When it comes to building or renovating your home or commercial space, one crucial aspect that often goes unnoticed is the flooring screed. While it may not be the most glamorous topic, understanding the importance and benefits of flooring screed is vital for achieving a durable and leveled floor. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the fundamentals of flooring screed, its various types, installation methods, and key considerations. By the end, you will have a solid foundation of knowledge to make informed decisions and create a perfect flooring solution for your needs.

I. What is a Flooring Screed?

Flooring screed refers to a thin layer of cementitious material that is applied to the base floor to create a smooth, leveled, and stable surface for the final floor covering. It acts as a bridge between the structural concrete slab or subfloor and the finishing floor material, such as tiles, wood, vinyl, or carpet. Screed is typically composed of cement, sand, and water, and it may also contain additives to enhance its performance, such as plasticizers, fibers, or accelerators. The selection of floor screed and type depends on the specific requirements of the project, including load-bearing capacity, moisture resistance, and desired finish.

II. Types of Flooring Screed Floor

  1. Traditional Sand and Cement Screed:
  • Consists of a mix of cement, sand, and water in the ratio of approximately 1:3:5.
  • Versatile and widely used for most domestic and commercial applications.
  • Requires proper curing time for strength development.
  • Susceptible to cracking due to shrinkage and temperature changes.
  1. Self-Levelling Screed:
  • Pre-mixed and pumped onto the floor, creating a smooth and level surface automatically.
  • Ideal for large areas or projects with time constraints.
  • Contains additives that improve flow and self-leveling properties.
  • Offers excellent flatness and reduces the need for extensive manual labor.
  1. Fast-Drying Screed:
  • Specifically formulated to reduce drying time and expedite project completion.
  • Incorporates additives that enhance evaporation and moisture removal.
  • Suitable for time-sensitive projects where the floor covering needs to be installed quickly.
  1. Polymer-Modified Screed:
  • Contains polymer additives, such as latex or acrylic, to enhance flexibility and strength.
  • Offers improved resistance to cracking and impact.
  • Ideal for areas subject to frequent thermal or moisture fluctuations.

III. Installation Methods

The installation of flooring or screeding a floor involves several essential steps to ensure a screed a floor, successful outcome and drying process. Here is a general overview of the installation of screed a floor, process:

  1. Preparation:
  • Clean the base floor thoroughly, removing any dust, debris, or loose particles.
  • Install damp-proof membranes if required to prevent rising moisture.
  1. Edge Insulation:
  • Fit insulation material around the perimeter of the floor to minimize heat loss and reduce the risk of screed cracking.
  1. Mixing and Application:
  • Prepare the screed mixture according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Apply the screed to the floor using a screeding bar or pump, ensuring even distribution.
  • Use a straight edge or laser level to achieve the desired level and flatness.
  1. Curing and Drying:
  • Allow the screed to cure for the recommended period, providing adequate moisture protection and temperature control.
  • After curing, the screed needs to dry before the final floor covering is installed. This drying time varies depending on the screed type and environmental conditions.

IV. Key Considerations

When planning a flooring screed installation, several key considerations should be taken into account:

  1. Subfloor Condition:
    The condition of the subfloor plays a crucial role in the success of the screed installation. It should be clean, dry, structurally sound, and free from any contaminants that could affect adhesion or performance.
  2. Moisture Control:
    Moisture can be a significant concern, particularly in areas prone to high humidity or moisture ingress. Installing a damp-proof membrane or moisture barrier can help prevent moisture-related issues such as warping, mold growth, or floor covering delamination.
  3. Load-Bearing Capacity:
    Consider the expected load and traffic levels on the floor. Depending on the project requirements, you may need to choose a screed with higher compressive strength to withstand heavy loads or footfall.
  4. Time Constraints:
    If time is a critical factor, opting for fast-drying or self-leveling screeds can expedite the installation process and reduce downtime.
  5. Floor Covering Compatibility:
    Different types of floor coverings have specific requirements and may require a particular screed type or thickness. Consult with manufacturers or flooring specialists to ensure compatibility between the screed and the chosen floor covering.
  6. Environmental Considerations:
    Some screed options may have a lower carbon footprint or contain recycled materials, making them more environmentally friendly. Consider sustainable options if sustainability is a priority for your project.

What Is Screed and Why Do You Need It?

Concrete is one of the most fundamental building materials in most construction industries.

You use it to put up walls and pillars. It’s a solid material that holds up to most abuse and lasts a long time.

While reliable, concrete flooring doesn’t always look or feel the best. Their temperature fluctuates and it can damage other finishing materials. When you’ve laid a concrete floor, you’ll often want to top it with something else like a rug or screed.

But what is screed and is it an essential addition to a concrete floor?

Screed Vs Concrete

Screed is a thin layer of material usually laid on top of a concrete subfloor. It can go in between concrete and other layers to smooth the surface, help even it out or to provide a better surface for adhesives.

