Venetian Plaster VS Microcement
There are several differences between microcement and Venetian Plaster, and we will get into them all in this article. The primary difference, however, is that microcement is a durable, hard-wearing surface that looks great. In contrast, Venetian Plaster is a decorative surface that can be quite durable, but not as durable as microcement.
If the aesthetic of a space were the primary concern above all others, you would be better choosing Venetian Plaster over microcement. However, if the primary care were resistance to things like impact, and cracking, you would be better picking microcement.
This is not to say that Venetian Plaster is fragile, or that microcement does not look good in the right setting, but if we had to pick one main difference to lead with, it would be that.
The exact ingredients of Venetian Plaster vary from type to type, as there are a few different styles, however lime features prominently in all of them, with things like marble dust, or river sand, being mixed in with the lime depend on the desired look. In contrast, microcement is a cement-based compound with a polymer component that gives it a certain degree of flexibility that is not present in regular cement—or Venetian Plaster.
It is also the case that the ingredients for microcement are much harder to obtain from a manufacturing perspective. Cement is not something that can be just whipped up out of the ground, and the same goes for those polymers we mentioned. There are relatively complex chemical processes involved in making the substance.
Venetian Plaster, on the other hand, has been around for a long time, and its ingredients are much simpler to obtain. We’re not saying you could rustle up the necessary ingredients in your back garden, but, hypothetically, if you were tasked with making either microcement or Venetian Plaster using only things you harvested from nature yourself, you would have a much better chance with the Venetian Plaster.
The fact that the ingredients are so simple for Venetian Plaster belies its age. This method of finishing walls has been around since the middle ages and has not changed much in all of that time. Conversely, microcement is a modern alternative, which is why creating the substance requires advanced processes.
While the process of installing either of these finishes is a lengthy affair that requires a great deal of skill, and while they may look like similar processes, they are actually very different.
Venetian Plaster involves layering very thin layers of plaster on top of each other, meticulously arranging a pattern in the application that will eventually form the distinctive look that this type of finish is famed for. Once done, the surface may be polished or waxed, depending on the look that you are going for.
Microcement also involves multiple applications, but rather than layering the same substance; each layer serves a different purpose. Typically you will start with a polymer-modified mortar before going on to apply; however, many layers of cement is needed for the job, and finally a polyurethane sealer. All of these combine to form the highly-durable and resistant surface that makes microcement desirable.
While both materials look great in the right setting, Venetian Plaster is considerably more aesthetic in its appearance. Depending on the style of Venetian Plaster, it can look like various natural materials, such as marble. The layered approach gives the plaster a subtle depth that you cannot replicate with paint, and while it is more expensive than regular plaster, it is considerably cheaper than getting the real thing into cladding your room with.
Microcement is considerably more contemporary in appearance, with a decidedly industrial look to it. It can be applied in such a way that achieves an effect similar to Venetian Plaster, however.
Both materials can be coloured during the mixing process, meaning you can get the desired finish without having to paint or tint the surface after it has been plastered or cemented. Both materials are smooth when applied correctly. They can also be polished or waxed to bring them to an almost glass-like finish.
The primary difference between Venetian Plaster and microcement when it comes to physical properties is their flexible nature. Venetian Plaster is a rigid substance and can be prone to cracking if there is too much movement in the structure it is applied to.
Meanwhile, one of the main selling points of microcement over regular cement is the fact that it is flexible to a degree, and will not crack as easily. When coating floors, for example, ordinary cement will often have to be broken up into pads with flexible grout between them. This is to allow the floor to move ever so slightly without cracking the cement. Microcement does not need this and can be one continuous surface without worrying about any subtle movements causing the surface to break.
When to Use Microcement or Venetian Plaster
For many situations, choosing between the two can be purely down to individual taste, or dictated by the overall look of the room it is being installed in. If you are considering which of the two to use for flooring in a high-traffic area, we would recommend microcement if there is no other significant factor (such as theme). Microcement is able to withstand much more abuse than Venetian Plaster, and so is better suited to those areas where it may be receiving such abuse.
In general, Venetian Plaster offers a much more classical look and a very extravagant one at that. Microcement is far more contemporary and, while it can look pleasing to the eye in its own right, it relies far more on a complimentary theme to bring out the attractive qualities of the material. It is entirely possible to install microcement and have it look like bare concrete, which can be a bit grim, whereas Venetian Plaster can look out of place, but it will always look intricate and attractive. As with many things in life, however, the right choice will be the one that suits your needs the best.