Today we’re continuing the conversation on countertop surfaces we’re considering for the kitchen. In part 1 we drooled all over quartz, part 2 focused on the pros & cons of Corian, and this final instalment is all about polished concrete.

Kes and I are BIG fans of polished concrete. I think mostly because it reminds us of those modern converted lofts that we love so much. There’s just something cool, sleek & sexy about it…

Granted, “sexy” is probably not a word most people would use to describe concrete. “Industrial” or “dirty” might be words more likely to come to mind for some of you, lol. Keep in mind though, we’re not talking about the kind of slab you see on the sidewalk outside – polished concrete countertops have VERY little in common with those… And I think that’s why concrete isn’t as popular as it could be. People associate it with the concrete they see on the streets and think they would never want it in their homes.

Concrete countertops are basically created from a mix of cement and an aggregate. (Newbies – aggregate is the stuff that’s added to the cement mix to give it certain qualities like increased strength or a certain colour or texture – things like sand, crushed limestone, or broken glass, for example.) The concrete is then poured into the countertop mold, which allows it to take on virtually any shape.

Ok, so now that the technical stuff is out of the way, let’s break down the pros/cons….

  1. Versatility & color options
    Because the countertops are poured and molded from a concrete mixture, you can do pretty much anything with it. Mixing blue pigment and broken glass into the concrete for example can create a luminescent, sealike look. Irregular pigment mixes can mimic granite, marble or pretty much any other type of stone. The countertops can also have curves and built-ins or even embedded objects: drain boards, trivets, knife slots, your old coin collection – I’ve seen people do all kinds of crazy stuff!
  2. Durability
    From what I’ve researched, concrete in general is strong enough to handle whatever culinary activities you can throw at it. With any day-to-day used surface however, there’s pretty much always the possibility of chipping. Concrete corners and edges in particular can chip if they get struck by a really hard object. SO I guess that means no more smashing ice cube trays for me if we go this route…
  3. Heat Resistance
    Concrete is generally heat-resistant but like quartz & other natural stone surfaces, it can go into thermal shock if a screaming-hot object is placed directly on it – meaning it can flake or chip away if an area is exposed to too much heat.
  4. Maintenance & stain resistance
    Here’s where it starts to get tricky. Raw concrete is extremely porous & will stain easily. This means that the countertops need to be sealed. And because cutting or setting a hot pan on the concrete surface can compromise the sealer, not to mention that acidic products like lemon juice can eat through a concrete sealer over time – the countertops will need to be RE-sealed. Yearly. From what I’ve read it’s also recommended that concrete countertops be treated with a food-safe wax. Which of course ALSO needs to be maintained. Monthly. Ok….so this is starting to sound like a ‘nails done, hair done, everything did’ kind of high maintenance. You might be wondering why even bother?? Well…
  5. Cost
    Creating concrete countertops is a very labour intensive process. For this reason professionally installed polished concrete countertops are generally priced competitively with other high-end surfaces & natural stones (quartz, granite, etc.) and depending on the custom options, in some cases it can even cost more. BUT – as a DIY project?? The cost can be thousands of dollars SIGNIFICANTLY less!!

Kes and I haven’t really had a chance to get our hands dirty in this whole Dreamhouse building process yet, but after happening on this post on Apartment Therapy featuring Imperfectly Polished’s DIY concrete masterpiece, we’re thinking this just might be the perfect opportunity for us to do so. I also kinda think it’d be a super fun project to document for all of you to enjoy!

So what do you think?? Are we crazy for wanting to attempt such a huge DIY project? Are the cost savings worth the added maintenance? Help us settle the debate!!

  • June 10, 2013

    We’re planning on DIY’ing concrete countertops for our kitchen, but it’s only 30 square feet. 100 square feet is a LOT of countertop, and a whole lot of heavy concrete!

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