What is Screed? Your Complete Guide to Screed Flooring

What is Screed

Screed is a thin top layer of material which is poured over a structural concrete subfloor. In many cases, it is applied to form a smooth, level base for other finishing materials such as carpet, tile or floorboards to be installed on top.

In other cases, a layer of screed is useful for the absorption and radiation of warmth, such as with underfloor heating systems. It can even be used as flooring in its own right, for example, in warehouses where scuffs and marks are common, or even in situations where a rustic or uniform aesthetic is favoured.

How Is Screed Made?

How Is Screed Made?

Although there are different types of screed available, the most common materials used to make screed are cement, aggregate (such as gravel or sand) and water. These materials are combined in varying proportions to create the screeding substance at the desired consistency.

Depending on the application and its intended usage, the composition of screed can vary. For example, to smooth floors, a simple mixture made from a 1:3 to 1:5 ratio of cement to sand will usually suffice. However, for more complex applications where superior strength is required, other compounds such as latex and epoxy resin can be added to the screeding mix to create a more fortified and heavy-duty screed layer.

What Is Screed Used For?

Screed can be used for a multitude of different applications, but is most commonly used to provide a final floor finishing on a concrete sub-base. Particularly if the sub-base is uneven and therefore impractical or even dangerous, applying a layer of screed is a quick and simple way to smooth out the floor of your building. This will then set you up for the installation of a decorative finish such as carpet, whilst ensuring that the floor is safe to walk on, or level enough to install furniture, for example.

In other circumstances, due to its insulating properties, a high-quality screed is useful to create  an environment in which underfloor heating can be utilised to its full potential. Once underfloor heating has been laid, a screed layer is applied on top to create a finish and allow the chosen flooring to be applied, such as tiling in kitchens or carpet in living rooms.

There are numerous environments in which installing a screed floor is advantageous. Examples include:


Screed flooring is designed to withstand heavy footfall, and is therefore incredibly beneficial when applied in an industrial setting such as a warehouse. In this circumstance, the impact of the frequent back-and-forth of employees or even vehicles can be mitigated by the heavy-duty properties which a layer of screed provides.

Healthcare and Hospitals

The nature of screed flooring means that it is regularly employed in environments where safe and sanitary conditions are essential. Once a layer of screed has been applied, this will ensure that large areas are levelled out to the appropriate height to avoid accidents. In addition to this, screed provides easy-to-clean flooring which maintains hygiene in healthcare settings.

Domestic Installations

Screed flooring can also be utilised in domestic situations. In many cases, screed installation forms an essential part of the process of redecorating or installing insulation such as underfloor heating. It is highly likely that in these circumstances, screed will provide a base layer for additional flooring material such as carpet or tile.

Types of Screed

In addition to the numerous uses for screed flooring, there are several different types of screed to be aware of ahead of completing your project. Requirements for minimum and maximum thickness will vary depending on the style of screed being applied. The main types of screed are:

  • Bonded Screed: A bonded screed is a mix that is bonded to the substrate using a bonding agent or primer. This type of screed is useful for flooring which needs to withstand heavy objects, loading or footfall.
  • Unbonded Screed: As opposed to its counterpart, an unbonded screed is not directly bonded to the substrate and is instead separated by a damp-proof membrane.
  • Floating Screed: This type of screed is designed to be applied over insulation; this can be thermal or acoustic. Its insulating properties mean that it increases the efficiency of buildings.
  • Liquid Screed: A popular option due to its faster drying time, liquid screed is self-levelling, free-flowing and can be used in commercial or domestic environments. Liquid screeds use a binding agent called calcium sulphate instead of cement.

What is the Difference Between Concrete and Screed?

What is the Difference Between Concrete and Screed?

For those carrying out a domestic project who may feel unfamiliar with the different materials available, a question which might come to mind is: what is the difference between floor screed and concrete?

Although there is not a significant difference in the components of concrete and screed, the main distinction is their application uses. Concrete can be used for a variety of purposes in the construction industry due to its incredible strength, resulting in a useful material for structural ends such as concrete slabs. In addition to this, a polished concrete floor may be used to provide a smoother, shinier finish.

On the other hand, screed is a smoother mix with fewer aggregates than concrete. Although it is also highly robust, screed is more commonly used as a finishing material rather than structural material like concrete. Most screeds are used to level a floor ahead of the installation of a final floor covering.

Is Screed Stronger Than Concrete?

Although strong, screed is generally not able to reach the same strength as concrete which is why they are used for different purposes. This is due to the fact that the aggregates used to form concrete are usually coarser and tougher than those added to screed, such as gravel and sharp sand for concrete compared to fine sand for screed.

Contact Us Today for High-Quality & Durable Screed Flooring

Our Constructionline Gold member installation team are highly-skilled at installing industrial screed flooring. With years of experience, our specialist team have the skills to take on your commercial or domestic screeding project and provide the best quality service for your money.

If you’d like to find out more about Concrete Flooring Solutions and how we can help, get in touch today via our contact form or call us for a conversation about your next screeding project.