Q: I'm considering a concrete countertop for my kitchen, but I've never had one. Are they easy to keep clean?
A: The key factor in keeping concrete kitchen countertops clean is the seal. Unsealed concrete (which some people prefer for its tendency to develop a patina naturally over time) is susceptible to acidic liquids. If, for example, you spill wine, lemon juice, or balsamic vinegar on unsealed concrete and don't wipe it up right away, the liquid could discolor the countertop. These substances can also eat into counters and leave a somewhat dull finish where the spill occurred.
Homeowners often seal their concrete counters to help prevent stains, but many sealers don't completely protect against stains. Some surfaces scratch easily and can be scarred by hot pots. Most countertops need to be resealed periodically.
The quality and characteristics of any particular concrete countertop are very dependent on the company that produces it, so do your homework. When looking for a concrete fabricator, ask to see a sample of their work in a client's house—preferably one that was installed several years ago. If this isn't possible, ask for a representative sample that you can test at home.