Micro cement (or Micro Concrete) is a relatively new finishing method that an increasing number of people are using in their interior designs. The main benefits of it are that it allows you to create a beautiful concrete finish to surfaces that wouldn’t usually be able to support this type of finish. It’s also much easier and cheaper than a full concrete finish.
In order to determine if this could be a viable solution for your next project, we’ve put together this in-depth guide.
What Is Micro Cement?
Micro cement is a kind of cement-based coating. Typically, it gets applied on surfaces like wood and tile. It is cheaper than real cement. Plus, people can achieve the “cement look” without ripping previous materials out because micro concrete can get put over most materials.
It feels and looks like concrete, but it is much easier and quicker to apply than real concrete. You do not need a lot of micro cement to create a surface that looks like complete cement. Therefore, it is ideal for people who want to remodel commercial and residential places without disrupting daily activities for long.
What Is Micro Cement Made Out of?
Micro cement is made out of polymers, additives, very fine aggregates and natural color pigments. The exact materials and amounts will vary on the manufacturer, but those are the main materials.
What Are the Benefits of Micro Cement?
Firstly, it is very convenient, especially compared to real cement. It often comes in one prepackaged mix. This means that people do not need professional tools to mix the cement. Manufacturers usually sell them in a prepacked bag to eliminate errors when their customers use them. That way, the result will stay as consistent as possible.
Another advantage is that it dries fast. Homeowners and designers love it because it allows people to change surfaces with minimal disruption. It can take 1-5 days for each coat of micro cement to dry, but it will depend on the project and manufacturer. Real cement takes weeks to cure and dry, but micro concrete can be good to go within a week.
Regular concrete requires a lot of water to use, which is one of the reasons it takes so long to dry. However, micro concrete usually requires a liquid polymer or water (depending on the instructions) to use it. It consumes a lot less liquid than conventional concrete, so it is more cost-effective.
Another huge benefit is that you do not have to remove most materials to apply micro cement. Unlike real cement, micro concrete only needs to be applied in a thin layer. Therefore, people do not have to remove tons of wood or tiles to use it. Once the area is prepped and has a base coat, a few coats of micro cement are more than enough to cover the previous materials.
Plus, cement is not very porous. Porous materials mean that things like water, bacteria, dirt, etc., can easily seep into the material, leading to mold, fungus, nasty smells and more. It has very low permeability. Bacteria and germs from the kitchen and bathrooms will not settle into it. Therefore, it can be applied in and outside of bathrooms and kitchens.
A great reason why people opt for micro cement instead of regular cement is that people do not need a lot to get the job done. It only needs to get applied in thin layers, making the micro concrete about several centimeters thick. It is much thinner than regular concrete slabs that have to be about 5-6 inches thick.
Does Micro Cement Replace Conventional Cement?
No, micro cement cannot replace conventional cement in some cases. It is a coating that people can apply to most surfaces. Typically, it is to create a concrete look and feel. However, real cement can be poured on thickly, becoming parts of the foundation of a property. Micro concrete is only a coating to mimic the look of real concrete, but it cannot replace how concrete is normally used.
Where People Use Micro Cement
People can use micro concrete in commercial and residential spaces. It is common to use on kitchen shelves and surfaces because it delivers a contemporary and clean look. As mentioned earlier, it is not a porous material. Therefore, it is a safe material to use in the kitchen.
You may also apply it to your walls and floors since it is a durable material. For instance, people can use it to their bathroom tiles (on the floors or walls) for a concrete aesthetic. If there are parts of the bathroom or kitchen that are unsightly, like splashbacks, micro concrete can cover that.
How Long Does It Take for Micro Cement to Dry?
It can take 2-5 days for micro cement to completely dry. The exact time will vary based on how many coats a person wants to apply and the type of micro concrete that’s used. However, it will be “soft” for the first few weeks, so there should be minimal weight on it. It fully hardens after 28 days, which is when people can place more weight onto it.
Does Micro Cement Crack?
No, micro cement does not crack. The materials used to the cement are strong, so it is unlikely to crack once applied. However, it is possible to crack micro concrete if tensile forces get applied to it aggressively. For instance, slamming a large mallet repeatedly against micro cement can make it crack eventually. However, regular foot traffic, heavy objects, etc., will not crack it.
Can Micro Cement Cover Other Materials?
Yes, it can cover other materials. In most cases, previously applied materials do not have to get removed to apply it. It is very adhesive and can stick to surfaces like wood, tiles, plastic, concrete, etc. Additionally, it will not detach from the material over time, so it is very durable and long-lasting.
