Unique, Handmade and Long Lasting: Concrete Countertops
As designer kitchens become more common, both consumers and high-end retailers continue to search for products and surfaces that will set their kitchens above the rest. One of the most popular new options, especially for modern homes, is installing concrete countertops. These countertops offer a hard, durable surface, as well as a variety of options in terms of color, design, and versatility. When properly installed, cured and maintained, a concrete countertop can offer a lifetime of use in a wide range of situations.
Features of Concrete Countertops
Unlike almost all other available countertop surfaces, a concrete countertop is generally either hand-crafted onsite by professionals or specially cast offsite to a customer’s specifications. Many concrete contractors take pride in employing an artistic sensibility in their handiwork. The concrete is specially mixed for use as a countertop, generally employing lighter aggregates than standard concrete mixes. Also, most contractors will use some sort of framework to support the countertop, such as wire mesh or a fiber composite. This ensures the countertop will remain stable with use and time.
One of the most admired features of concrete countertops is its ability to be formed in any number of shapes. This allows homeowners to integrate sinks, drainboards, trivets, or even butcher blocks seamlessly into the concrete pour. The countertops can also be seamlessly adjoined to backsplashes in the same or complementary materials. Custom edging is also a benefit that comes with concrete countertops, as your contractor can create almost any shapes, including rounded corners, beveled edges, or many more options. These advantages can be extremely important, especially for frequent cooks who can appreciate the easy flow and cleanup a seamless and well designed kitchen provides.
Design Options for Concrete Countertops
Many consumers consider employing concrete countertops for the modern industrial look and feel that it provides. However, many are surprised to note how many design options are available. Aside from the option of coloring the concrete, many contractors offer the option of a decorative aggregate or inlay that can be added to your design. Colorful stone, pieces of glass or china, tiles, or even metal can be integrated into the concrete mix or inlaid on top of the countertop in a decorative pattern. When these elements are mixed in as an aggregate, they become part of the finishing process and will generally be spread evenly throughout the surface. These options allow for a more decorative surface that can mesh with a wide range of kitchen designs.
It is important to understand the benefits and limitations of a concrete countertop prior to deciding on its installation. As concrete is a naturally porous surface, concrete countertops are sealed prior to final installation using a hard sealer such as an epoxy. While concrete is very difficult to damage, these seals can be breached by using knives or placing hot pans directly on the countertop surface. The sealed surface generally needs to be maintained on a periodic basis, such as using a water based wax product. Also, eventually the sealer may need to be reapplied if wear has occurred.
Concrete countertops offer a unique and highly customizable option for many homeowners. Over years of use, they will acquire a warmth and patina that adds charm to a kitchen. When properly installed, sealed, and maintained, they can last for decades, making them an affordable and desirable choice that should be considered by kitchen designers and consumers.