Microcement is a material that originates from the mixture of the basic ingredients of concrete, except for chemical modifications, which provide the key qualities that support the utility of this new material.
The composition of this coating is based on the union of a cementitious binder, unique aggregates, catalytic additives, inorganic pigments and synthetic resins.
The final product is a light mix that has high mechanical resistance and attractive aesthetic qualities, which are evident once the microcement has set.
What is microcement used for?
Despite its versatility to adapt and adhere to any flooring base, microcement is mostly used in domestic and commercial environments. Also, it is not only used to cover floors, but also walls, stairs, facades, etc.
Recently, its use has been concentrated merely on architectural and aesthetic purposes for indoor environments. Microcement is affordable, this makes it a strong competitor to polished concrete.
However, this competence occurs only in the field of residential, administrative and commercial buildings. When it comes to the industrial sector for industrial buildings, factories, etc., polished concrete is the appropriate finish for these floors.
Advantages and disadvantages of microcement
Below we highlight some of the main advantages of microcement as a construction material.
Advantages of microcement
- Creates a continuous coating, which doesn’t require any type of joints.
- It has a remarkable adherence, being able to adhere to a wide variety of base surfaces.
- It provides flooring with very reduced thickness, which tends to oscillate between 2 and 3 mm, making it very light.
- High mechanical resistance, and can withstand abrasive alterations caused by traffic and weather.
- Flame-retardant and aseptic material.
- Gloss finish can be preserved by simple maintenance.
Disadvantages of microcement
It is normal for a relatively new material such as microcement to present certain defects since it is subject to a necessary optimization process due to its novelty. These are its disadvantages:
- Its low thermal diffusion makes it a mediocre insulator, therefore, when faced with abrupt temperature fluctuations, it is useless at conserving the building’s heat.
- The glossy finish is highly susceptible to neglect, requiring frequent maintenance.
- Requires specialized and certified labour.
- Microcement surfaces are sensitive to physical alterations, so it is highly probable that it can develop scratches and stains.
- The time period of laying the microcement flooring can last a week, on average.
- They necessarily require a good supporting base, which is generally a fiberglass mesh.
Installing microcement floors
The application or placement of microcement is schematically a simple process, but the execution of each phase requires a particular knowledge to achieve the minimum quality standards.
Despite the great complications and technical demands, we will describe each of the installation phases:
Phase 1: Preparation of the surface
This phase involves all the preliminary activities needed to install a microcement floor, essentially based on cleaning the surface which is to be coated, for this reason, dust and other substances, in general, must be removed, such as fats and oils.
If possible, it is ideal to measure the humidity of the flooring, to verify the presence of water and correctly guarantee a dry surface.
A relevant detail is that the microcement is a non-leveling material, so it is advisable to check the flatness of the flooring to be coated. It is essential that the support surface is level.
Phase 2: Priming and meshing
This stage is the culmination of conditioning activities on the support surface, consisting of the application of an adhesive layer on the surface, which will later be accompanied by a fiberglass mesh.
The adhesive layer, also known as the bonding bridge, is a synthetic liquid used to increase the absorption of ceramic surfaces, strengthening the microcement.
The mesh is responsible for providing greater elasticity, dissipating deformations and, increasing resistance to cracking.
Phase 3: Application of microcement basecoats
Once the preliminary activities are finished, it is time to proceed to the first application of the microcement, which must be distributed evenly, with the appropriate equipment (metal trowel), throughout the surface. In this phase, 2 coats of the mix are applied, which will require consistent sanding to achieve a thin layer.
Phase 4: Application of the microcement finish
Similar to that previous phase, this consists of placing 2 uniform layers of microcement, with the difference that a rubber trowel is used for the distribution of the mixture. Also, the thickness of these layers must be considerably thicker than the one in the previous phase.
Phase 5: Sealant
Lastly, it is necessary to apply a sealant, which is the main protective barrier against wear, and it’s also the layer that provides waterproofing and shine. Usually, 2 layers of polyurethane sealant is used, at a temperature between 10 and 30 °C.
Polished concrete or microcement floor?
To finish, we will mention that microcement is fairly current and has a beautiful finish for home or office interiors.
However, if its to build or renovate an industrial building, polished concrete would be the ideal material, which is a treatment that has already been proven to provide quality, and safety.
If this is the case, the BECOSAN® treatment is a complete system for polishing industrial floors that meets the requirements that an industrial floor must have.