Thermal micro-coat: what it is, how it works and advantages


Thermal micro-coat: what it is, how it works and advantages
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Thermal micro-coat: what it is, how it works and advantages

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The interest in the thermal insulation of buildings has undoubtedly grown with the introduction of the DL of 19 May 2020 n. 34 which raised to 110% the rate of deduction of expenses for specific interventions in the field of energy efficiency, seismic safety, installation of photovoltaic systems or structures for recharging electric vehicles.

In any case, beyond the tax concessions, it is an effective technique of thermal insulation and efficiency of buildings in terms of energy savings.

What is it, in detail, when we talk about thermal micro-coat?

Thermal coat, what is it?

The “external coat” technique is a system that in construction is used to insulate the walls of a house, condominium or any building, both from a thermal and acoustic point of view.

The best way to optimize the energy efficiency of a building, in fact, is to “cover” it with a system capable of isolating it. In this sense, in the international standard definition, the external thermal insulation system is defined with the term ETICS (External Thermal Insulation Composite System).

The thermal coat is effective both in winter in insulation from the cold but also in summer, with warm climates for an equally efficient insulation from heat.

The role of the thermal insulation system is of fundamental importance in the management of energy saving. To date, in fact, every building is subject to energy class classification, especially in a hypothetical sales phase.

One of the main variables that affect the energy class of the building is the presence and quality of the thermal coat.

The thermal insulation system is therefore the most effective system for the thermal insulation of the building envelope. Not only energy efficiency and reduction of polluting emissions. The thermal coat in fact guarantees a general living comfort and a higher indoor air quality.

In principle, the installation of the thermal insulation system takes place on the external walls of the building. When the operation proves impossible, it can also be carried out inside, using panels of a smaller thickness.

There are several solutions for the application of the coat on the building. The more traditional ones involve the installation of insulating panels made of different material possibilities, then coated with an adhesive and a non-transpiring protective layer.

Among the insulating materials used, a particular mention is reserved to those made up of natural organic substances such as cork fibers, glass wool or rock wool. The more synthetic panels, on the other hand, can be in synthesized expanded polystyrene or EPS expanded polystyrene.

The dimensions of the thermal coat in terms of thickness are between 6 and 12 centimeters and its degree of insulation depends on the perfect mix between the type of material used and the thickness of the coat.

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Thermal micro-coat and thermal coat: what’s the difference?

The low-thickness thermal coat, also called thermal micro-coat, is an innovative material used for facade cladding. It is characterized by a minimum thickness, much smaller than the traditional thermal coat, while still guaranteeing a good yield.

Its operation is based on the presence of microspheres of various sizes and containing vacuum-packed air inside them. The level of insulation of the micro-coat depends on their granulometry and intensity.

The first use of the micro-coat technique was made by NASA, in 1996, on the occasion of the STS-79 mission.

The eco-friendly insulating powder was in fact tested for the first time in 1996 in the STS-79 mission. As noted on the NASA website, it was such a success that the system has since been adopted for all subsequent shuttle flights, with essentially no episodes of missing or chipped paint.

Basically, following its application by painting and subsequent drying, a radiant thermal barrier is formed which is able to convert the normal paint applied to the house into a paint suitable for reflecting heat.

When the micro-coat is applied to the walls, ceiling or roof, it is able to create a barrier that reflects the heat from the house. This reduction in energy requirements allows to reduce the impact on the environment in terms of consumption and a considerable economic saving.

The difference with the traditional thermal coat is not only in the thickness measurements but in the application techniques that can be totally different. In fact, if the thermal coat involves the application of panels of different sizes and various materials inside the walls of the building, the alternative techniques of applying micro-coats and nano-coats allow the use of less invasive methods such as painting.

Thanks to the more flexible application techniques, the micro-coat allows the application on surfaces and buildings of all types, even the most difficult and also in those situations, such as historic buildings and architectural heritage, in which it is impossible to apply the traditional external insulation system.

Characteristics of the Thermal Micro-Coat

The thermal micro-coat, in its most common aspect, looks like a common paint that contains inside glass or ceramic insulating microspheres.

