Gone are the days when concrete was only suitable for foundations, park benches, and sidewalks. Over the last few years, concrete has taken the countertop world by storm and demonstrated how versatile it can be.
If you’re looking to do a kitchen, bathroom, or outdoor area remodel in the near future, you might wonder if concrete can hold its own against the more traditional tile, solid surface, and stone. The answer is a resounding yes! Concrete is definitely a unique material, so read on to find out if it’s a good match for your home.
This section doesn’t really fit in either the “pro” or “con” category because it’s all dependent on your preference. If you want to go the DIY route, it will probably cost you around $8-20/square foot, and as an added bonus, you don’t have to pay installation fees. If you want a more professional look and would like to choose from fancy edges, aggregates, colors, and specialty add-ins, you are looking more along the line of $65-140 per square foot plus installation fees. That price point puts you at more expensive than laminate, tile, and solid surface, and around the same price as a low-to-mid-grade granite or quartz.
Again, maintenance probably doesn’t count as a positive or negative, but it is something to keep in mind. Concrete does require a little bit of maintenance to keep it looking nice. It will need to be sealed at least once a year, and you need to wipe up spills as soon as they happen. Concrete is naturally porous, so if you don’t keep it clean, you may end up with some stains on your countertop.
Now, what you’ve been waiting for: the positives of concrete countertops. Concrete has a lot of pros in its court and is probably the most customizable countertop option on the market.
The sky is the limit where concrete finishes and extras are concerned. In addition to being heat-resistant and scratch-resistant, concrete’s biggest benefit is its customizability. Here are a few more ways that you can customize your concrete countertops:
- Inlay: One of the really cool things about concrete countertops is the ability to inlay materials, whether it be decorative metals, coins, mosaic tiles, shells, stones, and even working lights. Concrete is already heat-resistant, but you can inlay metal rods for a built-in trivet that looks downright swanky. Additionally, you can inlay items that have significance to your home or business, such as antique car gauges, watch faces, horseshoes, shotgun shells, and agate.
- Aggregate: Aggregate is a mix of small pieces of different materials that add interest to the concrete. Some examples of aggregate you can use in your concrete countertops include locally-sourced river rocks, glow-in-the-dark material, colored glass, and much more.
- Finish: You might think that concrete only comes with a matte or semi-gloss finish, but that is far from the truth. Concrete can be polished to a high shine and can even be cast to have a wood grain or stone appearance.
- Edges: Depending on the type of cast your builder uses, you can have the standard straight edge, bullnose, or waterfall edge, or you could have edges that look like stone, vines, scallops, or rope.
- Shapes: As long as you have a mold that works well, you can make a granite countertop in just about any shape – star-shaped, oval, trapezoidal – you name it! You can even make the countertop and sink one seamless piece that can add visual interest and durability. Additionally, you can create built-in drain boards that slope delicately down into the sink to help both your dishes and vegetables drain safely and beautifully.
- Colors: If you choose a concrete countertop, you are not doomed to a dull grey color. Quite the contrary! Concrete can be stained, painted, or have the color mixed in to create a completely unique countertop. You can even inlay logos, pictures, or specialized artwork directly onto the countertop.
Due to the internal structure that has to go into concrete countertops, you can go longer distances without needing a seam. That means that you can keep your countertops cleaner, and you can stop gunk from building up in the cracks.
Concrete already uses up a lot of existing materials, but certain suppliers go above and beyond in recycling other materials to create their concrete mix. Additionally, if you want to incorporate locally-sourced aggregate, the construction company you choose may be keen on incorporating those unique materials into your final product.
While the benefits of concrete are pretty significant, there are also some cons to consider.
Concrete is known for a lot of things, but having the perfect look (like you can achieve with granite or marble countertops) is not one of them. You are using a poured, aggregate material, so there are bound to be some imperfections in the end result. Additionally, concrete is a porous material, and even if you properly seal it, it tends to develop a patina over time. Some people really like the patina and consider it a bonus, but others view it as an inconsistent deviant from their original finish. One last con is that concrete is prone to cracking, so keep that in mind.
If you’ve spent any amount of time looking into concrete countertops, you’ve probably seen all of the posts proclaiming how easy it is to make your own countertops. While the steps may appear easy, just know that you get what you pay for. Don’t get me wrong – concrete countertops can look just gorgeous when done correctly and by a professional, but they can also look like a piece of sidewalk that you plopped onto your cabinets if you’re not careful. Don’t scrimp on the manufacturing cost unless you’re willing to live with an outcome that potentially looks very DIY.
As you research different countertop materials, keep concrete in mind as a durable, customizable option that can be as unique as you want it be.