Screeding a concrete floor is literally a foundational aspect of the construction industry. It is widely employed to create a smooth and level surface for various flooring materials. Be it tiles, hardwood, vinyl, or any other type of flooring, screeding means a flawless finish. However, this task needs absolute caution and expertise to achieve optimal results.
Prior experience and the use of correct tools are paramount when it comes to floor screed. It is not a task that novices can haphazardly undertake. A trained professional with knowledge of the techniques involved can assess the substrate and apply the appropriate thickness. Additionally, having access to the right tools, such as a screed board, a straightedge, and a trowel, is crucial for accurate application and a smooth, even surface.
Preparing a Concrete Floor for Screeding
Importance of proper preparation
It sets the basis for a successful installation and locks in the quality of the finished surface. Neglecting or rushing through the preparation stage can lead to unevenness, cracking, and poor adhesion of the screed. Moreover, taking the time to thoroughly prepare the floor will yield superior results and minimize the risk of future problems.
Measuring the floor area
Calculate the dimensions of the space to determine the amount of screed required. Measuring the floor area allows for precise estimation of materials, so you have the right quantity of screed to achieve results. Having precise measurements also helps in planning the project’s logistics, including scheduling and budgeting.
Reinforcing or bonding the layer
If using an unbonded screed, reinforcing the layer with a steel mesh or fibres helps its strength and structural integrity. On the other hand, if opting for bonded screed, the underlying substrate needs to be prepared by exposing the aggregate and applying a bonding agent. Besides, this prevents delamination.
Cleaning the surface
Remove contaminants that could hinder proper bonding between the screed and the substrate.
Ensuring a watertight site
Moreover, moisture can compromise the integrity of the screed, leading to issues such as warping, cracking, or mould growth. Address any potential sources of water infiltration, such as leaks or inadequate waterproofing measures, before proceeding with the screeding process. This may include:
- Conducting moisture tests
- Repairing leaks
- Also, apply appropriate waterproofing membranes or coatings to create a watertight environment.
Mixing screed for concrete floors
The process typically involves combining cement, sand, and water to create a workable mixture. In some cases, polypropylene fibres may be added to the mix to reduce the development of micro-cracks over time. Additionally, the proportions and consistency of the mix calls for careful attention, following manufacturer guidelines.
Step-by-Step Guide on How to Screed a Floor
Dividing the floor area
Dividing means a systematic approach and allows for better control over each section of the floor. You can focus on one section at a time.
Applying the first layer of screed
Once the floor area is divided, it’s time to apply the first layer of screed. This initial layer acts as a base for the subsequent layers and helps create a level surface. Further, the mixture is poured onto the prepared floor area and spread evenly using a screed board or a trowel. Workers should be diligent in achieving a consistent thickness and a smooth finish.
Levelling the floor with screed
Besides, use a straightedge or a screed bar to distribute the screed evenly across the concrete floor surface. Remove any excess screed by moving the straightedge in a back-and-forth motion, and you’ll fill low spots too. The goal is to achieve a flat, even surface.
There are two main types of screeds:
As the name suggests, they automatically level themselves, spreading out and filling in any low spots. They are generally easier to work with.
They require manual levelling, as they do not flow and settle independently. They need more attention and skill to achieve a level surface.
Repeating the process for the entire floor
Treat each section as a separate entity. Now, it is crucial to maintain a uniform thickness and levelness across the entire floor to achieve a professional result. Taking the time and care to repeat the process for each section will contribute to a cohesive finished floor.
Floating the screed to remove imperfections
Floating would need to use a float or a trowel to smooth out any imperfections and create a refined finish. Moreover, the floating process helps to eliminate any ridges, bumps, or uneven areas that may have been left behind during the initial levelling stage.
Curing & Drying the Screeding On Concrete Floor
The curing period can vary depending on factors such as the type of screed used, ambient temperature, and humidity levels. Proper curing techniques are really important for the strength of the screeded floor. This means covering the screed with a protective layer, such as polythene sheeting or curing compounds, to prevent moisture loss.
While curing focuses on the chemical and physical changes occurring within the screed, drying refers to the evaporation of excess moisture from the surface. Further, this crucial step leads to avoiding moisture-related issues and preparing the floor for subsequent finishes.
Estimating the Cost of Screeding a Floor
- Keep the following factors in mind:
- Size of the floor area
- The type of screed being used
- The complexity of the project
- Any additional requirements
To obtain a quick quote for screeding services, you can reach out to contractors or suppliers specializing in floor screeding. Also, many offer online quote request forms on their websites, making it convenient to submit your project details and receive a preliminary cost estimate.
Providing accurate information about the floor area, screed type, desired thickness, and any specific requirements will enable the professionals to provide a more precise quote.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I Need to Screed a Concrete Floor?
Screeding is often recommended to achieve a level surface, rectify any imperfections, or provide a smooth base for further flooring installations. It is particularly beneficial when dealing with uneven or rough concrete surfaces. However, the decision to screed a concrete floor ultimately depends on the project’s specific requirements.
How to Make Screed?
The regular sand and cement one usually consists of a 1:3 to 1:4 ratio of cement to sand mixed with water to achieve the desired consistency.
What Is the Difference Between Self-Leveling and Screed?
Self-levelling screed and traditional screed differ primarily in their application and levelling properties. Self-levelling screed has a thinner consistency and is generally used to create a smooth and level finish over concrete or existing floors. Traditional screed, on the other hand, is manually applied and demands more effort to accomplish a level surface.
What Is the Minimum Thickness of a Screed?
Traditional sand and cement screeds typically have a minimum thickness of around 25-40mm (1-1.5 inches).
What Is the Best Mix for Screed?
Traditional sand and cement screeds have mix ratios ranging from 1:3 to 1:6 (cement to sand). Nevertheless, other types of screeds, such as polymer-modified or fibre-reinforced screeds, may have different mix requirements.
Having the right professionals by your side can make all the difference. For further information, guidance, or to request a quote, reach out to Pro-Mix Concrete, the leading supplier in the industry. With their extensive expertise and top-quality products, they can provide valuable insights and support throughout your screeding project.
Moreover, we can answer any questions you may have, address your concerns, and provide you with accurate and personalized recommendations tailored to your unique project needs.