Microcement Worktops for a Bespoke Kitchen

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Introduction: Microcement Worktops for a Bespoke Kitchen

About: I'm a designer/maker based in Bristol, UK. Instagram: www.instagram.com/liambarclay_design

I've recently finished making a bespoke kitchen for my first flat. As part of the design for it I wanted to do a wrap around worktop which I initially planned to cast in concrete but then changed and opted for something called Microcement. When initially researching this I found a lot of professional companies who would come and install it for you but couldn't find much in the way of DIY advice/kits. I did eventually, and managed to do the worktops so thought I'd share my experience...

Step 1: What/Why Microcement

I had originally planned on trying to cast the worktops in concrete but due to concerns with:

  • Complexity of the mold
  • Weight
  • Cost
  • Its porous so can absorb liquids and stain.

I decided to research alternatives and came across something called Microcement.

Microcement (I also found it to be referred to as Micro-topping, Micro-screed) is a composite coating based on a mix of cement, resins, additives and colouring pigments that you apply over a substrate. It seemed to be very versatile and able to be used in a variety of applications, see some of the examples I found in the pics.

Pro's

  • Its has very good adhesion and can be applied to floors, walls and ceilings. Interior and exterior.

  • You can get continuous surfaces without joints, ideal for my wrap around worktop.
  • You can get it in a wide variety of colours and textures. I went for white and the satin finish option (matt and gloss were also available)
  • Covers all surfaces: tile, stoneware, concrete, plasterboard, wood etc.
  • Great resistance to use, shock, scratches and chemicals.
  • Impermeable so no staining.
  • You can apply it with the substrate installed so no complex mold making etc.
  • It ends up being ~4mm thick on top of the substrate so is light weight

  • Easy maintenance and cleaning
  • Good cost, I got a 10m2 kit for ~£300 which was enough of my two worktops and some flooring... I thought was good value!

Con's

  • It obviously doesn't have the same mass/dense feeling to it that a concrete worktop would have.

Step 2: The Kit and Tools Required

I struggled to find suppliers who offered DIY kits rather than just a professional install service. I did eventually from a company in Spain that offered shipping to the UK.

https://www.latiendadelmicrocemento.com/

***I'm not affiliated with them in any way.. just thought it was a good kit :)

They offer kits in a variety of sizes, 5m2 to 150m2! I had two worktops and a couple bits of flooring I wanted to do, which I worked out to be just under 10m2 so got that kit.

The kits are also specified as floor or wall.. which I think mainly changes whether the top coat material is fine or a bit rougher to be more hardwearing. I went for the floor option.

The kit included pretty much everything you need:

  • Microcement Fino - this is the top coat material,
  • Microcement Base - this is the base material
  • Resin component B - you mix this with the microcement
  • Pigments - if you go for anything other than the neutral the pigment gets mixed in to colour the microcement
  • Adhesion promoter
  • Fiberglass mesh
  • Primer sealer
  • Polyurethane varnish
  • Paint roller
  • Mixer
  • Small steel trowel
  • Sandpaper
  • And installation

Other than the tools the kit provides you'll need:

  • Drill to mix with
  • Plenty of buckets
  • Scales to weigh out the ratios
  • Newspaper/sheets to cover things you dont want covered
  • A breathing mask with filters suitable for dust and high VOC's!

Step 3: Substrate Prep

The Microcement is compatible with being applied on top of a variety of surfaces such as tiles, concrete, plasterboard, wood, old worktop etc.. It seems to just need to be something structurally sound/stable. In my case I opted for 2 layers of 18mm thick MDF as its strong, dimensionally stable and cheap.

I got the DIY store to cut the full sheet of MDF to the correct width for the worktop so I could get it home on the roof of my car. Remember, if you've got a specific final worktop width in mind, 600mm in my case, to make the substrate ~4mm less to account for the Microcement thickness. I then cut the sheets to the correct lengths required and cutout any holes necessary for the gas hob, taps etc. The sink I chose to use is an undermount version and so I could have a drainer integrated into the worktop I routed some channels into the top layer of the MDF using a round nose router bit.

