How to use concrete and microcement in your home

KBB journo Charlotte Luxford brings you the lowdown on all things concrete – from worktops and basins to walls and floors…

The crafting of concrete has seen a resurgence of late, with many appreciating its raw beauty. Homeowners are no longer limited to grey slabs. And, due to concrete’s versatility, consumer products are increasingly available in a range of shapes and colours. From ribbed sinks to curved worktops, companies are carving out a niche in the industry to match the demand.

Blue basin contrasted on dark blue wall.
Blue Jura trough basin, from £1386, Kast.
Modern kitchen with a variety of finishes like stainless steel, concrete, wood and brick.
Concrete develops a beautiful patina over time, which works well with the distressed corrugated iron panels used on the base of the island in this project by Roundhouse. Kitchens start from £35,000.

How cost effective is concrete?  

It’s not just the understated beauty of concrete that is appealing. “In the wake of rising material costs and shortages, concrete is a readily available, cost-effective material. It appeals to clients who prioritise a quick install and less material wastage,” reveals Ben Hayes, director at architecture practice Unknown Works.

For domestic use, the average price for concrete sits roughly in the region of £85-£110 per cubic metre, according to Issabel Williams, home improvements expert at Fantastic Services

“Concrete is a resilient choice for the home, whether it’s flooring or worktops,” adds Sam Hart, senior designer at Roundhouse. “While its porous nature makes it susceptible to staining and marking, it showcases unique charm and durability – and, like marble, it develops a unique patina over time. Thorough sealing will provide effective protection against stains, while polishing is a great way to both enhance aesthetic value and increase its lifespan.”

Kitchen sink with concrete worktop and backsplash.
Arnolds Kitchens start from around £40,000, with concrete projects starting from around £1000 per sq m.

Click here for concrete-effect worktop ideas

Kitchen with concrete worktop and modern design.
The Main Company used wraparound concrete worktop for this kitchen in Yorkshire. Bespoke kitchens start from £25,000.

Flooring ideas

For a seamless, wall-to-wall finish, poured concrete flooring is an ideal choice, especially for open-plan spaces. It can also be laid with underfloor heating, so it won’t feel cold during the chillier months.

If your budget is modest, consider large-format concrete tiles, which are a cheaper option. Plus, if you need to fix a section of damaged floor or underfloor heating, it’s far easier to take up tiles.

It’s worth noting, however, that concrete flooring can get slippery when wet. So, it’s best to opt for a porcelain concrete-effect tile with a good anti-slip rating (R9 or above) in bathrooms. 

Green bathroom with concrete
The use of pigmented concrete in this innovative project by Studio Ben Allen gives the bathroom a hammam-like feel using Concreations.

What is microcement?

Resin-based microcement is one game-changing product. Hand-applied by a trowel rather than poured like concrete for a thinner application, microcement has traditionally been polymer based, making it porous and requiring a sealant to protect it from water. “The new resin-based microcement is 100 per cent waterproof and a lot more resistant to scratching and denting,” reveals Tom Mason, managing director of Microcement Aesthetics.

“Typical cement is a standard grey, straight out of the packet. Microcement is white as standard, giving us the possibility to mix it with pigments, providing endless colour options.” Microcement can be used anywhere providing the substrate preparation is correct.

And, when it comes to maintenance, concrete is fairly low-key. Regular sweeping, dusting and vacuuming will do the trick, and using only pH-neutral cleaners when washing to avoid harsh chemicals. A good sealant will help prevent stains. If you need to mop up any spills, do it by blotting the liquid and using absorbent materials. And, for oily or greasy substances, follow it up by wiping with mild detergent and water. 

Blue Microcement bathroom and shower area
In this striking bathroom project in West Sussex, Microcement Aesthetics coated the entire room in Forcrete Micro-Armour in Sky Blue for a statement look.

Enjoyed this post? Click here for colourful basin ideas

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