Concrete was long thought to be better suited to building foundations than home décor, but increasingly design fanatics are finding this versatile and durable material to be the perfect choice for their kitchen countertops.
In the modern kitchen, clean simple lines and rugged rough hewn styles are the most sought after trends. Long gone are days of endless shiny Formica surfaces, today’s interior decorators demand something that looks closer to natural. For those of people who are drawn to the aesthetics of natural stone, but turned off by their high maintenance costs, concrete provides the best compromise.
Concrete countertops for the home kitchen or bar are created in an artisanal process, by mixing one part cement to three parts sand – designers will then add internal pigments to create the versatile colors and designs you see in stores today. Because they’re created using a man-made process concrete countertops can be molded to include integrated features such as drain boards, and they can be cast in virtually any shape or size. Using color matched fillers visible seams, and grout lines can be rendered almost invisible. After they’ve set slabs can be further treated using acid staining or liquid dyes, in order to produce unique effects that are less predictable than pigments, for those people looking for a more natural feel to their kitchen décor.
After the coloring and hardening process is completed, concrete countertops are usually sealed in order to protect them from staining, heat damage and mildew. When opting for a sealer you might decide to go with a glossy, reflective finish that will increase the brightness of your kitchen and act as a natural magnifier of natural light. Alternatively, you could decide on a sleek, modern matte finish that provides a more naturalistic, quarried stone finish to your countertop, keeping in line with the more rugged aesthetic that’s popular today. While companies such as Cambria offer matte finishes in an endless supply of colors, other companies such as Silestone and Caesarstone also offer limited range countertops with this modern look.
Once you’ve found the right sealer for your concrete countertop, continued maintenance should involve no more than regular cleaning using mild soap and a wash cloth, steer clear of any harsh acidic cleaners. In order to preserve shine and clean up any lingering stains, you might also consider waxing down your countertop surface every month.
While hairline fractures might show up on the surface of the counter, these are non-structural in nature and often add to the warmth and patina of the surface as it ages. Concrete countertops should last you for decades without wearing physically or aesthetically, concrete is designed to withstand harsh conditions both indoors and outdoors which is why it’s often the go-to choice for construction.
If you’re looking to maintain the industrial, customizable look that concrete offers but you’re not able to bear the cost of the material then you might try quartz instead. At $59-$89 per square foot compared to $65- $135 for concrete, quartz can offer substantial savings while offering a similar style. Check out Caesarstone’s Raw Concrete and Fresh Concrete Quartz offerings in particular, they’re designed to look almost identical to concrete with a textured, matte finish that gives the same raw feel.