Concrete countertops? Tell me more

jenswrensOctober 21, 2012

The house we're (someday) building will be a green, LEED or LEED-inspired, house. We've seen two houses that our builder has done, and in both, he had beautiful concrete countertops that truly look like fancy wood and feel smooth as stone. As soon as I touched them, however, I knew they were concrete, but I didn't even mind because they were so fabulous. I am a soapstone-lover at heart, but I could totally see my kitchen with these concrete counters.

I can't seem to find any threads on concrete counters (guess they're not all that popular).

Can anyone tell me about the maintenance, long-term wear, clean-up, etchability, etc?

If you have pics to share of your concrete counters, that would be nice too!


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Sophie Wheeler

Etches, stains, and is much more expensive than soapstone. I DIYed, and then ripped it out because of the above.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 6:42PM
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Yvonne Albertyn_Brazil

I don't know much about making them, but our neighbor has them, and they are beautiful! She's had them at least 5 years, and really likes them. I know she has to seal them regularly, and she's one who loves patina. So she welcomes etches and stains. Her kitchen is amazing - on the modern side, with custom cabinetry, lots of color, and a great layout.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 8:25PM
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We have a concrete sink. We've been using it for about 6 months and not very heavily since we don't cook too much. It also gets cleaned (scrubbed) 3x week by our housekeeper. It has most definitely changed its color in the bottom and has some rings from glasses and stuff. Would be impossible to keep it looking perfect, I think.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 9:22PM
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We have concrete countertops at our lake house. If you will do a search on this forum, you'll find several posts by me on this topic. How happy you will be ultimately depends on the skill of the fabricator and how the countertops are sealed.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 2:03PM
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Thanks nclakehouse! I did do a search on this forum for concrete countertops before I posted and came up with almost nothing - certainly nothing about how they wear, how easy they are to clean, etc.

I just now searched on your name and got one hit - about counter height windows. Nada about concrete.

I will try the google site:ths search and see if I can find more. Otherwise, I'd really appreciate any comments you can give me here in my thread about your counters. That would be great!

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 6:03PM
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The search engine for this site is notoriously bad. You'll always get more accurate results using Google's advanced search within this domain name. I did that and came up with these links:
Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 7:08PM
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Scratching and staining issues are only a problem if the correct sealers are not used. A professional epoxy sealer specially formulated for food grade countertops is what I used, and I have had no issues several years later. I find concrete more forgiving than many other materials. And definitely much more unique.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 10:50PM
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you can get leed points by using a natural stone that is sourced within 500 miles of your building site.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 1:00AM
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I've never been a fan of any of the plastic type film forming sealers for any stone. And that's the only way to keep something like marble or concrete from etching. So if you don't want a plastic surface on top of your concrete, the other choice is an impregnating sealer. Those work great on most types of stone, including concrete, to keep stains from forming. But they don't address etching. A single margarita glass round circle will always be visible on a sample that I had done. It's a chemical reaction between an acid and a base and the only thing that will stop it is the plastic look type sealers, or going Bee's route and covering the surface with plexi or saran wrap before using it.

And the other point is that concrete isn't cheap. If you DIY it, it's not expensive. It's not cheap either by the time you buy all of the plasticizers and reinforcing fibers and other stuff you need to really make a counter that won't crack and will be the color you want it to be.

But, if you aren't DIY, then concrete will be just as expensive as any high end marble or granite. It's around $130 a square foot from a local fabricator, and that's high for this area. I wanted to at least say that I could offer it in my new showroom, so I was willing to display it even at that cost, but the other issue was that I couldn't find anyone that held a business license and insurance that I could recommend that someone let into their home. They were all fly by night kind of guys. All of them. I'm sorry, but that won't wash if you want my recommendation. I can't afford to associate our showroom with someone who doesn't take their profession seriously enough to at least pay LegalZoom $500 to form an LLC and then get a basic $1200 liability policy.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 10:14AM
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Concrete has been big around here for a long time. We are rural, agricultural, an hour and a half from the nearest major city, and many ranchers have long used concrete for flooring in ranch houses, and even in barns. It was a " natural" transition to counters. However, I am not a fan, and I say this as someone who has concrete floors in three rooms. To keep the surface looking good, imho, you need some sort of sacrificial layer, like wax or sealer. There is more upkeep than one would think. Good installations require a gret deal of skill and care as moisture, humidity, contaminates, weather, and mystery factors can all affect the finish. The truly good, creative installers charge prices like what one would pay for Pyrolave. I'd prefer the lavastone, myself. Many of the counters that have been installed by less than stellar artisans are rough and would scratch lead crystal stems.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 3:37PM
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