“Pièce de résistance” – Custom Concrete Countertops
If you ask a realtor how you can increase the value of your home, he or she probably will recommend that you upgrade your kitchen. When these Granbury, TX homeowners set out to remodel their home, they wanted the kitchen to receive the VIP treatment.
After mulling their options, they decided to install unique custom countertops that would give guests pause. Sure, granite is pretty — but it has become so common that it no longer has the “wow” factor that it once did. These owners hired us to install concrete custom countertops that would get the reaction they wanted.
Unlike granite, marble, tile, Corian, and other countertop options, concrete is extremely versatile and easy to work with. After we pour the concrete mixture into custom molds, it flows into each corner and angle of the mold and then hardens.
Concrete can be used to create almost any shape a homeowner desires. When you opt for concrete custom countertops, you’re limited only by your imagination.
For this project, the owners requested 1.5” tall, straight, lightly eased edges for their countertops and asked us to make a cutout for the large sink that they were going to install in the island. No problem at all. We made templates of all the areas and built the molds in our shop in a process we call precast concrete countertops.
Custom concrete countertops can be made in one of two ways. Either they are cast in place (manufactured onsite and poured directly on the space where they will “live”) or precast (manufactured in our facility to precise measurements, transported in sections to the customer’s home or business, and then installed).
Either option achieves a stunning end result. Cast-in-place countertops have no seams but require the area to be off limits for almost two weeks depending on the size of the build. We have to close off the area, build the mold, pour it, allow it to cure, sand/polish it, do any touchups, and finally seal it.
Each step can take from a few hours to overnight, especially when it comes to the sealer drying and it can get a little messy. It is also a more costly process than our other option – precast – as we have to go back and forth to the job site every day.
The greatest benefit of precast countertops is that we do all these steps in our shop and then install them, usually in just a few hours. Almost no downtime, which is a big deal, especially in kitchens. The con is that depending on the size of the pieces, there may be seams.
In this case, these custom concrete countertops were precast. We had precisely two seams, both behind the oven where they are barely visible. Once the concrete dried, we removed the molds and then sealed the countertops and the sink with a water based polyurethane that created a matte finish and made the surfaces very durable and stain-resistant.
While the sealant minimizes the odds of staining, it’s not bulletproof. We always instruct owners to use common sense about what will come in contact with the concrete.
This kitchen remodel turned out just as the homeowners had hoped. These custom concrete countertops are definitely a conversation piece and a showstopper when they entertain guests.
One final note – can they crack? The honest answer is yes, it can happen but it’s very rare. Since we have switched to Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete (GFRC) we have only had one hairline crack in 60+ countertops and that was due to mishandling. We have not had one after installation.
How can that be? We use a special cement mixture that includes additives that increase the final strength of the concrete. To that we add reinforcing glass fibers that help prevent cracks, but if one develops, they tie the concrete together to stop it from spreading.
Finally, we also add a reinforcing mesh inside of the countertop that gives it additional support. Between all these, a crack is not impossible but highly unlikely. Psst, in case you haven’t heard, granite, stone, and other solid surface countertops can and do crack, it’s something that can happen with any countertop material.