About Concrete Countertops
Perhaps you have heard of this new trend in the kitchen. That's right, concrete is being used to fashion countertops. It might sound a bit odd, but there are some attractive reasons people choose to use this material for countertop surfaces. In this article we will look at what what goes into making concrete countertops. Additionally, we will look at some of the reasons people find concrete kitchen countertops an appealing choice. Finally, we will consider what goes into maintaining concrete kitchen countertops.
What Are Concrete Countertops?
It might tempting to over-complicate this. However, these surfaces are made of exactly what it sounds like; concrete. Simply stated, concrete countertops are made from general purpose mortar mix. The final result when completed is a surface that is suitable for industrial style designs. You may be wondering, "doesn't that look strange?"
You may be aware that mixing one part cement and three parts sand won't look much different from a basic concrete sidewalk. However, color can be added to change the appearance. Furthermore, the material can be molded and shaped into some amazing works of art. By coloring (or staining) the concrete you can create virtually any appearance desired.
As you can see from the above photos, concrete countertops can be formed and colored to suit whatever whatever is needed. But what are the characteristics of concrete countertops? Let's look at some of the properties of these interesting surfaces.
Properties of Concrete Countertops
As mentioned, concrete can be dyed and shaped. In fact, to make a countertop, the concrete must be poured into a mold. So, one property of concrete countertops is that they can be customized to fit with any design and style.
After the concrete is set and cured, it is very hard. This means it is resistant to scratching and heat. The durability of concrete countertops is very appealing to people looking for a countertop surface.
However, it is porous too. Therefore a proper concrete sealer should be used to protect the countertop. Using the correct sealer on a concrete countertop will make the surface resistant to staining. Since some sealers can discolor from high temperatures, be sure to educate yourself on the various kinds of sealers for concrete countertops. In fact, it is recommended that you use a hot pad or trivet when setting pots and pans on concrete countertops. Keeping the surface protected with the right kind of sealer tremendously improves the durability of a concrete countertop.
Fabricating Countertops With Concrete
What about fabricating concrete countertops? What does this entail? Concrete countertops are formed using molds (or forms). To make a concrete countertop, the form has to be created first. After pouring the concrete and letting it cure, the top of the countertop then needs to be polished and treated. For these steps, use polishing pads for concrete surfaces and a concrete sealer.
Choosing Pads for Polishing Concrete Countertops
When selecting polishing pads for use on your concrete countertops there are some basic things to keep in mind. The most expensive pad is not necessarily the best. By the same token going with the least expensive does not guarantee good results either. So what should you look for in a good polishing pad for concrete? The following list has some good points:
- Diamonds need to be true to grit. A large variation in diamond grits can cause slow cutting and scratching in the concrete surface. The only way to find out is to buy a pad and test it out to see how it wears and performs.
- Wide channels (the spaces in the pad's polishing side) are the best for allowing concrete cuttings to eject. Narrow gaps are designed for materials that release fine cuttings (e.g. granite) but concrete requires larger gaps to prevent cuttings from "loading" up in the pad.
- Flexible pads that will bend when placed on a rigid backer pad work the best and can be used for more then one shape of surface. Rigid pads with large blocks of diamonds do not work as well as flexible polishing pads for concrete.
Concrete Countertop Durability
Seems like it is pretty easy to figure this one out right? Concrete is a very durable material. After all, it is used all over for sidewalks. And if you can walk on it and it holds up, wouldn't it be more than durable enough for a countertop?
The answer to that question is yes and no. Concrete is very durable in some ways, but in others it can be susceptible. For example, kitchens have all sorts of liquids that get spilled on the counters. Therefore, sealing the concrete is important. This helps to protect the surface so that it does not easily absorb liquids that can discolor the countertop.
Care & Maintenance of Concrete Counters
When it comes to caring for and maintaining concrete countertops, there are about three main things to keep in mind when caring for and maintaining concrete countertops:
- Periodically sealing the surface of your concrete countertop using an appropriate sealer designed for sealing concrete surfaces.
- Using a pH neutral stain remover for stone that works on oily stains.
Are Concrete Counters Right for You?
Concrete countertops are a great fit for specific design styles. For example, rustic style kitchens are one of the best matches for concrete countertops. If you are looking for a kitchen countertop that is highly design-able and is durable with the ability to be dyed any color, concrete may be just the thing you are looking for.s