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Concrete Countertop Frequently Asked Questions

 

DIY Questions About Concrete Countertops

Question: Why should I consider concrete as a material for interior applications like kitchen or bathroom countertops?

Because of the versatility with color, texture and shape.

 

Question: I would love to make a concrete countertop as a DIY home improvement project, but can I afford it?

Very easily. The enCOUNTER mix, color and sealer will cost from $10/SF to $15. The variables are the forming materials and choice of fixtures. You can also create backsplashes.

 

Question: What kind of experience is required to make a concrete countertop?

Our instructional DVD leads an inexperienced person through the steps. We would suggest that a newbie make a small practice piece before doing the real thing. Create the practice piece with the idea that it will be used outside or in the garage – maybe as a gift for the mother-in-law. 

 

Question: Would you recommend a precast concrete countertop or pour-in-place?

Countertop people develop a preference and will base the method depending upon the design parameters of the project and their skill level.

 

Question: How heavy is it?

enCOUNTER weighs less than 19 lbs/SF at 1.5”

 

Question: I know that concrete is heavy, do I have to reinforce my cabinets?

We never have had to reinforce cabinets even when pouring them 2” thick.

 

Question: What happens if I ever need to repair my concrete countertop?

We suggest keeping detailed records about the colors, chemicals and sealers used so that the small amount of repair materials can be used to replicate the original. Be assured that this is not difficult and is an uncommon occurance.

 

Question: What kind of forms do I use?

Lots of choices here. You choose according to the desired appearance. For a natural stone edge choose a reusable enFORM; for a very smooth edge choose a one time use enRAIL. The base will usually be ½” plywood placed on top of the cabinet when casting in place. When precasting use a base material over melamine or cast directly on melamine. Sink choices are made from two style: one time use and reusable.

 

Building Professionals Questions

Question: I want to start a business making concrete countertops and other interior elements made of concrete. What advice can you offer?

Attend a class! Nothing like learning from the pros who can walk you thorough all the ins and outs.

 

Question: Are there any advantages or disadvantage of using precast over cast-in-place?

Less finishing skills required for precast because the bottom becomes the top. Less mess in the house. Disadvantage are having to haul a large piece to the place it will rest.  Cast-in-place allows the casting of the entire length in one piece. No handling, matching of seams. Disadvantage: Mess in the house. Although this can be controlled by sealing off the room with plastic.

 

Question: What concrete countertop products do you recommend for professional use?

The entire enCOUNTER Professional Countertop Line.

 

Question: Can the techniques used to make concrete countertops be adapted for vertical surfaces, like for bathroom walls,  shower surrounding or backsplashes?

Yes, check out the technical data sheet on Thin Wall Panels.

 

Homeowners and Designers Questions

Question: Why should I consider concrete as a material for interior applications like kitchen or bathroom countertops?

Endless color and shape options as well as durability. Plus it can be a work of art adding value to your home.

 

Question: What are the advantages of concrete countertops over marble and/or granite? How does concrete compare to granite in terms of both cost (per square foot) and texture?

Concrete can be as smooth. It is easier to repair. Concrete is more versatile for color, shape…a more interesting material, plus can be structural, meaning it can be self supporting in some applications. Cost depends on if you are doing the work or a contractor is. Contractors can give you a really good SF cost estimate.

 

Question: Do concrete countertops have an application in more traditional kitchens?

For sure, the look can be very modern and stylish and adapts easily to any décor theme.

 

Question: Can I use concrete countertops in a commercial kitchen?

You bet! Depedning upon the type of sealer you use, some of which are are designed to fight bacteria.

 

Question: Would concrete countertops be good for outside use—as in an outdoor barbeque countertop? How will colored concrete countertops hold up in the sunshine?

Concrete is preferred over any other material because of its durability. There are colors that are light-fast and sealers that offer UV protection…so – very stable indeed. But you must pick the right sealer and coloing system to make it long lasting.

 

Question: Can I use concrete countertops as a cutting surface?

Concrete will dull the finest cutlery. We recommend a cutting board. Plus will will eventually damage your sealer.

 

Question: Can I put a hot pot directly onto a concrete countertop?

Sealed concrete will withstand 350 degrees, but to be cautious use hot pads and trivets.

 

Question: Can concrete countertops chip, flake, or crack?

The only time I was called back for a repair was when a new owner moved appliance in the new movers chipped an edge when setting the refrigerator. It took only a few minutes to repair. We have hear of entire kitchen being replaced when a granite top was damaged I have never heard of a top flaking. Cracking in a non issue with enCOUNTER, however most mixes have issues when doing cast in place which is why many installers prefer to make small pieces and glue them together.      

 

Question: Do concrete countertops stain?

No, not if sealed with a quality product. We recommend enPOXY or enSPARTIC because they are acid and stain proof. We have never had one complaint about a countertop staining when our enPOXY or enSPARTIC have been used, but frequently hear about stains over penetrating sealers and waxes.