How To Screed Cement

What You'll Need
2x4 - this needs to be about 1 foot wider than the walkway or area you are screeding
Screeding guides: these can be metal pipes, 2x4s or 2x6s
Tape measure

When you screed cement you are essentially making the cement flat. This is not the same as leveling it, as you can screed cement to be level or sloped, but screeding simply means making it flat between two guides. As it is the final and most visible surface of your cement path or driveway, it is important that you do this step accurately so that you can enjoy the area for years to come. Here is an easy-to-follow guide on how to screed cement.

Step 1 – Build Sublayers

Build the sublayers of your walkway first. Calculate the depth of the final layer so that you can adjust the border size and determine the amount of time that it will take for you to build the final layer of your walkway.

Step 2 – Measure

Measure the width of the area you are screeding and determine the amount of help, if any, that you expect. Hand screeding is time consuming, but often your best option to finish the job without having to buy or rent any additional tools.

Step 3 – Cut Guides

Measure and cut the guides for the area. The guides must be able to be tight on the ground so that they do not move. If you have a straight walkway, use either 2x4s, 2x6s or metal piles. For curved walkways, you can use slices of Masonite cut on your table saw to follow the pathway. All guides need to be secured in some way so that they do not move around during the process. Wood guides can be side screwed to the stakes, Masonite can be attached to the stakes with flat screws from the inside of the form to the stake.

Step 4 – Cut Lumber

For your screed, cut a 2x4 that is 1 foot wider than the pathway you will be working on. You will need to lay this across the guides and shake it back and forth from side to side so it must be long enough that it won’t fall off the guides.

Step 5 – Fill the Pathway with Cement

Overfill the pathway with cement beginning on the uphill end, if there is one. Pull the screed down, moving it from side to side, making sure that you are pulling the excess cement into any low spots. If the cement is running low or becomes not as overfilled, add more before continuing. It is important that you keep the cement overfilled throughout the screeding process to ensure that you fill all the lower lying areas.

Step 6 – Smooth Cement

Continue on the surface of your walkway to the end. The surface should be fairly flat, contain no holes and have no major bumps. It may look a little wavy at this point, but that will be fixed in the next stage of the development of your pathway, or floating the concrete.

Following these 6 easy steps will give you a beautifully smooth concrete surface.