The two layers of MDF were then glued/screwed together, and then attached to the cabinets using screws and L-brackets where required. I also cut additional thinner lengths of MDF to run along the bottom of the cabinet.

I now masked and covered all the areas of the cabinets I didn't want to get the microcement on.

The first step of the microcementing process is to apply a layer of fiberglass mesh onto the substrate. The kit provides a 1m wide roll in a length to suit the size of kit you bought. You need to cut this to the size required to fit the areas you're going to apply the microcement too, then roll over it with the resin provided and leave to dry.

Step 4: Applying the Microcement

Prep:

The instructions provided with the kit give the required mix ratio of the microcement to the resin. Once mixed, the microcement/resin mix has a limited work time so you're going to want to work in smaller batches to avoid it setting before you've used it all. The areas I wanted to cover in microcement split easily into 4.. 2 worktops and 2 separate bits of flooring. I worked out and noted down what weight of microcement and resin I'd need for each of those areas.

Mixing:

You always want to be mixing in a clean bucket or you could risk altering the colour etc. Pour the required amount of resin into the bucket. Top tip, the colouring pigment gets added to the big container of resin so make sure you always shake the resin container well before pouring it out to ensure consistent colour, i think the pigment can settle at the bottom. With the resin in the bucket, you slowly start pouring in the microcement.. much in the way you would mix plaster. A power drill and mixer paddle is then used to mix it up, again to a consistency like you would with plaster.

Applying:

The microcement is applied in 4 stages, 2 base coats and 2 top coats. Each coat took me a couple hours to apply to the 4 areas, it then needs >3hrs to dry before you can sand that down and the next layer can be applied. This means it'll take a few days to get it done.

Each coat is applied like you would plaster.. I've only plastered once before this so watch some youtube videos to see what the techniques like. But essential dump it out on the substrate and smooth it out with the trowel. You want to try get an even thickness over the substrate thats about 1mm for each coat, so you end up with a total thickness of ~4/5mm.

Step 5: Sealing

The final step of the process is to seal the microcement. First you'll want to make sure the surfaces/room are dust free as anything there or that lands in the sealer whilst its wet will show in the final surface

You then roll on two coats of the sealer primer, followed by two coats of the polyurethane sealer.. with ~3hr drying time in-between. Again this took a couple days in total to do with the drying times.

This stuff stank! Very high VOC's! Get a good mask with good chemical filters! Open all windows in the area! Plan a trip to the pub once your done so you can get out the house!

Step 6: Finished

The finished worktops! Overall I'm pleased with the results I got with the material/product. It allowed my to create the modern look I wanted, for a good cost and relatively easy process.

I think it could be used in a number of other ways.. on more complex substrate shapes.. definitely something I'm keeping in mind for future projects.

Hope you enjoyed and maybe discovered a new material for projects!

If you're interested, I have a full video of the kitchen build here:

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    25 Comments

    0
    worthworks
    worthworks

    2 years ago

    I would love to know how the cost of doing a kitchen floor with this stuff compares to faux wood flooring. And even larger areas for that matter! I have a semi-detached brick house in Canada and the entire main floor is done in this hideous tile flooring that is VERY outdated and the cost of reflooring is very prohibitive for me but the kitchen MUST be done because I'm moving cupboards around and have exposed areas where there weren't any tiles. This looks highly promising because I really do NOT like faux wood flooring and don't believe it's worth the money for as long as it lasts and the fuss involved. Your kitchen is divine! LOVE your cupboard faces! I'm an artist and really appreciate your vision!

    0
    barclay5426
    barclay5426

    Reply 2 years ago

    You should hopefully be able to find suppliers in Canada that could give you a cost per m2.

