One of the hottest trends in countertops, concrete is a smooth, strong surface that lends itself to one-of-a-kind craftsmanship. Every aspect of the countertop is custom, including shape, thickness, texture and color. It can be ground, polished or stained, and embedded with embellishments from seashells to stones.
Because it's custom cast, it's a great choice for oddly shaped counters or expressive designs with curves and multiple levels. Some homeowners complete the process themselves, while others rely on professional artisans, who often employ proprietary materials and signature techniques.
What Is It? Concrete slabs are formed from cement, sand, water, stone, pigment and reinforcement fibers.
Thickness, Overhangs and Edges. Standard thickness is an inch and a half, but thicker countertops can be created. Overhang is generally a half-inch for standard cabinets and three-quarter inch for flush cabinets. Choose from standard, return or formed edges.
Installation. Choose from two basic processes.
Custom Options. The custom nature of concrete offers an opportunity to incorporate one-of-a-kind elements, both functional and decorative.
Coloring. Concrete can be colored, dyed or acid-stained virtually any shade imaginable.
Inlays. Virtually any flat object can be embedded, including coins, shells or geodes (hollow rocks lined with crystals.
Finish. Concrete can be ground to various depths and polished to a matte or glossy finish. Decorative aggregatessuch as crushed glasscan be incorporated. The porous surface requires a protective sealant to avoid staining and etching.
Functional Additions. Custom installation makes it easy to incorporate integrated sinks, drainboards, cutting boards and trivets.
About Cracks: Installers incorporate reinforcements, such as ladder wire or steel mesh, to allow contraction and expansion, which helps prevent structural cracks. If damage does occurfor instance, from dropping a heavy objectcracks and chips can be repaired with filler. Hairline cracks do not compromise integrity and can add character.
Maintenance. Wipe the countertop with a soft cloth and warm water daily. Mild household cleansers are suitable. Apply sealer regularly.
The Bottom Line. Warmer than natural stone, concrete countertops are a statement-making element that enhances any style, whether traditional, contemporary or industrial. Concrete is considered by many the ultimate in custom countertops.
Industrial-chic stainless steel is a surprisingly hard-working surface and a great countertop choice.
An alternative to stone, this manufactured material is a versatile and elegant option.