To lay your desired floor material down so that your new floor is complete after you have installed your cement screed floor, you’ll have to do a few things so that you don’t encounter any problems in the future.
You can’t lay floor coverings until the screed is completely dry, smooth and stable.
Why Do Floors Need to be “Prepared”?
After you have laid a screed floor in your home, it’s not quite ready for you to put down tile, wood or any other material just yet. First, it will probably have to undergo some significant preparation to make sure your final finish can be installed without any issues.
Firstly, sand/cement screeds are usually a bit dusty or sandy on the surface due to precipitation or mixing processes. Also, over the drying period, general dust of particles from outside could have accumulated on the surface. This will require a firm bushing at the very least to prepare the floor for any tiling.
Calcium sulphate, anhydrite screed often creates a coating of particles on the surface that is too flaky and uneven to lay any final floor finishes on. If this happens, you will need to introduce a sanding process that removes inconsistencies and creates a completely smooth and firm finish throughout the whole surface.
Next, the accumulated dust and other particles will need to be vacuumed off the floor so that there are no traces when you start to use adhesive mixtures to fix your floor finish to the ground.
If you don’t do this, or if you choose to simply brush the particles away by hand, you could end up with failed floor adhesion and floor tiles that will easily peel off from the concrete. As well as being incredibly annoying, this can sometimes be dangerous if someone ends up tripping over a loose tile of floorboards in the future.
How Long Does Floor Screed Take to Dry Out?
You must ensure your floor is completely dried out before allowing normal traffic to resume on the site, or before you think about putting down any final finishing materials.
Generally, traffic can resume after about a week but it can take longer for the floor to be completely dry and ready for coverings like tile and wood.
Make sure you check with your contractor about drying times so that you know how long it will take before you move onto the next stage of your project. A few factors contributing to drying times include:
- Anhydrite mixtures are sensitive to drying conditions and will take longer if moisture levels are high for any reason
- You can use a number of techniques to decrease the time it takes for dying by adjusting the room temperature or applying a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the air and speeding up the drying process.
- With sand/cement, a modified mixture can even be used to speed things up so that floor coverings can be down in less than 3 weeks.
How to Prepare a Floor for Liquid Screed
For liquid screed to be ready for the final application, you will first need to make sure its installation goes well and does not present any future problems. For example, the floor will need to be completely ‘tanked’ like a mini swimming pool, using a polythene sheet membrane.
In most cases, layers of insulation boards and DPM (damp-proof membrane) will be placed on top of the floor structure. And this base layer of insulation also needs to be lined with polythene sheeting to stop the liquid escaping.
If you’re installing underfloor heating (UFH), it’s crucial that pipes are securely fixed and pressured to weigh them down and prevent them from lifting up and floating as the screed is poured.
Similarly, any plumbing or pipework will need to be located and locked in place within a temporary formwork to ensure nothing becomes dislodged and that the structure enjoys 100% water tightness. If not, additional moisture levels could slow down the drying time.
Want Help Completing Your Floor Project?
If you’re planning a home renovation and new floor installation for your home, let us know if you need help making sure your liquid screed is installed and dried in as fast a time as possible so that you can lay down your final coverings without delay.
At UK Screed, we offer a comprehensive floor preparation service in Kent, throughout the South of England and across much of the UK, so wherever you are, let us know if we can help.