A Case for Concrete Counters

When homeowners consider renovating their kitchens, upgrading countertops is a great way to make a huge impact.  However, one material that is often forgotten is concrete.  With the overwhelming popularity of other industrial materials in the kitchen, such as stainless steel as seen in many appliances, it’s no surprise that other industrial materials are being used.  This classic kitchen features beautiful stainless appliances, white subway tile, white cabinets, and natural concrete counters with a polished finish.

Concrete can be used in a variety of locations – everywhere from kitchens to bathrooms, from laundry rooms to bedrooms.  This photo shows another polished concrete counter used in a laundry room.  The natural color of the concrete compliments the floor tile, pulling out the gray color in the marbled tile.

The fact that it is an industrial material makes concrete great for another location – outside.

This outdoor kitchen and bar feature a large concrete counter – providing plenty of space to cook and entertain guests.  By using such a sturdy material, the counter can hold up to abuse from the weather and outdoor environment.

Not only is the material versatile because of the all locations in which it can be used, but concrete counters also offer a variety of options themselves.  The finish of the concrete can be matte or polished for a shiny surface.  Colors are limitless.  The surface can be smooth or textured, as well as the edges.  And a variety of aggregates can be added in the mix.

This kitchen features two different concrete counters.  The main counter, shown in the background, features a dark, matte finished concrete, while the island features something much different.  Recycled glass aggregate was added to the concrete mix to allow for this colorful look, which pulls from the colors of the tile backsplash.

Another versatile feature of formed concrete is texture.   This counter features a concrete counter with rough edges, similar to that of rough cut stone.  Paired with the stone backsplash and bar face, the rough edges of the concrete create a rustic look for this kitchen.  The color of this counter was created through an acid staining process after the concrete was formed.  Since concrete is a porous material, unlike paint, the acid stain soaks into the concrete and will not flake or peel off.

A different way to color concrete is through integral pigment added to the concrete mix before pouring.  Any color can be added or mixed, such as this robin’s egg blue counter.  The bright color, matching the tile backsplash, stands out against the dark wood.  This counter also features another great quality of concrete counters – since concrete takes the shape of the formwork, any shape imaginable is possible, including curves, as shown here.

Aggregate and color are not the only things that can be added to the wet concrete.   This counter feature an integral, suppressed drain board, placed inside the formwork before the concrete was poured.   As the concrete hardens around the drain, it will be held in place, providing a great functional feature.  Other things that can be cast into concrete include LED lights and fiber optic cables.

As previously mentioned, concrete can take many shapes – however the formwork is built.  Because of this, it is possible to cast integral sinks into the counter.  This bathroom features beautiful white counters with an integral sink.

Concrete is a great, versatile option to consider for counters.  But like every surface, there are a few things that should be noted.  As mentioned before, concrete is porous, and porous materials, much like granite, need to be sealed.  There are two ways to seal concrete counters – through applied sealers or through diamond polishing.  Also, the concrete mix itself should be customized for use as a counter – to prevent unwanted cracking.

Picture sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.

Published by in How To, Tips, and Advice, on October 8th, 2012


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