Concrete countertops are the most unique, personal countertop option because they are made from scratch for each client. To determine whether concrete is right for you, think about whether you believe that: o you want something unique and personalized o you want something that looks natural and has character o you appreciate high-quality, hand-crafted items o you think granite is too formal, too common o you think synthetic solid surface materials look and feel like plastic o you need a color or visual texture that’s not available with other countertop materials If so, concrete countertops may be right for you.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of concrete countertops compared to other countertop materials?
Advantages: o Custom: Concrete’s biggest advantage is that it is completely custom. Your countertop will be unique to you and highly personalized.
o Versatile: Concrete is extremely versatile. It can enhance any style, from French Country to Contemporary. From Arts and Crafts to Industrial. From Traditional to Modern. The possibilities are endless.
o Practical: Hightower Concrete Works’ proprietary 99% effective UV sealer provides a surface that is extremely stain-resistant and low-maintenance. Common food items will not stain it. The sealer does not degrade, and therefore does not need to be reapplied every year like many other sealers. The sealer also exhibits great heat resistance.
o Imperfections: We believe that this is an advantage. Concrete countertops are hand made and hand finished. Since concrete is a heterogeneous mixture of many different ingredients, subtle variations in color, shade, texture and overall appearance should be expected. All concrete is susceptible to harmless hairline cracks. They will sometimes appear months or years after installation, and are generally a result of seasonal movement of the cabinets and the house itself. These should be considered part of the aesthetic charm of concrete, and not a defect. Concrete exhibits natural beauty rather than plastic perfection.
Disadvantages: o Staining: While we use a 99% effective UV sealer, staining/discoloration can occur, although highly unlikely. If staining agents are left on for more than a few minutes, a discoloration may occur. If this happens, apply a small spot of household bleach cleaner (we recommend Clorox All purpose cleaner) over the stain for 3-5 minutes. Wipe off with a towel. Stain should be gone. If stain remains, call us and we will be happy to assess it.
o Scratching: While the sealer is very durable, it is possible to scratch it. For example, in kitchens, you should use cutting boards on concrete countertops.
o Lead time: Concrete countertops are a long lead time item. They take approximately 4 to 6 weeks to fabricate. See the section on lead time for more details.
Where can I use concrete countertops in my home?
o Hightower Concrete Works makes concrete countertops for kitchens, bathrooms, fireplace hearths/surrounds, tables, desks, and anywhere else countertops are required. Horizontal countertops must be at least 1.5” thick. Hightower Concrete Works can make thicker countertops as well as fabricate front edge returns up to 6” deep.
o Concrete countertops can be straight, curved, notched, multi-level, etc. Unlike granite, which would drastically increase in cost for curved shapes, creating curved concrete shapes simply involves some extra complexity and labor in forming.
o Concrete can also be used in vertical applications such as backsplashes, shower surrounds and fireplace surrounds. For vertical applications, concrete is generally 1” thick.
o Maximum slab length for standard depth countertops is about 8’. Seams are located around sinks and cooktops, or wherever required for structural reasons. Hightower Concrete Works will work with you to design seam placement that is both structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing. Seams are typically 1/16” wide, similar to tile grout lines. However, it is important to realize that concrete countertops are hand made and hand processed; they are not machine cut, so tolerances for seams are more generous than with granite. Seam appearance is minimized by using color-matched acrylic caulk.
o Integral and vessel sinks are possible. See the section on sinks for more information.
o Concrete countertops can be used both indoors and outdoors.
o Concrete floors are a different application. Hightower Concrete Works has partners who specialize in various types of concrete floors.
What colors are available for concrete countertops?
Any color! Hightower Concrete Works has developed hundreds of colors including every color on the spectrum, including Benjamin Moore paint colors. Any color can be produced in a solid, speckled or variegated pattern. And, you can specify embedded stone, glass, or other objects. You can specify the color, size and density of embedments. Coupled with the many color choices, you have myriad design options.
Will concrete countertops stain?
Bare concrete is very porous and will readily stain. Virtually all concrete countertops are sealed to prevent staining; however the degree to which these sealers works varies significantly. Commonly used sealers include wax and penetrating acrylic sealer. Both of these are inexpensive and easy to apply. However, neither offer significant stain or heat resistance, and both require frequent reapplication to prevent the formation of a “patina”. Hightower Concrete Works’ sealer is different. The UV treatment that we use to seal our concrete countertops carries a 10-year warranty through the manufacturer stating it will not peel or wear off. It can be used to strengthen and enhance softer concrete or stone and improves the wear ability (SGS Lab Test Verified). It has been stain tested against most condiments and household chemicals including but not limited to: Vinegar, mustard, ketchup, lemon juice, bleach, muriatic acid (straight), wine, hot sauce, and dish soaps. Clients should use normal care (wiping up spills as soon as possible) with respect to water, oil, acids, and food. Staining/discoloration can occur, although highly unlikely, if staining agents are left on for more than a few minutes. If discoloration does occur, apply a small spot of household bleach cleaner (we recommend Clorox All purpose cleaner) over the stain for 3-5 minutes. Wipe off with a towel. Stain should be gone. If stain remains, contat us and we will be happy to assess it.
Will concrete countertops scratch?
While our concrete countertops are extremely scratch resistant, we still recommend that you do not cut directly on the countertops; use cutting boards. The concrete will severely dull the knifes cutting edge. Scratches in the sealer could occur if heavy, rough or sharp objects are dragged across the countertop surface. Should a scratch occur, call us and we will be happy to assess it.
Can I put hot pots on concrete countertops?
As with almost all types of countertop surfaces, you should use trivets. Concrete can microcrack if exposed to high heat. The surface will appear “crazed”. The sealer will not be compromised but the microcracks will be noticeable on some colors and sheens.
How are concrete countertops made?
All of the slabs are precast in our shop and fully finished and sealed prior to installation.
Do you offer a warranty?
Yes. Hightower Concrete Works warrantees the structural integrity of the concrete countertop for one year after installation. The countertops will of course last a lot longer than a year, but if any problems were to occur, they would occur in the first year. We subject the concrete to much larger stresses while handling it than clients ever could once it is installed. In addition, Hightower Concrete Works provides each client with an Owner’s Guide and a direct phone number to our President, Will Hightower, for support.
Who can I contact with questions or to discuss a project using concrete countertops?
Contact Marcia Hightower, Client Services Manager, at 843.817.7006 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to speaking with you!