What is a Microcement?
Microcement has become an increasingly popular material amongst interior designers, architects, builders and homeowners looking to achieve an industrial interior and concrete aesthetic where it would not normally be possible. Microcement is a great product for those wishing to achieve a completely seamless floor / wall finish that is grout-free and aligns with contemporary and modernistic trends.
Microcements are effectively polymer modified cement-based coatings applied typically at 2-3mm. Formulated with polymers, ultra-fine aggregates, additives and natural colour pigments, they can be applied to surfaces such as floors, walls, stairs, ceilings to create a decorative coating indicative of that of a concrete effect finish in both domestic and commercial environments.
Microcement products are also known by other trade names such as MicroCrete®, microscreed, microcemento, micro-concrete and bentoceire to name but a few. These products will differ slightly due to their qualities, aesthetics and overall performance. Therefore its always recommended utilise a quality product and experienced installer if you are considering a finish such as this.
Microcements are a great options for living and work spaces due to the possibility of achieving a decorative concrete finish that is grout / join free and completely seamless. The systems can be customised in terms of colour and finish to be as unique as your fingerprint whist offering superior hygienic and hypoallergenic properties.
Polished Concrete vs Microcement?
We are often asked, what are the benefits of a microcement over polished concrete. For our experience, these are the key advantages;
More Control of Colour & Finish
There generally much more control over colour, tone, texture and overall aesthetics with that of a Microcement that that of a polished concrete finish due to the method of application and control over products and pigment measurements.
Low Applied Thickness
Due to the application requirements, the products can be applied from 2-3mm in depth (exclusive of any preparation needs).
Multiple Uses & Applications
Due to the application process, Microcements can be applied on floors, walls and ceilings in both domestic and commercial environments.
Less Heavy / Noisy Machinery
The requirements for heavy and noisy grinding / polishing machinery is not generally required, therefore it is possible to apply these products in areas where a traditional polished concrete floor would not have been possible previously.
Fast Drying / Installation Time
The application time required for a microcement finish is significantly reduced when compared to that of polished concrete. A standard installation would normally take 4-5 days (which may differ depending on size and complexity).
Installation Timing Flexibility
Due to the reduced installation time requirements, a microcement installation could be undertaken towards the end of a project, thus reducing the possibility of damage / compromise as a result of third parties or other trades. For examples, installation could take place once a kitchen has been fitted.
Retro Fitting / Installation Possibilities
Microcements in many cases can be retro fitted, meaning that as long as the substrates are stable they can be applied over many existing floor finishes with minimal height build ups or excavation of existing substrates.
Microcements by their own nature are less prone to cracking than that of a polished concrete floor. In general, any new substrates should have been installed, cured, dried with any UFH fully commissioned prior to installation of the micro cement and any underfloor heating commissioning undertaken in advance, thus reducing the possibility of cracking significantly.
Considering Microcement for your project?
If you’re considering a microcement for your project, its very important to consider the following points/questions to ensure that you get the very best products and skill of installers;
Whist many microcements are classed as decorative floor coverings rather than that of a resilient floor finish, it is important to ensure that you choose one which meets with your needs in terms or look, aesthetics and durability. We would suggest investigating the following points;
How durable is their Microcement product?
It is important that the product is both aesthetic and durable. Most microcement products include fine granite / quartz as part of their make up which increases durability and catch resilience, however some microcements substitute this in leu of marble or ceramic powders which are often much softer and more prone to scratching / marking. Some Microcements behave similar to a wood floor and need re-sealing during their lifespan depending on foot traffic to remain truly sealed and to ensure optimum performance.
Is their Microcement product prone to staining?
In general microcement systems are breathable surfaces similar to that of a traditional polished concrete finish, therefore not impervious to staining or liquid damage. Although all spillages should be wiped up as soon as possible, we would suggest that a sample is requested and tested to ensure that it meets with your requirements.
Are any solvent sealers used in the application process?
Many installers choose to use solvent based sealers over that of safer water based polyurethanes or impregnating sealers.
Solvents, also known as VOCs (volatile organic compounds), are used in many construction products such as paints, thinners and glues. Potentially harmful solvents include toluene, xylene, white spirit, acetone and ethyl acetate. Certain tasks, such as spraying, can produce very high exposures. These substances can be very problematic for those with those with underline health issues, breathing difficulties, the young and elderly, so should be avoided where for a safer alternative.
Choosing an installer of Microcement
With many new training courses for Microcements available in the UK, it would of course be essential to ensure that any installer has adequate experience in order to carry out the required task to the required standards.
It is highly recommended to use an experienced contractor whom specialises in residential installations as quality of workmanship and attention to detail is essential. In many cases some form of preparation will be required which the installer should feel comfortable in explaining. Don’t be afraid to ask any potential installers about their experience and how long they have been installing the products to ensure you feel confident of their ability to carry out the works. Also ask if they are an approved applicator of the products and if the manufacturer would warrant their work and product especially in the event of any issues.
Examples of Work
Where possible ask to see examples of work, recent and past installations or even commercial areas undertaken by the contractors which can be viewed at your leisure.
Price & Product Quality
When making your enquiries, you may in many cases see a fairly similar pattern in installation costs for the microcement element of works or minimum charges. Be wary of any cheaper costs that fall outside of this pattens as some installers may often utilise cheaper products and process’ or may not have the necessary experience to carry out a quality installation, especially if no examples of work can be provided. Please appreciate that this is not a cheap flooring solution so any such prices should reflect that. A normal installation should take around 4-5 days to install so any companies quoting cheaper or quicker may be cutting corners. Reputation is everything in high end floors so do your homework!
Get a Quotation or Further Information
For more information on our selection of Microcement products, please don’t hesitate to call us on 02070968990.