We started offering concrete countertops in 2006 after I fabricated countertops for my personal home. Here are some photos.
Over the years, technology has changed, and we are are able to offer a better, more environmentally friendly concrete countertop.
For years we would build molds, fill them with steel rebar, and pour traditional bagged concrete (cement, sand and gravel). After they were poured, we would flip them over and diamond polish them from 50 grit all the way up to 3000 grit. Then we would seal them with an acrylic water based sealer.
The problem was that traditional concrete was porous and susceptible to staining. The countertops would look fantastic, but they weren’t very practical for a kitchen that was used often.
In 2010 we decided to re-think the way we were pouring countertops and switched over to a product called glass fiber reinforced concrete. There are many advantages to using this type of mix, but here are the two most important ones.
#1- We started mixing our own concrete instead of buying it in bags. We did a lot of research and came up with a mix that substituted some of the portland cement with VCAS pozzolans. One great thing about pozzolans is that they are earth friendly. They may even contribute to LEED certification on a job.
Pozzolans have an important role to play in sustainable “Green” construction by increasing service life and reducing the net greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and energy consumption for a cubic yard of concrete. For every ton of cement replaced by VCAS pozzolans, there is a net reduction of about 1 ton of CO2 emissions, which means that every 21-ton truckload used is equivalent to taking three automobiles off the road. In addition, the heat saved is 4.29 million BTU’s/ton, which would heat the average home for more than a week. In addition, every ton VCAS used saves 1.5 tons of virgin raw materials needed to make a ton of cement. VCAS pozzolans represent a high value recycling opportunity.
The most important benefit of using a pozzolan is that it makes the concrete more dense, which makes it less susceptible to staining.
#2 We now use glass fiber to reinforce the concrete instead of steel rebar.
What this means is that we can now create thinner & lighter concrete countertops than ever before. The biggest hurdle to using traditional concrete was the weight of the countertop. We were having to put more seams in the countertops than we wanted because we weren’t able to deliver concrete countertops because they were too heavy.
Now with the addition of glass fiber, we are able to cast countertops that are thick on the edges but only 1″ thick in the middle. Less weight = less seams.
There was one last hurdle to fabricating concrete countertops, and that was the sealer. Previously we were using an acrylic water based sealer. The particular brand that we used was probably the most common standard sealer in the concrete countertop industry. It was popular because it did a good job at protecting the concrete, and it was easy to apply. The downside of the product was that if the countertop got dirty and wasn’t cleaned in a relatively short amount of time, some certain household spills would stain them.
A few years ago, we discovered a new type of sealer thanks to a tip from Concrete Zen. Concrete Zen is a concrete countertop fabrication company in Pittsburgh, PA. They recently won an award from Fu-Tung Cheng’s Concrete Exchange for best integral sink. If you get a chance you should visit Concrete Zen website. They have lots of great photos of their concrete countertops.
The new sealer system was developed by a graffiti removal company that was modified for use on concrete countertops. This new sealer system means that our countertops are virtually stain proof. In the past couple of years of using this system, we haven’t seen any staining at all on any countertops that we have fabricated.
We are excited to be offering GFRC Concrete Countertops in Virginia. For more information and photos of concrete countertops, you can visit our Concrete Countertop page.