Should homeowners be concerned when their floors feel more like ramps than level and safe surfaces? In most cases, sagging floors aren’t a serious problem. In fact, uneven floors in old houses are almost expected. But that doesn’t mean homeowners need to just accept a sloping surface as suitable flooring.
While repairs to sagging floors are often necessary, they tend to be simple in nature and more affordable than most other types of home improvement projects.
According to HomeAdvisor, homeowners can expect to pay between $300 and $6,500 to repair a sloping floor in their home. But determining an accurate sagging floor repair cost depends on the main cause. Dips or slopes in floors can be caused by wood rot, undersized beams, or problems with the home’s foundation.
Some causes of sloping floors are more serious than others. But they all have one thing in common: They shouldn’t be ignored for long in order to prevent more serious structural issues from developing.
This guide will cover the causes and dangers of sagging floors; how much repairs cost by type; and how to save on sagging floor repair cost without compromising the structural integrity of a home.
Is your floor sagging?
Maybe it’s time to call a flooring expert. Get free, no-commitment project estimates from services near you.
Factors in Calculating Sagging Floor Repair Cost
Sagging floor repair costs vary and are dependent on a number of factors. The underlying problem, existing floor material, and floor size all play a role in determining how much a homeowner will need to budget for a sagging floor repair. The following factors are the most likely to be determinants in nearly every sagging floor repair project.
Repair type may be the factor that has the greatest influence on sagging floor repair cost. There are many reasons a floor might sag, including damage to the subfloor, rotting joists, foundational issues, or water or termite damage. In some cases, there could be more than one cause, which could result in multiple repairs.
Fixing a sagging floor can be as affordable as $300 or as much as $6,500. Knowing where a repair type falls within that price range is the best way for a homeowner to estimate the cost of a sagging floor repair. For example, a damaged subfloor has a repair cost range of $300 to $2,500. Repairing rotting joists costs between $1,000 and $5,000, while foundational issues are typically the most expensive type of repair, with an average cost between $1,800 and $6,500.
When it comes to fixing a sinking floor, the material it’s made from has a large impact on the repair cost. Depending on the material, homeowners can expect to pay between $130 and $2,300 for repairs or between $800 and $10,000 for a replacement. Reusing flooring materials is one way to save on sagging floor repair cost, but this isn’t always possible. And if a homeowner has room in their budget, updating a floor at the same time supportive structural elements are being repaired can save time and money in the long run.
Carpet repairs cost between $130 and $300. But if sloping floors are due to water damage, carpet may need to be replaced at a cost between $800 and $2,800.
Laminate flooring that needs to be replaced can cost between $1,500 and $4,600. Repairs can be as low as $350 if the flooring can be saved. Tile that’s damaged will need to be replaced almost without exception, and this cost can range between $900 and $3,000.
During the repair of a sloping floor, vinyl flooring is often ripped. Repairs run from $300 to $1,850, while vinyl floor replacement costs between $950 and $3,650. Hardwood can be the most expensive type of flooring to replace; a new hardwood floor costs between $2,500 and $6,800.
Floor size plays an important role in determining sagging floor repair cost. Generally speaking, the larger the affected area, the more it will cost to repair. Since fixing a sagging floor can be as affordable as $300 or as expensive as $6,500, knowing the square footage in need of repair can be one of the best ways to establish a budget.
On average, homeowners can expect to pay around $300 per square foot when repairing a sagging floor. However, the extent of the damage, materials needed, and repair type also influence the final cost.
Floor Location and Accessibility
Floors in different rooms have different repair price points. For example, a bathroom floor between 35 and 75 square feet will cost between $350 and $2,000 to repair. A mudroom measuring approximately the same size has a similar repair range between $400 and $2,000.
Foyers and kitchens have floor spaces that are typically larger than those of a bathroom or mudroom, and this alone makes them more expensive to repair. Sagging flooring in foyers and kitchens has a repair cost range of $500 to $6,000.