It is a low-thickness thermal coat that is effective in both winter and summer climates. Some microcoats are integrated with nanotechnological systems to improve the insulating effect. In particular we are talking about particles of the order of magnitude of microns.

The main component, in fact, is an amalgam of ceramic microspheres with variable granulometry containing vacuum-packed air, produced at high temperature.

The function of the vacuum microspheres is to almost completely block the thermal flow, thanks to their thermal insulating strength.

It can only be applied to sections of the building that actually require efficiency, not necessarily on the entire building structure.

Main features of the thermal micro-coat:

  • Heat reflective;
  • Eliminates thermal bridges;
  • Fireproof;
  • Breathable;
  • UV resistant;
  • Ecological and eco-sustainable;
  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor applications.

The thermal micro-coat lends itself perfectly to use in cases of building redevelopment, for example in historic centers, where the many architectural constraints can be an obstacle to structural interventions on buildings or where the exclusive use of natural and eco-sustainable materials is required.

Furthermore, a peculiarity of the micro-coat is that of being able to avoid what is technically defined as a “thermal bridge”, that is, that area of ​​an object that has a higher thermal conductivity than the surrounding materials.
The thermal bridge, therefore, involves an overall reduction of the thermal resistance of the object, thus leading to the circulation of heat between inside and outside.

Thanks to the ability to apply the nano-coat on all walls and in all corners, the problem of the thermal bridge is drastically reduced

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Thermal micro-coat: what are the advantages?

The application of a thermal micro-coat in place of a traditional thermal coat certainly has advantages, but at the same time it involves some contraindications.

Among the positive aspects of using the thermal micro-coat there are first of all its thickness. We are talking about 4 or 5 mm thick compared to the 6-12 cm of a traditional coat.

The processing and installation times are decidedly reduced, since these are painting techniques that do not require a real installation of panels. This results in ease of application and ease of application (with spray gun, spatula or roller).

It can be used in all those situations where the characteristics of the building require the application of a low thickness coating.

The reduced thickness of the coat avoids the formation of condensation and mold on the walls. This is the reason why, in interiors, the micro-coat technique is particularly suitable in environments with high condensation such as bathrooms and kitchens.

Furthermore, the thermal micro-coat is not intended exclusively as an alternative to the traditional thermal coat. In fact, in certain circumstances it is possible to use the thermal micro-coat as a support tool for the traditional coat.

It can be applied to buildings with facades made of exposed brick, historic buildings, or as a replacement for external cladding panels when the intervention works would be particularly invasive.

Disadvantages of low thickness thermal insulation

Obviously, like any type of application, the thermal micro-coat also has characteristics that bring disadvantages to its application.

In terms of effectiveness, the micro-coat guarantees a lower energy efficiency improvement compared to the traditional coat, consequently improving the living comfort only slightly.

For more information: Nanoccoat, or nanotechnological coat, as an alternative to the thermal coat: a myth to dispel

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Thermal micro-coat: how much does it cost?

What are the costs of applying a thermal micro-coat?

Obviously we can make an average calculation of what are the prices on the market, assuming that every situation may require special interventions and therefore tailor-made solutions. This is especially the case when interventions on historic buildings and architectural constraints are planned.

In any case, by calculating the average hours of labor and the price differences based on the type of material and the thickness of the coat, the installation cost of a thermal micro-coat can be around between 5,000 and 14,000 euros for 100 square meters.


The need to improve the energy performance of one’s home has undoubtedly become a priority. At the same time, the possibility of accessing various tax breaks has appealed to many citizens who otherwise would not have thought of making the relative improvements to the facades and walls.

However, before making any choice, it is good to be clear about the type of intervention to be carried out, ask for the technical opinion of a consultant and get advice on possible solutions.

Author: Andrea Dicanto

Author Andrea Dicanto
Passionate Designer expert in the field ofBuilding, Construction and Furniture. Since I was young I have always studied and analyzed problems ranging from questions statics of buildings and constructions up to the best way of design and furnish the interior spaceswith a nod to new technologies especially in the field seismic.

Read all my articles | Visit my linkedin profile

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