If you're the type who revels in having the latest and greatest, then a concrete countertop is definitely your style. Popularized over the past 10 years, concrete has become the design darling of kitchens. Its weathered patina looks great with any style, and its durability makes it a top choice for families whose kitchen is the heart of the home.
Concrete countertops are made just like concrete walks and drives, but instead of being poured into a form on the ground, the concrete is cast into the actual size of your counter space. Color and chips of stone, metal, and glass can be added to the mix for decorative effect. When thoroughly dry, the concrete is buffed and sealed.
There's a reason the world is paved in concrete: Its durability is unbeatable. The same goes with concrete countertops. This surface is both heat- and scratch-resistant, and if sealed properly, will withstand spills. But that's key: Sealing creates a protective barrier for concrete's otherwise porous characteristics.
Sealing adds yet another decorative layer. You can opt for a matte finish that gives the concrete a honed look, or you can finish it with a high gloss that rivals the finish of high-gloss granite. A bonus: Glossy surfaces are easy to clean.
Most homeowners choose a smooth finish, but one unique trait of concrete is that textured surfaces are available, as well.
The concrete material itself is not the cause for the expense; it's the fabrication and installation that makes the cost increase. Because of the weight of concrete slabs, installation is also time-intensive.
- Concrete can be cast on-site or in an installer's workshop -- either way is OK. Some installers prefer the controlled environment of a workshop; others like the on-site availability.
- Patient, ambitious homeowners can take on a concrete countertop project; try out colors before casting the entire slab and be mindful about environmental conditions that can cause concrete not to set. You'll also need a small army of friends to help you install the countertops once slabs are completed.