"Concrete And Stone" - Precast Concrete Countertops
We got a call from a homeowner in north Fort Worth about building some concrete countertops for his grill area. After meeting with him, he decided that dark gray precast concrete countertops were the best way to go.
He was looking for something that would contrast with the rectangular stone tile pattern that was being installed on the base walls but was running on a tight time schedule and needed for them to be installed quickly.
We build our precast concrete countertops in our shop so we’re not bumping heads with all of the other subcontractors on the job site who are trying to get their work done. That helps us install them quicker than a cast in place countertop and, to boot, they generally cost less. Those two features sealed the deal and we got to work.
So just what are precast concrete countertops? We start the process by making a pattern (template) of the area where the countertops are to be installed. We take this template to our shop and lay it out on a casting table. We incorporate the edge that you’re looking for into this mold (straight up and down / beveled / chipped stone / rounded / etc.), add reinforcement, and then pour the countertops. After letting them harden or “cure” for a short period of time – between two to seven days depending on the type of cement mix we use – we then break open the mold, sand, stain, or polish it depending on what you asked for then seal it, load it into the truck, and haul it to its destination for installation.
One of the best features of precast concrete countertops is that they tend to have a very smooth overall finish, much more so than cast in place countertops. Because they’re cast against a smooth surface and not hand troweled like we do with cast in place countertops (where the surface is smoothed manually using a steel trowel), we get a more refined, consistent finish. However, keep in mind that there are trade-offs. Some people prefer the more inconsistent or rustic finish of a troweled countertop with all of its variations in texture and color. Precast concrete countertops, being so smooth, tend to minimize these differences creating a cleaner, more modern look.
Another thing to consider is that precast concrete countertops have to be made in sections due to their size and weight, which means they will have thin seam when we install them. Cast in place countertops, being poured on site in one piece do not have seams. One big advantage of precast concrete countertops is that they offer a wider range of options, from embedding objects like glass chips into the surface to incorporating integral sinks and drainboards directly into the countertops. Lastly, they tend to be cheaper than cast in place as we are not having to travel to the job site every day. Which way to go depends on the final result you want to achieve.