Can I screed my floors?
We receive lots of enquiries for homeowners wanting to screed floors. A screed floor is a product that provides a thin, smooth overlay when applied over rough concrete slabs or uneven floors.
There appears to be a lot of confusion about self-levelling compounds and where they can be used. First off, self-levelling compound is a latex based cementitious product that provides a thin, smooth overlay when applied over rough concrete slabs or uneven floors. However, this product is not recommended as a final finish, but rather to provide an even subfloor for installation of your choice of final floor covering, whether this is tiles, carpets, or vinyl flooring.
Self-levelling compound for DIY application can be found as a dry product at your local Builders, or look online for local manufacturers or suppliers. There are a variety of self-levelling products on the shelf, ranging from those that are only suitable for thin-lay to self-levelling compounds for thicker layers, so be sure to check on the packaging that you are buying the right product. A minimum and a maximum layer thickness will be specified by the various manufacturers and will be indicated on the packaging.
Self-levelling compounds can also be used to provide an essential layer between old and new adhesives, and to cover old flooring materials and substrates, providing these are in good condition. And self-levelling screed is ideal for situations where quick setting is essential so that carpets, tiles, or other flooring can be installed quickly. Most self-levelling products can be used on new or old floors.
For residential installation, to level out for flooring products, standard self-levelling compounds will suffice. However, as a rule it is good practice to ask for advice or technical information from the manufacturer, if in any doubt.
How to apply self-levelling compound
When using this product it is important to follow the manufacturer's recommended guidelines for proper mixing and application. When the mixture is too thick the compound will not level properly, while too much water could result in cracks once the compound has dried. The area also needs to be prepared properly:
1. Clean the area well using a vacuum cleaner. This will also remove any loose debris from the surface. The floor should also be dry.
2. The compound needs to be mixed in clean buckets and fresh, cold water to avoid any impurities affecting the integrity of the mix. To mix you can use a drill and paddle mixer - on slow speed.
3. Follow the mixing quantities as specified by the supplier. Any variation from this will result in a failed project. Additionally, since the compound set quickly, you will need to have access to buckets or containers that allow you to quickly and easily mix batches while the edges are still wet.
GOOD TO KNOW:
Wear protective goggles and gloves when working with any cement-based products.
4. Pour the self-levelling compound onto the floor, starting at an area that allows you to work outwards from the room. You don't want to end up stranded in a corner.
5. Use a plastering trowel, notched/toothed squeegee, or specialist spiked roller, to smooth an area before continuing to apply more compound to the floor and complete the project. Application by trowel is time consuming and requires previous experience in working with cementitious products.