When it comes to flooring installations, screed plays a vital role in achieving a level, smooth, and durable surface. Screed acts as a base for the final floor covering, providing stability, insulation, and a level substrate. Whether you’re working on a residential, commercial, or industrial project, understanding the process and importance of screed installation is essential. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore everything you need to know about screed installation, from its purpose and types to the step-by-step installation process and tips for achieving the best results.

Understanding Screed

Screed is a thin layer of material applied over a concrete or subfloor to create a level and smooth surface for the final floor covering. It acts as a protective layer, improving the structural integrity of the floor and enhancing its performance. Screed can be composed of various materials, such as sand and cement, self-leveling compounds, or synthetic resins, depending on the specific requirements of the project.

Types of Screed

There are different types of screed available, each suited for specific applications and project requirements:

  • Traditional Screed:
    Traditional screed, also known as sand and cement screed, is a mixture of sand, cement, and water. It is commonly used in residential and commercial projects and provides a robust and cost-effective solution.
  • Self-Levelling Screed:
    Self-leveling screed is a pre-mixed material that spreads and levels itself without the need for extensive manual intervention. It is ideal for large areas, uneven substrates, or when a high level of flatness is required.
  • Fast-Drying Screed:
    Fast-drying screed is designed to accelerate the drying time, allowing for quicker installation of floor coverings. This type of screed is beneficial when time constraints are a factor.
  • Polymer-Modified Screed:
    Polymer-modified screed incorporates polymer additives to enhance its performance characteristics, such as flexibility, strength, and resistance to cracking. It is commonly used in areas where additional durability is required, such as industrial or high-traffic environments.The Screed Installation Process

The installation process of screed involves several crucial steps to ensure a successful outcome:

  • Substrate Preparation:
    Before applying screed, the substrate must be clean, dry, and free from any debris, oils, or loose particles. It is essential to assess and address any structural or moisture-related issues to prevent future problems.
  • Moisture Barrier:
    Depending on the project and site conditions, a moisture barrier may be necessary to prevent moisture migration from the substrate to the screed. This is particularly important for areas exposed to moisture, such as bathrooms for basements.
  • Edge Preparation:
    Proper edge preparation is essential to ensure a well-bonded and stable screed. Installing edge insulation strips or applying a bonding agent along the edges helps prevent screed shrinkage and ensures a smooth transition between the screed and the surrounding structures.
  • Mixing and Application:
    The screed mixture is prepared according to the manufacturer’s instructions, taking into account the required consistency and curing time. The screed is then poured onto the substrate and spread evenly using screed bars or a power screed. It is important to work quickly and efficiently to ensure a consistent thickness and avoid any unevenness.
  • Leveling and Finishing:
    Once the screed is spread, it needs to be leveled using a straightedge or a screed board. This process helps remove any excess material and ensures an even surface. If necessary, smoothing and finishing techniques can be applied to achieve the desired texture or surface finish.
  • Curing and Drying:
    After screed installation, it is crucial to allow sufficient time for curing and drying. This period may vary depending on the type of screed used and environmental conditions. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines regarding curing time and environmental requirements to avoid premature foot traffic or floor covering installation.Tips for Achieving the Best Results

To achieve the best results with screed installation, consider the following tips:

  • Proper Planning and Preparation:
    Thoroughly assess the project requirements, substrate conditions, and any specific challenges before commencing the installation. Adequate preparation will ensure a smoother process and minimize potential issues.
  • Professional Expertise:
    For complex or large-scale projects, it is advisable to seek professional expertise. Experienced contractors can provide valuable insights, recommend suitable screed types, and ensure proper installation techniques.
  • Adhering to Manufacturer Guidelines:
    Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations regarding mixing ratios, curing times, and drying conditions. This will help maintain the integrity and performance of the screed.
  • Quality Materials:
    Use high-quality screed materials from reputable suppliers. Quality materials contribute to the durability and longevity of the floor surface.
  • Regular Maintenance:
    Once the screed is fully cured and the final floor covering is installed, implement regular maintenance practices to preserve the integrity and appearance of the floor. This includes regular cleaning, addressing any spills or damages promptly, and following proper maintenance procedures.

What is screed?

Screed is used in a wide range of applications within the construction industry, but it is essentially a thin layer of material, similar to concrete, that is most commonly applied to a concrete subfloor or over insulation.

Screed is typically made from sharp sand, cement and water – in a ratio of around 1:3 or 1:4 of cement / sharp sand. There are a number of additives that can also be used to improve certain characteristics, for example, a faster drying time, improved thermal conductivity for underfloor heating, or increased strength. Additionally, screed can be reinforced with a wire mesh if required.

Preparing for Unbonded Screed

Preparing for Unbonded Screed

Learn the pros and cons. An unbonded screed sits on top of plastic sheets instead of directly on the concrete below. This protects your floor from moisture in the subfloor, and from settling and other issues in the main structure. However, an unbonded screed is more likely to curl. Reinforcing can help with this problem, as described below.

  • Due to the risk of curling, an unbonded screed should be at least 50mm (2″) thick at all points. This means pouring a layer at least 70mm (2.75″) thick to allow for variations on the sublayer.

Clean the concrete base. Remove all dust and grease from the concrete before you begin the project.

Clean the concrete base

Cover the floor in plastic sheeting. Lay down polyethylene or PVC sheets to separate the concrete from the screed layer. Overlap sheets by at least 20 cm (7.9″) and tape them together. Fold the sheets up 10 cm (3.9″) onto all walls and pillars.