Finally, living room floors tend to have the highest repair price. This is partially due to their size, averaging between 300 and 400 square feet. When repairing a living room floor, a homeowner can expect to pay between $900 and $10,000.
Accessibility also influences sagging floor repair cost. Generally speaking, the easier a repair area is to access, the lower the cost (and vice versa).
When it comes to sagging floor repairs, labor tends to be the bulk of the repair cost. This is often because there may be materials leftover from the initial flooring installation or low-cost items are all that’s needed to complete the job.
A sagging floor is no joke
Maybe it’s time to call a flooring expert. Get free, no-commitment project estimates from services near you.
For small repairs, a contractor may charge a flat rate to ensure they’re fairly compensated for their time. For example, repairing a single tile or plank costs between $100 and $250. However, a sagging floor repair typically involves much more work than a single tile repair. For most sagging floor repairs, homeowners can expect to pay either an hourly labor charge or by the square foot.
The pricing method a contractor uses is likely dependent on the type of flooring and repair. Labor charges for sagging floor repairs vary from $25 to $100 per hour or $15 to $50 per square foot.
Additional Costs and Considerations
There are additional factors or components that homeowners will want to consider when calculating sagging floor repair cost. Not all repair jobs will incur the following potential costs, but knowing they could pop up during a repair can help prevent budget-busting surprises.
Repair vs. Replacement
In some cases, it’s obvious that a floor replacement is the only option. But in some flooring scenarios, a repair may be possible. By saving and reusing materials, the cost to repair a floor can be lower than the cost of a replacement. Flooring installation costs depend on the type of flooring and location, as well as other factors.
For example, repairing a subfloor can cost as little as $1.50 per square foot, while replacement can cost as much as $12 per square foot. Repairing a floor joist costs between $200 and $500, while replacing one can cost as much as $2,000 per joist.
There are times, though, when the answer isn’t obvious, leaving a homeowner to wonder whether repair or replacement is the better financial option. Repairing sagging flooring can cost as much as $16 per square foot, but replacing it altogether can cost less, starting at only $5 per square foot. Generally speaking, if repair costs exceed 50 percent of replacement costs, a replacement is likely the best value.
If a sloping floor has an underlying cause like a weakened subfloor or damaged joist, the floor should be level once the repair is made. But in some cases, a repair alone isn’t enough or the main issue behind a sloping floor is simply that it wasn’t installed properly.
The cost to level a floor is often quite affordable, starting at $50 for a DIY homeowner who is familiar with leveling a floor. Self-leveler, a type of concrete underlayment that creates a flat and level surface with minimal intervention, costs between $0.50 and $1.50 per pound.
But if there are more than just a couple of minor low spots, self-leveling won’t be enough. Instead, hiring a flooring repair contractor may be the better option, especially when it comes to leveling floors in old houses. Homeowners can expect to pay between $2 and $30 per square foot of professional floor leveling, depending on the required approach.
Structural Engineer Fees
Structural engineers deal with the framework of structures, including residential homes. When it comes to sagging floors, a structural engineer can investigate and determine the most effective repair route to regain a home’s structural integrity.
Hiring a structural engineer can cost anywhere from $343 to $724, depending on the extent of the job and how the structural engineer charges for their services. They may charge by the project, by the hour, or by the square foot. For most inspections, though, homeowners can expect to pay a flat fee.
Building permits are issued by local municipalities. They allow a homeowner or contractor to proceed with a repair, remodel, or installation project. Permits ensure that projects comply with local standards for the safety of both the current and future homeowners of the property.
Permit requirements vary by location, and not every type of sagging floor repair requires a permit. But for structural changes, such as sistering floor joists (fastening a second joist to a damaged floor joist for reinforcement), a permit is likely required.
Building permits can cost anywhere from $50 to $2,000, depending on the project. Homeowners will want to confirm whether a permit is needed before beginning a sagging floor repair to avoid potential fines.
