How to Level Plywood Floors: Quick and Simple Steps

Level floors are a crucial part of any home. They provide the stability and foundation for everything else to be built on. Figuring out how to level plywood floors can be challenging. To help, we’ll show how it is done with just a few simple tools that most homeowners have in their garages. This technique works on most hard surfaces including concrete, cinder block, cement board, drywall, and plaster walls.

First, you’ll need to remove all the high spots on your plywood floor. Then proceed by creating a flat surface on your floor. This can be done by placing your sub-flooring plywood on top of spare shims and heavy objects e.g. concrete along its edges to maintain a steady position when sawing. Cut through the plywood along your walls using a saw. Make sure to also cut any high spots created when using shims. Counter-check if your floor is completely flat by using a level/straight edge. Any uneven surface can be lowered using shims until the entire room is completely even.

What is a Plywood Floor?

A plywood floor is a sub-floor that is made of sheets of wood, known as plies. These layers are then glued together to create one solid piece underneath the finished surface such as tile or hardwoods.

What Are Uneven Plywood Subfloors?

An uneven plywood subfloors is a floor that has not been properly leveled before installation. This can be caused by several different factors such as an improper installation, settling of the foundation, or damage to the structure.

Why do I need to Level Plywood Floor?


Plywood flooring can last for decades, but how you install it is vital to how long the finished product will hold up. If your plywood isn’t flat and level before installing other materials on top of it, there are many problems that can arise including cracks in tile or wood floors, doors not closing properly due to high spots, and even squeaking.

RELATED: How to Level Subfloor for Vinyl Installation

What Causes Uneven Plywood Floor?

There are many reasons why your plywood may be uneven including the following:

  • The floor moved or settled. This can happen to any type of sub-floor but is especially common with plywood due to its composition and how it was installed. It can also result in having an unlevel piece of wood if one side has been sitting on the ground for an extended period of time.
  • The plywood was originally installed on a slant causing it to have high and low spots over the surface. This is especially common when installing plywood in bathrooms, hallways, or closets. This is due to plumbing pipes that may run underneath the sheeting, but can happen anywhere there is uneven flooring.
  • The plywood was not installed properly. This can happen if the person installing it did not pay attention to detail. Used the wrong nails or glue and/or had low-quality tools that caused damage or improper installation.

How to Diagnose an Uneven Plywood Floor

The first step to leveling plywood floors is finding where the problem areas are. One way of doing this is by using a straight edge or level and running it along the flooring. Check for high spots that can be adjusted down. Another trick you can use is called “feeling” which involves dragging the tips of your fingers across the floor, checking for areas that are higher than others.

Plywood Floors and Wood Beams

Another area to check is where plywood floors meet wood beams or joists above them as these can also cause high spots in the finished product. Commonly this occurs when there isn’t enough space between the sub-floor and beams for plywood to fit. If this is the case, there are two options you can use to resolve it:

Option one is removing some of the wood from your joists so that they sit lower than before allowing more room for plywood below them. Option two would be raising your subfloor up higher than your joists, allowing more room underneath for plywood to fit flush.

Tools You’ll Need

To finish leveling the sub-floor you will need simple tools that most homeowners have in their garage or workshop. These include a hammer, handsaw (or circular saw), straight edge/level, and wood shims which are thin wedges of wood that can be cut to the desired height.

How To Level Plywood Floors in Six Easy Steps


Step 1: The first step is to remove the high spots. This is done by placing a straight edge or level along your plywood flooring and using a hammer, tapping wood shims underneath it until you have reduced all of the high areas as much as possible. Make sure to check both sides of every wall if necessary.

Step 2: Once the high spots have been removed, it is time to create a flat surface. To achieve this you will need to place your sub-flooring plywood on top of some spare shims and put heavy objects such as concrete blocks or rocks along its edges so that they don’t move while sewing.

Step 3: Use a saw to cut the plywood along your walls. Start with one wall and line it up flush with the edge of your straightedge/level. Make sure that you are cutting through any high spots you may have created by using shims underneath. When finished this should create an even surface throughout your entire room allowing for easy installation of other materials.

Step 4: Make sure that your plywood is completely flat by checking for high spots along the edges with a level/straight edge, then use shims to lower them down until you have achieved an even surface throughout your room. You can also “feel” where any ridges may exist by dragging the tips of your fingers across it.

