What You Need To Know Before Deciding On Concrete Counter Tops

Couresy virtualcourtney

Does the idea of concrete counter tops excite you? Is it something that you are considering for your kitchen remodel? The first time I heard about this idea I thought it was really goofy. I mean, who would use concrete for a work top in a high end kitchen. It reminded me of something my grandfather had told me years before. You see, he was born in 1909 and people who didn’t paint their houses at that time made that choice only because they couldn’t afford the paint. The more paint a home owner could afford, and the better the quality, the higher up on the social ladder the home owner would be.
What makes this interesting is my grandfather could not for the life of him understand why someone would have kitchen cabinets that weren’t painted. Even a very nice oak or hickory cabinet should have a coat of paint on it or it looked “cheap” in his opinion. Of course, you and I now view unpainted, natural wood cabinets as much more desirable than painted ones. In fact, most people agree that painted cabinets look cheaper than natural wood ones.
So, to make a long intro into a short one, I viewed a concrete work space in a kitchen as being utilitarian and cheap. Boy was I wrong. A friend of mine had concrete tops installed in his new home and they look absolutely amazing. Once they are sealed, the concrete aggregate is featured and this really gives an interesting surface. That doesn’t mean there are both good things and bad things about concrete. So in this article we will look at both sides.
If concrete counter tops are something that you are seriously considering because you have heard about how simple they are to care for or how easy they are to maintain then you need to read this. Here we will discuss everything that you need to know about concrete worktops, such as installing and cleaning, before you make your final decision. Having the knowledge before making a decision will enable you to make the best choice for your home.

Why Concrete Counters Need Special Care
The biggest reason that concrete counters need special care is because of how porous they are. If anything spills on them, the concrete is simply going to soak up the spill, which will also leave behind unsightly stains. Some items can cause pitting, which damages the concrete and continues to get worse over time. Take a minute to think about your driveway or even your sidewalks in front of your house. If your car drips oil, or some brake fluid leaks out of your car, you soon have a nice stain left on your concrete. If you live in areas where it snows during the winter you have probably noticed that the salt used to melt the ice causes pitting.

If you are not careful about what you do with your concrete counter tops in the kitchen, the same types of things can happen. For example, if you leave unglazed ceramics on the concrete it is going to pull vital minerals out of the counter, which is going to cause the concrete to lighten in that specific spot. Vinegar or other citrus juices can cause pitting. Oils, berry juice, and red wine leave behind stained concrete. Luckily, there is something that you can do to prevent this from happening. You can use a concrete worktop sealer.

Sealing Your Concrete Counter Tops
Sealing concrete surfaces can help slow down any damage because it is putting a barrier between your counter tops and the substances that can cause that damage. One misconception that many people have in regards to a concrete counter top sealer is that it will prevent all types of stains. The truth is the sealer does not prevent stains; it just makes the surface stain resistant. What this means is that if something does spill you have a longer amount of time to clean it up before it soaks into the concrete, but no sealer will make the counter stain proof.

Types Of Concrete Sealers
When the time comes to seal your counter tops, you will need to decide between two types of sealers. Both sealers will help protect your concrete work surfaces, but the one you decide to use will depend on the type of protection you want. The first type of sealer is a penetrating sealer. This type seeps into the concrete’s pores, so the pores are sealed. This type of sealer is often applied by the manufacturer when the counters are first purchased, but homeowners can also do it at home. The other type of concrete sealer, the barrier style, is one that leaves a film across the top of the concrete. The film acts as a barrier between the concrete and anything that might get spilled. This type of sealer is usually a type of wax and is most commonly applied at home by the homeowner as needed.

Applying The Concrete Counter top Sealer
While there is no exact time frame for re-applying a sealer, tops that are used more frequently will require more sealer. Another factor that determines how often the concrete work top is sealed is you. How much protection you want your counters to have will affect how often you apply the sealer. Obviously, the more protection you want the more frequently you will need to apply the sealer. The barrier type sealer can be applied once a month for maximum protection or every couple of months for minimal protection.

When you are ready to apply the sealer, you will want to first make sure that your counter tops are clean and dry. You should also do your best to remove any stains that have appeared over time. Before applying the sealer, you will want to test it in a small area of the counter, preferably one that is out of the way. Allow the test spot to cure for a few days and then test it out to see how the sealer performs. You can do this by using the water bead test. If you spray a light coating of water on sealed concrete then the water should bead up like on a well waxed car. If the water appears to soak in then you do not have protection. You can also use this text area to see if you like how the sealed surface looks. Some concrete sealers are more glossy than others so you should check this out before you seal the entire kitchen area. If you are happy with the sealer then carefully follow the manufacturer’s directions to apply.

Does My Counter Need To Be Sealed?
Most homeowners would rather wait until their counter tops need to be resealed to seal them than doing it once a month, mainly because of how busy most homeowners are. One of the best ways to determine if your counter top needs to be resealed is again to use the water bead test. Sealer causes the liquid to bead up, so if it no longer beads the counters need to be resealed. Worn spots that don’t look like the rest of the surface are another big indicator that counter tops need to be resealed.

Cracks In Concrete Counter Tops
One thing that you will notice over time is that your concrete will most likely develop small cracks, usually just narrow ones that are barely noticeable. This is no cause for worry, it is actually quite normal. Most homeowners panic because they think those cracks signal a deeper problem, such as the counter top falling apart. While the cracks are not very worrisome, they do need to be sealed more often because they are more likely to absorb liquids. To help prevent unnecessary cracks never place hot pots or pans directly onto the concrete and avoid using your counter top as a cutting board, both can cause unnecessary damage to the sealer.

Cleaning Your Sealed Concrete Counter Tops
When cleaning your sealed concrete counter tops one of the biggest problems is accidentally taking off the sealer. To prevent this, what you need to do is use a cleaner that contains a small amount of sealer in it, such as grout and tile cleaner. When cleaning the worktops you can also use a liquid dish washing soap and warm water along with a sponge or washcloth. If you wish to use a cleaner use a neutral pH cleaner, most tile stores carry them. NEVER use a scouring pad as that can scratch off the sealer. Abrasive cleaners, ammonia, and bleach also need to be avoided to prevent any damage from occurring to the sealer.
Even though your counter tops are sealed, you want to stay on top of any spills, clean them up as soon as they happen. The sealer will not work forever to keep the spill out of the concrete pores, but does give you a bigger window before any damage is done.
If you are looking to redo your existing kitchen or you are building a new home, concrete tops are well worth a look. You may really enjoy what you see.

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