Concrete Countertops Frequently Asked Questions:
How do I get started?
- Plan first! Think about how you want to work in your kitchen and how that translates into the design of your concrete countertop. Consider your options: sink size, built-in cutting boards, color or color combinations, integral trivets, and more. View our Gallery and inspire your creativity. Remember, concrete allows you to create almost any look or feature as long as you plan for it in your mold.
Precast vs. Pour-in-Place
- These are the two methods for creating concrete countertops. At Cheng Design, we prefer to "precast" concrete countertops as it allows much more customization, control, and a finer surface. "Pour-in-place" countertops are generally more rustic and do not allow for many custom design elements, such as sculpted drainboards, and trivet inlays just to name a few. Though the precast method may seem more complex, at first, the skills required are less demanding (for most Do-it-Yourselfers) than the pour-in-place method. Achieving a good looking trowel finish is challenging, and for that reason we prefer to precast – the mold does the finishing for us.
CHENG Pro-Formula vs. NeoMix Original Products
- Both CHENG Pro-Formula and the NeoMix Original Products are designed to create consistent, beautiful concrete countertops. CHENG Pro-Formula makes the mixing process easy by combining admixture, water reducer, pigment, and other key components into a simple, all-in-one solution. NeoMix Original Products include three individual components—admi
xture, water reducer and pigment allowing more flexibility for custom-coloring. While both products can be used for poured-in-place or precast projects many of our customers prefer the Original NeoMix Products when it comes to poured-in-place. The working time is longer and the concrete is easier to trowel than the Pro-Formula Concrete Countertop Mix. Both are available in a range of designer colors to create your professional-grade concrete countertop!
What and how much do I need?
- CHENG Pro-Formula Concrete Countertop Mix is packaged to yield one cubic foot of concrete countertop mix when blended with 120 lbs of sacked concrete (5000 PSI) and water. This is enough concrete to pour 6 square feet of 2" countertop. NeoMix Original Products are packaged to yield three cubic feet of concrete countertop mix when added to 360 lbs of sacked concrete (5000 PSI) and water which is enough to pour approximately 18 square feet of 2" thick countertops. Our Pro-Formula Project Calculator is a simple tool that helps you translate your project dimensions into cubic feet and develop a customized project materials list for use with CHENG Pro-Formula.
Ground" vs. "Unground" Finish
- The look you desire for your concrete countertop determines whether or not you'll grind its surface. If you want an even, monochromatic look, you want an "unground" finish—no grinding is necessary after releasing your countertop from the mold. If you want to reveal aggregates (the small rocks included in sacked concrete) or decorative aggregates (semi-precious stones placed in the mold as a design element) on your countertop surface, you want a "ground" finish and grinding is required. Your choice—either or both finishes create a beautiful concrete countertop!
How do I protect the surface?
- You'll want to protect the beauty of your concrete countertop by sealing and waxing it. CHENG Sealer creates a layer of protection to help repel stains and prevent them from penetrating your concrete countertop. CHENG Countertop Wax provides another layer of protection and gives your concrete countertop additional luster. While your concrete countertop may develop a patina over time, this will only add to its unique character and beauty.
Why consider concrete as a material for interior applications, like my kitchen or bathroom counters?
- Concrete is an extraordinary material that is practical, expressive, and aesthetic all at once. From a primal and formless slurry, you can transform it into virtually any shape that becomes a solid mass. The possibilities for creative expression are endless. You can grind, polish, stamp, or stain it. You can embed meaningful objects within it.
What are the advantages of concrete countertops over marble or granite? How does concrete compare to granite in terms of both cost (per square foot) and surface texture?
- The biggest advantage of concrete over natural stones like marble or granite is that it is completely customizable; you can sculpt, mold, and texturize it to your desire. It's also a material that the average do-it-yourselfer can easily use — creating something original and meaningful while saving money. If you have a concrete kitchen or bathroom counter made for you, the cost will be based on the complexity of the form, the mold-making process, and the desired finish, rather than the size. Material cost comparisons should be done on a project-by-project basis. To calculate your projects material costs visit the CHENG Concrete Project Calculator.
