The maintenance needs and sensitivity of concrete can make it a difficult material to use for countertops. Thankfully, the natural concrete countertop look can be achieved with these durable surfacing alternatives.
Though beautiful, concrete countertops are not ideal for every home. Naturally porous, concrete can be a magnet for staining and damage. Regular sealing will be required for any home with concrete countertops, adding yet another task for homeowners.
Porous materials can also harbor bacteria once liquids from everyday use get trapped inside. Over time, concrete countertops can also crack as a result of temperature, humidity, and improper reinforcement.
Whether it’s an acrylic-based sealant or a spray-on, sealing will be needed from once a year to once every five years, says Fu-Tung Cheng, founder and principal of Cheng Design. Concrete countertops will not just take easy damage from everyday cooking, but concrete can even damage cooking utensils, such as knives, says Cheng.
Though concrete comes with its cons, many homeowners still enjoy its colorways and natural appearance. These finishes and looks are popular among urban renters and homeowners and in loft-style condos.
Enter quartz surfacing, a durable material that comes in a wide variety of possibilities, colors, and looks. It also offers alternatives to nearly every material, including concrete. The upside is that the quartz alternative to concrete is more durable, and scratch- and stain-resistant, but it will cost you more.
Here are five concrete countertop alternatives that bring durability and ease.
[ Read More: 6 ALTERNATIVE COUNTERTOP OPTIONS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ]
Cosentino’s Silestone Loft Collection consists of five surfaces, each offering a different concrete-like colorway. The collection’s inspiration comes from urban, industrial living, the company says. In addition, these concrete counter alternatives are made with 100% renewable energy, reused raw materials, and 98% recycled water, says Cosentino Group. Surfaces come with a 25-year warranty and are low-porous, shock-, acid-, and scratch-resistant.
With such a large array of quartz surfacing designs, Cambria offers much more than just one collection of concrete countertop alternatives. Two concrete lookalikes, Pikes Peak and Chicago Tower, can be found in the brand’s collaboration with design firm Gensler, the Coordinates Collection. But the manufacturer offers a wide array of concrete lookalikes varying from light to dark shades. Cambria surfaces work for walls or floors, and all surfaces are made in the USA. Clients who may enjoy the matte look of concrete countertops can benefit from the company's low-sheen, Cambria Matte finish.
To provide a similar natural finish and texture that comes with concrete, MSI Surfaces offers a concrete finish for many of their quartz surfaces. The company describes it as a smooth, velvety texture that can be both seen and felt. MSI Surfaces can be used in residential and commercial settings on the floor or walls. Slab sizes vary depending on the quartz, but all surfaces are 100% non-absorbent. In addition to concrete finishes, MSI does offer a number of matte and polished finished surfaces that reflect the appearance of concrete countertops.
Caesarstone’s rough finish concrete surfaces can be a happy medium between real concrete countertops and quartz countertops. It requires slightly more daily maintenance, says the company, but stains less than concrete and requires only simple cleaning. The same goes for Caesarstone’s Concrete finish. There are several polished concrete look-alike options available, such as Concrete, Cement, and Georgian Bluffs. Performance will change depending on the surface’s finish. Custom edge profiles and thicknesses are available.
Many homeowners are seeking a true natural look, and soapstone offers it. The stone’s natural characteristics allow it to patina over time and become darker, or the stone can be made darker through mineral oil, dry wax, or a chemical treatment. Soapstone is a natural material with a performance similar to manufactured quartz. It’s heat-resistant, non-porous, acid-resistant, and does not require sealant. Scratches can be repaired at home with sandpaper, says Polycor.