Are you looking for the best way to achieve a level and smooth floor base before installing new flooring? Do you already have your mind set on floor screed and would like to know how much you'd need to pay for its installation?
In the following cost guide, we'll break down the cost of screeding a floor for different sized areas. We'll also explore how much it is priced for different types of screed, including regular floor screed and fast drying screed.
This article will prove very helpful if you plan to have floor screed installed. Floor screeding involves laying down a thin layer of protective material, usually consisting of cement and sharp sand. Then flooring can be added above it. It is popular due to its more professional quality in comparison with structural slabs.
On average, for a 60 square metre area, it will cost between £800 and £1240 to install floor screed. However, the average installation price (including both supply and labour costs) will vary based on the type of screed being used.
For example, again, in the case of a 60m2 surface area, regular floor screeding costs about £840 to £1100 while fast-drying screeding would set you back approximately £960 to £1280. It would likely cost between £1080 and £1420 to have liquid screed installed.
For an 80m2 area or about the floor space of a terraced house, the average cost will be between £1080 and £1400 for regular floor screeding, or £1240 to £1640 for dry screeding.
Screeding a floor with liquid screed will end up around £1430 to £1820. In the case of a 150m2 area, regular floor screed would set you back roughly £1920 to £2450, fast dry screed would cost about £2220 to £2900, and the price tag of liquid screed for this sized area would land around £2550 to £3220.
As part of the overall cost, the labour cost will likely end up between £150 and £220 a day. Various factors can influence the cost of floor screeding, beyond the screed type used and floor size.
For instance, where your property is located will play a significant role in determining the labour cost. That's because, contractor rates vary nationwide, with prices being lower in regions such as the north of England and Scotland and prices being higher than the national average in London and the southeast of England, to give some examples.
Further, ease of access is also another notable cost factor. The more challenging an area is to work in, the longer it may take and thus, the higher the floor screeding prices may be.
|Type of Screed||Surface Area||Installation Cost|
|Regular Floor Screed||60m2||£840 to £1100|
|80m2||£1080 to £1400|
|150m2||£1920 to £2450|
|Fast Drying Screed||60m2||£960 to £1280|
|80m2||£1240 to £1640|
|150m2||£2220 to £2900|
|Liquid Screed||60m2||£1080 to £1420|
|80m2||£1430 to £1820|
|150m2||£2550 to £3220|
As shown, there are several common types of floor screed. Let's take a closer look at each of these options and consider how much they cost, how they differ from one another, and their pros & cons. For more information on additional screed types, take a look at BS-8204 of the British Standards.
Standard floor screed is generally made of one part cement and three parts sharp sand, or one-part cement and 4.5 parts sharp sand. This mixture helps to create a layer of mortar, which can act as a base for a floor or finish. It is the most popular type of floor screed on the market.
Regular floor screed costs about £12 to £15 per m2, meaning that it is also the least expensive type of floor screed available. One issue associated with traditional floor screed is that its drying time can vary significantly depending on the mixtures chosen and environmental conditions. This contrasts unbonded screed, for which drying times are generally short.
✔ Suitable for most properties
✖ Drying duration can depend heavily on environmental conditions
Next, we have floating screed. It is generally fitted at a depth of about 3.5cm. It may be used in homes where thermal or acoustic insulation is needed, or if underfloor heating has previously been added. By installing floating screed above the insulation present, it can improve your home's energy efficiency.
It tends to feature a thickness of 6.5cm or more, and this should reach 7.5cm+ in the case of a heavily-loaded floor. It will likely cost £1 to £2 per kg to purchase floating screed.
✔ Can improve energy efficiency
✔ Ideal for going over thermal or acoustic insulation
✔ Suitable for homes with underfloor heating
✖ More difficult to source than regular floor screed
Should you need a quick setting screed, you should go for a fast-drying option, also known as an accelerated screed. You may need a fast-drying screed, such as if the floor has to be overlaid or moved in a short time span.
While traditional screed may take one to two days to set, fast screed can often do so in 6-12 hours and sometimes in as little as one to two hours, although it will depend on the product/brand. Fast-drying screed typically costs £14 to £18 per m2.
✔ Dries in half a day or less
✔ Perfect if you need to lay new flooring fast
✖ Not as cheap as regular floor screed
This popular type of flowing screed comes with a price tag of approximately £16 to £20 per m2, making it among the most expensive options. This choice has grown in popularity in recent years.
