Saturday, February 13, 2010

Concrete Questions

The design musings continue chez Baker Hills...

My cousin-in-law Tracey asked me: "Some friends are attempting concrete countertops. Insights? Tips? Books? People to talk to?" Well ~ here are the countertops we had in our old house at 1120 East 13th:

(photo by Brent at Anmore Woodworks who did all our millwork)

And the counters being well used...

(photo taken by me, post-party)

And a picture from a photo shoot last year
Photo by my sister-in-law, Karen.
Check out her work at Blooming Pictures

I loved our concrete countertops. The features I liked best were:
  • the thickness of the concrete. It was about 2 1/2" and I loved the beefy-ness of it
  • the industrial feel of the concrete juxtaposed with the traditional woodwork & pulls & house (circa 1908)
  • the colour; you can stain/colour concrete pretty much any colour. I loved our warm gray tone. We used Rempel Bros. BLACK 20 concrete which was added into the mix prior to pouring (not a colour stain applied afterwards).
Cons of concrete are:
  • It stains/marks/etches easily. Our colour was dark enough that you didn't see the staining but anything acidic (juice, wine, coffee, tea, etc.) will leave an etched mark if it isn't wiped up immediately. I'm OK with a bit of a patina; so I was happy with it. But you can't be a OCD type and relax around concrete. Apparently you can seal/wax concrete which should be reapplied every 6 months or so
  • it is SUPER heavy. We hired a small hi-ab to get the slabs up from the ground floor to the main floor & then needed 3 muscle-y type guys to get it into place. IT IS REALLY REALLY HEAVY!
Costs of concrete:
  • similar to natural stone or engineered quartz; and
  • I found a comparison online at Concrete Countertops. I think this is US pricing because Craig said that the cost to have counters installed here would be about $150/sq ft
Craig did the construction of forms & the install himself, Mr. Concrete that he is... Here is a picture of him pouring concrete at our current house:

pouring concrete for exterior hardscaping

It was a LOT of work to do the counters (so says Craig who is a concrete EXPERT). There are people in town that do this stuff... friends have used: Counter Cast . I've never used them so can't recommend them personally, but they'd be worth checking out.

...additional info...
Just the other day I was at my friend, Jenny's, house (more about the fabulous Jenny in another post) and she has awesome light concrete counters. She had hers done by Elementum Concrete & they look awesome. She says to talk to Kevin Wood there. A note on the lighter colour of concrete; Jenny said can scrub the stains out, which I didn't realize. Still not the choice for someone who can't handle the counter showing it's age.

Phew... that was a lot of chitchatting about concrete. You'll probably never look at an underground the same way. I hope this helps your friends, Trace!!!

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