Pros And Cons Of Concrete Countertops
So just what are your expectations when it comes to concrete countertops? Are you looking at them because of price? Available options? Edges? Or is it the colors? Just what do you get by choosing concrete over all the other countertop options out there? Well, let’s go over some of the pros and cons of concrete countertops to help you with the decision making process. To start, since all concrete begins as a watery mixture of sand, cement, water and stone it can be poured into a mold of just about any shape or size which gives us a lot of flexibility when it comes to design. We can offer many features from just a simple straight slab to countertops that have sinks or drainboards as an integral part of them.
What are other pros and cons of concrete countertops? On the plus side, we have flexibility in how we build them and what they will look like. We can pour them on site over your cabinets in one seamless slab (cast in place/poured in place) which being more of an artisan process tend to have a warmer, rustic feel or we can make them in our shop in sections (precast) which creates the cleaner, more modern look you can see in this project we installed in Walnut Springs, TX.
We also have a pretty wide range of colors to choose from; in this case our clients went with natural gray which is actually a pretty popular color. If you want even more variety, we can also acid stain them to create a mottled, variegated finish or take the additional steps of polishing to create a high gloss finish or even embedding objects such as glass chips into them. Lastly, we can protect them with different types of sealers ranging from acrylic water or solvent based, to polyurethanes and epoxies, each one having its own pros and cons (we’ll go over these in the following projects).
Now for some of the cons. No, they are not a lot cheaper than other countertops. Sure, the material cost isn’t high, it’s concrete after all, but it takes highly skilled people to create a finished product that doesn’t look like a do-it-yourself project. We also don’t recommend cutting directly on them or placing very hot pans on the surface; you won’t hurt the actual concrete itself, however, you may damage the sealer we have applied to it. A sharp knife can cut through this sealer coat and very hot pans will burn it, i.e., a cast iron skillet with smoking hot oil. Using a cutting board and a trivet will prevent this. It’s nothing that can’t be repaired, but it’s the proverbial ounce of prevention, pound of cure.
On a final note, we always get asked: Can they crack? The short answer is yes, it can happen. The longer version is that it’s very rare. If we get a crack it’s almost always a hairline (very thin, fine) crack that has no effect whatsoever on the strength of the countertop. How can that be? We use a special cement mixture that includes additives that increase the final strength of the concrete. To that we often add reinforcing fibers that help prevent cracks but if one develops, ties 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, we see it all the time. Anyway, we’ll talk a little more about all the pros and cons of concrete countertops in the following projects.