Gypsum concrete (known as gypcrete) is a lightweight and versatile underlayment solution for residential and commercial buildings. With efficient installation and a unique set of performance benefits, the material makes a superior underlayment for multi-family and commercial construction.
Consider: it pairs with any flooring option, creating a flat surface for finished floor goods like tile, carpet, hardwood, and more. Additionally, gypcrete meets UL certification standards for thermal insulation and fire safety standards; seals out moisture and mold; and offers excellent soundproofing.
Let’s explore gypcrete’s uses and benefits further in this concise guide.
Gypcrete, a gypsum-based underlayment, is a blend of gypsum cement, sand, water and Portland cement, and sand. It’s often used for subfloors to provide a flat surface for finished floor coverings. Installation crews pump the material over structural concrete, wood substrates or precast concrete planks, resulting in a flat and smooth surface.
Gypcrete is fairly new compared to traditional concrete, but it’s by no means untested—the mixture was first introduced over 65 years ago. Today, it is exceedingly popular in both commercial and residential construction projects.
Unlike traditional heavy concrete, gypcrete averages just 115 to 125 pounds per cubic foot. This lightweight quality—along with fire resistance and sound insulation properties—makes the material an ideal choice for both new construction and renovation projects.
While gypcrete is not a structural material, it does offer robust compressive strength—with products reaching compressive strengths of up to 7,000 psi.
The process of mixing and pouring gypcrete closely mirrors that of concrete. Additives are mixed with water to create a slurry, which is then poured onto the flooring substrate. The material’s self-leveling property ensures an even and uniform distribution, and it is walkable within a few hours. This efficiency in application accelerates construction timelines .
In the following sections, we’ll delve the benefits of gypsum-based underlayments in greater detail, offering a comprehensive understanding of the scenarios in which gypcrete can seamlessly integrate into your contracting projects.
Benefits of Using Gypcrete
Using a gypcrete underlayment in a building project has benefits for the contractors, building owners, and residents alike. With a simple pour, it creates a smooth and flat surface that is ready to accept finished floor goods. In addition to ease of installation, gypcrete underlayments increase a building’s energy efficiency, improve soundproofing, promote fire resistance, and help prevent mold growth.
1. Fast and Flat Installation
Gypsum-based underlayments are installed quickly and efficiently – offering potential schedule gains for new construction and renovation projects. Gypcrete installation requires only a water source, and an area for a placer pump, sand and material laydown.
Within minutes of application, contractors can resume traffic on the surface. Controlled traffic helps the general contractor release subsequent trades sooner. At Kent Companies, we pride our teams on being able to pour up to 20,000 square feet of underlayments in a single day.
Gypcrete’s rapid turnaround not only optimizes project efficiency for contractors but also expedites building occupancy, which drives returns for the building owner.
2. Thermal Insulation and Energy Efficiency
Gypsum (the mineral used to make gypcrete) is the key to many of the material’s benefits. Gypsum is known for having low thermal conductivity; it stops warmth from escaping in the winter and keeps outside heat from permeating in the summer. Therefore, gypcrete enhances the energy efficiency of a building’s heating and air conditioning systems. Not only is this a plus for the environment, but it’s also a cost-saving measure.
Additionally, gypcrete is an ideal cover for radiant floor heating systems. Using gypcrete as an underlayment, you can run radiant floor heating tubes at a lower temperature than you would need to with other underlayments. Again, this demonstrates the energy efficiency of the system.
3. Sound Control and Acoustic Performance
When combined with an acoustic sound control mat, gypcrete serves as a highly effective sound barrier, effectively mitigating the transmission of sound between floors and walls. The strategic pairing of gypcrete’s material density with an entangled filament sound mat creates a robust sound control system that significantly diminishes building noise.
This feature is particularly advantageous in residential and commercial environments, where enhancing acoustic performance can help minimize tenant turnover. The costs associated with tenant acquisition—ranging from promotional efforts to property tours —underscore the value of retaining occupants. Incorporating gypcrete underlayments in conjunction with sound mats not only gives your construction project an elevated level of quality but also enhances tenant contentment—fortifying the building’s appeal.
4. Fire Resistance and Safety
From a safety standpoint, gypcrete can contribute to fire design ratings, if the product carries a UL rating from the manufacturer. (This Maxxon design reference specifies how its gypcrete products contribute to the fire designs for various floor assemblies.)
Fire safety in your construction project is imperative. Make it a priority to choose a gypcrete underlayment that is UL-rated.
5. Moisture Resistance and Mold Prevention
Moisture is often a construction project’s biggest nemesis. Water on its own can cause serious damage to a building’s foundation—and mold, should it follow, presents a serious health hazard. Investing in building materials that prevent and limit the growth of mold is critical.
Though it is not completely water resistant, mold cannot grow in gypcrete. Additionally, a gypcrete underlayment provides a smooth and insulating surface for waterproofing layers [[link to: Securing Your Commercial Property: An Introductory Guide to Commercial Waterproofing]]. Adding a sealant like waterproofing membrane between the gypcrete and flooring layer will prevent moisture from seeping into the underlayment.
Partner with Kent Companies for Your Poured Underlayments
Choosing gypcrete-based underlayments is an efficient, cost-effective option. Gypcrete keeps your projects on schedule with efficient prep, installation and fast cure times. And when it comes to installation, there’s no better team to call for the job than Kent Companies.
With over 35 years of experience in underlayment applications, we are the go-to gypcrete installers across the Midwest and Southeast. Contact our team to get an estimate for your gypcrete underlayment project or to learn more about our processes.