Concrete isn’t just for sidewalks anymore...it's invaded the kitchen.
Concrete countertops, also referred to as cement countertops, don’t look anything like the concrete sidewalks and parking garages you see every day.
Rather, they can literally become works of art as innovative yet very functional work surfaces. Yes, the very versatile material once used by the Romans centuries ago has made its way into the kitchen.
The concept of concrete as a countertop material may seem to some a bit far-fetched but you have to dispel your common notions of what concrete looks and feels like. Concrete countertops can be as smooth as polished natural stone or solid surface and just as colorful.
Most concrete counters are formed in place though there are some pre-fabricated versions you can buy too. The beauty of casting them in place is the ability to customize the end result.
They're beautiful and unique but they also require some maintenance and they're not completely trouble-free. Read on to find out more and see if they're a good fit for your kitchen or bathroom.
Photo Courtesy Of The Slab-Lab Concrete Studio
Concrete countertops are different than other types of countertops in a number of ways but most distinctively because in most instances they are not mass-produced. Each countertop is formed to a customer’s specifications and in essence, is a unique creation.
There are two basic methods of getting concrete countertops in your home. It can either be poured and formed in place right in the home or pre-cast at the fabricator’s workshop and then moved to your home and installed much like a granite countertop. If it’s made at the fabricator’s shop there are transportation issues that have to be considered in order to get the countertop to your home. Make sure you understand how any shipping damage will be handled. The cast-in-place process involves some mess and the time for the concrete to cure which could be several days.
Concrete countertops need to be reinforced just like concrete used in the construction trade. Several reinforcement materials are used including wire mesh, fiberglass and steel.
Concrete is also susceptible to cracking and is a function of the fabricator’s experience coupled with the type of cement and reinforcement used. Most cases of cracks are usually reported as small hairline cracks that have no impact on the structural integrity of the countertop. Concrete also needs to be sealed since it is very porous. Some fabricators use epoxy while others use a penetrating sealer followed by several topcoats of wax.
Besides color and thickness you can choose whether to have features built right into the surface such as drain boards near sinks and trivets next to stove tops for hot pans.
Photos Courtesy Of The Slab-Lab Concrete Studio
They can even incorporate inlaid items of interest such as precious stones, shells, fossils or whatever your imagination can dream up.
Photos Courtesy Of The Slab-Lab Concrete Studio
Regardless of the overall design, the quality and look of your cement countertop ultimately comes down to the capability of your fabricator. They choose the type of reinforcement, the method of forming, the sealers and the constituents of the concrete mix itself. Their experience will play a big role in the quality and longevity of your concrete countertops. Make sure you know the experience level of your fabricator. Obtain references and/or testimonials and check them out.
Here’s a list of fabricators for concrete countertops to help you get started if you’re serious about this type of surfacing for your home. Most of them make custom countertops made to your specifications and they ship nationwide, some across the globe.
While it may seem a little unconventional to order countertops ‘site unseen’ so to speak, it’s not that uncommon. It’s not that different from ordering a granite countertop when you’re not able to actually visit the quarry or wholesaler. In many instances you’re left with choosing your stone based on a 12” x 12” sample, providing your dimensions and then waiting for delivery. The process is essentially the same with some of the concrete fabricators listed below.
One final thing to keep in mind before settling on an out-of-town fabricator is the talent pool within your own community. Remember that concrete countertop construction is dependent on the mix and reinforcement used and ultimately the talent of the fabricator. There may be contractors in your own area that can do the job and do it well. Check local kitchen design firms as well as your building contractor to see if they can provide references for a good fabricator.
If you can't find local sources for concrete countertops take a look at the list below. These sources have established a reputation within this niche. They typically are in the business of fabricating per a customer's spec and shipping the product upon completion.
The Buddy Rhodes Studio produces concrete countertops and other items ranging from tiles to sinks and tubs made from concrete. Countertops are made from custom molds however the maximum slab size is limited to 7’ x 3’ for structural reasons. Larger countertop surface areas can be made using several slabs however there will be grouted seams where the slabs meet.
The molds are created based on a template you provide to the studio. The template can be made from plywood or other similar material. You provide information on the template for items such as sink and faucet cutouts, finished edge locations and which edges will abut walls.
Countertops are crated at the studio and prepared for shipment. Buddy Rhodes Studios indicates they have shipped all over the United States as well as to international destinations. They recommend installation be accomplished by individuals experienced with stone countertop installations.
|Where To Get It||Countertops are available directly from the Buddy Rhodes studios.|
Sonoma Cast Stone produces two varieties of concrete countertops –
The Custom Countertops are made to order based on your specifications that you provide. They are then crated and shipped to your location. There are 40 colors to choose from and samples are available for a nominal charge.
CounterTiles are pre-made concrete countertop “blocks” that are laid next to each other to form a full countertop surface. The block sizes are 24” x 25.5” x ¼” and are offered in 4 colors. Because they’re pre-manufactured they cost less than the custom countertops and can be obtained quicker. They can conveniently be purchased online via their website.
Probably one of the niftiest things about Sonoma Cast Stone products is their “Love ‘Em or Leave ‘Em” policy. Recognizing that once you get a product it may not be all that you were hoping for, they will give you a full refund and even pay the freight if you want to return it. This is applicable only to the re-stockable items and not the custom countertops.
|Where To Get It||You can order products directly from the Sonoma Cast Stone factory or through select dealers within the US. Their website provides search capability for dealers in your area.|
Brooks Custom, located in Mt. Kisco, NY, specialize in metal, concrete, wood and glass countertops as well as other home products. Concrete countertops are fabricated from specifications you provide and which are shipped to your location when completed.
Their countertops come in 29 color varieties however custom colors can be developed. One of the interesting things about Brooks Custom concrete countertops is that they will match any color from the Benjamin Moore® color chart reference number.
Samples are available for a charge that is deductible from any purchase.
Brooks Custom makes their countertops in a range of thicknesses from ¼” up to 4 and 6 inches thick.
|Where To Get It||Countertops are available directly from Brooks Custom. Their website has contact and price quote information.|
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