For those of you who are not masonry contractors, it might be difficult to understand and differentiate between concrete and screed. For instance, you’ve heard of concrete, but have you heard of screed?

That’s where we’re here to help! Despite the fact that both materials are made from cement, aggregates and water, that’s largely where the similarities end.

Within their composition, screed and concrete feature differently-sized aggregates. They also differ in mix consistency and finish, because both serve separate purposes – concrete is a versatile construction material, while screed is applied as a layer atop concrete.

Below, we’ll walk you through their intended uses, benefits and everything else you need to know to tell them apart.


Physical Differences

We already mentioned above that both materials feature different size aggregates. Concrete is full of rough gravel aggregate (normally around 20mm) that make it strong and durable. This heavier texture is critical because concrete requires a thicker pour than screed (at least 100mm, and up to 200mm in some cases).

By contrast, screed utilizes crushed, finely ground sand with grains of 4mm in size. These grains give it a fine, tightly packed structure and make it suitable as a finishing layer to a concrete base. Screed is commonly laid with a thickness of about 50-100mm.

low shot of man cutting concrete with saw

Mix Consistency

Concrete is meant to have a wetter mix consistency than that of screed. Screed’s consistency should be non-crumbly and mostly dry.


Due to its strength, durability, long-lasting and non-combustible properties, concrete is used across the construction industry to build both large scale projects and small home renovation projects. It is the most used man-made material in the world.

Screed is applied on top of the concrete slab, either as a finishing layer or to level the floor prior to coverings like carpet, linoleum, wood or tiles. As a result, screed is needed on colorful and functional floors, as opposed to bare concrete surfaces. It is also useful when covering up heating systems, and acoustic or thermal insulation.


Concrete is non-combustible. Should a fire break out, it is a safe construction material choice. It is also economical and versatile, and can be matched to fit varying amounts and needs.

As well as providing aesthetic appeal to concrete, pouring a layer of screed extends the lifespan of concrete. Its compact mix of both finely ground sand and cement aggregates lend durability to the concrete that ultimately protects it from constant daily impact.


Concrete has a range of finishes that can help to give it desired character and personality. Whether you’d like your concrete floor to be smooth or textured, the options are endless. Screed creates a smooth level surface for the final finish; however, it must still be able to provide sufficient strength and support to the underlying concrete.

The bottom line? Both materials are beneficial when properly used. With an understanding of these dissimilarities, you will be able to determine which you’ll need to successfully complete a job or project.

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