Are you thinking of installing concrete countertops in your kitchen? Plan it carefully. Concrete is a great material to invoke edgy, industrial look in your kitchen.
It is a great option for homeowners with a more daring streak in taste. A concrete countertop is also cheap and an ideal DIY project.
However, concrete is not without flaws. Make sure to consider everything to know about concrete countertops before installing one.
A. The (New) Trend of Concrete Countertops
Countertop used to be thick, hard, but dull slabs that look harsh. After the deluge of marble countertop trend for modern kitchens, manufacturers found a way to create more diverse concrete slabs.
White concrete countertop looks as subtle as marble, but with unique “edge” in style suitable for contemporary interior designs.
Modern concrete countertops come in a wide range of colors and patterns. Manufacturers even find a way to apply the look of popular stones on concrete. However, more homeowners are now picking concrete for its particular look.
B. Ideal Concrete Countertop Look
Concrete is heavy, and installation is difficult. Standard concrete countertop forms must follow certain rules before they can be implemented. Examples are:
1. Straight and clean edges
Concrete countertop edge must look consistent all the way, with clean and uniform corner parts. The edge on every countertop seam must match each other.
2. The smooth and flat surface
The standard concrete countertop may have two pinholes on a vertical surface for decoration. However, there can be only two pinholes maximum on a horizontal surface.
It is to prevent bacteria and germ from getting trapped there. The surface must be free of lumps, tool marks, and chips.
3. No cracks
The concrete surface may show subtle sign of natural hairline cracks. Hairline cracks have around 0.004 inches of width. If the cracks are wider than that, they are probably defects.
The ideal concrete countertop must be sealed fully. The sealant agent must resist common household products, such as citrus and tomato juices, vinegar, wine, water, ammonia, dish soap, alcohol, and cleaning agent.
C. Concrete Countertop Installation Costs
Concrete countertop cost ranges from USD68 to USD138 per square foot, which is a mid-tier compared to other materials.
Concrete is more expensive than laminate or ceramic tile, but cheaper than granite or marble.
Modifications and variations in styling determine how much you should pay for the concrete countertop. Here are some expectations:
1. Cheap (around USD68 to USD100 per square foot)
Cheap countertop usually has the most basic design and appearance. The styling is standard, following the shapes of the countertop and sink. There are no variations in patterns and colors.
2. Mid-range (around USD100 to USD138 per square foot)
Mid-tier countertop usually has additional materials in the mixture. The edges and corners may show modifications, such as rounded edges. The color and coating options show more variations than the basic types, although they are still limited.
3. Expensive (above USD138 per square foot)
The most expensive concrete countertop may have unusual shapes, such as wavy or asymmetrical. The color and coating options are unlimited, and you can even choose a sleek or glossy finish.
The casting techniques and the edges show more creativity than just simple sanding or curving.
The high-end concrete countertop may also have unusual features. Drainboards and trivets, for example, are carved directly on the surface. These features increase the cost significantly because of the intricate adjustments.
Concrete countertops can be expensive if the installation works require a lot of creativity and time. Therefore, the cost is more for the service than the material itself.
D. Advantages and Disadvantages of Concrete Countertops
Concrete countertop pros range from the smooth look to the maintenance. Here are several concrete countertop pros:
1. Freedom in styling
Concrete gives freedom in styling the countertop. You can go for an industrial, rustic, antiquated, modern, or contemporary look. It depends on the creativity in design.
A concrete countertop can last for decades. You need to conduct regular sealing to protect its surface, but it is a small work compared to the long-lasting quality.
3. Ageing gracefully
A block of concrete does not age during the time. It can adapt to its surrounding, creating a unique look over time. Aged concrete, even with its subtle lines after repeated using, has subtle elegance.
Concrete countertop cons mostly originate from its surface. Concrete has a porous surface, which makes it easy to get stained or heat damage. Good sealant is important to keep it clean and smooth.
E. Tips to Maintain Concrete Countertops
Keep your concrete countertop in good condition by cleaning it regularly. When something spills, use a mild detergent and nonabrasive sponge or cloth to wipe them off.
Avoid placing hot pan or container directly on the surface, since it will damage the sealant. Have coasters ready at all time if you often cook.
Make sure to apply concrete sealants every six months or so, especially when you see thinning. Avoid cutting directly on top of the concrete surface, since it can leave scratches.
Be careful when handling acidic or harsh ingredients, like vinegar, citrus, or alcohol.
F. Can You Build Concrete Countertops?
Yes. A concrete countertop is a perfect DIY project for weekend builders. Creating a slab for standard-sized countertop requires two days of work, so you can use the weekend to finish each step until you get enough concrete slabs.
You can build concrete slabs by using sawhorses, concrete mixer, table saw, drill, sander, bolt cutters, and an orbital sander. Ready-mix concrete is enough to do the job.
Other materials include beeswax, release agent, silicone caulk, muriatic acid, stone sealer, and liquid release agent.
Make sure to measure the countertop carefully, because concrete is hard to modify once you create the slabs. Don’t forget to wear gloves and goggles, because concrete mix chemicals can damage your skin (and it is hard to clean).
G. Should You Pick Concrete Countertops?
Concrete countertops are ideal if you have mild to moderate standard cooking habit, with low risk of spilling something acidic or alcoholic.
You must also prepare cutting boards for wet and dry items because concrete is not an ideal cutting base. You must also prepare to apply sealant regularly to protect the countertop.
Concrete countertops offer unique beauty, durability, and better surface look when ageing.
If you look for a low price, modern look, and the unique beauty of humanmade material, choose concrete.