Is Micro Cement Expensive?
No, micro cement is generally not expensive, especially if a person wants to cover a large surface area. It is also much cheaper than traditional cement since people usually need to use large amounts of cement. Therefore, it would be cheap to buy and use, especially if people plan on applying micro cement on larger surfaces. However, it can be a bit costly if a person only wants to cover a small space.
Is Micro Cement Cheaper Than Tiles?
In most cases, micro cement can be cheaper than tiles. The cost of the cement, labor, etc., is usually very affordable. It will mostly depend on the type of tiles and surface area people want to cover. For instance, low-quality tiles may be cheaper than micro concrete for larger projects. However, it is not always guaranteed that cheaper tiles would be more durable.
Is Micro Cement Waterproof?
Yes, micro cement is waterproof. It contains special polymers that allow it to be waterproof. Polymer’s main uses used to be to protect ship hulls from corrosion. Therefore, the concrete itself will be resistant to water. There are also special varnishes available to apply over dried cement to add extra protection from moisture.
Does Micro Cement Require Maintenance?
No, it does not require much maintenance. It is a non-porous material, so it will not absorb any scents, bacteria, germs, dirt, etc., over time. Additionally, it does not create any debris, unlike other materials, such as wood. Therefore, the only maintenance is to clean it to keep it looking new.
You may clean your cement surfaces daily. Ideally, it would be best to use water mixed with a mild detergent that has a pH over 6. Using detergents with a pH over 6 will ensure that the cleaning process will not ruin the varnish. A self-polishing wax that is diluted in water can also be done to maintain its aesthetics over the years.
Can Micro Cement Get Applied Over Furniture?
Yes, micro cement can get applied to most kinds of furniture. For instance, it is common to use over tabletops, kitchen counters, kitchen cabinets, etc. You can even apply it on doors. However, it cannot be applied over fabric.
Can Micro Concrete Be Used as a Fireplace Coating?
Yes, it can be used for a fireplace coating. It is very resistant to changes in temperature, so it can handle the sudden heat made by a fireplace. Plus, it is easy to clean. Therefore, it is suitable for the walls around the fireplace and the fireplace itself.
Can People Use Micro Cement to Finish a Pool?
Yes, micro cement can work for pool finishing. As stated earlier, it is waterproof, so it will not crack or break underwater. Additionally, it is resistant to UV radiation. So, it is ideal for repairing and finishing swimming pools. Remember that it should get applied onto a dry load-bearing surface to stick correctly.
How to Apply Micro Cement
Typically, micro concrete systems have primer, two coats of cement, and a layer of varnish. All of these layers will be about 3 mm thick. Therefore, a person would need to have a primer and varnish ready when they buy cement. Keep in mind that the exact instructions will vary on what you want to cover, the type of micro cement, etc.
To apply it, prepare the area first. The targeted area needs to be clean. Debris and dust can cause air bubbles in the cement and make it uneven. So, using a vacuum and wiping down the area well would be ideal.
Next, the sub-base, which makes the surface flat and even, should be good. However, a sub-base is normally only important for surfaces like wrecked floors. If a person is covering a kitchen counter with tile, wood walls, etc., they may not require a sub-base.
Apply a primer to the targeted area. The primer will prep the area, prevent materials from seeping through and neutralize any colors. It normally takes 20-40 minutes for the primer to dry, depending on how the surface absorbs materials and the weather.
Next, apply protective tape around the edges of the targeted area to prevent micro concrete from getting on unwanted areas. For instance, people can apply tape on the floor’s edges to prevent drips from a wet wall. Now, you need to apply about 1 mm of micro cement and let it dry. Lightly sand the area once it is dry, then repeat the process with another coat.
Typically, micro cement should get a sealer once it is dry. A sealer will prevent any potential absorption the micro cement has, making it more waterproof. It also enhances the overall color of it. Varnish gets applied to the micro concrete once the sealer is dry. People can choose from satin, matte, or shining varnish.
Does Micro Cement Need to Get Replaced?
No, it rarely needs to get replaced. In most cases, it can last for decades because it is very durable. It is especially true if the substrate below the cement can handle the load and is stable. Micro concrete only needs to get replaced in very rare cases if there is extremely heavy foot traffic, earthquakes, etc. Typically, a varnish layer is the only thing that it needs to look new again if there are no cracks.
Micro concrete is ideal for adding a concrete look to spaces without using actual concrete. It is cost-effective, quick to install, and very durable. It can get applied to most materials and last for years. Overall, it is a worthwhile material to use for most fast remodels.