Microcement stairs tips [contractor’s guide]
Stairs are an essential element of any multi-storey building. Stairs have an important decorative function. They should harmonize with the aesthetics of the entire building. In addition, they can give the interior additional prestige and modernity – here it is worth choosing good quality finishing materials (wooden stairs, marble stairs, microcement stairs) and the appropriate design (find out what types of stairs are and choose the best design for your home).
Why do customers choose microcement stairs?
Stairs made of microcement are becoming more and more popular. This is not surprising – they are easy to maintain, modern and very aesthetic. Thanks to microcement, we can get a uniform, elegant effect on the stairs and on the floor (see photos from the implementation of the stairs made of microcement in white), which is why many clients and architects decide to cover the floor in the living room or stairs with microcement.
How to apply microcement on the stairs in 8 steps
Relatively few contractors undertake this type of project, although it would seem that it is very lucrative. This is due to the fact that stairs are much more challenging for a contractor than walls or floors. They require many preparations, thorough protection of the surrounding area and great precision of execution. Nevertheless it is worth taking up the challenge, because the end result can be impressive. Below we describe how to apply microcement on the stairs step by step.
Step 1: Assessing the quality of the substrate
The correct assessment of the quality of the substrate is extremely important and determines the success of the entire project. The substrate for microcement should be load-bearing, without loose elements, the screed must not be too fresh (cured for at least 28 days). Ideally, the stairs are made of precast concrete. Then we practically don’t have to worry about anything, because they are perfectly even and smooth. Worse, when they have been sloppy poured or are covered with dried mortar that has fallen off during plastering or when they are old and crumble. In the following sections we describe how to prepare the substrate for microcement. However, it is worth saying right at the beginning that when the substrate is of dubious quality or we do not feel confident enough about prepring the substrate, it is better to say “no” to the customer than to risk cracks or other defects. Microcement is a very versatile product, but sometimes it is better to explain to the investor that under given conditions another material (e.g. wooden board) will be a better solution.
Step 2: Protecting the surface around
Before starting work, the walls surrending the steps should be covered with strong painting tape and the floor at the bottom with paper.
Step 3: Grinding
Stairs should be sanded with an disc grinder with a concrete grinding disc. Then thoroughly vacuum (we recommend using industrial vacuum cleaners) to remove dust and any loose parts.
Step 4: Priming
To level the absorbency of the substrate, apply the primer that is included in the microcement kit.
Step 5: Leveling the steps
Depending on the quality of the substrate the steps should be leveled to obtain perfect right angles and to secure the corners. If the stairs are fairly level, all you need to do is stick aluminum angles to the corners, level with cement mortar and wait for binding. The aluminum profile allows even mortar removal along the step. After setting the mortar, sand all remaining unevennesses and you can proceed to the next step.
Step 6: Application of the adhesion promoter
The bonding bridge will ensure perfect adhesion of the microcement and should never be omitted. We wait approx. 4 hours until adhesion promoter bonds (with high air temperatures this time will be shorter).
Step 7: Application of the microcement
To make stairs made of microcement, you can use a traditional microcement kit for floors or ready-to-use microcement. Spread the mass using a float to a thickness of not more than 1 mm. Apply microcement with fast, energetic movements in different directions depending on the expected effect, always with the “wet on wet” method. After about four hours, when the material fully sets and is dry, the floor should be sanded using a manual eccentric or oscillating grinder with 60-80 grit sanding paper. After sanding the floor, the whole should be thoroughly vacuumed. Then apply the second layer in the same way as the first.
Step 8: Sealing
Finally, we cover the stairs with two layers of sealer. Stairs are exposed to abrasion which is why the sealer must be very resistant, preferably two-component polyurethane sealer for microcement and concrete. For outdoor stairs, use a dedicated outdoor varnish. It is also important to use a good quality roller. Cheap rollers leave lint on the varnish, which can destroy the final effect.