Types of Sagging Floor Repair
When it comes to determining an expected sagging floor repair cost, knowing the type of repair is crucial. Each repair type has its own unique list of materials, average labor hours, and process. Some sagging floors may need one specific type of repair, while others require two or more. What follows are some of the most common ways to fix a floor and their associated costs.
A home’s foundation keeps the home level. It also keeps moisture out while retaining warmth. With time, foundation issues can develop, such as cracks, settling, or sagging and uneven floors. The good news is that foundation issues are often less daunting than homeowners may believe they are. In most scenarios, including in the case of a sagging floor, foundation issues are fixable.
If foundational issues are the root cause of a sagging floor, a homeowner can expect to pay between $1,800 and $6,500 for repairs. However, foundational issues can be extreme in some, albeit rare, cases. If a structural engineer finds a home to have serious structural issues, the cost of foundation repairs can be as much as $20,000.
Floor Joist Repair
Floor joists are horizontal structural members. They span open spaces, typically between beams, which consequently transfers weight to vertical structural members. Joists are a crucial part of a home’s flooring system, as they carry the weight of everything inside a room. This includes the walls, furniture, appliances, and even the people. Over time, floor joists can weaken and shift. If exposed to moisture or consistent humidity, floor joists can begin to rot. Without the support of strong floor joists, a floor can begin to dip or sag.
Joists are typically beneath multiple layers of flooring, making them more expensive to repair since they require more labor hours to access. Sagging floor joist repair often requires professional tools and knowledge, so it’s not a recommended DIY job. Homeowners can expect to pay between $1,000 and $5,000 for joist repair to fix a sagging floor and restore a home’s structural integrity.
Sill Plate Repair
A sill plate is a structural element directly above the top of a home’s concrete foundation. Also referred to as a mudsill, a sill plate is a board that anchors the floor and the rest of the house to the foundation. If a home’s floor begins to slope toward an outer wall but the foundation has not moved, this likely indicates that the sill plate is compromised or damaged. This often requires a replacement or repair.
A sill plate repair involves installing jacks to temporarily hold up the floor joists. Then, the damaged sill is either removed and replaced or repaired. The average cost for sill plate repairs is $95 to $100 per linear foot.
This is a job for a flooring expert
Get free, no-commitment project estimates from services near you.
Band Board or Rim Joist Repair
Band boards, also known as rim joists, are treated boards placed around the outside of a home. They’re installed behind the home’s exterior material and cover the seam where the foundation and sill plate meet. They protect the ends of the floor joists while supporting a home’s outside walls. Unfortunately, since band boards come in contact with the foundation, sill plate, and the outside elements, wood rot is a common issue. This is especially true in humid climates.
Replacing a band board is never the ideal approach. This is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process that requires excavating around the perimeter of the home for access. Instead, similar to floor joists, rim joists are best repaired through sistering. Homeowners can expect to pay between $38 and $42 per foot when sistering a band board.
Center Beam Repair
Sagging floors that slope toward the center of a home often indicate an issue with the center beam. If a homeowner suspects that their home’s center beam is compromised, an inspection is the best way to determine the appropriate repair, since center beams can fail for different reasons.
One reason is that a beam’s shim may need to be replaced. If the beam was crooked at installation, a builder may have used a shim to even it out. Over time, shims can compress and require replacement. Replacing a shim costs about $100 per column. If a center beam needs to be entirely replaced, a homeowner can expect to pay between $240 and $260 per foot.
Support Column Repair
In some instances of sagging floors, support column damage is to blame. Support columns sit under the center beam of a home. If they crack or break, they can no longer offer the appropriate amount of support, and a home’s floors can begin to slope as a result.
Cracked or broken support columns are common in older homes that have been remodeled. Remodels often introduce heavier materials to a home, like granite countertops or additional appliances. All of that additional weight adds up and can eventually be too much for a support column to handle. To fix a compromised support column, steel jacks are typically installed for additional support. Installation costs between $500 and $550 per jack.
