How soon is too soon to walk on a freshly laid screed?

May 2012

Poll taken on our two educational websites.

When will it be safe to walk (light foot traffic) on screed?

Is it :

  • 12 hours
  • 24-48 hours
  • 48-96 hours
  • 96-196 hours
  • >196 hours

No matter how good the quality of your screed or how well it has been laid, achieving the expected quality from your screed could depend on your answer to this simple question.

It is often the minor details that make a big difference. No matter how careful you are about the major technicalities, a minor omission of the basic details is all it takes to render the best laid plans futile. And, this is just the point we are trying to put across through our specialist educational websites- and .

A deeper look into the issue of failing screeds reflects quite clearly that it is most often the lack of attention to the minor details in planning, screed protection and aftercare that are seen to be at the root of screed failures, rather than poor workmanship or inferior quality of screeds.

The poll we conducted, in 2012 on our Screed Scientist and Screed Protection websites regarding the allowing of light foot traffic yielded some interesting results .We asked our readers:

When do you believe it is ok to walk on a freshly screeded surface, i.e. allow light foot traffic?

We were happy to note that the majority of our readers were aware of the fact that light foot traffic is permissible on freshly laid screeds only after a minimum of 24-48 hours after installation. However, considering that nearly 45% of the readers voted for the options ranging from 48hours to >196 hours, we would say – when exercising extra caution can do no much serious harm other than unnecessary waste of time, what could actually be damaging to the quality of the screed is the commencement of traffic earlier than the 24-48 hour waiting period. (13% of the voters believed it is permissible to allow light foot traffic as early as 12 hours after screeding).

When it is true that it is possible to allow light foot traffic as early as 12 hours after screeding for certain modified screeds, the same cannot be said of traditional cementitious screeds, which require a longer drying period. Traditional screeds generally require a complete drying period of nearly 110 days, though light foot traffic is permissible from 24-48 hours after screeding. But, what is to be remembered is that the loading of heavier weights or allowing heavier traffic before allowing a drying period of at least 28 day (for the screed to reach its final strength) can seriously affect the quality of the screed.

Paying attention to these little details can go a long way in achieving high quality screeds and help tackle the ever daunting issue of failing screeds. To know more about all those little things about screeding that you think you are not sure of, just click on these links and visit us at our Screed Scientist and Screed Protection websites.

Update 3rd Nov 2015
This page does really well in search engines, so we thought we would go and take a look at the poll, which is still running, to see if anything has changed. Three times the sample size and pretty consistent.


48% are in the ball park