Do concrete countertops have an application in more traditional kitchens?
- Yes, absolutely. Style is dictated by design; concrete can adapt to any look and have a "warmer" feel than other natural stones. Edge detailing and decorative inlays can help a concrete counter blend into more traditional environments.
Can I use concrete countertops in a commercial kitchen?
- We are located in California, where concrete counters are allowed in food-service areas, but you should check with your local health department official first before starting any commercial project.
Would concrete countertops be good for outside use—as in an outdoor barbeque countertop? How will a colored concrete counter hold up in the sunshine?
- Concrete is the most common building material for exterior use on the planet, however polished and pigmented concrete require special consideration when placing outdoors. The effects of freeze/thaw along with the wear and tear from weather and natural elements can degrade the polished surface if proper care is not taken. The UV rays from sunlight can fade some types of pigments, most notably the class of concrete colors known as "organic pigments." CHENG Pro-Formula Concrete Countertop Mix and the NeoMix Original Concrete Countertop System are both safe for use outdoors, however we highly recommend CHENG's Outdoor Concrete Pro-Formula for projects that will be exposed to harsh weather conditions.
- If you live in an area where your concrete countertop will be subject to freeze/thaw conditions, we recommend covering them when not in use during the winter months.
Can I use concrete countertops as a cutting surface?
- As with marble or granite, we do not recommend cutting directly on a concrete surface; it could result in scratches and gouges in the finish of your countertop as well as harm the blades of your knives.
Can I put a hot pot directly onto a concrete kitchen counter?
- Concrete is heat-resistant but is subject to thermal shock if a red-hot object is placed directly upon it. Like granite, the exposed area may flake or chip away if too much heat is applied. In addition, the heat could damage the sealer and wax applied to the concrete surface. We recommend using trivets for hot cookware.
Can concrete countertops chip, flake, or crack?
- Like marble or granite, concrete corners and edges can chip if struck by a hard object. Sealing and rounding the inside corners of a concrete mold, or form, with silicone will ease the edges and prevent chipping. An eased concrete edge is much less likely to chip or flake than a sharp edge.
Does concrete stain? What type of sealers do you recommend?
- Properly sealed concrete should not stain. However, unsealed concrete has approximately the same porosity as limestone and marble. In addition to stain susceptibility, acids (especially red wine, lemon juice, and vinegar) will etch the surface if not cleaned up right away.
- Concrete countertop sealers can be segregated into three primary categories: penetrating, hybrid and topical sealers.
- Penetrating sealers seal the concrete from inside, leaving the visible surface with minimal protection against staining and etching. Customers who prefer this method, value it's very dynamic nature. They appreciate how quickly it allows the concrete to patina the same way a cutting board or butcher's block changes with use. Mineral oil or tung oil are examples of this option.
- Topical sealers seal the concrete by building a membrane over the concrete. While this method initially protects the concrete against stains and etching, it is exceptionally vulnerable to scratching, peeling and chipping. Epoxy and polyurethane are topical sealers. Be wary of claims that these types of sealers are "stain-proof;" many of them have a tendency to easily peel off of the countertop.
- Hybrid sealers seal the concrete by penetrating deep into the concrete surface while allowing a micro-thin layer of protection on the visible surface. This micro-thin layer completely seals the surface without sacrificing the warmth and beauty of the concrete. CHENG Concrete Countertop Sealer (a hybrid sealer) and CHENG Concrete Countertop Wax work together to create the best performing and most beautiful maintenance system available. CHENG Concrete Countertop Sealer effectively protects concrete from acids, stains and cleaning products while our super durable Concrete Countertop Wax protects the sealer from wear and abrasion. Used together, they are an unbeatable combination.
Where can I see more images of concrete countertop work? How can I find a local concrete countertop professional?
- You can see a wide range of award-winning and DIY concrete countertop projects in the Concrete Exchange Design Galleryor visit Cheng Design for additional inspiration and innovative ideas.
- Looking for a qualified professional in your area? Visit the Concrete Exchange Find A Contractor directory for trained concrete contractors, designers, and artisans.