When people start dealing with the construction of their homes, they are often intrigued by innovations. New advances can speed up certain projects and make others easier to manage. On the one hand, traditional methods tend to be more reliable and predictable. This dilemma also applies when considering liquid floor screed or traditional floor screed. And seeing that people are often uninformed or confused when comparing the two, we’re here to help you make the best choice for your home.
Understanding liquid screed
Screed is not a structural element of your building. Builders apply screed over the flooring surface to provide a smooth finish. Once the screed settles, you will apply carpeting or tiles. Traditionally, builders would shovel in the screed mix and level it with a screening bar. With liquid screeds, builders deliver them ready-mixed to the construction site. Then they pump them into the room and pour the mix across the floor. As the screed is liquid, it will level out on its own and be completely smooth. After 72 hours, the liquid screed will be dry enough to walk on.
The best thing about liquid screed is that you can lay it to a thinner depth, and it is much quicker to lay than a standard screed. Due to this, liquid screed is becoming more and more popular, especially when underfloor heating is involved.
The most commonly used type of liquid screed is calcium sulfate screed. It contains calcium sulfate as an active ingredient, which makes up about 30 – 35% of the total volume. When you add water, you get gypsum, which is why this screed is called gypsum screed. The other type is cement-based liquid screed, which has some notable differences. So, when deciding what you should use for your floor, you will choose between a traditional screed, calcium sulfate screed, or liquid cement screed.
Liquid floor screed or traditional floor screed – what’s better for you?
Before making your choice, we advise you to consult with more experienced builders. Depending on what you are constructing, there can be different aspects to consider.
The main benefit of traditional screed is that you can self-mix it. As such, you can ensure the right consistency and not depend on outside delivery. If you wish to install wet rooms, you will likely have to create a flat surface that is not perfectly leveled. Since liquid screeds will settle and level independently, creating an angled floor is only possible with traditional screeds. And it shouldn’t go without mentioning that traditional screed will be the most cost-effective option in most cases.
Calcium Sulphate Screed
The first notable benefit of calcium sulfate screed is that it is relatively quick to poor. A living room won’t take more than 20 minutes. Keep in mind that this reduces the labor cost, which can offset the more expensive nature of this type of screed. Also, know that you can lay calcium sulfate screed as thinly as 1.3 inches. This can also reduce material costs, especially if you factor in under-floor heating.
Another benefit is that the liquid screed will be perfectly leveled once you pour it – much more than you could ever achieve with a traditional screed. Calcium sulfate is, by nature, far less prone to shrinking and cracking. Therefore, you won’t need to get large tiles or expansion joints. Finally, underfloor heating will be more effective because the layer is thinner; and there is less volume to heat. Additionally, the liquid can go all around the heating pipes, making them far more effective.
The potential disadvantage of calcium sulfate creed is that you must prepare the surface before laying it. Also, most suppliers will not allow DIY laying. You will likely need to hire an experienced professional to ensure everything is in order.
Liquid Cement Screed
The main benefit of liquid cement screeding is that it does not require surface preparation. Once you pour it, you can proceed to lay the floor finish straight away. It also takes notably less time to dry than calcium sulfate creed.
But, before you go off to buy it, know that it isn’t as easy to find as the calcium sulfate screed. You may need to look for out-of-state shops and hire movers on USA Moving Reviews to help you transport it. However, liquid cement screed is usually the more expensive option. The material will cost 20% more than calcium sulfate, which costs twice more than traditional screed. The reduction of labor can offset the cost, but likely not to such a degree. Finally, you should expect that liquid cement screed will require more expansion gaps than calcium sulfate.
It should be easy to deduce why liquid screed became such a popular option. Yes, it does come at an increased price. But, the benefits it brings are hard to overlook. When working with liquid screed, you must consider three things: time, budget, and necessity. If you need to place a screed and do so fast, your best bet is to opt for liquid options. You can set them reasonably quickly, and they will dry up much faster. If time is not an issue, go traditional.
When it comes to budget concerns, traditional is the cheapest option. Yes, you do cut down on labor costs. And the increased effectiveness of floor heating will pay off in the long term. But, if you are working on a limited budget, you may not afford to make such a long-term investment. Factor in labor costs and see which option is more budget-friendly. In most cases, traditional will come out on top.
Finally, when you compare liquid floor screed or traditional floor screed, you should remember that you cannot (or at least shouldn’t) use all screeds for all floors. If you don’t want a completely leveled floor, you must go traditional. On the other hand, if you wish to have underfloor heating, you’d be a fool not to go liquid. So, consider your options carefully, and consult with a more experienced professional before you make your choice.