Liquid screed is perfect for underfloor heating since it will entirely surround the pipework and leave no gaps. In addition, liquid screed features no air pockets.
However, you can expect a patchier and less even surface if you use liquid screed over regular sand and cement screed. It has a setting time of about one to two days. It comes with a thickness of 3-4cm.
While liquid screed costs more to buy, it is often easier and quicker to install, meaning that you will probably save on labour costs. It is arguably the easiest type of floor screed to install.
✔ Ideal for underfloor heating
✔ Easy and quick to install
✖ Expensive supply cost
This type of screed involves a substrate being wholly bonded to the screed with the help of an adhesive. Often a solid, structural substrate will be used. It tends to be the screed of choice where heavy loading is a significant part of the project.
While a more costly option than that of partially bonded screed, it is less likely to break or suffer bonding loss. It will likely cost between £1 and £3 per kg to purchase bonded screed. It has a thickness of around 25-40mm.
✔ Suitable for heavy loading projects
✔ Stronger than partially bonded screed
✖ May be more difficult to find
This type of mix is fitted on top of a membrane with damp-proof qualities which in turn is positioned atop the concrete base. Therefore, in this case, you are screeding a concrete floor, which is in contrast to bonded screed. The membrane helps to limit any damage that might be caused by settlement, dampness and shrinkage.
However, the drying process must be performed just right. Otherwise, it can lead to curling, which sees the edges of the screed becoming warped. With fast drying times, the installation of unbonded screed can save you time and money.
One downside to this type of screed, however, is that the quality of the floor you'll end up with will be less than if you were to choose another kind of screed. Sand/cement unbonded screed has a thickness of 50mm, but if it is made of calcium sulphate, expect a thickness of 30mm.
✔ Sets fast
✔ Damp-proof membrane
✔ Allows for concrete floor screeding
✖ The drying process must be performed correctly
✖ Will not lead to the best floor quality
As we've mentioned, there are several types of floor screed which are suitable for underfloor heating, but there is also underfloor heating specific screed. It is an option that is laid directly atop the pipework of the underfloor heating system, as opposed to the insulation.
By excluding a layer of insulation, your heating system will not suffer from cold spots. Plus, you can expect a more congruous output.
This type of screed will probably cost £1 to £2 per kg.
✔ Perfect for underfloor heating
✔ Avoids cold spots in your heating system
✔ Consistent output achieved
✖ Not ideal if you already have insulation fitted
As shown in the previous section, there are many types of screed available, and each come with their own features and pros & cons. It's essential that you choose the correct floor screed and screed mix for your home.
If you are planning to hire a professional, you may want to consider consulting with them and checking whether they can source the screed for you. If you wish to perform the work DIY (see the next section), it may still be in your interest to enquire about the right floor screed with a professional, unless you are absolutely sure what type of screed you'll need for your home.
When hiring a screeding contractor, you'll want to find someone with plenty of experience. Ideally, they should also come with many strong references. The more experienced a professional is, the better a job you can expect, and hopefully, the sooner the work will be complete.
Should this be the case, you'll likely save on labour costs too. To find an appropriate contractor, you might want to get a recommendation from a friend or family member who has had this type of work performed before. A good professional will know exactly what process is needed to install the screed and what measures must be undertaken to protect the screed.
Firstly, it's important that the work area is prepared and that all the necessary tools are in place and ready for use. In some cases, premix products will be employed.
However, it is often the case that a screeding contractor will mix the raw screed materials on site. For regular floor screed, it will be created by combining cement and sharp sand with a ratio of either 1:3 or 2:9.
Liquid screed, on the other hand, may be gypsum-based or cement-based. As you can see, the mix will vary depending on the preferred screed type. Water is another key component of a screed mix and should be added at the right time and in the right quantities depending on the screed type that the professional is creating.
After mixing, the contractor will test the mix to ensure that it is correct, such as by squeezing a sample to check whether any moisture escapes.
To successfully install floor screed, it is essential that the surface area is flat. A batten can be utilised to create levels across the room. Sometimes professionals will create a frame with the screed mix. Next, the mix should be poured onto the floor in lumps before a trowel can be used to spread it out. The screeding process will, of course, vary depending on the type chosen.