    Thanks a lot :)

    0
    sibley14
    sibley14

    Reply 10 months ago

    In the UK it can be expensive if you’re getting a tradesman to do it. A lot of architects are using MC. As per the pictures from the originator. Here’s pictures of my now fixed floor and worktops. My advice is choose your installer wisely, make sure they are credible or take a leaf out of the originators book and do it yourself...if I had the chance to go back in time, I’d have a bash knowing what I know now.

    67CB21D5-B393-43B0-9E63-D51755430126.jpeg61D1BA6E-56C4-4718-B7A4-A7F497D7CA77.jpegE70BBFC5-2403-4107-8033-177CAEE6F241.jpeg8212B8BF-B7EB-4BF2-8B40-C42BCB06D235.jpegimage.jpg
    0
    sibley14
    sibley14

    10 months ago

    Hey great work. I had microcement kitchen worktops and a 25m2 floor installed a couple of years back by a some real of cowboys who I’m in the process of suing. They self levelled the floor/microcemented it, the self levelling then cracked all over and they used a dodgy sealer on the worktops which are white, these then stained at the slightest of anything touching the worktop. Having gone through the stress of that, I’m glad someone has had a bash themselves and given instructions for the hobbyist to follow. I would certainly do it myself next time. There’s a lot of shady people out the claiming to understand the process and not using a proper kit, and charging a fortune, so I absolutely applaud you. Great work. There’s a need for good skilled people who can do a proper job, especially if you can make the worktops too!

    0
    rdy4trvl
    rdy4trvl

    1 year ago

    One impressive project! The design, install, use of microcement, creative cabinet pulls, instructable/video....well done. Could you update us on the durability of the micorcement?

    0
    barclay5426
    barclay5426

    Reply 1 year ago

    Cheers! So its been over a year since i finished the kitchen and can say the microcement tops are working great for me. They're easy to clean and are stain free.. even if you leave a spill over night it wipes clean the next day. Its tough to things being dropped on it unless its a sharp point.. a drill tipped over and the screwdriver bit left a small dent, like it would in a wooden top. Similarily, I'd advice against cutting things directly on it, a sharp knife will leave a slice mark so use chopping boards. Overall Im super happy how they're performing for the cost etc! Hope that helps

    0
    rdy4trvl
    rdy4trvl

    Reply 1 year ago

    Great! Thank you.

    0
    barclay5426
    barclay5426

    Reply 2 years ago

    thanks!

    0
    wilmotjude
    wilmotjude

    2 years ago

    I was absolutely fascinated watching this video and must congratulate you on your range of skills well done.

    0
    barclay5426
    barclay5426

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks a lot!

    0
    club_wiggies
    club_wiggies

    2 years ago on Step 6

    This video was fascinating. Wow! So much skill and talent. Thank you for sharing!

    0
    barclay5426
    barclay5426

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks a lot :)

    0
    Wild-Bill
    Wild-Bill

    2 years ago

    The Microcement is "Meh" compared to the end result. You are a Master Cabinet Maker, if you don't have that designation, then you deserve it. Your design of that fitted kitchen in that space is totally amazing. The way you work with hand tool is mesmerising. Your effective use of power tools was refreshing. The end result in fit and finish is stunning. I am going to have add a router plane or a plow plane to my kit.

    0
    barclay5426
    barclay5426

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks a lot, very kind words! Do it, a router plane is surprisingly useful.

    0
    JohnM584
    JohnM584

    2 years ago

    As a carpenter and cabinet maker myself I must commend you on a job well done! And as was posted earlier if you don’t call yourself a cabinet maker you damn well should. I really love your saw. Never seen one like it before.

    0
    barclay5426
    barclay5426

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks! Not calling myself one at the moment but I'm working on it.. Ye the tracksaw was a great addition to my toolset for this project!

    0
    wyldecent
    wyldecent

    2 years ago

    Your kitchen is pure craftsmanship -- the care put into every piece of it is so obvious. Please give yourself the credit you deserve. And when are you coming to the states to do mine?

    0
    barclay5426
    barclay5426

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks a lot! Ye a lot of time went into it.