Yes, you can make furniture from microcement. Before you start you will need to determine your core material. You will need a structural material like plywood or some kind of metal to act like rebar does in regular concrete, to give it strength and durability. Then it is simply a succession of thin coats till you reach the desired thickness and look.
Microcement is an increasingly popular material for use in the construction of a wide range of things, but the idea of microcement furniture can leave a lot of people scratching their heads in confusion. It is not as strange as it sounds; making furniture with microcement is not much different from making it with other materials since the microcement is a finish, not a structural material.
This confusion naturally stems from the “cement” in microcement, which puts people in mind of the ubiquitous grey building material that is used to make immense structures like bridges and skyscrapers. While microcement does share its origins with regular cement, it is not the same product and is intended to be used in a very different manner.
Unlike regular cement, microcement has a certain amount of flexibility to it and is intended to be used as a coating, much like plaster. Rather than creating a form or mold and pouring your cement in, you would create your furniture from a more cost-effective material like wood or plywood and then coat the furniture in a layer of microcement to get a finish that looks like polished concrete but at considerably less cost, effort, and with a more manageable piece of furniture to show for it since the resulting item will be significantly lighter than if it had been made from concrete.
Some of the more popular examples of furniture made from microcement are tables and other pieces of furniture with large flat surfaces that are on show. Concrete is a popular material for fixed countertops—and, indeed, microcement is also used for this—but while concrete can be used to make a table, microcement allows for the construction of a table that will have the same look and feel without weighing the same as a small car!
Is Microcement as Durable as Regular Cement?
There are a few ways to consider the durability of microcement as it compares to regular cement since there are several ways in which the material can become damaged or worn down to the point that it would need repairing or replacing altogether.
Wear and Tear
From a wear and tear standpoint, microcement should be comparable to regular cement as long as it has been mixed and installed properly. Outwardly, the material shares many of the same properties as cement, so it makes sense that it would be as resistant to abrasion and the general wearing of things brushing against it. Of course, a microcement coating is typically around an eighth of an inch thick, whereas concrete can be as much as two or three inches.
Theoretically, you could wear through your microcement finish much more quickly than you could through regular cement, but it would take a lot of friction to wear an eighth of an inch divot in cement of any kind, and you would likely want to repair it before it ever wore all the way through.
In this area, microcement is actually more durable than regular cement. One of the properties of microcement that allows it to be used in the way it does is a higher degree of flexibility. This allows it to be spread thinly over surfaces without the need for expansion joints like concrete would require. Thanks to this flexibility, microcement is less likely to crack, since it is not as rigid and can move with any impact.
Can I Apply Microcement Over Plywood?
You can indeed use microcement over plywood. In fact, it is a very common material for use with microcement since it is inexpensive and easy to install. Of course, you will need to properly treat the plywood before applying any microcement, but the same would be true of any surface.
Firstly, you would need to ensure that the gaps between the pieces of plywood are as small as possible. Microcement is intended as a coating, not a filler, so you would not be able to simply heap more microcement into any gaps and hope for the best. You will also need to seal the edges where the plywood panels meet for the same reason. Even if you cut your panels perfectly, there will still be enough of a gap for microcement to slip through.
The next thing to ensure is that the plywood is properly sealed. Like regular cement, microcement relies on the chemical reactions that cement and water have when mixed, which is a problem if you attempt to apply it to untreated wood, which will soak up that essential moisture and prevent the cement from properly curing.
Does Microcement Need to be Reinforced with Fibreglass?
Microcement does not necessarily need to be reinforced with fiberglass, though it can help in some situations, often floors and other horizontal surfaces that may face a lot of stress.
The fiberglass used here often comes in the form of fiberglass mesh that can be rolled out flat, providing additional strength to the final mix by reinforcing it from within. It is less common to use fiberglass on walls, though it is still sometimes done.
In those situations where microcement needs reinforcement, it has to be something with a very low profile due to how thin the coating of microcement is, which is one reason why fiberglass is ideal. Fiberglass also adds a significant amount of tensile strength for something its size.
Can Microcement be Polished?
When determining whether or not microcement can be polished, it is important to understand what we mean by “polish.” If you are referring to the way in which a full concrete floor is polished, the answer is no. You can, however, polish it in a similar way to the way you would polish a wooden floor.
