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Wanda Ellerbeck of Grotto Designs in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, says she's seen a remarkable evolution in the industry over the past decade. Some of the most influential changes she's seen involve the amazing technical advances that give concrete its great versatility.

"Like the introduction of polymers and additives and the scope of colors now available", she says.

When it comes to textures, Grotto Designs can make a surface as smooth as glass. Ellerbeck can ground an edge to expose the aggregate, producing a dramatic effect. And for a more rustic feel, chipped edges can be integrated into the countertop.

Grotto Designs in Canmore, AB Canada Kaldari in Laguna Beach, CA

At DK Clear Design, they use both concrete and steel to create, because working together, concrete and steel allow more beautiful materials to present themselves.

Meld USA's Extremeconcrete was recently added to Material Connexion's innovative materials library in both NYC and Milan, Italy. Material ConneXion is the largest global resource of new materials.

The library references more than 1,400 new and innovative materials representing eight categories: polymers, glass, ceramics, carbon-based materials, cement-based materials, metals, natural materials and natural material derivatives.

Extremeconcrete was added with a certificate of materials excellence, which gives Meld USA a lot of credibility and sets them apart.

"Many of our customers have challenged us to find ways to incorporate concrete in places where you've never seen it before. We're continually working with our clients to deliver a functional and aesthetic result that truly exceeds expectations. I think that explains why many of the designers who've chosen Extremeconcrete have been so pleased and have come back to work with us on additional projects," says Michael Bustin of Meld USA.

Buddy Rhodes Studios' concrete is comprised entirely of cement, sand, and binders, and it's reinforced with an expanded galvanized steel diamond mesh.

"People are after a different look. Something that has more character and craftsmanship, and is more of a natural component", says Gary Simpson of Kaldari.

He says there's a mushrooming trend toward building with natural materials such as stone, rock, and concrete. With modern methods of staining and treating these materials, there is no sacrifice in beauty when selecting these products.

DEX Studios uses a high performance, high strength proprietary mix design for fabrication of all products that yields a product with high compressive strength, high abrasion resistance and low porosity.

DEX offers several finish and texture options combined with an infinite palette of colors. The concrete can be subtle and smooth or textured and rugged. The colors can be vibrant or neutral, elegant and subdued, or rich in distinctive natural elements.

Elemental Surfaces Rick Parks says," Natural, aged, organic furnishings and fixtures have taken center stage as we draw our lives inward to timeless surroundings that symbolize core values."