When designing your kitchen, you need to think about every detail to make sure the final results are both practical and pleasing to the eye. The units you use, your choice of fittings, and the color scheme are all important decisions to make. Another aspect of your kitchen that makes a big difference to the overall look and functionality of your kitchen is the countertops. There are many different materials and designs from which you can choose, and one option is concrete countertops. There are both advantages and disadvantages to choosing these as a feature of your kitchen, so it is important you take all these points into consideration before making your decision. It is also important to learn more about the various designs and installation options to make sure concrete countertops are the best option for you. If you are considering concrete countertops, here is what you need to know.
What Are Concrete Countertops?
Concrete countertops are work surfaces that are made from concrete. Remodelista describes concrete as a natural composite material that is made from an aggregate combined with a cement binder. Types of aggregates used include rocks, fly ash, and sand, while examples of a cement binder include calcium sulfate and limestone. Concrete is not the same as cement, which is a common mistake that people make. However, cement is often one of the components used to create concrete.
How Are Concrete Countertops Made and Installed?
Concrete countertops are usually made and installed in one of two ways. They are either precast concrete counters or they are cast-in-place. Both of these creation and installation methods have their own pros and cons. In most cases, concrete counters are precast. These are made to order to the specifications of your kitchen in any size or design that you choose. They are made in a controlled environment using modern reinforcement technology. This means that you get high-quality countertops to the exact color and texture you have chosen. As each countertop is handmade, it is easy to customize the countertop to specific sizes and shapes, as well as having perfect cutouts for your sink, fittings, and appliances. This method of creating a countertop also gives you a greater range of counter edge options.
You can sometimes tell that a counter is precast because they have seams. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Having seams in your countertops means they will have some flex, and this reduces the likelihood of them cracking later due to the concrete’s natural shrinkage. Once the precast counters are made, they are transported to the client’s home. They are then installed into the kitchen by experienced professionals. An advantage of this is that you can continue to use your existing countertops until your concrete counters are ready to install.
The second way that countertops are made and installed is onsite, and these are called cast-in-place counters. As their name suggests, these countertops are cast in the position where they will remain in your home. Choosing this installation method is a good option if your kitchen is an irregular shape. It is also a good choice if you want to avoid seams. If the countertops are cast-in-place, there is no need to worry about transportation and installation. However, this also means that you will need to have your existing countertops removed before your new ones are created, and this could pose you some practical challenges.
Who Can Install Concrete Worktops?
There are many professional services that can design, create, and install concrete countertops. Some of these are builders or kitchen installers who have had training in how to create these types of work surfaces. There are also companies that specialize in producing and installing bespoke concrete countertops.
The Pros of Concrete Countertops
There are many advantages to choosing concrete countertops over countertops made from other materials. The Spruce has highlighted the following pros of concrete countertops:
- Size and shape- While many countertop materials are cut to fit or have pieces joined together to create a longer countertop, this does not happen if you choose concrete countertops. They are custom made for the size and shape of your kitchen with no joins.
- Color and design-When you think of concrete, a dull gray probably comes to mind. However, there are many different color and design options. Not only are they available in various shades of gray, but you can also choose other options as it is possible to dye the concrete. You can also opt to have other materials embedded that create a different design, such as shells, stones, glass fragments, or even fiber-optic lights.
- Durable-A concrete countertop is a durable and long-lasting surface that can withstand the general wear and tear of daily use. They are impervious to heat and scratch-resistant.
- Easy to maintain- If you seal the worktops regularly, then they are extremely easy to clean and maintain. This is important for people who do not have the time or money for taking extra maintenance measures.
- Adds value- If you are thinking about the long-term and may sell your home in the future, then it is worth noting that choosing concrete worktops can add real estate value. This is because concrete worktops are considered a premium material.
- Eye-catching- Concrete countertops are a trendy and eye-catching option that is a stunning element of your overall kitchen design.
The Cons of Concrete Countertops
It is also important to note that there are some cons of choosing concrete countertops compared to countertops made from other materials. Country Living points out that these can include:
- The price- Concrete countertops are one of the most expensive options, and this is something you need to consider when budgeting for your kitchen and choosing your other materials.
- Needs sealing- After you have your concrete countertops installed, they will need sealing annually.
- May need repairs- It is almost impossible to avoid needing your countertops repaired at some point. One of the most common reasons for this is cracking.