A polished concrete floor is achieved through the use of abrasive concrete polishing tools that essentially scrape away the top surface of the concrete to achieve a smooth finish. You cannot do this with microcement because there is such a thin layer of the substance, to begin with. Furthermore, you do not need to polish microcement in this way to get the smooth, glass-like finish that is often desired, as that will come naturally with the sealant.
The process of polishing wood typically involves applying a varnish or other sealant over the top, which, as we’ve already established, is part of the process for installing microcement anyway. Granted, the substance used is not the same as it would be for wood, but the process is very similar.
Does Microcement Crack?
It is possible for microcement to crack if it is subjected to large enough forces; however, these are not the kind of forces that you would expect your surfaces to face during normal use. For example, if you use microcement on your floor over the top of plywood panels and those panels are able to shift and move away from each other far enough that the microcement is pulled beyond its capability to flex, it would have no choice but to crack. That being said, a situation like that is an extreme example and not the kind of cracking you would typically have to deal with.
The more common causes of cracking in regular cement can be due to expansion and contraction as a result of changing temperatures, significant impact, or the concrete mix or curing process not being correct. These are all problems you are very unlikely to face with microcement thanks to that flexibility we mentioned. It can expand and contract with the temperatures it is subjected to, it mostly comes in pre-mixed packaging, and it is flexible enough to take almost any impact without cracking. Though it should be noted that the surface that the microcement has been applied to can crack, tearing the microcement itself apart as a result.
Microcement and Resin
There are a lot of commonly asked questions about microcement, specifically regardings its use with epoxy resin, so we’ve pulled together some of the most frequently asked of those questions for a closer look.
Can I Add Microcement to Epoxy?
You should not add microcement to an epoxy mixture before applying. The microcement mix is a carefully measured collection of ingredients that relies on chemical reactions between the water that you add during the mixing process and the cement in the mixture. If you try to mix microcement in with epoxy, the epoxy may hamper these chemical reactions. You would still have the strength of the epoxy, of course, but it would not gain anything from the microcement trapped inside of it.
Can I Add Microcement to Resin?
In this context, epoxy and resin are basically interchangeable. Indeed, the products used here are often referred to as “epoxy resin”, so all of the same information we have just given you regarding epoxy applies here.
Microcement on top of Resin
There is the option of installing microcement over the top of an epoxy solution. There is no reason you can’t do this in principle. That being said, you should be aware that the microcement floor will only be as strong as the surface it has been installed over. If your epoxy floor is cracked or otherwise broken, you may find yourself with microcement problems down the line.
Can I Put Resin Over Microcement?
If, on the other hand, you are considering applying an epoxy finish to your microcement floor, that is perfectly fine. It is best to finish your microcement with an approved sealant that is designed for the job first, but you can certainly use epoxy over the top of that when you are done.
How Long Does Microcement Last?
As you might expect from any construction material, the life expectancy of it can vary dramatically depending on things like how well it was installed, what environmental conditions it is subjected to, and how much abuse it receives in terms of things like pedestrian traffic.
The exact lifespan of a given microcement varies from brand to brand, as well as product to product, but it will say clearly on the packaging how long you should expect your microcement to last. One thing that is common across different microcement brands is the need to occasionally re-seal the material. The sealant layer has a tendency to wear down over time, especially if the microcement surface is a floor or something else that will be in contact with moving things on a regular basis. Re-sealing your microcement surfaces periodically will ensure your surface stays as stunning as the day it was first installed. Your choice of microcement product will probably state how often it should be re-sealed but, if in doubt, any time you see patches of high use that have become noticeably duller than the other areas, it is probably time for a re-seal.
Another way to look at the question of how long microcement lasts is as a question of shelflife. If you buy a container of microcement, how long can you leave it on your shelf before it goes off? Again, this question will vary from product to product, but as a general rule, you should expect around twelve months of storage time. This assumes that your microcement is kept dry during this time. Remember, the cement works by reacting with water, which initiates the curing process. If you store your microcement in a place where water will get to it, you will probably come back to a solid lump of cement sitting on your shelf.
There is no shortage of options when it comes to finishing your surfaces, whether it is Venetian Plaster, Tadelakt, or even regular cement-based plaster and paint. Microcement is another compelling entry into this world and has proven itself to be a quite versatile one.
It is not a miracle material, however. As with all construction processes, preparation is key. Microcement is applied very thin, so the surface that it is being applied to needs to be solid and flat to get the best results. You should also resist the urge to skimp on the sealer, as this will protect your microcement surfaces on your future.