5 reasons concrete counters are better than stone
Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | October 7, 2015
Love the look of stone but turned off by some of its less-than-desirable qualities? Concrete countertops might be the answer. From a literally endless array of colors and designs, to the ability to pour it right there in your kitchen, concrete offers a versatility that leaves stone countertops in the dust. If you're on the fence about concrete and the benefits of using it in your kitchen, here are a few good reasons why it makes sense to opt for this tried-and true contertop idea.
Concrete is conducive to DIY
The very nature of stone countertops requires professional installation. That's because one wrong move could mean a disastrous placement, and that could ruin all the hard work that went into cutting and shaping the stone. Concrete countertops are much more forgiving, and that allows a handy homeowner to install the countertops on their own.
However, keep in mind that concrete is still quite heavy and can be fragile during shipment and installation. It is definitely not a material you should work with on your own unless you have handled it in the past with good results. If you are ever in doubt about your skills, or feel as though you have gotten in over your head, call a contractor to help you install the countertops.
Concrete can be poured in place
Ask any contractor about the weight of a stone countertop, and you just might hear a groan. They are extremely heavy, must be cut off-site to fit your particular kitchen layout, and often demand special tools and lifts to move them around.
Concrete countertops can be quite heavy and unwieldy as well, but that's only if they are created off-site. If you want to create the countertops on-site, right there on top of your cabinets, you can -- with ready-made forms, the concrete can be poured right there in your kitchen if you're DIY-ing it. If you're working with a contractor, it's more common for the counters to be poured upside down and then flipped over to be installed. Whether you do it yourself or hire someone to handle it, being able to oversee the job from start to finish provides great peace of mind for the discerning homeowner.
Concrete colors and options are endless
Concrete countertops offer a staggering array of colors, as well as more exotic options, such as embedded pebbles or glass, just to name a few. Though stone countertops are undeniably beautiful, their versatility doesn't go very far. On the other hand, concrete is so versatile that a skilled contractor could create a countertop that looks just like stone if you love that look but find the cost of stone prohibitive. Same goes for marble -- get the look you love without the costs. If you like the look of concrete itself, but don't love grey, you can get the counters stained in almost any color imaginable -- so if you've been dreaming of sky blue or chocolate brown counters, consider that wish granted.
You also have the option of adding in unique features, such as trivets and tilted drain boards, as well as a seamless sink. If you have an eye for aesthetics and are looking for a unique design, concrete might be your new best friend.
Concrete is immensely durable
When concrete is poured and cured properly, it can be quite durable, even in the busiest of kitchens. The key lies in sealing the concrete properly a few times each year. The sealing process is very important, as concrete is a rather porous material that can stain easily if there is not a buffer between liquids and the surface.
Concrete that has been properly prepared and maintained is also very resistant to cracking and chipping. If concrete does happen to chip, it can be easily repaired in place by a qualified professional. Stone countertops, on the other hand, can't be repaired -- they must be completely replaced if they become cracked or heavily chipped.
Concrete might be more affordable
Concrete countertops might have less of an impact on your bottom line than stone, but keep in mind that this depends on a couple factors: concrete that is pre-formed and shipped often costs more than concrete that is poured in place; and specialized design features and color matching might also drive up the cost. Most homeowners, however, will find that concrete countertops and installation will run between $65 and $135 per square foot.
Stone can be a comparable price, but it depends on the size of the slab chosen, and of course, where it was quarried. Stone from a local quarry can be much more affordable than countertops that were cut and shaped in far-flung locations. In most cases, the cost of stone countertops ranges from $100 to $200 per square foot.
Tips for finding the right concrete countertops
When you start your search for the best concrete countertops, make sure to find the right kind of professional. Traditional concrete companies, those that typically pour concrete for floors and other building applications, might not be the best bet for the more precise and careful work that a countertop requires.
Look for companies that have done plenty of concrete countertops in the past and ask to see samples of their work. Pay close attention to the reviews others have left online for the fabricators, and ensure that they have been in business long enough to know what they are doing. A little research now can lead to durable, affordable, and handsome countertops that you will be happy to show off for many years to come.