We’re sometimes asked about Tadelakt and how it’s different to microcement. To begin with, it’s important to note that microcement is a blanket category of which there are many different variations with different ingredients, application methods and aesthetics (see our post here for more). The same is true of tadelakt.
Traditional tadelakt is a lime plaster originating from Morocco. The name applies as much to the material as it does to its unique application process. The traditional material has a very specific and time-consuming application process that involves soaking the material before applying it in a thick layer, compressing it, and then polishing it by hand with a flat stone and finally soaping it to create a chemical reaction that creates a highly water resistant/waterproof finish. It is traditionally used in wet areas.
However, many modern brands of tadelakt plasters are modifications of original material and often come premixed in a bucket to increase ease of application. So it’s important to know what ‘tadelakt’ you’re getting.
Both traditional tadelakt and microcement are suitable for wet areas when applied correctly. The primary differences between the two materials (assuming we are comparing traditional tadelakt and our Mercadier Decoration microcement) is:
1. Tadelakt is a lime plaster and microcement is a cement-based material.
2. Traditional tadelakt has an unmistakable aesthetic that is , thick, soft and undulating to the eye with a slight sheen. Microcement is applied in multiple thin layers, making difficult to achieve the soft, round lines of traditional tadelakt without a basecoat underneath.
3. Original tadelakt (not premixed versions that have acrylics added) is a natural material. Microcement has resins added to make it flexible.
4. Traditional tadelakt requires skill to apply correctly and ensure performance and longevity. While microcement relies on a skilled hand to achieve a beautiful finish, it’s a very strong material that can be applied by novices without compromising the performance of the finish.
5. Whilst it is strong, tadelakt is a lime plaster and doesn’t have the same strength as cement. It can be prone to chipping and staining, and if it’s an original tadelakt, needs to be maintained with regular soaping and/or waxing to retain it’s water-resistent properties.
When choosing between tadelakt and microcement, I advise clients to get clear on their priorities. If you’re looking for that unmistakable, soft undulated look and/or want a natural material in your wet area and are willing to maintain it (and you have an experienced applicator), then tadelakt is the right choice. If you want a seamless and highly durable finish that won’t chip and you don’t need to worry about stringent maintenance (and if you want to apply it to your floor), our Mercadier Decoration microcement is the right choice.