A subfloor is the solid material that’s placed before a floor covering like carpet or tile. A subfloor is attached to a home’s floor joists and serves as a base for finished flooring. It’s typically made of plywood, though some subfloors are made of oriented strand board panels. Most subfloor materials can last for the lifespan of a home. But in some cases, subfloors need to be replaced after 20 or 30 years, especially if they’ve been exposed to moisture. When a subfloor starts to creak and the nearby floors are uneven, sunken, or sagging, it’s likely time for a replacement.
Repairing a damaged subfloor has a typical price range of $300 to $2,500. The cost to replace a subfloor will heavily depend on how much needs to be repaired and the type of flooring on top of it.
Water Damage Repair
Severe water damage can cause a home’s floors to warp or shift. This is common after widespread flooding from a natural disaster or a major plumbing leak. The best way to repair sloping floors from water damage is to prevent it from happening in the first place. This involves replacing a floor’s subflooring as soon as it’s been compromised by water.
However, if the water damage went undetected for too long, a repair of the entire affected area is the only option. The average water damage floor repair cost is between $2,000 and $6,000.
Termite Damage Repair
Termites are insects that feed on wood. These pests are a serious threat to the home and need to be addressed quickly once discovered. While termites themselves aren’t harmless to humans, they can cause serious damage to the structure of a home. Unfortunately, termites can do major damage to a home before residents even realize they’re there. Depending on the size of the colony, termites can cause structural damage for 3 to 5 years before being detected.
It costs between $250 and $2,000 to remove termites. Homeowners will want to keep in mind that this is just the cost of removal; repairs to damaged floor joists or subfloors are an additional potential cost.
Do I Need Sagging Floor Repair?
Sagging floors are much more than a cosmetic issue. If left untreated, sagging floors can lead to serious consequences in a home that can leave it uninhabitable. When it comes to sagging floors, old houses seem to fall victim more than new construction. The following are some common signs that sagging floor repair companies look for when evaluating a home for sagging floors.
Gaps Between Floor and Baseboard
Gaps between the floor and baseboards are more than just a cosmetic issue; they can be a source of heat loss and provide an ideal living space for pests and insects. Sometimes gaps can be caused by a minor issue, such as a poorly cut baseboard, or they can signal a serious structural problem. In some cases, the answer falls somewhere in between.
Depending on the flooring material, type of subflooring, and architectural layout of a home, uneven floors can be expected to a certain degree. Therefore, a gap beneath a baseboard can be a normal occurrence. Gaps can also pop out when carpet is swapped for hardwoods, or the problem can be the result of poor design or craftsmanship.
If there are no obvious reasons for a gap, such as swapped-out flooring materials or a poorly cut edge, and there are other signs of a sagging floor, homeowners will want to call a professional to inspect the area.
Uneven or Tilting Floor
A sagging floor isn’t always obvious. But in severe cases, a homeowner may be able to tell they have sagging floors simply by looking at them from an angle. If a visual inspection reveals floors that are sloped or tilted, it’s time for the homeowner to call a structural engineer right away.
Visual slopes tend to point to foundation problems, which is why an inspection shouldn’t be put off for long. For the homeowner who suspects sloping floors but can’t visually confirm, placing a marble or ball on the highest point of the suspected slope and seeing if it rolls is a simple yet effective test.
Floors are designed to be a stable walking surface, so when they start to bounce, it’s a sign that something is amiss. It can be difficult to detect a slight bouncing sensation in a floor at first. But wth time, the bouncing will only get worse.
If a homeowner is not sure whether the floor is bouncing, they’ll want to listen for any creaks. Creaking is rare for new flooring, but it often develops as the floor ages. While this may not be as concerning with wood floors, creaking is very concerning with laminate, carpet, or vinyl flooring as it signals joist movement. It’s advised that homeowners call a professional to inspect a bouncing or creaking floor.
