Where can I use concrete in my designs?
Opus Artisan Concrete fabricate concrete kitchen countertops, backsplashes, wet bars, bathroom vanity tops, concrete sinks, showers, fireplace surrounds, tables, and more.
Concrete countertops can be straight, curved, notched, multi-level, etc. Unlike granite and quartz, which would drastically increase in cost for curved shapes, creating curved concrete shapes simply involves some extra complexity and labor in forming.
Concrete can also be used in vertical applications such as backsplashes, shower surrounds and fireplace surrounds.
Integral and vessel sinks are possible.
Concrete can be used both indoors and outdoors.
Concrete floors are a different application. Opus Stone can recommend companies who specialize in various types of concrete floors.
Who would want concrete countertops?
Concrete countertops the most unique, personal countertop option because they are made from scratch for each client. To determine whether concrete is right for you or a client, here are some questions to ask:
Do YOU want something unique and personalized
DO YOU want something that looks natural and has character
DO YOU appreciate high-quality, hand-crafted items
DO YOU think granite and quartz are too shiny, too formal, too common
DO YOU think synthetic solid surface materials look and feel like plastic
DO YOU need a color or visual texture that’s not available with other materials
If so, concrete countertops may be right for you or your client.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of concrete compared to other countertop materials?
Custom: Concrete’s biggest advantage is that it is completely custom. You have a countertop that is unique and highly personalized.
Versatile: Concrete is extremely versatile. It can enhance any style, from French Country to Contemporary. From Arts and Crafts to Industrial. From Traditional to Modern. The possibilities are endless.
Practical: Opus Stone uses a sealer that is extremely stain-resistant and low-maintenance. Common food items will not stain it when wiped up quickly. The sealer does not degrade, and therefore does not need to be reapplied every year like many other sealers. The sealer also exhibits great heat resistance.
Imperfections: We believe that this is an advantage. Concrete countertops are handmade and hand finished. Since concrete is a heterogeneous mixture of many different ingredients, subtle variations in color, shade, texture and overall appearance should be expected. All concrete is susceptible to harmless hairline cracks. They will sometimes appear months or years after installation, and are generally a result of seasonal movement of the cabinets and the house itself. These should be considered part of the aesthetic charm of concrete, and not a defect. Concrete exhibits natural beauty rather than plastic perfection.
Staining: Concrete countertops actually behave similar to granite in this regard. Granite countertops are also porous and have to be sealed and maintained. Most people don’t realize this, because granite is usually too dark and patterned to show stains. Food, acids and oil will not stain the countertop if wiped up immediately.
Scratching: While the sealer is very durable, it is possible to scratch it. For example, in kitchens, the client should use cutting boards and not cut directly on the countertop
Lead time: Because concrete countertops are completely hand made from scratch for each client, they take longer than sheet goods that are simply cut by a machine.
How much do they cost?
Even though it is a completely custom material, concrete is competitive in price with standard countertop materials. The price is competitive with high end granite. We are happy to work with you to give you an estimate on your project, and we can help you with options to fit the client’s budget.
What colors are available?
Any color! Concrete can be made in hundreds of colors including every color on the spectrum. Any color can be produced in a solid, speckled or variegated pattern. And, you can specify embedded stone, glass, or other objects. You can specify the color, size and density of embedments. Coupled with the many color choices, you have myriad design options.
What is the process for custom colors?
Opus Artisan Concrete specializes in custom color development. We can customize existing colors or match the color of an item such as a paint chip or fabric. The process takes about 3 weeks depending on availability of pigments. We produce two or more samples and submit them for your approval.
How much color variation can occur?
Concrete is a natural, handmade material. Many factors such as humidity, sand lot and cement lot can affect the final appearance of the concrete. All of our color formulas record the type of sand, type of cement, and exact measurements of pigments to 1/10th of a gram, and we use specially developed software to calculate mix design. However, colors can still vary because of the aforementioned factors.
Another factor that contributes to perceived variation is simply the size of samples. A sample will look different than a whole countertop simply because the small sample does not capture all of the natural, random variations that will occur over a large surface. The color in a sample may appear completely uniform, but a whole countertop in that exact same color will not appear as uniform. The same situation occurs with other natural materials such as granite. If your client is looking for perfect uniformity, they might not be right for concrete, and you should choose solid surface instead.
What edges are available?
For concrete, edging is formed and cast rather than cut like granite or solid surface. Therefore, edge choices depend on the availability of appropriate trim molding. For example, Opus Stone can do pencil, beveled, concave, bullnose and reverse cove edging, and other custom edges may be available. Edging may be placed on top or bottom of the countertop.