As mentioned earlier, for underfloor heating screed, this is poured directly onto the pipework without the need for insulation. Liquid screed, in general, is used to completely envelop the pipework beneath the floor. Floating screed, on the other hand, is usually added on top of a layer of insulation.
Before installing bonded screed, it must be fixed to an appropriate substrate using an adhesive. Thus its installation process is a bit different than that of most floor screeds. On the other hand, unbonded screed is laid on top of a moisture-proof membrane which, in turn, is installed over a concrete base.
Where floor screed spreading is needed, it's generally preferable to add it to the area furthest away from the door. This minimises the risk of disturbing screed sections that have already been laid.
Next, the screed installer should use a straight edge to help spread the screed. It should be held as far away as humanly possible. Then, they can pull it back gradually along the top of the screed battens being used. If any dips are found, this can be fixed by adding the additional mix to fill the gap. Running over it with the float can achieve a more level finish.
After the work is complete, it's vital that the screed is protected. This could be achieved by covering it over with a polythene sheet, for instance. Aside from its protective nature, the sheet can help preserve the moisture levels in the mix as it sets.
Next, it's time to let the floor screed cure. Moisture is needed at this stage to maintain the shape of the screed. This prevents cracking. After several days, or hours (in the case of say a fast-drying screed), the protective covering can be removed to let the screed fully dry.
How long it will take to dry could depend on environmental conditions and additional considerations. Regular floor screeds drying times are particularly susceptible to weather conditions. Once the screed has dried, the work is now complete!
When having floor screed installed, you may see it as the perfect time to have some extra work performed on the house. For example, underfloor heating tends to cost around £55 to £70 per m2.
Should a home renovation be required, to have a wet floor heating system installed (that which is based on heating water), it will cost around £4000 to £4500 in total. To fit an electric underfloor heating under these same conditions would set you back approximately £1500 to £2000.
If you need planning permission approval, it will probably cost between £150 and £250 to apply. Should building regulations approval or/and an inspection be required, you can expect a charge of around £200 to £500.
Thankfully, floor screeding is a job that can be performed DIY so long as you know exactly what is involved. The difficulty of the work could depend on what the installation area is like and what type of floor screed is required.
For instance, while liquid screed has become increasingly popular in recent years, it is very challenging to work with and not the most suitable for DIY enthusiasts. Unless you purchase premixed screed, the mixing process should only be undertaken by those with experience. Even the application can be difficult, and it must be performed just right to achieve the desired results.
In accordance with building regulations, any floor insulation must meet minimum energy efficiency requirements. If this is not feasible for one reason or another, it is important to have this element upgraded within 15 years to the best standard that can be obtained using a straightforward payback.
If a quarter or more of a suspended or solid floor needs to see screed or a timber floor deck replacement, this would need to meet the standards set out by the Approved Documents of the building regulations. If building regulations apply to the work in your home, you will need a building control officer to sign off on the task.
Performing this work DIY can come with a range of risks and dangers. For instance, you might install the floor screed incorrectly. This would prove costly and lose you money in the long run. Floor screed can also cause irritation to the eyes and skin. It is essential that you take the necessary steps to avoid getting any floor screed on your person.
For instance, it could lead to serious eye damage. There is also the possibility of an allergic reaction. Each product of floor screed can come with its own risks, and you should read the manufacturer's warnings and guidelines carefully.
As with any work, there are pros and cons. In terms of the disadvantages for floor screeding, it can be difficult to apply, skirting boards need to be removed, and the work is disruptive all round.
Also, it can be expensive and should you perform the work DIY or unknowingly hire a cowboy contractor; there is a risk that things could go wrong. As mentioned, this would be costly.
The best way of achieving this is by fitting a damp-proof membrane, though it will depend on the type of screed being used.
You can mix floor screed using a screed/paddle mixer, which includes electrical and diesel products or an appropriate screed pump.
It is arguably, Ardex A 35, which should dry in just 3 hours.
Everbuild Self Levelling Screed would do the job.
Usually with to lay floor finishes, you can tell that the screed has set if there are no patches that are dark and wet along the floor. You can expect to still see a small amount of moisture beneath the polythene at this stage though. Sometimes screed will require a little longer to dry than anticipated.
You will need to purchase an appropriate screed with waterproof qualities.