This article will answer the question “Why choose concrete countertops?” by citing the benefits of utilizing concrete as your main building material for your countertop.
Why Choose Concrete Countertops?
You need to choose concrete countertops because concrete assures the following benefits:
- Heat Resistance
- Easy Maintenance
- Stain Resistance
Countertop is the horizontal surface in your kitchen where food preparation happens. It is commonly installed with a sink for an accessible source of water when cooking. Cabinets and drawers are designed below countertops for the same purpose. Having these compartments make all kitchenware quite handy when needed, requiring less movement for the cook.
Heat Resistance of Concrete Countertop
Countertops are often in-contact with kitchenware that have been exposed to high temperature. Having a heat-resistant surface is important to assure that the countertop remains free from unprecedented staining (from burns) or in worse case scenario, structural damages.
Since water is one of the components of a concrete mixture, its normal boiling point is considered as the limiting temperature for concrete’s thermal resistance. At approximately 212 degrees F and beyond, the moisture content of concrete absorbs heat and undergoes change in state from liquid to gas.
A drastic increase in temperature results in an abrupt transition of liquid molecules to become steam. Imagine a highly energized gas trying to exit a compact concrete. This event continuously builds up pressure that ultimately tests the strength of the structure. Beyond its maximum strength, concrete could no longer withstand the pressure build up and will ultimately break concrete’s matrix.
Effect of Aggregate
In general, the heat resistance of concrete depends on the rock aggregates present in the mixture. For concrete composing of carbonate and lightweight materials such as expanded clay and slag, most of compression resistance is retained for up to 1200 F. On the other hand, mixtures composed of granite and other materials mostly composed of silica; the compressive strength retained at the same temperature is only 55%.
Durability of Concrete of Concrete Countertop
Concrete durability is defined by its resistance to weathering, chemical attack, and abrasive forces without any changes to its standard properties. As concrete is utilized in various applications, the environment that is normally exposed to plays a huge factor to its durability. For example, similar concrete structures built indoor and outdoor will have different durability performance because of their difference in temperature and humidity exposure.
Concrete weathering is an undesirable after-effect when concrete is exposed to various environmental conditions such as sunlight, rain, humidity, and pollution. The most apparent effect of concrete weathering is the change of the structure’s external appearance which can be in the form of color or texture change.
Since concrete countertops are installed within the house, chances of exposure to harsh environmental conditions is very minimal; hence, concrete countertops are known to be much durable and long lasting. For more protection against weathering, surfaces of concrete countertop may be painted or sealed with epoxy resins.
Concrete countertops are highly susceptible to abrasion caused by regular exposure to sharp and abrasive kitchenware. By definition, abrasion is the progressive decrease in concrete mass because of commonly destructive mechanical action such as friction, grinding, impact, and overloading.
The abrasive property of concrete depends on the mixture ratio and the quality of components used in formulating concrete. High-strength silica fume concrete has shown impressive resistance to abrasion, so it may be appropriate to choose this type of material when the building countertops. Although, it is important to note that standard concrete mixture is also applicable as long as regular maintenance and proper sealing will be done on the surface.
In terms of industrial scope, chemical attack belongs to the most common cause of concrete deterioration. Chemicals such as oils (either natural or synthetic), basic compound, animal fats, and acids are found to be destructive to concrete structures. One of the ways to improve its resistance to chemical attack is the application of epoxy resins on the topmost surface where most contact is happening. In addition, amine curing agents may be chosen for curing to improve concrete’s chemical resistance. It is important to note that aromatic amines allow more resistance than aliphatic ones, although the latter has relatively poor color stability compared to the former.
Easy Maintenance of Concrete Countertop
Concrete countertops are easy to clean and maintain especially when equipped with adequate sealing agents (i.e. stain-proof, and abrasion resistant). The secret to having a well-maintained countertop is consistency to maintenance and inspection. When done regularly, cracks and damages are found before they become worse, leading to less repair requirements.
How to clean?
