Concrete Counters Become a New Option for 2016
For many years, the list of good materials for building counters in residential, business and public settings has included a durable, reliable, not-very-exciting staple of the construction industry: concrete. Customers may still see it as the tail-end choice: gray, dusty, streaky when wet, hard to damage but also hard to incorporate into a building characterized by forward-looking design.
Technological changes within the industry have erased the old image of concrete. In comparison with other staples of counter design, like granite, marble and laminates, concrete is displaying increased popularity as a versatile, long-lived, attention-getting element of residential and commercial interior and exterior design. Its seamless, easy-to-maintain surfaces make it a sought-out resource for professional designers and increasing numbers of do-it-yourselfers.
A popular song credits nostalgia with making everything old new again. The same may be said of intelligent innovation. Changes in composition, color and accessibility let concrete keep its traditional virtues while building on new strengths.
Concrete Counter Top Composition Changes Over the Years
The weight of concrete, roughly comparable to that of granite, is a major asset in many aspects of construction. Weight is closely associated with both stability and durability, making it ideal for foundations, bearing walls and other major structural elements. The same weight, however, has imposed limitations in areas like interior floors and sills, counters and paving. To remain stable and durable, for example, standard concrete counters are cast at 1 ½ inches thick, putting considerable stress on wooden cabinets or similar supports.
Reinforcing concrete with glass and other fibers makes concrete lighter and more versatile. Fiber-enhanced concrete can be cast into thinner and more fluid shapes, while eliminating the use of rebar or mesh fabric for stability. For example, Surecrete’s XS product line, makes it possible to create thinner, narrower and lighter concrete pieces, without sacrificing the strength of traditional concrete. Whether you want colorful lab countertops or a standout basement bar, Surecrete’s XS products make concrete a logical, durable, easy-to-handle choice for your project.
Concrete Color Innovations
For both residential and commercial designers, color is a powerful tool for setting a mood, creating energy, defining space and supporting a brand. Traditional concrete color elements, like acid-washing, relied on the chemical changes produced by heavy-metal ingredients. Environmental awareness of all kinds, and LEED building standards specifically, discourage human/chemical interface wherever possible. New color technology relies on saturation rather than chemical change. Dozens of color choices may move a designer to choose concrete for counters over less versatile granite or marble. Mix-in colors can range from sandy desert tones to lush forest shades and electrifying tropicals. Stains and sealers add even more options, letting a designer create marbling, burnished metal or other textural effects. Coloring choices include low-VOC and VOC-free formulas, along with numerous food-grade-rated options. For an outdoor kitchen, a poolside refreshment bar or counters in any area of family and children’s meal service, concrete counters offer safety as well as easily-maintained durability. Wiped clean and sanitized like other food-service equipment, concrete counters offer safe, beautiful surfaces for hospitality of all kinds. Easy cleaning makes concrete perfect for bathroom counters, too.
Accessibility of Concrete Counter Top Products
Some manufacturers have responded to consumer environmental concerns with abundant information on how design-quality concrete is made and managed. Surecrete Design’s website, for instance, offers access to do-it-yourselfers in the forms of tutorials, materials-comparison charts, supply kits and workshops. Technical support for consumer decision-making helps customers make informed choices about their living and working environments. Generous how-to support makes it possible for ambitious amateurs to achieve high-quality results. Customers learn both about the values of traditional concrete and the innovations that help it maintain a well-deserved popularity.
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