As a countertop surface, concrete has been around for a long time. Just not like this. This isn’t just some bag mix you buy at the hardware store. Each ingredient has been carefully selected for the benefits it imparts to the end product, which is a countertop surface that is incredibly dense, and ready for anything your kitchen can throw at it. Check out some of the concrete countertops we’ve made for clients in Tampa, St Petersburg, Sarasota, and Anna Maria Island.
All About Concrete Countertops
Concrete isn’t as exotic as most people think. As a countertop material it has come a long way and most blog writers and Houzz articles simply regurgitate old information, perpetuating the misconception that it is a magnet for stains. This simply isn’t the complete picture anymore. Still, Concrete Countertops aren’t for everyone. I have lived with concrete countertops, furniture and sinks in my home for the last 7 years. I believe the best way to experience what to expect is for me personally to live with it daily and let my kids wreck things as only kids can. This helps me to understand how best to handle situations should they occur. To date, I haven’t had any stains on any of the concrete in my home, in spite of two children doing their best to the contrary. That said, I’ve compiled some Frequently Asked Questions that I’m asked almost daily in regards to our high-performance concrete countertops to help you decide if concrete is the right surface for you:
What’s so special about the concrete you make? Don’t you just buy a bag of concrete from the hardware store and add water?
Please! The concrete we use is completely different than the bagged mixes you can pick up at the home cheapo. Each ingredient in our mix designs is specifically chosen to make our concrete a super dense matrix that will continue to improve, harden and last a very long time. We use recycled industrial by-products to lessen the impact our concrete countertops make on the environment. Ultra fine aggregate creates a high surface area in the slab which leads to denser, more stain resistance from the start with the end goal being a countertop that grows so dense, there is no need for sealers.
If you care for more specifics, traditional bagged mix concrete from the box stores yield a fully cured final product between 3,000-5,000 psi. It’s important to note that ‘fully cured’ usually means 28 days. My concrete reaches 5,000 psi in 24 hours, with an ultimate compressive strength in excess of 9,000psi. Sometimes we use a mix called ECC (Engineered Cementitious Composite) which can yield compressive strengths in excess of 12,000psi. Strong stuff. Why is this important? Polishing, grinding and processing in general isn’t possible until concrete reaches 3,000 psi. If you try to do any of these things before the concrete has reached 3,000 psi, the cement hasn’t developed enough to hold the aggregates in, which will make them pop out of the surface leaving big holes.
If you would like to learn more about your specific concrete countertop needs, don’t hesitate to send us a quick email!
How often do concrete countertops need to be resealed?
At Béton Studio, we use two types of sealer which we feel offer the best protection. One is a penetrating, reactive sealer that can be finished anywhere between satin and gloss sheens. It basically fills up the pore structure of the concrete and chemically reacts with it to grow a micro crystal structure, or basically glass. This micro crystal structure allows the countertops to breath while still protecting it from stains and acids. With this type of sealer, the manufacturer recommends sprucing it up every 3-5 years for residential kitchens and yearly for commercial settings.
The other type of sealer we use is a reactive polyurethane, which is available in matte or satin sheens. This fills the pores of the concrete with a polyurethane specific for concrete and builds a film layer over the top of the surface.
There are merits and drawbacks to both sealers, which I have covered in depth in this article.
Do Concrete Countertops stain?
Yes and no. If left unsealed, concrete will undoubtedly stain. We use two sealers that we believe offer the best protection from stains and acids. Not everyone who produces concrete countertops uses the same sealers as us and that is a matter of preference. Again, I have been in the artisan concrete industry for 7 years, mainly using one sealer and have had very limited staining problems that couldn’t be easily solved.
Can I cut on the countertops?
You can, but you shouldn’t. You will dull your knives, and if you are at all serious about cooking, you know that a dull knife is a dangerous knife. The knives that I own are expensive and perfectly honed and if I see someone cutting on anything other than a cutting board, that person is never invited into my kitchen again. With concrete, we have the unique ability to shape it any way we like. This allows us to create notches to receive a cutting board as well as other accessories as part of an overall kitchen countertop design.
Can I put hot pots on my countertops?
Another you can but you shouldn’t. Admittedly, I have done this in the past and repeatedly do it in my own kitchen, but I have a level of comfort and expectation that gives me little hesitation. I don’t believe that you’ll have a problem. Historically, putting hot pans/pots on a concrete countertop has been a problem because some fabricators use acrylic and other topical sealers for protection from acid and stains. Topical sealers, especially acrylic (think plastic), can melt and cause serious problems.
A better option would be to embed some steel trivets so you can score some style points while getting a little separation between the countertop and the hot pan.