I love concrete counters! I love their flexibility — just look at the inlaid stone in the counter, above. I love the color possibilities — in this article I show counters in purple, indigo, grey and brown. You can also have muted to bold shades of green, gold and wine. I love their feel — to my hand they don’t have the cold feel of granite. I love their earthiness and that they patina over time. I love that I can do it myself — if I’m feeling strong and ambitious. [I made the purple counters as well as the sandcast concrete backsplash with stone and glass inlays.]
You can see from the counters in this article that the material — as used in countertops — is quite refined. It’s a 5000 to 6000 psi concrete (compared to the 3500 psi concrete used in sidewalks). This is what allows for the fine finish. They are reinforced with a mesh structure for strength. The color is integral to the concrete so the color is through and through. Just like for stone counters, a template is made so that the counter conforms to your walls. A form is made — usually of melamine which give the clean finish. The counters I use are usually cast upside down which allows for inlays and for the marbled or veined finish that you see in a few of these counters. Other counters are cast right side up with a trowel finish. After de-molding the counters are polished with diamond grinding and polishing equipment. You can see — especially in the indigo counter, below — that you can use colored aggregate that you can reveal in the grinding. This can add a lot of dimension to the countertop. After polishing the countertops are finished with a sealer and then buffed to a high shine with a paste wax.
Concrete is definitely not for everyone. It is a hand-made product and will have imperfections. It is more prone to staining from the oils and acid in food than is polished granite. In my mind, this creates a patina that gives the countertop character over time. Concrete counters are usually also thicker. Granite is usually about 1-1/4″. The minimum for concrete is 1-1/2″ and more frequently they are 2″ thick.
Here is a selection of concrete counters I’ve put in my projects. Click on an image to enlarge.
Row 2 – Kitchen #2: Medium Gray Counters Veined with Silver on the outside walls; Medium Grey Counter without veins but with inlays of stainless steel and ceramic on the island.
Row 3 – Kitchen #3: Indigo Counters with dark red aggregate partially exposed in grinding. We also had matching indigo hearths fabricated.
Row 4 – Kitchen #4: Dark Gray Counters with Taupe Veining.