Are concrete countertops right for you? To help you decide, here are answers to common questions about concrete countertop benefits, appearance, performance, and maintenance.
Why do people choose concrete countertops?
Concrete countertops appeal to people who want something unique, hand-crafted and personalized. Unlike factory-made countertops, concrete countertops are tailor made for each owner, allowing complete customization in color, finish, size, shape and edge detail. They also have a natural, organic look and texture, rather than a synthetic, manufactured appearance. Learn more about the pros and cons of concrete versus other countertop materials.
Will concrete countertops crack?
Concrete countertops can develop minor hairline cracks, but they are usually nonstructural in nature and result from the natural shrinkage of the concrete. Concrete countertop fabricators can prevent most cracks by strengthening the concrete using various reinforcement methods such as fiber reinforcement, rebar and wire mesh (see How Concrete Countertops are Made). While hairline cracks may still occur, no matter what reinforcing method is used, they often add character to the countertop and won’t detract from the appearance. Learn more about concrete countertops and cracks.
Are concrete countertops expensive?
Generally, concrete countertops are no more expensive than granite or marble countertops. If you want to economize, you can have your countertops made with recycled materials and limit the use of custom features such as embedments, integral drain boards, and unique shapes and finishes (see this guide to pricing concrete countertops.) Also keep in mind the long-term value that concrete countertops can offer. With their timeless design and inherent durability, they are unlikely to need replacement.
Is concrete a good option for outdoor countertops?
Because concrete is naturally weather resistant, it’s an ideal material for outdoor countertops and can often withstand freezing better than granite or tile when properly sealed. Concrete countertops also have no grout lines, making them easier to keep clean and dry. (See Cast-in-Place Countertops versus Granite or Tile.)
How can I personalize my concrete countertops?
Concrete countertops allow you to create colors and finishes not possible with other countertop materials. Using custom-mixed integral pigments, some concrete countertop makers can even match a specific paint color or fabric swatch (see Paint-By-Number Concrete Color ). Finishes can range from rustic, such as a board-formed look, to smooth with marble-like veining.
And that’s just the beginning. Other ways you can personalize your concrete countertops include:
Adding built-ins, such as trivets and drainboards.
Using unique edge details.
Embedding personal mementos such as seashells, coins, pieces of glass, old dishware and bits of metal.
Giving it a unique, freeform shape.
Get more ideas:
Expressing Yourself with Concrete Countertops
Top Ways to Personalize Decorative Concrete Countertops
How do I protect concrete countertops from stains and scratches?
Because concrete is naturally porous, most concrete countertop fabricators recommend protecting the surface with a food-grade sealer or finishing wax to prevent water and stain absorption. (Get more information about concrete countertop sealers).
Minor scratches can occur in concrete countertops by cutting directly on the surface, so the use of cutting boards is recommended. If scratches do appear, they are usually in the sealer and not in the concrete itself, making them easy to repair (see Touching Up Minor Surface Scratches).
What are the benefits of glass-fiber-reinforced countertops?
Many concrete countertop fabricators prefer to make their countertops using glass-fiber-reinforced concrete (GFRC) instead of conventional precast concrete. If you’re concerned about sustainability or want to reduce the weight of your countertops, GFRC can be a good option. The material uses significantly less portland cement than regular concrete, and it often incorporates large quantities of recycled materials. What’s more, GFRC is stronger than standard concrete, so your countertops can be cast in thinner sections and weigh as much 75% less. Learn more about the benefits of GFRC countertops.
How do I clean and maintain concrete countertops?
As long as your concrete countertop is properly sealed, it should be as easy to clean as a laminated countertop surface. As a general rule, use a pH-neutral cleaner and avoid the use of aggressive scrubbing pads or abrasive cleansers that can wear away the sealer. Learn more: Cleaning Concrete Countertops, Tubs & Sinks.
If your countertops do become stained, you can often remove the stains yourself using the right materials and methods. See these concrete countertop stain removal tips.
How long will concrete countertops last?
Concrete countertops will serve you well for decades — both functionally and aesthetically — and are unlikely to ever need replacement. Under normal use, your concrete countertop will often last the life of your home. This not only conserves materials and eliminates waste, it saves you the expense and hassle of ripping out worn, outdated countertops.
Can I make my own concrete countertops?
Although you can find kits, materials and how-to books for making concrete countertops at many home centers, we don’t recommend building concrete countertops as a DIY project unless you are savvy about the materials and methods required. In addition to knowing the right techniques, you also need to buy the proper tools, equipment and supplies for making concrete countertops, including countertop molds, a casting table, a concrete countertop mix, a concrete mixer, reinforcing materials, coloring pigments, knockouts for sinks and faucets, and more. (See Are Concrete Countertops a DYI Project or Should I Hire a Pro?)
How do I hire the right contractor to make my concrete countertops?
As when choosing any contractor to do projects around your home or business, you should get several written estimates and check their references carefully. (Find a list of decorative concrete contractors in your area.)
It’s especially important to find a countertop contractor who can show you a portfolio of their work and provide actual samples of the colors and finishes they offer. Some concrete countertop fabricators have showrooms with samples of their work on display. Another option is to visit the contractor’s website, where you’ll often find photos of their projects and a description of the types of decorative concrete they specialize in. (Get more tips for hiring a contractor to do interior concrete work.)
Once you’ve hired a qualified countertop contractor, there are a several steps you can take to ensure your project gets off to a good start.