We often get asked about when an engineered screed should installed instead of a regular sand cement screed and as a second question, why we recommend the ScreedMax Pro S30 engineered screed.
Traditionally, Tilers use a sand cement screed as their “go to” screed which is perfectly fine in most cases. However, where it becomes problematic is when installing screed for vinyl, carpet, timber, epoxy or other soft or resilient finishings. Also, sand cements screeds are not fast drying and the pressures of the construction site often mean that Tilers are being pushed to install the tiles over the screed before it is fully cured and dried.
Both of these scenarios lead us to engineered screeds.
When installing for resilient finishing, Tilers will often use an polymer style admix to increase the strength of the screed, in particular the flexural strength, which effectively measures the degree of flex in the screed before it cracks – polymers adding flexibility before cracking occurs.
The problem with admixes is that they are expensive, often result in sticky, hard to work with screed and can dramatically reduce the working time as they effectively replace a portion the water content in the screed.
If Tilers add the correct amount of admix as proscribed on the datasheet (which is often 25% of the water content) this results in a very strong screed but one that dries very fast, is sticky and hard to work with and because of the rapid drying time is a risk of delaminating as the screed dries (and curls) faster than the adhesive can dry and bond the screed to the slab.
However, if Tilers only use a small amount of admix in order to avoid these problems, the flexural strength benefits of the polymer are not achieved and the addition of the polymer is largely a wasted exercise.
We have seen many times scenarios of Tilers putting in around 1/10th of the actual proscribed dose of admix into the screed. This allows the Tilers to say that they have used a polymer admix and also it doesn’t affect their working time or increase their risk of the screed going drummy but the flexural strength is not achieved and its largely a wasted exercise.
However, an engineered screed solves all these problems. We have worked with many engineered screeds over the years and find the ScreedMax Pro S30 screed to be at the top of the class for a number of reasons that demonstrate all the benefits of engineered screeds.
Firstly, the strength. S30 is a 30+ mpa engineered screed with a 6+ mpa flexural strength. This significantly exceeds the Australian Standards for screeds for resilient floor covering screeds which require a 20+ mpa polymer screed.
Secondly, the working time. Many engineered screeds are rapid drying. This causes installation problems as the Tilers are rushed to install before the screed cures. Topcem however is not a rapid drying screed. It has a good 1+ hour working time and is not sticky under the screed stick. It handles like an ordinary screed and our installers find it easy to work with. Once the screed sets however, it then dries quickly, being ready for tile the next day and ready for vinyl, carpet, epoxy etc after 4 days, having typically reached a sub 2% moisture content by that point.
Finally, the warranty. S30 comes with a 10 year warranty from ScreedPro and we issue comprehensive daily certifications that support our warranty, so you know that when you install an S30 screed supplied by ScreedPro that is has been correctly mixed and has the certification to back up your warranty.
But, what about the cost? It is true that engineered screeds supplied in pre-mixed 20kg bags can be expensive and this has long been a reason why Tilers and Builders will opt for a sand cement screed even when they should be using an engineered screed. However, ScreedPro has been leading the charge in dramatically reducing the cost of engineered screeds.
Because we handle these products in large quantities and have an extremely efficient supply chain we are typically able to more than halve the cost compared to 20kg format screeds.
We pride ourselves on always supplying the correct screed for the job and are happy to give our recommendation to Tilers, Builders, Architects and Engineers to ensure the correct screed is used for the job.
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