Line walls and pillars with compressible material. This protects these surfaces from damage when the screed shrinks. You may use edging foam, 20mm (0.8″) kingspan insulation, or 1 cm (2.5″) polystyrene.

Line walls and pillars with compressible material

Reinforce the screed. Unbonded screed is at greater risk of micro cracks, which reduce its strength. Reduce this risk with one of the following approaches:

  • Mix polypropylene fibers into the screed mix before adding water (or order ready-to-use screed with polypropylene already added).
  • Alternatively, position crack control steel mesh over your subfloor so it will sit in the top half of your screed.
  • If you do not plan to reinforce unbonded screed, it’s a good idea to make the screed at least 100mm (3.9″) thick. Screed this thick suffers from moisture issues, so consult a contractor about alternative mixes.

Reinforce the screed


Pros of Sand/Cement Floor Screeds

  • Old-fashioned sand/cement screed is relatively cheap to produce.
  • It can be prepared by unskilled labor and trowelled on site.
  • It also requires minimal preparation other than taping joints between insulation boards
  • Unlike poured liquid screeds, sand/cement readily lends itself to the formation of sloping floors in wet rooms.

Cons of Sand/Cement Floor Screeds

  • Sand/cement mixes can result in a patchy quality, uneven finish and a propensity to develop cracks.
  • Where floors are uneven, a self-leveling compound may need to be applied before floor tiling.
  • Although it’s compatible with underfloor heating, hand-mixed sand/cement isn’t ideally suited as it’s relatively thick (typically laid 65mm to 75mm deep) and prone to harboring pockets of air that can act as a barrier to heat transfer

Pros of Pumped Anhydrite Screeds

Anhydrite (liquid calcium sulfate) screeds offer a number of advantages:

  • Although the material itself costs about 50% more per m3 than sand/cement, being poured from a large hose makes it much quicker to lay (it’s claimed 20 times as quick) with consequent savings on labor.
  • Costs are also reduced because it can be applied at depths as thin as 35mm. With underfloor heating you typically need 30mm cover above UFH pipes, making about 45mm in total, still incredibly slim by conventional standards.
  • Pumped liquid screeds are effectively self-leveling and self-curing, which translates into a nice level finish. While traditional sand/cement screeds aim to achieve the standard known as ‘SR3’, which permits a 10mm difference over 2m, liquid screeds aim for perfection (SR1 standard) but guarantee SR2 with a variation of plus or minus 5mm. Quality is further assured as liquid screeds are applied by specialist approved contractors.
  • Anhydrite is far less prone to shrinkage than cement and needs far fewer expansion joints (just across some doorway thresholds). This makes it compatible with large stone tiles that can be vulnerable to cracking should the screed beneath them shrink.
  • Best of all, liquid screeds are ideally suited to UFH because the liquid envelopes the pipes eliminating voids, so enhancing heat transfer between the pipes and the screed. Also the slimmer covering over pipes allows a quicker reaction time with better response/controllability.

Cons of Pumped Anhydrite Screeds

  • One downside of anhydrides is that you need to prepare the surface by sanding prior to tiling.

Underfloor Heating: The Key to Comfortable and Efficient Indoor Heating

Underfloor heating offers a modern, comfortable, and energy-efficient solution for indoor heating. With its even heat distribution and space-saving design, it has become a popular choice for residential and commercial applications. By understanding the advantages, types, installation process, and considerations associated with underfloor heating, you can make informed decisions and create a warm and inviting space for year-round comfort. Consult with heating professionals to determine the most suitable system for your needs and enjoy the benefits of underfloor heating in your home or workplace.

Concrete Floor: The Perfect Blend of Durability and Aesthetic Appeal

Concrete floors offer a winning combination of durability, versatility, and aesthetic appeal. Whether you prefer a sleek and modern polished surface or a vibrant stained finish, concrete floors can transform any space. By understanding the advantages, various finishes, and installation and maintenance considerations, you can confidently choose concrete as a reliable and attractive flooring option for your home or business. Consult with professionals in the concrete industry to ensure proper installation and enjoy the long-lasting benefits of concrete floors.

Sand and Cement Screed: The Perfect Flooring Foundation

Sand and cement screed provides a solid foundation for a wide range of flooring applications. With its durability, versatility, and cost-effectiveness, it has become a popular choice for both residential and commercial projects. By understanding the advantages, installation process, and important considerations associated with sand and cement screed, you can confidently select this flooring option for your next construction or renovation project. Consult with professionals in the industry to ensure proper installation and enjoy the benefits of a smooth, level, and long-lasting floor.

Screed Board: The Essential Tool for Precise Floor Leveling

A screed board is an essential tool for achieving precise and level floors in construction and renovation projects. Whether you’re working on a small residential space or a large commercial area, using a screed board ensures accuracy and efficiency during the leveling process. By understanding the purpose and benefits of a screed board, the different types available, and implementing effective techniques, you can confidently achieve a smooth and level floor surface for your next project. Invest in a high-quality screed board and follow best practices to achieve professional results that will enhance the overall aesthetics and functionality of your floor.


Screed installation is a crucial step in achieving a level, smooth, and durable floor surface. By understanding the purpose, types, and installation process of screed, you can ensure a successful flooring project. Remember to plan meticulously, choose the right screed type for the specific application, and adhere to manufacturer guidelines for the best results. Whether you’re working on a residential, commercial, or industrial project, screed installation is an essential component in creating a functional and visually appealing floor screed surface, underfloor heating pipework, bonded screed entire floor.