Concrete Countertops: Not Only for the Outdoor Kitchen

Are you looking for a durable and stylish countertop for the kitchen or outdoor kitchen? Then concrete might be just the right material for you. It can withstand a lot, is water-resistant, heat-resistant, scratch-resistant, and can be individually shaped. Discover all the facts and material information at a glance.

Concrete countertops are heavy and not exactly cheap. Alternatively, concrete-look countertops also look modern
Concrete countertops are heavy and not exactly cheap. Alternatively, concrete-look countertops also look modern.
Photo: Nolte Kitchens

Concrete Countertops: Material and Production

We know concrete primarily as a strong building material for foundations, walls, ceilings, or floors. It consists of natural aggregates such as stone, gravel, or sand, cement as a binder, and water. When mixed with water, the cement becomes a cement paste, binding the aggregates together, giving the concrete strength. The liquid concrete is spread or poured into molds, forming a stone-like substance when it hardens.

The rough look of exposed concrete has been a trend in interior design for several years. The timeless building material is particularly suitable for purist industrial style or minimalist kitchens, but concrete surfaces are also gaining popularity when combined with warm wooden elements.

Concrete countertops can be molded and cast on-site or manufactured in external workshops according to precise measurements. There, molds are then built to the desired dimensions, and the countertop is cast complete with all desired cutouts – for example, for a seamlessly integrated kitchen sink, draining, or cutting surface. After curing, the surface can be sanded and polished to achieve the desired finish. In addition, a sealer, often made of a tough epoxy resin, is applied.

Ongoing maintenance now only requires the application of a good water-based wax sealer every nine to twelve months – this ensures that the work surface remains stain resistant and reduces the risk of cracks in the board over time.

The concrete countertop gives the wooden kitchen a modern twist
The concrete countertop gives the wooden kitchen a modern twist.
Photo: living4media/Obijn, Guy

Properties of Concrete Countertops

One of the most popular ways to take advantage of the positive properties of concrete is to use it as a countertop in the kitchen. Concrete countertops are heat-resistant, scratch-resistant, stable, and extremely changeable in shape and color. Due to the high weight of about 100 kilograms per square meter at a thickness of 4 millimeters, it is essential to check the stability of the base cabinets and the load-bearing capacity of the kitchen floor before installing the kitchen countertop.

Concrete changes over time and develops an impressive patina. If you want to prevent this effect, you should use a protective wax to seal it. To do this, solid blocks of stone wax are heated and worked into the concrete, similar to polish, to protect against soap, dirt, and dust particles. For daily cleaning, a water-soluble detergent and a damp cloth are sufficient. However, acidic agents should be avoided.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Concrete Countertop

Advantages of Concrete Countertops

  • Design flexibility
    One of the biggest advantages is that the customization options are almost limitless. For example, color, shape, and size can be designed as desired, as can edge profiles, recesses, and surface sealants. Concrete countertops can be left in their natural gray or finished to mimic the look of granite, marble, or even wood. However, concrete can also be colored in most colors, cast in any size or shape, or inlaid with materials that create patterns beneath its surface. In addition, the countertop can be outfitted with custom elements such as draining boards, trivets, or cutting boards.

Even the concrete can be specially shaped to facilitate kitchen work, such as a countertop with a deliberate slope toward the sink. Textures and finishes match any design style, including traditional, modern, contemporary, industrial, or rustic.

  • Durability
    Most contractors reinforce the mix by adding fiberglass, making the concrete countertop exceptionally strong and lightweight. The reinforcement allows for long, seamless spans and even daring overhangs that are impossible with granite or other materials. An added benefit is that fiberglass-reinforced concrete is far less prone to cracking.
Here, the kitchen island was upgraded with a concrete countertop
Here, the kitchen island was upgraded with a concrete countertop.
Photo: living4media/Bauer Syndication

Disadvantages of Concrete Countertops

  • Susceptibility to stains. While open-pored concrete can withstand years of daily wear and tear, it is susceptible to stains. Thus, the surface should be regularly sealed with oils or natural wax to protect it against stains and liquids.
  • High cost. The handcrafted nature of the concrete countertop often means it is a bit more expensive due to the labor involved. However, since it is a very high-quality material, it will increase the value of the kitchen in the long run, making it a good investment.
  • Long waiting times. Since the design, pouring, and curing of concrete countertops take some time, this could be considered a disadvantage if you are in a hurry. On average, the processing takes at least a few weeks.
Advantages Disadvantages
Can be customized in size and shape
High acquisition costs
Durable, hard wearing and scratch resistant Elaborate in production
Insensitive to heat Porous surface
Waterproof Regular sealing is necessary to
avoid staining
Small objects can be embedded High weight: Real concrete countertops can weigh up to
be up to 100 kilos per square meter
Can increase the resale value of the kitchen,
as it is a high-quality surface

Concrete Countertops for Outdoor Kitchen

Eating outdoors continues to be the trend. Instead of just barbecuing, people are now cooking outdoors, as gardens and balconies increasingly become outdoor living rooms and centers of hospitality. When planning an outdoor kitchen, it is important to remember that it is exposed to all weather conditions and must be robust against sun, frost, and moisture.

Concrete countertops are considered the number one material for outdoor kitchens. They are both highly functional and extremely decorative, as they can be cast in any shape and virtually any size. In addition, designing with concrete outdoors is attractive because of its ease of maintenance and great design flexibility. However, concrete countertops should be weather-sealed for outdoor use to prevent them from becoming susceptible to cracking. Your advantage: concrete countertops can even be made to withstand frost better than granite countertops.

Concrete countertops are also suitable for modern furnished kitchens
Concrete countertops are also suitable for modern furnished kitchens.
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