When cleaning concrete countertops, appropriate cleaning agents must be used. It is important to be particular with the ingredients present in the cleaner. Try to avoid cleaning products with ammonia as it could induce chemical attack on the surface, resulting in damages. In addition, it is recommended to find scrubbers that are non-abrasive. You may use soft cloth or even sponge to clean the topmost surface of your concrete countertop.
When cooking, it is not advisable to do your cutting directly on the surface of your concrete countertop. It is best to use your cutting boards (whether wood or plastic) when dealing with foods that require extensive cutting and tenderizing. Cutting directly on the surface could result in cracking and chipping of the protective coating. Water could enter this damaged layer and penetrate the concrete matrix which may lead to more damages.
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Although it was mentioned previously that concretes have heat-resistance, it is recommended to use a potholder when placing hot dishes onto the surface. This is a preventive measure to avoid damages on the sealants caused by exposure to high temperature.
Stain Resistance of Concrete Countertop
The stain resistance of concrete countertops depends on the type of sealing agent used on the surface of the structure. One of the techniques to choose among the pool of available sealants is by testing all possible chemicals and ingredients that may cause stain.
Among the ingredients available in our kitchen at home, the ingredients that could stain the most are mustard, red wine, soy sauce, and coffee. Try to stain test these materials onto your chosen sealing agent to assess if the sealant is best for your case.
Other than staining ingredients, some readily-available chemicals at home should be considered when choosing your sealing agents. Believe it or not, but some of the sealants in the market are soluble to water; hence, they may not functionally help in protecting your concrete countertop. Aside from water, rubbing alcohol, acetone, and canola oil may also dissolve a few types of sealing agents.
Concrete countertops offer a wide range of design possibilities, so it is best when you happen to have a specific design concept in your mind. Other than the kitchen, concrete is also recommended as countertop material in the bathroom, wine bars, and restaurants.
The simplest and most common design for a concrete countertop could be rectangular and cornered, but you may also opt for rounded or circular edges.
This blog post answered the question “Why choose concrete countertops?” by discussing some of the best qualities of concrete as a building material. It was clearly stated that concrete has the ability to withstand heat to a certain degree, is durable against different forms of attack, is easy to clean and maintain, has stain resistance, and is highly customizable.
For any questions and suggestions about this article, please feel free to submit your thoughts in the comment section below.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Why Choose Concrete Countertops?
Are concrete countertops less expensive than granite?
Yes, having concrete countertops is cheaper than having granite when it is done by yourself. Although, it is important to note that doing this entails strenuous process and specific tools. Labor cost that is normally within the range of $140 and $330 can be saved by leading the construction and design by yourself.
Are concrete countertops a good idea?
Yes, concrete countertops are a good idea because they are durable and will last for a long period of time. It will remain functional for as long as it receives proper maintenance and perfect sealing.
Will concrete countertops crack?
Yes, but not all the time. Usually, the cracks in concrete countertops are hairline cracks which are not due to structural defect but based on concrete’s natural shrinkage potential. Cracks could be prevented by proper and regular maintenance.
What is the most maintenance free countertop?
The most maintenance-free countertops are those solid surfaces with perfect sealers. Sealers made from polyester resin and acrylic are some of the most acceptable sealing materials for countertops. They are nonporous, so the countertop surface is easy to maintain. In addition, they provide adequate heat resistance and durability which assures the overall structure for longer functional life.
Can you make your own concrete countertops?
Yes, you can build your own concrete countertops. By doing so, it is important to prepare the tools and materials required to conduct the project. Apart from the raw materials of concrete such as cement, sand aggregates, and water; you should also shape your own mold. Tools for mixing, setting, and curing of the concrete countertop are also needed to start the project.
What is the best type of concrete to use for countertops?
The best type of concrete to use for countertops is a concrete formula that promises high-strength property. Having this mixture results in a smooth surface, allowing effortless polishing work and a crackless finish.
Is it hard to make concrete countertops?
Making your own concrete countertop is definitely challenging, but it is doable and quite rewarding when finished. As a starter, it is advisable to set your most realistic expectations; then you may proceed with planning for the type of treatment, mold, color, and other design concepts for your project.
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