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Concrete Countertop Material Description

Concrete countertops come in two forms, pre-cast or cast in place. Most notable brands are Vetrazzo, IceStone and Meld.

  • Pre-Cast – these are slabs of concrete that are made to specific sizes and then cut to fit. Seams will be visible, but offer better consistency and can provide a wider range of looks.
  • Cast in Place – No seams and less turn-around time. Design choices are limited. Also consider you home will become the work place for the concrete craftsmen.

Pre-Cast concrete is manufactured in slab form and then cut to fit your cabinets. The slabs are made of a concrete base with an added aggregate of glass, shells, and bottles.

Pre-Cast concrete countertops offer the benefit of quality control by their manufacturer. After the aggregate is added, the slab is machined to create a pleasing, flat finish, exposing the aggregate. The countertops must be sealed on a regular basis.

Cast-in-Place concrete countertops are a recent trend in the countertop world and have a contemporary look and feel. Concrete is composed of a hardened mixture of water, cement and sand or gravel. Concrete artisans can create very custom looks by adding stones, pigment, glass, tile or other materials.

Cast-in-place concrete countertops can be installed in almost any layout. They can be textured, troweled, or smooth-pressed to create different looks. The types of edges that can be created are only limited by your imagination since it is a poured surface. A number of different integrated features can also be incorporated, such as custom drain boards and integrated sinks. Concrete is also a somewhat scratch and heat resistant surface.

Concrete countertops have a porous surface and are often treated with lacquer sealers to help them resist stains and water damage. Depending on the texture, concrete fabricators often recommend regular waxing in order to help protect and seal the surface. Because of the weight of concrete and as cabinets and homes shift and settle over time, cracks may appear in countertops. Also, cast-in-place concrete countertops are not warrantied for materials or installation.

It is very important to find an experienced fabricator/installer when considering concrete countertops. If a countertop is not properly installed, problems like spalling or warping can occur up to six months after the installation.

Concrete counters are good choices in both residential and commercial settings as long as they are cleaned and maintained properly and regularly. Regular cleaning with antibacterial cleaners and sealing are recommended.

Although concrete countertops can be repaired, repairs are generally very noticeable. The most common repair is a crack in the surface. Additional concrete, caulking, or epoxy resins can be used to fill such cracks, but the repair generally does not blend well with the existing surface.

MANUFACTURERS:

  • Local Concrete Fabricators (Cast-in-Place)
  • Vetrazzo
  • IceStone
  • VitraStone
  • Squak Mountain Stone
  • Lithistone
  • Eco-Terr
  • Meld

PROS
Unique look and feel. Recycled components can be added. Cast-in-place concrete provides a custom look.

CONS
Cast-in-place can be expensive and porous. It must be sealed and repairs are very noticeable.

CARE & CLEANING
Avoid abrasive and ammonia based cleaners. For daily cleaning, use a product like Simple Green.

WARRANTY
Cast-in-place offers no warranty except from the individual fabricator. Pre-Cast offers various warranties ranging from 1 to 10 years.

COST
The cost to install concrete countertops is generally high, ranging from $65 to over $100 per square foot. The more custom the job becomes, the higher the cost.  Additions such as custom concrete sinks can increase the cost by $800 to $2000. Other custom features such as custom edges, drain board, textures and the addition of pigments, veining, or tiles can drive the cost up.

Adapted with permission from CountertopReview.com