Cracking or Crumbling Foundation
Foundations help insulate a home and keep it level. So when a foundation begins to fail, which can happen due to poor soil conditions, serious plumbing leaks, or drainage issues, sagging floors can be a side effect. If a homeowner notices a cracked, compromised, or crumbling foundation, it may be time to call in a professional to inspect not just the foundation but also the home’s other structures, including the flooring.
Signs of foundation issues include sagging or buckling foundation walls, crumbling or flaking concrete, or pooling water. Mold growth and jagged cracks are also signs of a damaged foundation, all which can lead to sagging floors as the foundation is unable to provide a level base.
Call an expert ASAP. Get free, no-commitment project estimates from services near you.
Cracking, Buckling, or Crumbling Interior Walls
Settling is normal and expected in a home. While this can lead to the occasional hairline crack, serious cracks, buckling, or even crumbling in a home’s interior walls can suggest a sagging foundation. As the foundation worsens, floors can quickly begin to sag.
If a homeowner notices cracks or crumbling inside their home, especially in the upper portion of the walls, it may be time for the homeowner to look for other signs of sagging floors or call in a professional for an inspection. This is especially true if the cracks are horizontal or running at a jagged angle. As a general rule of thumb, any crack that runs at a 45-degree angle or less will need to be checked by a professional.
Poorly Fitting Windows or Doors
Sometimes poorly fitting windows or doors are due to poor installation; sometimes, though, they’re a sign of sagging floors. This sign is usually paired with bowing walls as a result of foundation damage or instability.
Sagging floors add additional strain on door and window frames. So if a home’s windows and doors are suddenly more difficult to open, the next step for a homeowner is to examine the area for other signs of a sagging floor. The good news is that poorly fitting windows and doors aren’t always a sign of foundational or flooring issues. The issue is sometimes caused from warping or frame expansion due to seasonal changes, including temperature and humidity.
Sagging Floor Repair: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
While some experienced homeowners may be able to make minor sagging floor repairs on their own, many choose to hire a contractor for the project. There are several things homeowners need to know before deciding whether they are able to tackle a sagging floor repair on their own.
The first thing to consider is an inspection. Without a professional inspection, it can be difficult for a homeowner to know the true cause of their sagging floor and the best repair approach. Inspections cost between $300 and $500, so it’s understandable that a homeowner would want to eliminate this additional cost by simply inspecting the sagging area themselves. But because there are many structural issues to consider, such as rot, mold, and undersized joints, among others, having the insight from an experienced flooring inspector can make all the difference in the success of a floor repair project.
When it comes to DIY sagging floor repair, sistering is the most common repair process homeowners feel comfortable enough to take on themselves. The job involves adhering and nailing new joists to any damaged ones, and a hydraulic jack is often required to level the space. Materials for this approach cost between $100 and $300. If there are plumbing pipes, electrical wires, or other obstructions that make it difficult or dangerous to access a damaged joist, it’s recommended for homeowners to hire a contractor for the repair. The same advice applies to homeowners who don’t have the proper tools or knowledge to fix sagging floors on their own.
Hiring a professional contractor adds expense to the project, which can deter homeowners from reaching out to a pro and may lead to them tackling their own sagging floor repair. Sometimes a DIY repair is affordable and possible for a homeowner. But once the repair process requires tools or experience that a homeowner doesn’t have, it’s best to call in a professional.
How to Save Money on Sagging Floor Repair Cost
Depending on the cause, sagging floor repair can be an affordable fix or a costly budget buster. Luckily, there are several ways to save money on sagging floor repairs, no matter the repair type.
Get multiple quotes. Avoid going with the first sagging floor repair cost quote you receive. Instead, obtain multiple quotes from several different contractors. This provides confirmation that the right repair is being completed while ensuring the most experienced and fair-priced contractor is hired.
DIY when possible. While most sagging floor repairs require the experience of a professional, homeowners can minimize repair costs by tackling some of the easier steps of the process, like removing tile or handling cleanup.
Weigh repair vs. replacement. While a repair may seem like the more affordable option, consider a total floor replacement if sagging floors are a persistent issue. It’s more cash up front, but it can save money in the long run.
