Concrete has been around for centuries. When we think of concrete we think of strength, long lasting buildings, bridges, driveways, and foundations.
At Artisan Elements we take this age old product, mix it with modern technologies and create fascinating and beautiful counter tops, sinks, tables, bath tubs, showers, fire features, hardscapes and more.
On this page we discuss…
- Benefits of Concrete
- Obstacles and Challenges
- Concrete Compared to Other Surfaces
- Concrete Counter Top FAQ
Unlike granite or marble, concrete begins in a fluid state. This allows the creative possibilities to be endless. We can do things with concrete that just cannot be done with a solid stone or a synthetic material.
Color & Texture
With concrete color pigments, stains and dyes, and various aggregates such as glass, metal, shells, the color and texture of your piece is virtually unlimited.
From a 3500 grit diamond polish and high gloss sealers, to a more honed finish, all the way to a rustic rock face the feel of your piece can be as unique as the color
Our artisans can create a custom piece designed and cast to your specifications, with your home and heart in mind. Your piece will be completely unique.
OBSTACLES AND CHALLENGES
Concrete is a very difficult medium to work with; it wants to crack, it wants to shrink, it wants to stain. In a nutshell concrete wants to be concrete.
My biggest challenge is to take this product, add some modern technology of additives, reinforcements, sealers, strengtheners, mix designs and other elements and overcome some of these natural attributes of concrete without loosing the beauty of concrete in its natural state.
Another large obstacle is helping people understand what we can do with concrete. Our ability to create with concrete is only limited by the imagination. Colors, textures, shapes and sizes are endless. mixing elements such as glass, metal, wood, even fire and water, create some of the most beautiful, useful pieces of art that will last a lifetime and more.
CONCRETE COMPARED TO OTHER SURFACES
- Cost: Granite can be the least expensive choice with stones starting as low as $25 per s/f. Most “level A” stones running around $35 per s/f and the more exotics averaging $60 – $120 per s/f. No longer considered a luxury item, granite is the most common choice today.
- Color: The natural variations in color and flow of grain in granite make it an attractive choice. Very popular in the Atlanta market especially since 2001, granite has definitely made its mark in a wide range of homes.
- Care: Granite is porous and therefore should be kept sealed. With the advancement of sealers today, this is no longer a difficult task and can be done as infrequently as 5 years. There are even 15 year sealers on the market however there performance is really dependent on how the surface is used and treated. Hot pans and knives can be used directly on the surface, however both will have a negative effect on the sealer, and the knives for that matter.
- Cost: Quartz has gained some popularity recently. Typically more expensive than granite, quartz can run between $60 and $120 per s/f. The price of quartz runs higher due to the fact that the resins that hold the particles together are petroleum based. As long as the price of oil stays high, so will the price of quartz.
- Color: Some designers like the fact that the color is more uniform and consistent. You know what you are getting with quartz as it is manufactured to color specifications.
- Care: One of the biggest advantages to quartz is it does not need to be sealed. It is also very scratch resistant, however if it does get scratched it is very difficult and expensive to repair. Hot pans should not be placed directly onto the surface as it will melt.
Engineered tops (corian, etc.)
- Cost: Engineered tops will run between $60 – $120 per s/f and are not as popular in the Atlanta market.
- Color: The advantages are the same as quartz in color consistency and predictability. Another distinct advantage to an engineered top is that the seams are virtually invisible.
- Care: Although much more susceptible to scratching, they are also easily and inexpensively repaired.
- Cost: Artistic concrete tops run between $65 and $165 per s/f. Although not always the most expensive choice, they are truly the luxury choice when it comes to counter tops. Atlanta seems to be behind other parts of the country when it comes to understanding the design possibilities and functionality of artistic concrete. We are just now seeing the popularity rise.
- Color: From simple colors and finish to natural shades of stone and earth, to deep blues and greens, the color, flow, and texture that can be achieved with concrete is unmatched.
- Care: Concrete is a porous material that will need to be treated much like granite with regular sealing and cleaning with the proper cleaners. Concrete will perform similar to granite in that the heat and cutting on the surface is not likely to harm the concrete but will harm the integrity of the sealer.
Making the choice.
Any one of these four options can be a great choice for a counter top, and each has a purpose and place in the design of your space once pros and cons are considered. Concrete will always be the clear winner in versatility of shape and design, but the natural beauty of granite has stood the test of time, and will certainly remain a favorite for years to come.
Since concrete is such a versatile material, more and more people are realizing its value in making counter tops. Shapes of counter tops are only limited by imagination and the ability to build the forms. With the use of color pigments in combination with white cement and various aggregates, the spectrum of colors available in concrete counter tops is virtually limitless.
It’s been more than a decade since concrete counter tops found their way into shops, restaurants, and homes. Once the realm of either DIY or the wealthy, they seem to have gained acceptance in just about every level of residential application, from moderately priced homes to high-end places.
Nowadays, lots of people have a good feel for what can be accomplished with concrete countertops. Whether an interior is traditional, contemporary, or somewhere between, concrete is a versatile medium to express the aesthetic of designer and owner.
CONCRETE COUNTER TOP FAQ
Will I need to reinforce my cabinets or flooring?
No. Concrete is not heavy. Weighing about 18 pounds per square foot it weighs about the same as other slab materials.
How long does it take to complete a project?
From the time of template we can typically install within one week. However, intricate designs and special features may extend the process as much as three weeks.
How do I care for my concrete counter tops and/or surfaces?
Daily cleaning should be done with a PH balanced or “neutral cleaner” Treat concrete as you would any solid surface.
Can hot pans be placed upon the counter top?
Again like any solid surface counter tops, using a hot pad or trivet is a good idea. What you are truly protecting here is the sealer and the surface.
Can I cut directly on the counter top?
As with natural stone, it is not recommended. Your knives can be dulled, and some hard metals can scratch through the surface of the sealer and damage the concrete.