we have been living in our e for a year, and have finally taken the plunge on redoing the kitchen that the previous owners ruined with cheap product. i am doing some higher-end cabinets, but am stuck on counters. i like the look of poured concrete and am considering the manmade alternative. (less porous than real concrete, easier maintenance, etc.) anyone re-do a kitchen with modern looking counters? how did it go? we are using atherton appliance, fyi.
I agree with you about the concrete. My son Jarom made a display cabinet for our office entry out of concrete and glass. It looks elegant and weighs 800 pounds. We are thinking of casting a countertop with concrete, but have some reservations.
Consumer Reports tested all the available countertop materials and found that the concrete was easy to damage. They said the most durable and trouble free were the manmade materials.
Yes, concrete countertops can stain as with other countertops where sealing is neglected. Some people say that it adds to the patina. Concrete does need to be sealed and waxed and it is heavy. As with natural stone and man made products, you wouldn't want to put a hot pot on any of them. With concrete, you could inlay brass or stainless trivets within the mold.
I guess there are drawbacks to anything beautiful and worthwhile,,,, just like Eichlers, it all depends on what you're willing to live with.
If you're considering concrete countertops in your kitchen remodel, make sure you speak to a fabricator at the same time you speak to your kitchen designer to work in different elevations and ensure the cabinets can hold up to the concrete's heft.
But what other material can give you the artistic and functional features like concrete?
I guess I'm partial to Concrete since I completed the Cheng Design Advanced Countertop Design and Fabrication course and will be designing and fabricating concrete countertops.
Like yours, our Eichler kitchen was also a bad home depot remodel.
I spent a year researching countertop materials for our kitchen. I really wanted to install a concrete counter top but after researching it (including reading Cheng's book on Geo Crete) I found that it will scorch when you put hot pots on it. This could be avoided though by putting a stainless steel pad on top of it. But because concrete was twice the price of manmade counter top materials and was beyond our skill level as diyers we decided against it.
You might also research Zodiaq, a manmade material, which has a honed (not shiny) terrazo look and requires less maintenance than granite.
I would check out soapstone, which is a smoother, dark material that also developes a patina. You are supposed to oil it w minearl oil occasionally. It is beautiful, and dark, but I think it is a natural material too. Not neary so porous as concrete though, and I do not know about the thickness or weight.
For the manmade products, I have seen Zodiac used to great effect also. Clean and simple and I happen to prefer the dark gray versions of that.
Good luck! Counter tops are a tough decision (not as bad as cabs or fooring though!).
I still haven't tackled our kitchen remodel.
I saw Caesar Stone (which is a man made counter top) has a surface similar to concrete.
Here is a link to their web-site. http://www.caesarstoneus.com/catalog/collection.cfm
When I went to the web site they have a couple of fun new colors. Tequila Sunrise and Apple Martini, not concrete but with the right cabinets these colors might be fun.
We're also in the process of replacing countertops and flooring in the kitchen, and considered concrete, too, but have decided against it for all the reasons given. Also, 2 contractors & an architect suggested that concrete is more prone to cracking.
That said, we fell in love with Caesarstone, precisely because it looks a little like concrete, and we have the apple martinin and creme limestone sitting on our counter right now. They're both great looking: simple, clean, modern, and in keeping with the house aesthetic. They also have a great cement and a great concrete color (which we won't use because we are seriously considering going with polished concrete floors.)
BUT, We are wondering about the durability of the Caesarstone, its susceptibility to dings and scratches, so would really welcome any testimonies/experience owners have had with it.
I have a Silestone countertop and I like it (see my photos in snapshot showroom on this site). By the time I decided, I had a wheelbarrow full of samples of all sorts of countertops and colors. As Cathye said though, it's still not as hard as a decision as flooring.
Silestone, Caesarstone, and Zodiaq are all "Engineerred Stone" or basically ground up Quartz. It is super durable and I just can't imagine damaging it in any way. The prices of these products can vary widely but they are all basically the same thing. Silestone is machined by only one place in Northern California (in Manteca) so no matter where you buy it, it all gets fabricated to your specifications there. I was happy with the precision of the workmanship. They came to measure then it took about 3 weeks to fabricate. The truck came to deliver it and the whole things fit just like a puzzle and was installed in just over an hour.
Corian was my other choice and I think it would like good in a modern setting like an Eichler. It has a softer/warmer feel to it.
I saw a concrete counter in an Eichler once and it looked nice but a big area near the sink that got the most use had a big stain/worn area- the owner was getting used that the 'rustic' look that develops over time.
Here's is a link to show the CaesarStone Durability
If any one has any experience with this product, I would be intrested. I would also like to see a picture of the concrete caesarStone installed
Corian is nice and works well in Eichlers. Just be aware that you are not supposed to put hot pots on it or pour boiling hot liquid down Corian sinks. I have neighbors that have abused their Corian w/o any negative consequences to far, as they were unaware of the hot pot issue, but this information comes from the manufacturer. So keep that in mind if being able to take something off the stove and set it directly on the countertop is one of your selection criteria.
You could check the kitchens and baths forum at http://www.thathomesite.com to see what others have said about countertops. Not MCM specific but a great site.
fyi. I just saw an Eichler with concrete countertops in a recent magazine (Woman's Day Specials: Kitchens and Baths). The countertops look really nice - a different look than Corian or Silestone.
I picked up my copy from Home Depot.
I wanted Corian and still have the "Green Tea" sample which is a nice muted gray-green, but the spouse wanted granite and it seemed a good place to compromise. Anyway, my mom dumped boiling water in her Corian sink and set hot pots on her Corian counter for fifteen years without any damage, so I have always questioned that advice. The last time I was at Disneyland, I noticed that they have made extensive use of Corian type counter surfaces and that they do show some light scratching, but I imagine that your kitchen counters wouldn't show much damage if you host fewer than 50,000 people per day.
As far as Corian, I have heard the dark Corian shows scratches more than the light.
If you still have your countertop samples, I would boil some water, throw the samples in and see what they do. You should also set some very hot pots on them and see what they do. You will then have your answer.
I have white Corian for my bathroom sinks with the integrated sink. There are no rims or edges so it's so easy to clean. I think most buyers get Corian because of the integrated sink.