Step 5: You can now install other materials such as tile, hardwood, or carpet over this flat plywood surface without any fear of having to re-level in the future due to shifting and cracking. If you are installing expensive flooring like marble or travertine, consider using plywood with a tongue and groove system that locks together for added stability.

Step 6: To prevent future problems, try not to let your subflooring materials sit completely flat on the ground or they could warp over time causing an uneven surface once again. If this does happen due to moisture damage from a flood, for example, you can again use a hammer and level to tap out any high spots as needed.

RELATED: How to Level Subfloor for Hardwood in Easy Steps

How to Level Plywood Subfloor for Vinyl Plank

If you are installing a luxury vinyl plank (LVP) floor, the process is similar to that of hardwood except you will not need to use shims since LVP can be installed directly over an existing subfloor. The main difference is in the type of adhesive you use since LVP is a floating floor and needs to be able to expand and contract with temperature changes.

Tools You’ll need

  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Plywood
  • Adhesive
  • Tape measure
  • Circular saw
  • Luxury vinyl plank flooring
  • (optional) Shims

Step 1: Start by nailing down any loose plywood sheets to the subfloor. If there are any large gaps, you can use smaller pieces of plywood to fill them in.

Step 2: Once all of the plywood is secure, measure and cut your LVP flooring to size using a circular saw. If you need to make any intricate cuts, you can use a jigsaw.

Step 3: Once the LVP is cut to size, it’s time to start installing it. Begin in a corner of the room and apply adhesive to the subfloor according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 4: Place the LVP plank down and press it into the adhesive. Continue this process until the entire floor is covered.

Step 5: If you notice any gaps between the LVP and the subfloor, you can use shims to fill them in. This will help to create a seamless look.

Step 6: Once the entire floor is installed, allow the adhesive to dry completely according to the manufacturer’s instructions before walking on it.

Safety Considerations

Although this is a simple method, there are some things to keep in mind when leveling plywood floors. Ensure you have the proper safety gear including gloves and eye protection while operating power tools. Second, always read your manufacturer’s instructions for any additional tips that may be specific to their products. Third, be sure to read all safety labels on the tools you are using.

Can I Do it Myself?

Yes, leveling plywood floor is relatively easy and can save both time and money when compared to hiring a contractor. To get started on this project yourself just follow these simple steps outlined above.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to level a sloping floor with plywood?

If your floor is sloping, you will need to use shims to level it out. Place the shims underneath the plywood sheets and tap them into place with a hammer until the floor is level.

How do I make my plywood subfloor smoother?

If your plywood subfloor is not smooth, you can use a sander to sand down any high spots. Be sure to sand evenly to avoid creating an uneven surface.

How do I level a plywood subfloor for tile?

The process for leveling a plywood subfloor for tile is the same as that of hardwood. Begin by nailing down any loose plywood sheets and then use a hammer and level to tap out any high spots. Once the floor is level, you can proceed with installing your tile.

How to level plywood subfloor for laminate?

The process of leveling a plywood subfloor for laminate is similar to that of hardwood and tile. Begin by nailing down any loose plywood sheets and then use a hammer and level to tap out any high spots. Once the floor is level, you can proceed with installing your laminate.

How much does it cost to level a plywood subfloor?

The cost of leveling a plywood subfloor will vary depending on the size of the area and the number of sheets of plywood you need to level. Generally, you can expect to pay between $50 and $100 for this project.

How long does it take to level a plywood subfloor?

The amount of time it takes to level a plywood subfloor will depend on the size of the area and the number of sheets of plywood you need to level. Generally, you can expect the project to take between 1 and 2 hours.

Can I use floor leveler on plywood?

Yes, you can use floor leveler on plywood to create a smooth surface. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for best results.

Can I put plywood over uneven floor?

Yes, you can put plywood over an uneven floor to level it out. Be sure to use shims in order to create a level surface.

How do I make my plywood floors look nicer?

There are a few things you can do to make your plywood floors look nicer. First, you can paint or stain the plywood to give it a finished look. Second, you can install floor molding around the edges of the room to cover up any exposed plywood. Third, you can lay down a rug or carpet to help hide any imperfections in the surface.


By using the steps outlined above on how to level plywood floors, you will save yourself time and money. You will also avoid having an uneven surface that would need repaired or replacement.

Now that we have shown how simple it is to level plywood floors yourself, what are you waiting for?

RELATED: How to Install a Plywood Subfloor