If you are installing a new kitchen or renovating an existing one, choosing the materials that will be used to build your kitchen can be one of the most difficult aspects of the job, and choosing the right materials for your kitchen benchtops can be particularly challenging. Your benchtops will take more punishment than any other surface in your kitchen, be it from sharp knives, hot pans or heavy impacts, and it stands to reason that you'll want to use the most durable benchtop materials possible.
To that end, many homeowners are turning to concrete benchtops. This redoubtable material is a relatively new addition to the field of benchtop materials, but its properties make it one of the most practical and versatile, and concrete has a number of advantages over traditional benchtop materials such as granite and marble. However, there are also a couple of drawbacks to using concrete benchtops, so you should make sure you are familiar with the advantages and disadvantages of choosing them before making an investment.
What are the advantages of using concrete benchtops?
Concrete benchtops are exactly as tough and durable as you would expect and are capable of taking a tremendous beating without cracking, shattering or denting. They are particularly good at weathering heavy impacts (such as dropped pans), and are not as prone to shattering as crystalline benchtop materials such as marble. The concrete itself is also thoroughly heat resistant and will not scorch under hot pans, although you should use a heat-resistant sealant to prevent the sealing compound from burning.
Choice of designs
Choosing concrete gives you a wider variety of colours and styles to choose from than almost any other benchtop material; not only can the concrete be poured and cast into almost any shape you desire, but the concrete itself can be an enormous variety of shades and colours, from muted greys to deep greens and pale beiges. Pebbles, seashells, glass beads and other objects can be added to the concrete mix to customise your benchtops even further.
Most benchtops made of stone are designed to last for years, but while concrete may not be a 'true' stone it takes this longevity one step further. After many years, when the surface of a concrete benchtop has invariably become damaged, discoloured and scorched, this surface can be sanded away to expose the fresh concrete beneath. This new surface can then be sealed, giving you a 'new' benchtop at minimal expense in a matter of hours.
What are the disadvantages of using concrete benchtops?
Concrete benchtops are very versatile and practical, but they are not an entry-level option, and generally have comparable price tags to other luxury benchhop materials such as granite and marble. They should, therefore, be seen as a long-term investment, which makes sense given their long-term durability and ability to be renewed.
Must be resealed
A concrete benchtop that has not been properly sealed with a liquid concrete sealant is highly porous, making it unsanitary and vulnerable to staining. A finished concrete benchtop must, therefore, be treated every now and then to renew its layer of sealant, which repels water and makes for easier cleaning. This job can take several hours (and considerably longer waiting for the sealant to dry) and must be performed about once every other year.