic feedback Edie! Thank you for sharing how you viewed the written instructions first then the video. That highlights the importance of written tips, so we’ll continue to do that. Also, we continue with voiceover to clarify certain aspects in the video.

      Many folks requested links to Amazon, so we’ll add those for tools and materials. I like checking out items and find those links helpful but wanted to double check with folks. Finally, timestamps are easy and we’ll add those in the next Modules.

  6. Shaun Hicks says:

    For convenience, would be nice if you included a link to see next phase of self leveling process.

    1. Jeff Patterson says:

      Great suggestion Shaun, we’ll totally do that once the next Module is complete.

  7. Carolyn Sears says:

    I enjoyed your video and I do like that you provide a list of tools and materials. This is all extremely helpful because a lot of videos leave you wondering. What was that pink stuff…but you explain that. Great job.

    1. Jeff Patterson says:

      Thanks Carolyn, having a list of tools and materials is certainly helpful. It’s nice to have a reference point, and links to see the tools over on Amazon. So we’ll continue to add these lists.

  8. Mike says:

    Jeff, I just finished my basement bathroom project and I had to do similar floor leveling as the rough-in toilet was 1″ higher then the floor so before I built the walls in put wolmenized sill plate attached to the floor and instead of building a fence around the pre trap of the tub I used expanding spray foam in the hole to prevent the leveling compound from covering the pee trap, then I built the walls, then floor came out smooth and level enough that the tub didn’t need any shims to get it level, when I saw that you were going to make a video of basement bathroom build it confirmed that I went about the floor prep properly and this was my first ever bathroom build, now I’m in the process of remodeling the main bathroom following your video of the wedi shower project with bench like yours, now the project is at the point of installing the wedi boards, will keep you up on its progress…

    1. Jeff Patterson says:

      Awesome work Mike and great idea to use expanding foam around the P-Trap. Getting the floor level makes everything else easier to install, e.g. tub, toilet, vanity and shower pan. You’ll like Wedi, they make solid products. Just wish they were more affordable. Please keep us posted, we’d be happy to answer questions if you’re in a pinch.

  9. Aram Gerstein says:

    Good Video. You guys get better and better.
    1) What did you like and what did you dislike?
    I wish your videos started with a reference to what video or topic to look at before the current one (how we got here) and ended with a reference to what to watch next. You kind of do the latter but not the former.
    I liked the image quality and camera work. By being well lit and wide it was easy to see what was being done. I also like the smooth camera angles changes to show what is going on. Smooth and slow not jarring and chaotic.
    Steve was using a2x4 to check the floor, since his level was kind of short. That was a good trick that people might have missed.

    2) Should we add pictures to clarify certain points?
    In this video it does not seem necessary. You could show detail on the height of the screws and how the level reflects the difference but not required.

    3) Should we do a second video explaining tools and materials?
    It would be nice to have a collection of videos about tools, what they do and how to use them to refer to.

    3) Do you want a list of tools and materials, or links to them on Amazon?
    Yes, the list is important and the link would be handy.

    4) Should we timestamp certain tips for easy reference in the video?
    A pdf of all the steps with Screen Shots would be really great to have. I hate to have to scroll through a video when I am hot and dirty in a small bathroom job looking for reference. And eventually you guys can publish them all in a book and we will buy that too!

    1. Jeff Patterson says:

      Thanks Aram for the feedback on camera work. We’re constantly evaluating angles and camera performance to see how we can improve. You captured something that we rarely talk about, and that’s the art of videography while trying to convey the story of bathroom remodeling. Since we’re a two person team it’s easier for us to make changes and adapt according to the wants/needs of our fans. Your suggestions are very much appreciated.

      We’ll definitely explore videos on tools and materials – both make the process of renovation much easier. It’s fun to explore these concepts and share them.

      Would you want hardcopy book or do you think an eBook would suffice? Curious what you think.

      1. Aram Gerstein says:

        I’m a big fan of Hard copy. That way I can write in it and dog ear my favorite parts.
        Also, I don’t want to mess up up my ebook with dirty hands or drop a hammer on it.
        Hard copy is pretty much break proof!

        1. Jeff Patterson says:

          Good points Aram, we’ll have to consider hard copy. For now, it’s eBook just because of cost and we can edit the content on demand.

  10. A Allen says:

    Hello! Great video and instructions. My only original comment is that the list of Tools and Materials appears to cover both 01 Prep and 02 Pour. I recommend keeping the list specific to the individual instruction, or at least specifying that the list is for 01 and 02. I’d be likely to get extra of something because I would shop off of both lists. Thanks again and looking forward to more videos!

    1. Jeff Patterson says:

      Thanks Alicia, great suggestion. I’ll delete the items that aren’t relevant to each Module. Really appreciate your feedback and hope you like the next Module.

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