Screeding is leveling and smoothing the top layer of a material that is poured, such as concrete, so the material is the same height as the forms, or guides, that surround it. While smoothing concrete is a common example used in gardening and home improvement, one can also use the concept in the kitchen. When a person measures a cup of flour, then uses a knife to smooth the top, the flour is compacted and has a smooth top layer. This is screeding in its basic form.
The most common use of screeding is in gardening and landscaping applications, such as building a back patio. The contractor pours concrete into the pre-set forms or guide and allows it to fill to a certain height. Screeding must be done after this step to ensure the concrete area will be level when it dries. To do this properly, one must use a tool that is larger than the guides and slowly move it over the guides. At the same time, the tool must be moved in a back and forth motion to level and smooth the concrete.
For do-it-yourself projects, a screeding tool can be something as simple as a piece of wood that is longer than the width of the slab of material being smoothed. Contractors pouring a back patio or driveway might use a long piece of aluminum or timber as a screeding tool. In this case, one worker would be positioned at each end of the piece of wood in order to create the back and forth motion. At the same time, the workers must apply downward force to the tool while moving it along the top of the forms.
Professional contractors may also use a Power Screed, an engine-powered tool used for large-scale areas, such as a shopping mall or high-rise building. A variety of tools, with varying price ranges, are available to ensure that screeding can be performed in the most efficient manner for the size of the job.