Frequently Asked Questions

Will concrete stain?

Concrete, in its natural unsealed state, is porous and prone to staining. Fortunately there are techniques that combat this problem, resulting in a viable, stain resistant counter top surface.

  • By adding water conditioners to the concrete mix formulation, the capillary structure of the actual concrete is transformed resulting in a naturally more stain resistant slab.
  • Once the slabs have cured, they are coated with a 3-tier seal coat system designed for concrete.

Counter tops will inevitably stain at some point, however most stains are treatable. Strong acids or acidic foods or liquids can etch the surface; therefore, avoid prolonged contact with the concrete surface for these type of items.

What are the advantages to pre-cast concrete vs. Cast in place?

The concrete slabs are all pre-cast at my workshop in Cerrillos, New Mexico. Each cast begins with a new mold. The molds are generated from field templates or shop drawings.

There are several advantages to pre-cast concrete counter tops vs. cast in place counter tops:

  • Pre-cast molded slabs exhibit extremely flat, smooth working surfaces as compared to hand troweled finishes which are necessary with cast in place.
  • Using a pre-cast mold is more convenient to the customer. The process of casting concrete can, and usually is, quite messy.
  • A pre-cast mold provides a solid form throughout the curing time (several weeks) necessary for the slab to be adequately sealed.
  • Pre-cast slabs are removable and replaceable if needed. Cast in place slabs prove to be more difficult, if not impossible in certain situations to remove.

Should I be concerned about the weight of concrete?

Typical floor load ratings should meet or exceed at least 40 lb. per square foot in most areas. Standard 2″ thick concrete slabs weigh in at app. 20 lb. per square foot (1-1/4″ granite weighs in at 20 lbs. per sq. ft.).

Any conventional cabinetry, custom or catalog quality, should support these slabs. Additional supporting structures can easily be added to the cabinetry if needed.

Will the concrete crack?

All of the slabs are reinforced with the latest in fiber reinforcing technology. This drastically reduces the chances of both structural and hairline cracking by providing both primary and secondary reinforcement.

  • This reinforcing technique prevents cracking, unlike conventional wire mesh and rebar reinforcement, which acts only after a crack has occurred.
  • In the event that a hairline crack does occur, the fiber reinforcement ensures that the crack will not spread or cause structural failure.

Cracks, however, may still occur and are considered character marks, not defects. They can occur while the slab cures, when the slab is being handled, or years after installation.

  • These cracks are typically non-structural and actually add to the enduring patina that all concrete slabs exhibit with time.
  • If they appear, it is most often at openings in a slab such as a sink cutout.
  • Most cracks are repairable by injecting the crack with an acrylic material.
  • Although the crack may not disappear, the area will be stabilized.

Can I expect seams in my countertops?

Depending on the configuration, seams may be expected in a typical layout for several reasons:

  • Length of counter top run.
  • An L-shape configuration, or U-shaped configuration.
  • At sink or cook-top openings in a kitchen.
  • For purely aesthetic purposes.

Concrete seams can be compared to grout lines. I use either silicon (clear) or polyester resin as a seaming medium. The result is a clean, watertight seam.

Colors; Color Variation; Color samples. Are custom colors available?

Custom colors are available. If you are interested in a custom color, I will work with you to match as closely as possible.

Keep in mind that color matching in concrete is not an exact science. Each and every concrete slab is unique and will vary in tonality, color field, and texture. This is the beauty of concrete. When cast as a lot, color variations are kept to a minimum. All formulations are kept on file for future use.

All concrete exhibits variation from cast to cast, therefore, samples should be used as a general guideline only when selecting color.

Are there size limitations on the slabs? What about thickness?

Pre-cast concrete counter top surfaces are cast at a minimum 1-1/2″ thickness. If you require an appearance of a thicker slab, a built up apron front can be created.

  • Standard size slabs are: 106″ in length, or 30 sq. ft. in area.
  • Larger size slabs are: 138″ maximum length; 70″ maximum width; 68″ largest diameter.
  • Back splashes are generally cast at a thickness of 1-1/2″.
  • Full height back splashes with outlet cutouts are available.

As with any counter top surface, cutting boards should always be used when chopping or preparing foods.

What maintenance can I expect?

The maintenance one can expect of concrete counter tops would be similar to the maintenance on any natural stone surface.

The tops should be cleaned with soap and water.

  • Use wash clothes or sponges when cleaning.
  • Abrasive pads should be avoided as they will create hazed areas.
  • Spills should be cleaned up within a reasonable time frame.

As with any counter top surface, cutting boards should always be used when chopping or preparing foods.

My tops are sealed with a penetrating sealer designed for concrete. They are stain resistant not stain-proof.

  • Re-application of the sealer should be done approximately every 1-2 yrs.
  • Wax should be applied every 3 months at a minimum (once a month is ideal).

Concrete has a good heat resistance, contact with hot pots and pans is not a hazard or a problem.

How are the slabs shipped and installed?

Within the local area, shipping and installations is handled by professional installers.

For out of town orders, the slabs are shipped common carrier, on edge, in a specially reinforced crate.

  • There is very little chance of any damage occurring when the slabs are packed and crated in this way.
  • All shipping rates are based on weight and destination zip code.
  • The product will arrive in a completed state, including all cutouts and fixture holes. There should be no modifications necessary at the site.

Installations should always be carried out by an experienced contractor or counter top installer. I will work closely with your installers to ensure that they have a good working knowledge of the installation before the order is shipped.

What is the lead time for an order?

Typically, an order is built and shipped within 4-8 weeks from the date that the design and specifics of the piece is established and signed off on. This includes:

  • Templates or construction drawings, and
  • Vital information, such as sink cutout or stove top cutout information, fixture hole placement and sizes, and final color approval.

Once design and specifics are established, in general, the process breaks down as follows:

  • week 1-2: mold fabrication
  • week 2-4: items will be cast and racked to dry for several weeks
  • week 5-6: items are polished, sealed and crated for shipment

Custom details such as intricate inlays, over-sized slabs, custom colors, or integral bowl sinks, may add as much as 2 weeks to the typical lead time.

Please remember that a purchase order and deposit does not ensure that your order has been started. Design and specifics of the piece must be established and signed off on before your project can begin.

What type of sinks can I use with my concrete countertops?

Virtually any sink from any manufacturer, including handmade sinks can be used with a concrete counter top.

  • Expect key seams at most kitchen size sink openings located in standard depth counter tops (24″ – 26″ front to back). It will provide for a much easier installation, and in the rare event that a sink section needs to be replaced, it will allow the area to be serviced without removing the entire counter top area.
  • Also, seaming within the sink opening drastically reduces the occurrence of hairline cracks at the sink opening area.