We all are aware of cement concrete as a building material. It is used from the foundation to the walls of a building. It is even used for the countertop of the kitchen. If you are thinking about using concrete countertops for the kitchen platform then this article going to explain to you about “Concrete Countertops Pros and Cons”
If you are getting a picture of the concrete countertop of something like this- a plain slab. Then you are far behind in technology. Concrete countertops can be customized too.
The feature of making customized countertops is one of the most important factors for the popularity of concrete countertops. Innovative designs need lots of customization and minor adjustments, which can be easily achieved with cement concrete.
But, what may be perfect for someone might not be the right choice for you! So read further and then conclude if concrete countertops are suitable for your needs or not.
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Precast or Cast-in-situ Concrete Countertops
Concrete countertops are directly sold in the shop in precast form or they can be built from scratch in the premises of your home too.
Special casting tables are used for precast concrete countertops. Curing and sealing are also done in the shop itself and they are sold in ready-to-install form.
Each method has its specific mix design, casting method and finishing method.
Concrete countertop institute recommends going for precast concrete countertops as be to your concrete countertop their finish can be achieved at low cost in them.
Casting Methods for Concrete Countertops
Mostly 1:3 ratio of cement to sand is enough for preparing the mortar of concrete countertops. Other materials used in the countertops accelerators, superplasticizers, pigments for color, or decorative embedment.
Three methods of casting are implied on site for the manufacture of concrete countertops-
- Wet cast concrete
- Hand-packed concrete
- Glass fibre reinforced concrete
Minimum thickness of 1.5 inches is necessary for horizontally precast concrete.
The formwork for the countertop is placed on the cabinets and then pouring of concrete is done.
Customized Sinks or Cooktops
Drop-in sinks can be easily embedded in the concrete countertops. Or under-mount or apron front sinks can also be included with this countertop.
Drop-in cooktops can also be included with the concrete countertops.
Concrete Countertops Pros
The Following are concrete countertops advantages,
1. Durability and Hardness
As we all know concrete is a hard material. Scratching and chipping are resisted by it.
If constructed and maintained properly, they can be used for a long time.
It is easy to customize concrete countertops into any desired shape as per the design. Moreover, fine details like a small arc or rounded corners can also be easily finished in a concrete countertop.
This can help you in creating your own personalised countertop as per your design, decorative add-ins, and requirements.
3. Installing Sinks and Drains
Sinks are an important part of a kitchen. They can be easily installed on concrete countertops.
Even the holes for soap dispenser can be easily adjusted onto the countertop during the construction.
The colour of the concrete countertop does not always need to be grey if you are worried about it! There are many options available to colour it.
You can colour it after it is settled with the help of paint or you can dyeing pigments too. The dye used countertops will give a more polished look and appear natural too.
For the natural appearance of the countertops that resemble a stone- acid staining is employed which gives a mottles look like granite or any other colour be it lighter or darker.
You can even put a tint of color to your concrete countertop that matches with the rest of the interior of your home.
Concrete Countertops Pros and Cons
Colored concrete can be achieved by one of the following procedures:
- Integral Pigment: It is a colored powder that is mixed with concrete in the wet state to obtain the colored concrete. After it is mixed well, the color seeps deep into the concrete and the concrete is permanently colored. The color options are also too many when concrete is colored through this procedure.
- Acid Staining: This procedure enhances the color due to the presence of metallic salts. When the slab is hardened, acid staining is performed. The color change is permanent but there are limited color options.
- Dye: It is a liquid that can be applied to the slabs after curing. Hence, the penetration is limited to the top layer of the concrete only.
Little scratches can be resisted by the concrete countertop. It is not scratch-proof, but it is stronger than some of the softer materials like laminate or marble.
6. Heat Resistant
Concrete countertops are resistant to the heat produced by extensive cooking. But that does not mean you can put hot vessels directly on the countertop.
Doing that will damage the sealant and also induce cracks in the counter slab.
7. Facilitates Easy Cleaning
Concrete countertops allow easy cleaning.
If it is stained, then immediately cleaned off with a cloth dipped in warm water. If the countertop is to be thoroughly cleaned, then you can use pH cleaner after making sure it won’t damage the sealant used. (You can consult the contractor for this)
Abrasive acid cleaners are a big NO! They damage the sealant and also the concrete.
Make sure proper sealant is used for your concrete countertop. If the building quality is good and the countertop is sealed properly, then it can resist the stains efficiently.
However, clean the stains as soon as they are formed, else they won’t come off afterwards and damage the countertop too.
8. Cutting Boards
You can amalgamate the cutting board in the countertop itself! This can ease out many cooking operations.
9. Smooth Surface
A smooth and seamless surface can be achieved by concrete for your countertop as per your design.
10. Style of Kitchen
Are you worried that the kitchen counter will not match the rest of the interior of your home? Then, concrete countertops can be a solution for the same. It matches well with both the traditional design styles and the recent contemporary ones.
The first thing that catches attention while entering the kitchen is the countertop. If you want to achieve a sense of beautification in the kitchen, then experimenting with the countertops can be the best choice.
For the countertops made of concrete, you can add various elements for aesthetic appeals like embedding stones or adding glass chips or colourful marbles to the surface slab.