- They are heavy- These are the heaviest of the different countertop options. This means that you are limited in your choice of cabinet materials as the cabinets must be able to withstand the weight of the countertops or they can strain. The exception to this is countertops that have a polymer mixed in as this makes them lightweight.
- Natural variations- The pattern is not always consistent as natural variations will occur and these are difficult to control.
Can You Make Concrete Countertops Yourself?
It is possible to make your own concrete countertops. However, this is a task that is better suited to someone with advanced DIY skills and who has some experience of working with concrete. It is not a job that a DIY novice should undertake. According to Concrete Network, it is a long process in many stages, and you will need the right equipment. Although it is possible to make concrete countertops yourself, it is better to hire an experienced contractor. They know what they are doing and are less likely to make mistakes. It is also more likely that they will achieve a better finish. The downside is that you will have to pay your contractor for their time rather than just paying for the materials. However, you can potentially save money in the long run as any mistakes you make could cost you money and homemade concrete countertops are more likely to suffer damage.
What Finishes Are Available?
Concrete countertops are available in a wide range of finishes. This means that you will find a finish that suits your personal preferences and complements your choice of cabinets and the other décor. Concrete countertops are custom-made from scratch, so this gives you a greater array of options than when choosing ready-made countertops from a store. It is also possible to add dyes and other materials to create a unique effect. Some of the finish options include:
- Veined or marbleized- This gives the countertops the effect of high-end marble or granite. It is possible to create the effect by hand or to buy pre-packaged concrete mixes. Another way the effect is created is by creating casting voids in the concrete that are later filled with colored grout.
- Wood-grained finish- This is created using a technique called board forming. The concrete is cast in forms that are lined with real wood to give the surfaces of the concrete a wood-grain-texture.
- Polished or sanded- After the concrete is cast, the surfaces are highly polished or sanded to create a smooth and flawless finish. There are different degrees of polish achieved, from low luster to ultra-shiny.
- Hand-troweled- Instead of casting the concrete, it is hand-troweled to create various textural effects. This often gives the countertops the look of stone.
- Expose-aggregate- Exposing the aggregate gives some of the most dramatic finishes. This finish involves adding pieces of glass or stone. Once the countertop is cast, a grinder is used to expose the aggregate. This gives the surfaces a gem-like luster.
Are Concrete Countertops Only for the Kitchen?
Many people associate concrete countertops with kitchens, but these are not the only room in your home that you can use these work surfaces. In fact, you can use them in any room where you need a flat surface, including in the bathroom. According to Domino, there are many ways that you can use concrete countertops in your bathroom. You can use concrete countertops as practical work surfaces, but they will also contribute to the overall aesthetics of the room. They can help to create various themes in your bathroom, from bright and modern to rustic, and from contemporary to industrial. In fact, there is no reason why should not use concrete countertops in any room of the home you wish. They could make a great alternative to a dressing table in a master bedroom suite and they are a practical option for a utility room.
Cleaning and Maintaining Your Concrete Countertops
Apartment Therapy says that concrete countertops are very easy to maintain. Generally, they just need sealing. This is important to avoid your concrete countertops staining and etching. You should do this with a penetrating sealer once a year. It can also help to keep your countertops in tip-top condition if you wax them once a month. Other than that, you will just need to clean them in the same way you would any other countertop with your regular disinfectant or detergent.
What Do Concrete Countertops Cost?
Concrete countertops are not a budget option as they generally cost significantly more than countertops made from other materials. However, the cost of these counters can vary significantly. According to Remodelista, you can expect to pay anywhere from $70 to $140 per square meters. In some cases, it can cost even more. Therefore, it is important to discuss the cost and budget properly before starting your kitchen transformation. The price is affected by many factors. These include the company, the creation and installation methods, the materials used, the size, and the finish you choose.
Concrete Countertops- The Final Verdict
Concrete countertops are one of many work surface options available, and they are currently an interior design trend. You can choose from a variety of colors and finishes to achieve the look you want, and the countertops are custom-made for your kitchen. While durable and visually appealing, they are also an expensive option that requires regular sealing and waxing. Weighing up the various pros and cons of this feature is essential before making your decision as they are not for everybody. However, if you can afford this type of countertop and you are willing to maintain them properly, they are a practical option that is also a stunning feature in your home.