The concrete subfloor attaches to your floor joists to add support for the finished flooring. It can also protect your home from moisture damage and mold.

While you can technically go without the screed flooring in some cases, you might find that a concrete subfloor on its own doesn’t provide the best surface. It can often be unleveled with bumpy areas, and holes or cracks may form over time.

Both a screed floor and concrete floors are technically made out of a cement mixture. The main difference is that concrete is much courser and stronger, while screed provides a smoother finish. Screed also costs more depending on the brand.

Once a layer of the screed has been placed, you can lay whatever finishing material you want to lay liquid floor screed on on top of it such floor finishes such as carpet or tile. In some cases, the top screed layer is laid on an additional layer of insulation.

You can also find an industrial screw that is suitable for newer or older concrete. Used for industrial applications, it is very tough and resistant to scratches or scuffs.

Types of Screed

The three main types of screed you’ll see are bonded, and unbonded screed, and floating. Each is used depending on the application, and industrial unbonded screed is much thicker than domestic options.

1. Bonded Screeds

As the name implies, bonded cement screed which is bonded to the substrate with an adhesive. In this case, it’s applied directly to the concrete slab due to the thinness of the screed.

While you could technically bond any thickness with cement screed, it isn’t needed at higher thicknesses. This type may be applied to concrete where there’s continuous construction or other heavy-loading applications. You can also find this used with cast-in water pipes in underfloor heating systems.

The thickness may vary from 25-40mm. Anything over that minimum thickness doesn’t need bonding agents.

2. Unbonded Screed

An unbonded screed is not placed directly on top of a concrete layer, like the bonded variety. Instead, there’s a damp-proof membrane called builder’s plastic between it and the concrete.

The membrane helps to keep air bubbles, reduce shrinkage and moisture from collecting. Like a bonded screed, you can use it with cast-in pipes for underfloor heating. It runs thicker wearing a bonded screed and doesn’t require an adhesive as a result.

3. Floating

Screed can also be applied as a floating layer of insulation material or in conjunction with another layer of insulation.

Floor insulation can eliminate drafts, create a moisture barrier, and keep pipes from freezing. When it comes to concrete, it helps to keep the temperature of the front room floor from varying too much.

Floating floor screed is mainly used in buildings with underfloor heating installed. It may also be used when acoustic or thermal insulation is used. As a result, a floating floor screed can be the thickest of the three different types.

The Comfort and Efficiency of Underfloor Heating

Underfloor heating is a popular and highly efficient heating solution that provides both comfort and energy savings. Unlike traditional heating systems that rely on radiators or forced-air heaters, underfloor heating works by distributing heat through the floor, creating a warm and comfortable environment from the ground up.

Floor screed

A floor screed is usually a cementitious material made from a 1:3 or 1:4.5 ratio of cement to sharp sand. It may be applied onto either a solid in-situ concrete ground floor slab or onto a precast concrete floor unit. There are many proprietary liquid screeds out on the market and information about these liquid screeds can be obtained from the manufacturer.

Liquid Floor Screeds

Liquid floor screed is a contemporary flooring solution that offers numerous benefits over traditional floor screeds. This self-leveling, pumpable mixture of liquid and traditional screeds is gaining popularity due to its superior performance, efficiency, and ease of installation.

Traditional Screed

Traditional screed (or dry screed) is a simple mix of water, sand and sand cement together. The various sand and cement screed cement part ratios change depending on the use of the property but are normally around four parts of sand to each part of sand cement.

Underfloor Heating Pipework

Underfloor heating pipework serves as the conduit for warm water or heating fluid that circulates beneath the floor surface. It is responsible for efficiently distributing heat throughout the room, providing a comfortable and consistent temperature. The quality and design of the pipework directly impact the performance and effectiveness of the underfloor heating system. Properly installed and designed pipework ensures even heat distribution, minimizes energy consumption, and maximizes comfort.

Timber Battens: Versatile Support for Flooring and Wall Installations

Timber battens are essential components in various construction and interior design projects. These narrow strips of wood provide structural support, insulation, and aesthetic appeal in applications such as flooring and wall installations.

Self Leveling Compound: Achieving a Perfectly Smooth and Even Surface

A self-leveling compound is a versatile flooring material that offers a practical solution for correcting uneven floors or damaged floors and subfloors. This innovative compound provides a quick and efficient way to create a smooth, level surface for floors before installing a final floor covering.


Flooring screed is an essential element in creating a sturdy, leveled, and long-lasting floor. Understanding the types of screed, installation methods, and key considerations is crucial for achieving successful outcomes in your flooring projects. Whether it’s a residential or commercial space, choosing the right screed and following proper installation techniques will result in a durable and aesthetically pleasing floor. Take the time to evaluate your specific requirements, consult with experts, and invest in high-quality materials to ensure the longevity and performance of your flooring investment.