"Set In Stone" - What Are The Best Countertops?
So why choose concrete for your countertops? Because they are the best countertops you could have offering almost infinite custom design possibilities.
This was a two-level countertop we installed near Fossil Ridge in Fort Worth, TX. Our homeowner had asked an interior designer to find him the best countertops for his outside grill area that would showcase a part of his fossil collection that he had personally dug up. The collection included a handful of small stones with fossil remains and one large flat stone with the same. The interior designer called us to see what we could do, and we got right to work.
Usually this is easiest with precast countertops, we lay the objects down in the mold, pour the concrete around it, do some light grinding to expose it and…, that’s where the wheels came off.
As the top of the countertop is at the bottom of the mold, the object is exposed once we flip it over. Tricky part is that this only works when you are embedding flat objects, as these fossils were anything but, they just wouldn’t stick out and grinding them to reveal the detail would destroy them.
By necessity we had to go with cast in place countertops. We decided to embed the objects after pouring the countertop but before it hardened too much. We had to create voids in the surface to allow for us to place the oblong shaped stone fossils and the rather large flat fossil all at the same time.
With the large flat stone, we poured the concrete then literally dug out a hole in the countertop while it was still wet to accommodate the stone. It’s not easy laying these out on a concrete surface as they wanted to sink to the bottom of the mold or, in the case of the flat stone, didn’t want to stay level with the surrounding surface.
To protect the fossils, we wrapped everything with tape to avoid getting them splashed from the cement mix during placement knowing we would just cut the tape off after the countertop had dried.
Really – concrete just makes for the best countertops. So versatile; how would you even try to do this with granite or lueder stone? For the smaller fossils, we carefully placed them into the concrete as it was hardening and troweled all around them to create as smooth a transition between stone and concrete as possible. The larger one, was much more challenging.
Keep in mind that it was a flat stone but its edges were not exactly the same height all over, we had to keep these variations in mind during our finishing process so that it wouldn’t have a lip between the stone and the countertop surface in the end.
After allowing it a few days to cure, we acid stained the entire countertop, going with a walnut brown stain which we sprayed on and let react. Once we hit the right tone, we neutralized the stain, cleaned off residue and finished it all off with a concrete sealer to help protect it from staining and regular wear and tear. Finally, we carefully cut back the tape exposing the fossils. Talk about a conversation piece!