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Smarter alternatives to traditional sand and cement

Tim Absolom shares questions technical teams are asked about commercial flooring and offers advice for specifying smarter alternatives to traditional sand and cement.

THE demand for larger warehouses has increased dramatically in the past few years with a 32% rise in the number of warehousing units since 2015. With the growth of online sales, warehousing now accounts for around two-thirds of all industrial space in the UK and getting the basics right for flooring is essential if you don’t want costly repairs in the future. For developers, speed is key to recovering their investment as soon as possible, so the quicker a new warehouse is up and running, the better.

How can we speed up time onsite?
If you need an efficient way to speed up a construction programme, specifying pre-bagged flooring products has many benefits.

Pre-bagged screed offers applicators time savings at every stage of the process. Weber pre-bagged screeds are liquid in nature and can be applied via a pump which can offer up to 90% time saving when compared to the labour involved with traditional sand and cement. Installing a traditional sand and cement floor can be back breaking work.

However, if you use a pump to apply your pre-bagged screed, you can cover up to 1,000sq m per day which equates to applying 3-4 tonnes per hour.

Compared to traditional sand and cement screed, pre-bagged screeds require considerably less product, typically two thirds less material. Traditional methods need a minimum thickness of 65mm when used on a floating floor; that’s 40mm more than, for example, weberfloor fibre rapid 4320 which only requires a minimum of 25mm.

Sand and cement takes a very long time to dry. The actual drying time for sand and cement is one day per 1mm up to 50mm depth, then two days per millimetre thereafter. In a commercial environment a 75mm sand and cement screed will take 100 days to become dry enough for covering under normal conditions.

Specifiers should choose a commercial or industrial screed that’s dry enough to walk on in 2-3 hours and will be dry enough to apply a floor covering or resin coating, or even drive a forklift on in just 48 hours. With sand and cement it would take more than 24 hours just to be safe to walk on. Not only does pre-bagged screed allow contractors to finish a project quicker, but it also means other trades can get on with their work and the building users can get in earlier, so everyone will see the benefit of these time savings.

Pre-bagged screed is manufactured in a quality-controlled environment and can also offer additional benefits such as enabling a higher quality of finish to be achieved more easily with self-smoothing levelling compounds.

We need to achieve a compressive flooring strength for a warehouse where a forklift will be used. Which flooring product should be specified?

It’s important to consider the weight of the method of transport as well as its potential load. Working to a worse-case scenario is a good idea so that the floor surface will be able to withstand the necessary loads. Weber’s strongest screed is weberfloor industry pro top 4610 with a compressive strength of 35 N/sq mm, the same as a standard M30 concrete mix.

How can we ensure we get minimal deviation in the floor level?
Environments such as warehouses, hospitals, TV studios, and laboratories require exceptionally flat and level floors to accommodate extremely sensitive equipment being transported. With more and more high-tech equipment and automation being used to carry fragile objects across large or small areas, it’s important there’s minimal vibration and a smooth surface.

Weber screeds can easily help you achieve a level and flat SR1 standard. Using a self-smoothing screed will require less manual correction which will aid the quality of the surface and reduce programme time.

How can we be more environmentally-friendly when replacing a damaged or worn floor?
Depending on the level of damage or wear, we would always advise on reuse rather than replace. On a recent project we were involved with, an asphalt sports court needed replacing. Traditionally, the asphalt would have been removed but to remove and transport it from an area that size would have been labour intensive and created lots of waste and unnecessary vehicle movements.

Our solution to reduce waste was to cover the existing court with a polythene membrane then apply a flooring system to create a new surface.

Weber’s flooring products have a low dust technology formulation to significantly reduce airborne particles created during the pouring and mixing process. This also makes for a more pleasant environment for applicators and site workers.

Weber’s products are manufactured here in the UK helping to reduce your carbon footprint and Weber has recently reformulated weberfloor products removing Portland cement to make them more comfortable and safer to use.

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