Screeding specialists - what you need to know
What do screeding services involve?
There are plenty of reasons why you might need your floor screeded. Used to level or prepare, floor screed can cover uneven surfaces or provide a hard-wearing finish. More commonly today, it can also be used when installing underfloor heating too.
Floor screeding may look easy, but it’s a skill that requires expertise to lay. Poor floor screeding won’t last in the long term and can create a headache in the short term if it needs removing – both an expensive and extremely awkward problem to resolve.
Floor screed compositions vary, with many options available. The key to a high-quality and resilient floor screed is selecting and correctly preparing the materials. The most common screeds are a blend of cement, sand and water. Proficient floor screeding contractors will be able to advise you on the best approach for your project.
When it comes to delivering the perfect finish, there are no shortcuts. There’s a tried and tested method you’d expect most professionals to follow closely.
The first step is choosing the correct floor screed type for your job, where your tradesperson must understand how the floor is going to be used. They’ll then measure not only the surface area, but the required screed depth too. Next, they’ll mix the floor screed using an exact blend of materials. Like baking, this is science not art – the quantities and ratios need to be precise.
Depending on the size of the floor, a screed pump may be required to ensure materials are mixed correctly. During the application, the levels across the surface should be recorded to ensure the floor screed is perfectly even. Finally, your professional should test to ensure the screed has dried and set correctly.
Cost of floor screeding work
Materials per m2
- Low: £3
- Average: £5
- High: £8+
Labour per m2
- Low: £8
- Average: £10
- High: £12+
Floor screed techniques – how to mix screed
There are three ways screed can be mixed:
- Hand mixing – suitable only for smaller jobs and can be prone to quality issues.
- Concrete mixer – the same equipment you’d use to mix regular cement or concrete. Portable mixers can be used for screed but are only recommended for flooring that isn’t required to stand up to a heavy load.
- Screed pumps – also known as “forced action mixing”. This method is not only the most efficient but the most effective too. Screed pumps are particularly vital if a large quantity of screed needs to be applied.
Floor screed mix – what type of screed should I use?
- Standard cement and sand screed – the default screed, suitable for a wide range of domestic jobs and some industrial applications. A fixed ratio of cement and sand (typically around 1:4) returns an even, hard-wearing surface.
- Levelling compounds – often used as a final layer on which domestic flooring can be laid, these self-levelling screeds can be expensive but are easier to apply.
- Structural screeds – the clue’s in the name here. This screed type is used on precast floor structures that are required for heavier loads, and for applications where flexing is necessary.
- Fast-drying screeds – a number of fast-drying compounds are available if you’re struggling for time. Some products can set within 3 days of laying.
The qualifications your tradesperson needs
A number of training courses and industry accreditations are available, but there's no need for floor screeding contractors to hold a specific qualification.
The most important consideration when looking for a tradesperson is a track record of excellent work with multiple independent references, as well as specific expertise in floor screeding rather than just general building work.
Planning permission for floor screeding jobs
There are no formal permissions required for screeding, but it’s important to consider how the floor will be used. A floor ultimately needs to provide structural support for what sits on top of it, as well as resistance to moisture and insulation.
Insurance for floor screeding work
The main insurance requirement from a tradesperson is public liability insurance to protect you against any damage caused to your property.
Questions you should ask your floor screeding specialist
- Can they provide a copy of their public liability insurance?
- What is their floor screeding experience?
- Do they have up to 3 references for recent work they’ve completed?
- Will they test the quality of the screed to ensure it sets correctly?
- Who is responsible for purchasing the materials?
- How long will the screed take to fully dry and set?