Save on materials. When replacing a floor material after fixing a sagging floor, consider multiple flooring options. The ability to save money on structural support materials is more difficult than saving money on required yet more cosmetic materials like tile or vinyl planks.
Don’t skimp on inspections. Expensive surprise repairs can make it difficult to stay on budget and impossible to save money on a sagging floor repair bill. By investing in a thorough inspection, you can rest easy knowing that a contractor’s estimate is accurate.
Questions to Ask About Sagging Floor Repair
Repairing a sagging floor isn’t a job a homeowner wants to pay for twice. Therefore, finding the best contractor for the job is important, albeit not always easy. Homeowners searching for the best flooring companies to fix a sagging floor will want to ask relevant qualifying questions to narrow down a list of potential candidates.
How long have you been in business?
Are you licensed and insured?
Do you recommend sagging floor repair, or do I have other options?
Do you know how to fix sagging floors in crawl spaces?
Have you completed similar jobs in the past?
Do you have any references I can speak with?
Do you offer free quotes?
What is included in the quote?
How do you handle surprise repairs not included in the original quote?
How soon can you start the repair?
How long will the repair take?
Will you complete the work yourself or with a team?
How are your employees trained?
Do you hire subcontractors?
Do you require a down payment?
What are your payment requirements before, during, and after a job?
Do you secure any necessary permits and set up any required inspections?
How do I get in touch with you during the job?
Do I need to remove any items from the work area?
Do I need to be home during the project?
What are the approximate start and end times for a construction day?
How do you handle disputes?
What type of long-term maintenance do you recommend?
Do you offer a warranty for your service or any of the materials?
If a home’s floors are sagging enough that they start to resemble a carnival fun house, it’s time to schedule a repair with an experienced contractor. The following FAQs provide brief yet thorough answers to some of the top questions homeowners have about sagging floor repair costs and procedures.
Q. What are the signs of a sagging floor?
Indicators of a sagging floor include a cracked or crumbling foundation, cracks in a home’s inside walls and corners, windows and doors that fit either too loose or too tight, and an obvious slope felt in a certain room or location in a home where the sagging floor is suspected.
Q. How much floor sag is acceptable?
Most floors are not perfectly level. This is typical as homes settle, and wear and tear sets in. But as a slope progresses, it can reach an unacceptable level. Many contractors will say that a floor sloping 1 inch or less over 20 feet is acceptable. But once a floor starts to sag more than an inch over a span of 20 feet, a repair is likely required sooner than later. A floor sloping 2 or 3 inches over a span of 20 feet would be very concerning and would likely require immediate repairs.
Q. Who should I hire to repair my sagging floor?
Hiring a structural engineer to diagnose the cause of a sagging floor is a wise approach. They’ll be able to find the root cause of the problem and, since they’re not completing the repair themselves, there’s no conflict of interest to worry about. Once the issue has been diagnosed, a contractor can be hired to carry out the actual repair.
Q. How do you fix sagging floors?
There are several approaches one can take to fixing a sagging floor. Self-leveling underlayment can correct slight sags and dips without much construction work. Sistering floor joints is another common approach, along with propping up any affected joists. Laying down new hardwood over a sagging floor is another repair approach, though this isn’t beneficial if the floors are uneven due to a structural issue.
Q. How long will it take to fix a sagging floor?
While a sagging floor can be fixed, it’s not always a fast process. Depending on the approach, it can take several months to properly level a floor. A common repair approach is jacking, which must be done slowly. Once the posts and necessary beams for jacking are set up, the jacks can only be screwed up a turn or two each month. Depending on the severity of the slope, it can take several months for the repair to be complete.
Q. Are sagging floors dangerous?
They can be. Depending on the cause, sagging floors can lead to injury, property loss, or serious disaster. Sagging floors should never be ignored, even if they seem to be within the acceptable level of slope. A quick inspection by a professional can let a homeowner know if their floors are dangerous or not.