Installing liquid screed is a great option for projects which require a smooth and high-quality floor finish. It’s also suitable for many different environments such as, commercial, industrial and residential. However, ensuring it is installed correctly to avoid any screed failures is very important. Screeds provide a vital layer in a floor that bonds the finish that people see and walk across, to the concrete substrate of the building’s structure. If properly applied and maintained then most screeds need never been seen. However failures in the planning, application, curing or drying processes can lead to later problems, which can be very costly.

If you’re opting for a colourful or functional floor, then liquid screed is required rather than a bare concrete surface. Commercial and industrial locations will require a more robust screed, due to the fact that the floor will undergo frequent traffic as opposed to a residential project. Most screeds are used for internal projects only, often covering underfloor heating systems, acoustic or thermal insulation. However, there are polymer-modified screeds available for external installations as these are hard-wearing, water-resistant and are able to withstand a more demanding environment. It’s important to be advised first on which type of screed is best suited to your project, to ensure the outcome is correct and to avoid any problems in the long run.

There are two types of screed which are generally provided as an option to choose from. Liquid screeds are self-levelling screeds which smooth itself over a given area. The semi-dry version however, has to be leveled by hand or machine. An advantage to the latter is that they can be laid at an angle. Therefore, this is useful for applications that require the floor to slope to a drain or for the use of internal ramps. Self-levelling screeds usually arrive as a dry powder and require water to be added to it. This is a careful process though, as it is very sensitive to the ratio of water used; too much and it will segregate and crack, but too little and it won’t level correctly.

The potential floor failures that can occur if applied incorrectly range from cracks found in the floor, to weak and uneven layers. If cracks appear, it is important to work out the cause before repairing them. If the screed failure is being caused by underfloor heating for example, then fixing the cracks alone will not solve the problem, which will make this an on-going issue.

Underfloor heating is a popular reason for the use of screed applications; therefore we have provided you with a brief summary of the installation process you can expect for your screed application. Firstly, the building under construction needs to be weather and water proof with a substrate that is smooth and flat. In addition, all pipes of the heating system need to be securely fixed. If a pipe passes through a joint location it needs to be sufficiently sleeved, especially if a floating screed is being used.

The edges of rooms are fairly weak points in comparison to the rest of the perimeter, which means extra care should be taken to make sure the insulation around these areas is properly located. Once the screed is applied it should not be disrupted or the heating system commissioned during the curing process. Once this step is complete it needs to be gradually pre-heated before the floor’s finish can be applied. Project managers need to be careful when undertaking further work in an area where underfloor heating or insulation exists. Point loading can put too much pressure into one area, which can result to the insulation collapsing which then creates a weak point. The weak point will cause the screed to cave in if the stress continues, which can become a very costly and timely process once this occurs.

It is important for you to understand the requirements of your project and the viability of the different types of screeds and methods of application available to you. Factors that are crucial to consider for your project’s requirements include, the scale, budget, whether underfloor heating or other forms of insulation are involved, schedule and durability requirements. The planning process should not go un-missed or be a half-hearted job, as this is the first step to ensuring your chosen screed does not fail.

Our team here at Pump It Concrete offer free quotes for those enquiring and we will advise you on the best possible application suited to your project. Contact us today with your request by calling us on 01352 781 524 or email us at: Remember, no project is too big or small for us!