Design Confidently, Live Comfortably
Concrete counters might not seem like a luxury choice, until you see one. They are made from special concrete that is mixed with pigments and poured into molds. The top surface is then evened out, or screeded, and troweled smooth. After the concrete hardens for several days, it becomes extremely strong, but also quite porous. Proper sealing, followed by periodic waxing, is essential to prevent staining.
The appeal of concrete is unlimited choice: Colors can be mixed into any hue, and the counter can be as thick as you like -- although more than 4 inches would be quite heavy and could strain supporting cabinets and floors. The soft, burnished glow of its surface gets deeper over time; nonstructural hairline cracks add even more character.
It's also possible to inlay shells, pebbles, and other found objects, so that your counter is unlike any other. Counter/Production, in Berkeley, Calif., has developed a product called Vetrazzo, which uses recycled glass mixed into a custom body color. The surface is then ground to create a smooth terrazzo effect. They say the resulting counter is chip and crack resistant and stronger than concrete alone.
Ambitious homeowners can try making their own concrete counters using kits sold by California designer Fu-Tung Cheng. Or they can hire one of many concrete counter specialists around the country, who have turned it into a new art form.
NEXT: Engineered Stone
Concrete countertops get more beautiful as they age.
It's not just for sidewalks anymore. Concrete can be customized -- colored, shaped, and embedded with decorative materials.