Have you ever wondered how construction workers manage to create perfectly level concrete floors?
The answer lies in a crucial step called screeding concrete. Before applying any surface finishes, whether it’s for a small patio or a large commercial floor, screeding is necessary to ensure levelness, surface smoothness, and durability.
In this guide, we will dive into the details of what screeding concrete is and how it’s done.
What is Screeding Concrete
Screeding concrete is a step before the surface finishes the floor. It involves leveling the concrete using a manual or powered screed.
It is widely used, no matter various concrete slabs or large commercial floors, before the final finish, the step of concrete screeding is needed to level the foundation.
You should consider three things about screeding concrete: levelness, surface smoothness, and durability.
After screeding and troweling, the concrete floor can be used directly as a finished floor or be laid with other types of finishing.
How to Screed Concrete
The equipment and method adopted will vary greatly due to the wet screeding concrete size. Below we will explain the classification for you according to the screed area (large and small).
Screed Concrete by Hand
If you are leveling a small area of floor(For example: small area projects or DIY concrete construct), you can use the manual method.
Here is a instruction video shot by Mike Day Concrete. From this video you can get a professional guidance about “How To Pour A Concrete Slab By Yourself”
If you are pouring a small patio, a sidewalk in your yard, or a few square meters of parking space, you can screed concrete entirely by hand.
Required Tools: ready-mixed concrete, stones, hand tamper, laser level or mason’s line, tape measure, wooden board (for formwork), saw, hammer, nail, shovel, concrete rake, manual concrete screed, concrete hand trowel.
Construction step by step:
Step 1: use a tape measure to determine where the concrete should be laid and mark it accordingly.
Step 2: concrete screeding areas need to be cleared, and lawned surfaces should be removed.
Step 3: saw 4×2 boards into strips of wood with a width of screed concrete thickness, and stakes with a higher. Use these wooden strips and stakes to set up the formwork around the screed area. Use a laser level or mason’s line to measure the levelness of the template.
Step 4: sprinkle stones on the surface of the foundation where concrete needs to be spread. Use a hand tamper to tamp down the foundation.
Step 5: prepare the concrete you need by ordering it from a concrete supplier or mixing it according to the concrete mix. The general screeding concrete ratio is – cement: sand: stone: water = 1:1.18:2.63:0.41 (weight ratio)
Step 6: pour the concrete into the formwork, preferably with two people. A person uses a concrete rake to lift the concrete slightly above the formwork. Another operator uses a hand screed to scrape the wet concrete back repeatedly according to the formwork height to scrape the concrete flat. If conditions exist, you can also vibrate concrete during construction.
Step 7: after concrete screeding work, you need to hit the sides of the formwork with a hammer to remove any air bubbles and prevent a honeycomb appearance.
Step 8: after waiting about 20 minutes (this is not a fixed amount of time, see our other article on when to start troweling work), use the hand trowel to finish the concrete surface.
Step 9: you can wait for the concrete to set completely. Generally, within 48 hours can not walk on the concrete, and they need to spray water to cure of concrete (to prevent concrete cracking). Concrete usually reaches full strength after 28 days.
Large Area Concrete Screeding
Large-area concrete projects are similar to the small-area ones mentioned above, except that more efficient equipment is used. We’ve covered 3 ways to make screed concrete easy before, below briefly introduce the relevant equipment, the use of these equipments makes concrete screeding easy.
The traditional method of screeding concrete involves manual scraping with a hand screed to achieve a flat surface. The concrete is repeatedly scraped and squeezed, and the cement slurry is brought to the surface. This approach relies heavily on the operator’s skill and experience to maintain the desired level of flatness.
Unfortunately, this manual process can be time-consuming and often requires a significant amount of physical effort. Additionally, the results can be inconsistent due to the subjective nature of the operator’s perception. Despite these limitations, the manual screeding method remains a common practice due to its simplicity and relatively low cost.
4 Easy Ways to Screed Concrete
The traditional method of hand screeding can be time-consuming and physically demanding, making it inefficient for larger projects. However, there are 4 easier ways that can increase efficiency, improve level, and save manpower.
Power screed concrete is an efficient way for concrete slab construction. Its low investment cost, makes it a popular choice among contractors. Compared to manual screed, power screed can make construction many times more efficient. It operates by vibrating the screed blade over the concrete surface, which results in increased efficiency.
With hand screeding, the operator must bend down and manually scrape the concrete to level it, but with the power screed, the operator simply stands and moves the machine across the surface.
Roller screed is a versatile concrete screed device used for concrete slabs, slopes, and pervious concrete. A spinning screed pipe smooths out any high spots and fills in any low spots, resulting in a level surface. This equipment produces minimal vibrations, similar to a hand screed scraping the concrete repeatedly. It also brings a reduced amount of water to the surface, resulting in a more robust and long-lasting concrete surface.
Using laser screed to level concrete has become increasingly popular in the construction industry. The machine operates fully automatically and does not require manual operation, making it a highly efficient solution for concrete leveling.
The laser signals received by the machine are used to control the scraper and provide precise leveling of the concrete, resulting in an accuracy of no more than 3mm. During construction, you do not need to set up formworks in the middle, and the leveling area can reach more than 2500 square meters in 8 hours, saving about 50% of the manpower.
This level of precision makes laser screed an ideal choice for large projects where the goal is to achieve super flat floors. The main limitation of laser screed is its large volume, which makes it unsuitable for small-area concrete leveling works.
Super screed is a cutting-edge technological advancement in the construction industry, which was first introduced in 2023. It is a compact and lightweight device designed to revolutionize traditional concrete leveling methods. Unlike the conventional laser screed, the super screed boasts a smaller fuselage of just 1.3 meters, making it easier to maneuver and transport from one construction site to another.
One of the key advantages of the super screed is its ability to save time and labor costs. It eliminates the need for manual labor and to set up formworks in the middle of the construction site, which can be time-consuming and labor-intensive. This feature not only improves the efficiency of the construction process but also reduces the risk of accidents and injuries on the construction site.
The super screed is also designed to easily handle even the smallest of concrete slabs, making it ideal for use in various concrete leveling applications. Its compact size and lightweight design allow it to be used in tight spaces and hard-to-reach areas, making it ideal for various construction projects.
Additionally, the super screed is equipped with a replaceable flat head, which makes it versatile and allows it to be used in various types of leveling works. The device weighs only 100kg, making it easy to transport and store when not in use.
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Screeding concrete is essential in creating a level and durable foundation for any concrete flooring project. Whether a small DIY project or large commercial construction, choosing the right equipment and method for screeding is crucial to achieving the desired levelness, surface smoothness, and durability. So, grab your equipment, get to work, and enjoy a perfectly screeded concrete surface that will last for years! Following the tips and techniques outlined in this article, you can successfully screed concrete for small and large area projects.