Floors. Next to the walls and ceiling, floors are the most important part of any dwelling. When built right, they will hold a house together for a long time, require next to no maintenance and make intermittent cleaning a breeze. For those of us who don't have the opportunity to build a home from the ground up, we will probably face a renovation job sooner or later.
Wooden floorboards often need sanding back or even totally replacing. Stone floors often crack over time, become scuffed and uneven. Sometimes insulation is needed to be installed underneath what is already there. Or you might simply want to update your current floor. Whatever you need to do, the trick to having a long lasting floor is by doing the groundwork. Today we have a look at the secret to getting it right: screed.
A mix of cement and sand particles or other fine aggregates, screed is a heavy duty base that is used when building floors. It is a joint-less floor that is often used for renovations or while refitting old apartments.
It is often poured directly on top of the foundations, and acts as a stabilizer for the rest of the floor to built on top of. 'Levelling screed' is when the composite is poured over an initial layer of concrete, or underfloor insulation, and evens out the surface ready for the finishing layers.
'Wearing screed' is when the material is left raw and acts as the actual surface.
Screed is a good material to use in most cases. Except if you are wanting to retain wooden floorboards, or if the base you are wanting to build on is unstable.
Screed is slip, abrasion and impact resistant. It can withhold large amounts of foot traffic. It is versatile and will suit almost any home. Known by professionals and amateur handymen, it's popularity is now spreading among homeowners and enthusiastic DIY-ers.
The different types of screed are defined by the material that binds it. We have traditional cement sand screed, which is the most inexpensive option of them all. It is moisture resistant and can be applied in varying thicknesses. The downside is that it takes a long time to dry.
There is also calcium sulfate screed which can't be used with reinforcement as steel corrodes the calcium sulfate. It is also not advised to use this type in damp conditions either. There is also screed that is bonded with synthetic resin, making it a lot more durable and flexible, but also more expensive. But it dries extremely quick.
We also have poured asphalt, which is more commonly used in commercial spaces, and magnesite screed.
On top of the kinds we have already talked about, there are also modified screeds. This is when other particles or chemicals are added to distort the properties and habits of the traditional concrete based screed.
Fast-drying screed has super-plasticizes added, making the material more pliable. It dries extremely quick—around 3 mm per day. Fast set screed uses aluminium-based cement which speeds up the setting process. This type usually costs a bit more than the others, but can handle foot traffic only 2 days after being poured. Finally there is polymer modified screed, which is resistant to water and other chemicals. This type is usually thinner than the others.
Some of the most common mistakes made involve impatience. People often underestimate just how long it takes for some screed to fully dry—it varies between two hours and 30 days. But with the right amount of research and quality control, problems can be avoided.
Before beginning, the base foundation must be fully ready for the screed. All cracks must be removed or filled, there mustn't be any dust or residues and there should be sufficient room for the screed to expand as it dries.
If you have any doubts or are unsure of which screed is best for your project, then do enlist the help of professional floorers. They can immediately advise you if your floor is too cracked or unsuitable in any way to hold a layer of screed. Maybe you have your heart set on a polymer resin screed, but there could be in fact another option that you haven't considered. Ask the experts.
Always do your homework before attempting a DIY project and remember: extra advice never hurts!
Also for more inspiration check out this incredible home renovation that went from disastrous to divine.