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Concrete provides a natural, customizable, unique material to create counter tops for the kitchen, bathroom, or any work surface. Concrete can be poured to anyone's specifications, such as width, size, color, aggregation, and shape with an integrated backsplash or integrated sink. Since it is a natural blend of cement, rocks, and some additives, it resembles a more chic alternative to marble or limestone with more versatility and beauty than laminate surfaces.
Customers choose concrete counter tops when they want something more unique than granite that can match their farmhouse, utilitarian, minimalist, or designer kitchen. Concrete can be dyed any color from a ruddy orange to stormy gray, although every dye process yields original results unable to be exactly duplicated. Aggregate can be added to achieve a subtle rocky texture or even a marbling effect. Once installed, because it is a natural material, the concrete evolves as it ages. For instance, hairline fractures not threatening structural stability develop and the color might mellow or burnish with use. These features add to the character of this remarkable substance.
Because individual contractors cast counter tops on-site or at a warehouse, there are no universal specifications or methods. Usually, fabricators mix cement, dye, acrylic, aggregate, and other additives to pour over a base of mesh fibers that provide structural support. Concrete counter tops are usually cast in rectangles and squares of a 1.5 inch (4 cm) thickness, but actually any shape can be achieved. Once dried, the top and sides of the block are ground, or sanded, to an even surface. Finally, the fabricator applies a layer of sealer that makes the counter top polished and nonporous. Construction and installation will range from $60-$200 per square foot (30 sq. cm).
Concrete counter tops are perfect for kitchen islands, baking blocks, and table tops. They have the advantage of being molded to support integrated sinks, such that the lip of the counter extends over the edge of the sink. This allows you to clean counters by wiping debris and liquid straight into the sink without an interfering seam. However, you should not cut directly on concrete counter tops, as you would a butcher's block, since slicing damages the sealer. Concrete is also not impervious to hot pans off the range, so always use a trivet.
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