There is a common misconception that concrete worktops may be a more cost effective alternative to granite or Corian due to the fact that concrete ingredients are cheap and typically used for driveways and steps etc. This may be true for a regular mix of concrete but the high performance concrete we produce for worktops is far more advanced and as a result costs more to produce. We use an array of admixtures to control the water & air content, polymers to help curing and increase flex strength and fibres to increase ductility. We also add densifying pozzolans to control permeability. None of these ingredients would be used or needed in a regular concrete mix.
However, the main costing difference between concrete and other solid surfaces is down to the craftsmanship and time taken to fabricate and install. Granite, Corian and Silestone are all mass produced in factories or quarries from around the world. They are quality controlled and shipped to local fabricators in standard sized sheets. Once the fabricator has your template they simply cut the sheet to suit and install. With today’s technology there is little craftsmanship involved. The fabricator can simply load a large CNC machine with granite sheets and press go! Granite & marble have simply become a commodity and choosing a fabricator is now merely based on price alone.
Concrete on the other hand is a creative and expressive material which takes several weeks to achieve. Each fabricator has their own style and signature. Choosing which artisan you want to handcraft your concrete worktops is not a choice that should be based on price but a choice that is based on preference. Concrete is not a commodity but an art form.
The concrete we produce will weigh about the same as a typical granite worktop. There is no need to reinforce the kitchen cabinets. We can also offer much thicker concrete worktops which can either be hollowed out with foam to reduce the weight or incorporate a drop down front edge to give the illusion of a chunky countertop without the added mass.
As concrete is not mass produced each project will be different. We may need to template your kitchen before work starts. We will then construct a mould, mix & place the concrete, steam cure the concrete, grind, fill & polish the surface. The tops will then need to be sealed before arranging an installation date. Typical turnaround times are 4-6 weeks although smaller projects may be quicker.
Concrete in its raw form is a porous material which will need to be sealed if it is to be used as a work surface. There are a number of ways to seal concrete worktops:
Concrete can be coated with epoxies or polyurethanes which will prevent moisture and stains from ever entering the surface. Although this sounds like a good stain proof solution and is commonly used on concrete floors, it is actually a bad idea. For the coating to work effectively you need to apply a very thick coating which essentially looks and feels like a cheap laminate. The coating will be more prone to scratching and will always have the possibility of de-laminating. We have spent thousands of pounds on the latest and greatest permanent coatings only to find that they all eventually fail and need to be stripped. We no longer offer any kind of thick coating.
Penetrating sealers & wax
This is the old school approach to sealing a concrete worktop. If you are a purist who loves the look of a raw, aged concrete with a deep rich patina then regular waxing on a raw polished concrete is all you need to do!
This is our favourite approach to sealing a concrete countertop. It involves using a 2 stage nanotechnology reactive densifier which penetrates deeply into the concrete and seals the surface from the inside out by forming crystals of pure silica (glass) within the matrix of the concretes pores. It still allows the concrete to breathe and does not require any regular maintenance. Due to the reactive nature of this system it does need some time to develop its resistance (glass doesn’t grow overnight!). So the only drawback is the need to take extra care during the first few weeks.
We are very confident that our concrete worktops and sinks will withstand even the most demanding of environments. We have numerous projects in commercial bars and restaurants which have adorned years of constant use and still look fantastic. Concrete has a timeless quality which seems to mature gracefully getting better with age. We promise you will not be disappointed when choosing concrete for your kitchen countertops.