Determine if cement counters are right for you, learn how they are made and get care tips
Updated August 14, 2020
Concrete countertops offer a completely customizable, handcrafted surface popular in kitchens, bathrooms and outdoor entertaining areas, as well as in restaurants and bars. Concrete counters marry functionality and beauty, plus they are inherently durable and easy to clean and maintain.
Find contractors: Concrete countertops near me
Hard Topix in Jenison, MI
Consider the following benefits and drawbacks when deciding if concrete is a good choice for you.
The biggest advantage is that the customization options are virtually endless.
Stained Concrete Floors
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Durability is another positive feature. Most contractors reinforce the mix by adding glass fibers, making the counter both exceptionally strong and lightweight. Reinforcement allows for long, seamless spans and even daring overhangs not possible with granite or other materials. An added benefit is that glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) is far less likely to crack.
While counters made from cement will last for years, they are vulnerable to stains. You’ll need to regularly reapply sealer and wax to protect the surface and be sure to clean up spills and messes right away. But, if you’re used to tile, you’ll love not having the added job of cleaning grout lines. Compare to other popular materials.
Absolute ConcreteWorks in Port Townsend, WA
Keep in mind that custom countertops take time to design, cast and cure—if you’re in a hurry, this could be a disadvantage. Plan for the turnaround time to be at least a few weeks.
Lastly, their handcrafted nature means you might pay more due to the labor required. But, because they are a premium material, they will increase the long-term value of your home, making them a good investment.
Thiel Studio Designs, LLC. in West Palm Beach, FL
If cost is a concern, you could go the DIY route to save money. We recommend sticking with a simple design, unless you’ve had plenty of experience. Be aware that this is a complex DIY project that requires many tools and multiple steps.
Here’s an overview of the process:
Check out our in-depth instructions in this DIY guide and learn about the mixes and supplies you'll need. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions thoroughly on the products you are using before getting started and make sure you have the proper safety gear. If you want professional-grade results, with a customized design, we recommend hiring an experienced contractor.
Petra Cast Stone in Rockford, MI
Concrete countertops are generally no more expensive than granite or marble. The difference is that the majority of the cost doesn’t come from the materials used, but lies in the artisan’s creativity and design skill, as well as the transportation and installation of the finished product. On the affordable end, they can cost around $65 per square foot. For a more creative design, the cost can rise to $135 per square foot or more.
Factors that play a role in the final cost of your countertop are the shape, size, thickness, color and finish, as well as additions such as edge designs, backsplashes, inlays, or decorative aggregates. Limiting customization and using more recycled materials can help keep your budget in check.
One often overlooked element is their long-term value. A timeless design plus the inherent durability of the material can equal decades of functionality. Down the road, this can save you money, time and the hassle of replacing outdated or worn out materials.
Liquid Stone in Warminster, PA
Due to the naturally porous surface, a sealer should be applied to prevent water and stain absorption. There are food-grade sealers designed especially for food-prep areas such as indoor or outdoor kitchens or bar tops. Sealers are vulnerable to heat damage from hot pots and pans, so trivets or other forms of heat protection should be used.
As long as your concrete is properly sealed, it should be as easy to clean as a laminated surface. As a general rule, use a pH-neutral cleaner and avoid the use of aggressive scrubbing pads or abrasive cleansers that can wear away the sealer. Learn more: Cleaning Countertops, Tubs & Sinks.
If they do become stained, you can often remove the stains yourself using the right materials and methods. See these stain removal tips.
Minor scratches can occur from cutting directly on the surface, but such damage is generally limited to the sealer, making this an easy repair. See How to Remove Scratches from Concrete Countertops.
Minor cracks can develop from natural shrinkage, but they are usually not structural in nature and often enhance the natural appearance. Using various reinforcement methods during construction can help to prevent this. Learn more: Do Concrete Countertops Crack?
Flying Turtle Cast Concrete in Modesto, CA
Concrete countertops will serve you well for decades — both functionally and aesthetically — and are unlikely to ever need replacement. Under normal use, they will often last the life of your home. This not only conserves materials and eliminates waste, it saves you the expense and hassle of ripping out worn, outdated surfaces.
When choosing any contractor, get several written estimates and check references carefully. It's especially important to see a portfolio of their work and provide actual samples of the colors and finishes they offer. Visit their website to find photos and descriptions of their prior work. Get more tips on how to hire a contractor for interior concrete work.