Quality, durability and a fast finishing time were on the menu for the construction of a new Bella Italia restaurant in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire. Staffordshire-based specialist screed contractor Midlands Floor Screeding served up the right ingredients for the job.

The busy public environment of popular Italian chain restaurant needed the expert eye of a screeding specialist to achieve a quality finish quickly and reliably. Construction of the brand new outlet, at Huntingdon’s Towerfields Leisure Park, was managed for client Legal & General Property by main contractor Bowmer & Kirkland Building Services, who chose Midlands Floor Screeding (MFS) to install the floor screed above a layer of insulation in June.

“We work well with Bowmer & Kirkland,” explains Liane Dewsbury from MFS. “For this project they had specified 40mm Kingspan Koolthem K3 insulation and Tarmac Building Products’ Cemscreed for the main floor screed.”

Kingspan’s Kooltherm phenolic insulation board was supplied by specialist distributor Minster. It was the product of choice for use in the new restaurant thanks primarily to its quality, fire resistant properties and health and safety credentials.

David Baker, manager of Minster’s Birmingham branch, comments: “We are pleased to be working with MFS and glad that we’re able to offer them the appropriate solutions for their projects, such as the Bella Italia restaurant. Close partnerships to leading manufacturers like Kingspan mean that we’re capable of supplying a solution that is technically right for our customer and meets the desired standard of performance. For this particular project, taking into account the type of environment, Kingspan was the specified product to use due to the high footfall. We had a dedicated team that worked with MFS, providing them with technical support and specifications, suitable for flooring projects of this nature.”

The floor screed, Tarmac Cemscreed, is one with which MFS was already very familiar. Liane Dewsbury explains: “It’s very widely used; we’ve got really good experience of using it on other projects, including offices, schools and care homes. It’s very durable, which makes it ideal for public environments that are going to have very heavy footfall, and it comes with a
10-year guarantee.”

Richard Bakewell, Tarmac Building Products’ national screed manager, adds: “Cemscreed is a high strength, rapid-drying floorscreed that is perfectly suited to areas of heavy use. Our strict quality control offers cement, fibres and an additive within one bag, ensuring the correct materials are used batch after batch, which in turn gives our customers the peace of mind that the screeded floor is right every time. We also work very closely with our customers, giving technical advice on contracts, through to ensuring the deliveries are made on time.”

This faster drying time, of around 1.5mm per day, enables following trades to gain access to the site sooner, helping to ensure minimal, if any, delays to the overall programme.

“We had three guys working on site,” says Liane. “The job took four working days from start to finish, beginning on Monday morning and completing on Thursday afternoon. That included installing the insulation, laying and datum-set levelling the screed. By the end of the Friday the floor was dry enough to take light foot traffic but not for second fix, like tiles. Within 24 hours the follow-on trades were able to come in.”

The work area was ready for MFS to get going as soon as the team arrived on site. All products were ordered 10 days ahead for a ‘just in time’ delivery by 8am on the start day. “This is easily achievable if you order in advance,” comments Liane. “When we arrive on site we want
to start working straight away!”

In total MFS installed 800 square metres of the Kingspan insulation and Cemscreed floor screed. Once around 400 metres of the insulation had been completed the team was able to start carefully laying the screed. After the first 100 metres of screed had been laid, expansion joints were put in to prevent cracking. “You will always get some slight cracking around the edges,” explains Liane Dewsbury. “And the weather has a significant effect. In the hot weather we had in July we needed to lay protective sheeting over fresh screeds we were working on to prevent it from drying out too quickly, contracting and cracking.”

Although the restaurant’s floor plan includes a number of different areas, including the main dining space, kitchen, service drop and men’s, women’s and disabled toilets, MFS had a single open floor to work with as the partitioning was to be installed at a later date. Once the restaurant floor was ready to accept the finished covering, it was expected that the public spaces would use a blend of ceramic tiles and wood effect vinyl with the kitchen and service areas receiving a tough resin surface. The restaurant is due to open in early autumn.

“It was a successful job,” concludes Liane Dewsbury. “The team from Bowmer & Kirkland was good to work with, and we completed slightly ahead of programme which gave them an extra day.”

Project: Bella Italia restaurant
Location: Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire
Client: Legal & General Property
Main contractor: Bowmer & Kirkland
Specialist contractor: Midlands Floor Screeding
Materials: Tarmac Cemscreed; Kingspan Kooltherm K3 insulation
Supplier: Tarmac Building Products; Minster Insulation and Drylining
Date: June 2013
Project value: Screeding – £16,500