What kind of sinks can be used with concrete countertops?
Opus Artisan Concrete countertops can accommodate all types of sinks including drop-in, undermount and apron front.
The minimum lip of concrete around all sides of sinks is 3”. Concrete can also accommodate drop-in cooktops. The minimum lip of concrete in the front of a cooktop is 3”. We recommend 3” for the back also, but 2” will suffice.
Opus Artisan Concrete can make integral concrete sinks of almost any shape. Bathroom vanity tops are an excellent application of integral concrete sinks.
We do not recommend integral concrete kitchen sinks for engineering reasons. Kitchen sinks are deep and have angles that would put large stresses on the concrete and have high potential for cracking. Also, the size of kitchen sinks generally dictates a very thick concrete bottom that would be a problem with standard plumbing and cabinetry.
Concrete vessel sinks are also possible, and concrete’s versatility means that the sink can be any color and shape.
What about backsplashes?
Backsplashes are cast and finished separately and deck mounted after the countertops are installed. Backsplashes are nominally 1 inch thick and can be from 3” high to full height. Outlet openings are cast in, not cut on site.
Will concrete countertops stain?
Bare concrete is very porous and will readily stain. Virtually all concrete kitchen countertops are sealed to prevent staining; however the degree to which these sealers work varies significantly. Commonly used sealers include wax and penetrating acrylic sealer. Both of these are inexpensive and easy to apply. However, neither offer significant stain or heat resistance, and both require frequent reapplication to prevent the formation of a “patina”.
Opus Artisan Concrete’s sealer is different. We use a high-performance sealer that is exceptionally durable and provides excellent resistance to incidental contact with staining agents such as red wine, lemon juice and olive oil. Complete care instructions are included in the Owner’s Guide. Touch-up of any marks that do occur is simple and easy.
Will they scratch?
While the sealer is durable, it can scratch if cut with a knife or subjected to heavy, sharp objects dragged across the surface. Cutting on the concrete may compromise the integrity of the sealer and allow stains to permeate the concrete matrix. Cutting on the concrete will also ruin knives, requiring a professional resharpening to reshape the damaged edge. Remember, concrete is made with stone, the same thing used to sharpen knives (and will therefore dull them just as easily).
Can I put hot pots on the countertops?
As with almost all types of countertop surfaces, it is best to use trivets. Concrete can microcrack if exposed to high heat, and the sealer is not elastic enough to “absorb” these microcracks. The surface will appear “crazed”.
How are templates made?
Concrete countertops are templated just like quartz and granite. Templating is done after any existing countertops are removed, or after new cabinets are fully installed. The general contractor needs to arrange for existing countertops removal. Almost all concrete countertops require physical templates from the finished and installed cabinetry.
In some cases, such as small or freestanding pieces, we can fabricate from CADD drawings instead of physical templates. We will advise on templating requirements for your project. All fixtures that penetrate the concrete, such as sinks and faucets, must be available at templating time.
How are the countertops installed?
Concrete countertops are handled and installed just like quartz and granite. Seams are caulked with a color-matched acrylic caulk or grout. The contractor needs to arrange for plumbing and electrical hookup no earlier than 24 hours after the countertops installation.
Are there any seams?
Often concrete countertops can be designed without seams. Seams may be located around sinks and cooktops, or wherever required for structural reasons. Or, seams may be necessary due to the logistics of getting the slabs into the house if stairs or corners are involved. Opus Stone will work with you to design seam placement that is both structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing.
Seams are typically 1/16” wide, similar to tile grout lines. However, it is important to realize that concrete countertops are handmade and hand processed; they are not machine cut, so tolerances for seams are more generous than with quartz or granite. Seam appearance is minimized by using color-matched acrylic caulk or grout.
Are there any special structural considerations?
No. Standard precast concrete weighs about the same as quartz or granite of the same thickness., and glass fiber reinforced concrete weighs half as much. Typically, no special considerations are necessary for standard kitchen or bathroom vanity tops. Cantilevered slabs, bartops on kneewalls and similar situations sometimes require brackets or other structural supports. Opus Artisan Concrete can advise on support requirements.
Do you offer a warranty?
Yes. Opus Artisan Concrete warrantees the structural integrity of the concrete for one year after installation. Concrete will of course last a lot longer than a year, but if any problems were to occur, they would occur in the first year. We subject the concrete to much larger stresses while handling it than clients ever could once it is installed. In addition, Opus Artisan Concrete provides each client with an Owner’s Guide and a direct phone number for support.