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Screed vs. Self-Leveling Compound: Understanding the Differences

When it comes to flooring projects, choosing the right surface preparation method is essential for achieving a level and durable foundation. Two popular options often used are screed and self-leveling compound. While both are designed to level surfaces, they have distinct characteristics and applications. In this blog post, we will delve into the differences between screed and self-leveling compound, helping you make an informed decision for your flooring project.

What is Screed?

Screed is a thin layer of cementitious material applied over a concrete or subfloor surface. Its primary purpose is to provide a level and smooth base for various flooring materials, such as tiles, wood, vinyl, or carpet. Screed can be made from traditional sand and cement mix or be an engineered self-leveling screed that contains specialized additives for improved flowability.

Advantages of Screed:

  1. Suitable for Large Areas: Screed is ideal for larger flooring projects as it can be applied in larger quantities efficiently.

  2. Enhanced Durability: Screed provides a strong and stable base, enhancing the durability and longevity of the final floor.

  3. Compatible with Underfloor Heating: Certain types of screed, such as self-leveling engineered screed, are compatible with underfloor heating systems.

  4. Cost-Effective: Traditional sand and cement screed is a cost-effective solution for leveling floors.

What is Self-Leveling Compound?

Self-leveling compound, also known as self-leveling underlayment, is a specialized flooring material designed to create a smooth and level surface. It is a mixture of cement, aggregates, and other additives that automatically levels itself when poured, eliminating the need for extensive manual leveling.

Advantages of Self-Leveling Compound:

  1. Rapid and Efficient Application: Self-leveling compound spreads evenly and quickly, reducing installation time and labor costs.

  2. Excellent for Thin Layers: Self-leveling compound can be applied in thin layers, making it suitable for minor leveling adjustments.

  3. Ideal for Small Areas: It is particularly useful for smaller flooring projects where the volume of screed may not be cost-effective.

  4. Superior Self-Leveling Properties: Self-leveling compound can achieve a more precise level surface with minimal manual intervention.

  5. Can also be used with underfloor heating systems

Differences between Screed and Self-Leveling Compound:

  1. Application Method: Screed is typically applied manually and requires skilled labor to level and spread the mixture evenly. On the other hand, self-leveling compound is poured onto the surface and automatically levels itself.

  2. Thickness: Screed is generally applied in thicker layers, ranging from 15mm to 75mm, depending on the type and application. Self-leveling compound is typically applied in thin layers, ranging from 2mm to 15mm.

  3. Drying Time: Screed can take several days to dry and cure fully. In contrast, self-leveling compound dries relatively quickly, often within a few hours.

  4. Area Coverage: Screed is more suitable for larger flooring projects, while self-leveling compound is more efficient for smaller areas or when thin leveling is required.


Choosing between screed and self-leveling compound depends on the specific requirements of your flooring project. Screed is a durable and cost-effective solution for larger areas, while self-leveling compound offers rapid application and precise leveling for smaller spaces. It's crucial to consider factors such as project size, leveling requirements, and drying time when making your decision.


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