How To Screed A Floor - The Pros And Cons
What is the purpose of a floor screed and why would you use a floor screed in your home?
Applying a floor screed is a way to level out the floors in a home, particularly if you are adding or extending the floor space in a home. You can also use a floor screed to even out the surface after ripping up tiles and leaving behind a mess of a floor. But more than that, people are also looking at a floor screed as an option for improving their homes by adding a concrete overlay over the top of the screed. Before we get into this, let's take a look at what floor screed is, what it can be used for and how to go about screeding a floor.
WHAT IS A FLOOR SCREED?
When a house is built, the foundations are poured, the walls are built and a screed is applied to the interior floors. If you have to lift your carpets and underlay, you will probably be able to see the floor screeding that was done in your home before the flooring was put down. It's not very attractive and, in most instances,the surface is put down to give a level floor for flooring treatments such as carpets, tiles or laminate floors.
When ripping up carpets and underlay you will encounter the floor screed in all its naked ugliness.
A floor screed is a mixture of sand and cement (5:1 ratio) that is slightly damp and applied over a concrete slab. A screed can be used to level out an uneven slab or to maintain floor heights when adding on or extending the footprint of a house. It can also be used to repair a floor that has been badly damaged when removing an existing tile floor. But does it serve as more than that?
CAN I FINISH MY HOUSE WITH A SCREED FLOOR?
If you are adding on or extending your existing floor plan, a screed is necessary to finish off the floor and tie a new floor level in with the old. A floor screed also provides a level surface on which to tile, lay carpet or laminate flooring. Construction companies generally include a screed floor as part and parcel of the entire construction process, but if you are going the do-it-yourself route, it is a job that will need to be done.
A screed floor in its raw state is not very attractive. The finish is not smooth and is more gritty and prone to give off a lot of dust. A raw screed floor also cannot be polished or treated in any way to improve the condition or look. In its raw state, it is a finish intended to provide a sub-floor for a finish or treatment that is applied over the top.
Having said that, there are now plenty of new screed products on the market that are easier to apply than the traditional screeding method and that can be put down quickly and offer a far smoother finish. These products are favoured over concrete for their ease of installation and being less troublesome than concrete floors. However, it should be kept in mind that it is still a screed floor and is softer and more prone to damage than a concrete floor.
CAN I POLISH A SCREED FLOOR?
The short and precise answer to this question is no. Because of its gritty nature, it is impossible to polish a screed floor, even with a diamond polisher. You can, however, look at installing a concrete overlay and which can be polished to a high shine similar to that of a solid concrete floor.
If you want to have a polished look for your floors you need to look at a concrete overlay that is installed over a screed floor. This can be epoxy concrete, Cemcrete, EnduraCrete or one of the many other decorative concrete overlay installations. There are many to choose from and costs will vary from the size of your project, the existing condition of the floor and the system selected.
While a screed floor and a concrete floor use the same components (sand | cement | water) there is a big difference between the two. A concrete floor incorporates aggregates (stones) that give the concrete its strength whereas a screed is primarily intended as a sub-floor to accommodate a flooring finish on the top.
Before you start ripping out your existing flooring, consider that installing a floor screed is not an easy DIY installation. It is a messy, labour-intensive job that you can do, but if in doubt, rather leave it to the professionals if you want a job done well.
For advice and tips on laying a floor screed, check out the video below.