Concrete Counter tops: Are They All They’ve Cracked Up To Be?
About six years ago the flood gates opened and the options for concrete countertops increased exponentially. About 15 years ago, my clients would request countertop materials such as laminate, granite, tile, and solid surface. Today, those options have spread to butcher block, glass, stainless steel, paper, vinyl, resin, tile and of course … CONCRETE!
What makes concrete so unique?
- First of all, concrete can be custom colored- In fact, http://www.concretenetwork.com states :
“Each Concrete counter top contractor offers their own unique standard and premium colors. Samples will always be different due to each contractor having their own secret recipe for constructing the counter tops and employing different types and amounts of cement and aggregates. In fact, cement will vary in different parts of the country! There are different brands of pigments, stains, and aggregate colors, so concrete counter tops will always be unique.”
- Creative edge detail options are endless- because concrete is poured, the edges are only limited to the creativity of the mind and the options for custom edge forms.
- Mix it up- in the concrete counter tops that I have provided in the last eleven (11) years, we have included glass, petrified wood, aggregate gravel, metal shavings, shells and more.
- Design versatility- tile counter tops have limited application in design themes and styles, whereas concrete has a broader spectrum of use. For instance: Looking for a Victorian style? How about a heavy rope edge? In concrete, custom rope edge detailing is feasible, whereas with natural stone would be astronomical in cost.
- What about cracking? Yes, all concrete cracks, however, most of the methods used for fabricating concrete counter tops today limit the cracking to smaller fissures instead of large gaping holes.
- Heat Resistant- Just like tile or natural stone, concrete is quite heat resistant. Take note that the finish on the concrete will have independent heat properties to the concrete. I have seen concrete finishing go from bees wax to epoxy, and now to urethane. The durability of concrete today is so similar to quartz and stone, especially since there are a lot of added polymers to give flex and limited porosity.
- Affordable- Of course this is a relative consideration. When compared with the average natural stone, concrete is typically a little more affordable.
Note: Buy concrete for it’s unique values and uses, not because it imitates granite, solid surface, or other material. Some of the concrete products on the market will come with a urethane or an epoxy coating which will provide a longer lifetime and more damage resistance. Concrete usually must be 2” thick or thicker to maintain its strength and durability. Plan for this thickness accordingly, since most counter tops are 1 ¼” to 1 ½” thick. Also, some concrete takes 28 days to fully cure. This will be unusually longer to wait for your counter tops compared to the 1 ½ – 2 week typical fabrication time frame. If the top can be poured in place, it can usually be used starting just a day or two later, making it much more attractive than counter tops that require templating and fabrication in a shop.
I always get cracks before whenever I have concrete flatwork installed. Thank goodness my contractor were able to fix it and it’s finally perfect!
Is it safe for countertops if you mix up other materials to the concrete like the metal shavings or shells?
Absolutely. That is one of the beautiful characteristics about the product- the ability to intermix other products.