replacing failed screed with engineered wood floor

17 Oct 2011
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United Kingdom
I have a ground floor room approximately 7m x 4m (with some intrusions from a chimney and another room). The house is mid-terrace and dates from about 1935.

The floor is a concrete slab. It has a screed layer which is approximately 25mm thick.

At some point central heating was fitted. It seems like the screed layer and the concrete slab had a trench cut into it for the pipes going to the radiator. This was then filled in with some sort of cement mix. It was done quite badly and domes up above the screed all along the length of the pipe run. There are two pipe runs across the floor and they go under one of the walls into the kitchen.

The screed is extensively cracked and is completely broken up (pretty much dust) is some areas. 25mm seems very thin for screed to me and might explain why this has happened.

I would like to install an engineered wood floor. However in order to do that I need a level stable base to lay it on. It seems to me that the screed is so damaged that it will have to be removed.

My questions are:
1) if I dig up the screed can I lay the wood floor onto the concrete sub-floor without replacing the screed? This might help reduce the amount that the new floor will be higher than the old one. I would need a DPM and underlay. Or should I put down a replacement screed and put the wood floor on top of that?

2) What can I do about the dodgy pipe runs? I am comfortable soldering copper pipe, so if it comes down to it I can replace the pipe work. Should I try to break up the material that the pipes are buried in? and then re-bury the pipes? Is that plausible? How likely am I to damage the pipes? Should I drain the heating system first?

3) Due to the age of the floor, I doubt there is any insulation associated with it. What (if any) are the options for adding some insulation without raising the floor too much?

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