Other beautification elements can be the addition of recycled glass, shells or fibre-optic glass.
Concrete countertops can be used for both indoor and outdoor kitchen slabs.
By using a similar coloured filler, you can obtain a completely seamless countertop, unlike the tiles.
The grout lines become virtually invisible.
14. Increased Value
Concrete countertops are taken as the premium material for the countertops that can increase the value of your home.
Concrete countertops require very less maintenance. Just reapplying a sealing coat will be enough. This needs to be done in a period of about 3 years.
Cleaning with mild soap and warm water periodically will keep it stainless and avoid the accumulation of bacteria too.
16. Ageing- Beautifully
The concrete is a non-static material. This is one of the unique features of concrete.
As your concrete countertop lasts long, then it becomes all the more beautiful.
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Concrete Countertops Cons
There is no material or technology with only pros and no cons. Concrete countertops have some disadvantages too that are discussed below: (Be sure to read them for you do not want to regret later on!)
1. High Initial Cost
In comparison to other countertop materials like granite, quartz, or marble, concrete countertops are costly.
Some of the factors that contribute to the cost in concrete countertops include size, shape, thickness, colour, and finish of countertop. Also, if you are planning to add additional features like the design on the edge of the surface slab, inlay, or decorative aggregates, then it will also add to the cost.
Recycled materials can be displayed so that the initial cost can be reduced. Also, the customization can be kept limited to keep the budget low.
Its approximate cost maybe around 75-150 $ per square foot. But it may be higher as per the customization level and design.
2. Skilled Labour
To construct or fix the concrete countertop, skilled and experienced labours are required that escalates the cost.
The problem of the fading away of the colour of a concrete countertop is quite common if proper care is not taken.
4. Shrinkage Cracks
Concrete has the tendency to develop shrinkage cracks when it dries. The occurrence of hair-like cracks is common in concrete countertops that can be repaired though.
But taking a few precautions like ensuring proper sealant on the surface, avoiding to put hot vessels on the platform directly can prolong the life of the kitchen slab and also reduce the shrinkage cracks.
Also, spillage on the countertop should be wiped off immediately. It can cause staining on the countertop otherwise. Acidic materials like lemon juice, vinegar, etc. are especially prone to doing the damage.
5. Reinforcement in Concrete Slab for the Kitchen
If the entire slab is constructed with only concrete then the slab will become too heavy. Therefore, it is necessary to reinforce it with structural steel.
Or fibre reinforcement, rebar, or wire mesh can be used for the reinforcement.
If not, the weight of the slab will increase too much and the cabinets won’t be accommodated.
6. Crack Repair
Even if shrinkage cracks are prevented well, a hairline crack appears on the concrete slab. But, this can be reduced though by wiping the spills as soon as they fall on the slab, avoiding a poor concrete mix, or improper installation of the countertop.
Also, the hairline cracks are not much obvious and they are harmless most of the times. But, if they become too wide, then they may cause damage to the countertop; but it is a rare possibility.
Concrete slabs are not too prone to scratches, however, cutting vegetables or fruits directly onto the slab may leave scratches on the slab.
8. Porous Slab
The concrete slab is porous in nature and thus liquid substances can penetrate inside. If not washed properly, then it may promote bacterial growth. Therefore, a proper sealant should be applied on the surface. Also, care should be taken that liquids are not spilt in the cracks.
9. Time-Consuming Construction
Concrete countertops take time for designing, casting, curing, and finishing. This process cannot be rushed.
10. Difficult to modify afterwards
After the construction, it is too difficult to modify the concrete countertops.
If you are someone who renovates in every few years, then it is better to avoid concrete countertops.
Concrete Countertops at a Glance:
Concrete Countertops pros and cons at a glance,
- Available precast or can be constructed at the location itself
- Varied customization options
- Seamless design
- Durable and hard
- Available in a variety of colours
- Scratch as well as heat resistant to a certain level
- Facilitates easy cleaning
- Gives a smooth finishing surface
- Can be designed to match with the interior of the rest of the home
- Increases the value of the house
- Enhanced beauty with aging
- Easy maintenance
- Beautification achieved by embedding stones, marbles or glass chips
- The initial cost is more
- Skilled labour is required
- Shrinkage and hairline cracks are easily developed
- Reinforcement is required
- The slab is porous which can give rise to bacterial growth if not cleaned properly
- Construction takes time
- Post-construction modification is not possible
Concrete countertops are preferred for their durability and huge customization options. Moreover, embedding glass beads or colorful marbles can enhance the aesthetic appeal of the kitchen.
Or you can even design it in such a way that it matches with the rest of the interior of your house. Also, instead of deteriorating, its quality enhances with age.
However, the initial cost may be bit high and you cannot modify it much once constructed or installed.
Be cautious while placing utensils on the slab- hot vessels may stain the countertop and even induce cracks. If spillage occurs, wipe it immediately to avoid the stain and also bacterial growth.
Regular cleaning with a cloth dipped in warm water may help you to last the countertop longer. You can even apply a sealing coat every 3 years to increase its durability.
After considering the pros and cons of concrete countertops carefully, you can conclude if it is a better option for you or not.
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