If you're looking for a modern countertop surface that's both beautiful and budget-friendly, consider concrete. If properly installed and sealed, concrete countertops will last practically forever, and the best part is, you can make them yourself.
First, some of our favorite concrete countertop inspiration from around the web.
1. Concrete is perfect for the modern/industrial look. From Sköna hem.
2. The thickness of this concrete countertop is a nice complement to the thickness of the open shelving above in this kitchen photo from Ojodepez Studio.
3. I love how perfectly the darker concrete integrates into this rustic kitchen. Elle Interior via Apartment Therapy.
4. Concrete all over in a kitchen from Casa via Planete Deco.
5. An extra-thick concrete countertop adds warmth to a modern kitchen from Leva & Bo.
6. Minimalism has its own special beauty in the stripped-down kitchen of this Houston home, spotted on Dwell.
7. So this is a bar in Stockholm, and not a home, but I couldn't resist including it — the thickness of this countertop is a wonder to behold. This would be a showstopping detail on a breakfast bar or kitchen island. Image from Dezeen.
8. Concrete is beautiful with black cabinets. Image from Desire to Inspire.
9. Another lovely dark kitchen, from Restyle XL.
10. A whole island in concrete - why not? (You may want to call in the pros for this one.) From Naut Interiors.
Want to get the look? Here's what you need to know:
You may remember seeing concrete countertops on our site before, in the kitchen of Renovation Diarists Claire and Jeffrey. They built their countertops themselves, using a step-by-step tutorial they found on Imperfectly Polished.
The DIYers from Imperfectly Polished mention Fu-Tung Cheng as their concrete countertop spirit guide. Cheng is pretty much the ultimate expert the subject — every article I read referenced him. He has a website called The Concrete Exchange, and has written a couple of books about the DIY process. He's also the author of this incredibly detailed FAQ from Fine Homebuilding, which discusses DIY methods — everything from the proper concrete mix, to how to attach your new countertops to your cabinets, to which sealers to use to keep your countertop looking its best.
FINDING A CONTRACTOR
If DIY isn't your thing, you can find a contractor in your area who specializes in concrete countertops. Here's a Good Question from our sister site, the Kitchn, about maintenance on concrete countertops, which also contains lots of advice on what to look for when you're hiring a contractor. Cheng also has a find a contractor feature on his site, with indications of which contractors have attended his specialized trainings.
Concrete countertops are vulnerable to staining and etching from citrus, red wine, and oil, but you can mitigate this by making sure your countertop is properly sealed. Cheng recommends using a penetrating sealer and waxing your countertop once a month, which will buy you more time to clean up spills. There's also the option of a topical sealer, which is more difficult to apply (and may give the countertop a bit of a plastic-y feeling) but more stainproof.
How your countertop performs will depend a lot on what kind of sealer you use, so before you choose one, do a little research into what maintenance will be like with that particular finish, and how often (if at all) the sealer should be re-applied.
Do you have concrete countertops? Do you love them? Hate them? Share your experience below!
(Image credits: Sköna hem; Ojodepez Studio; Elle Interior; Casa; Leva & Bo; Dwell; Dezeen; Desire to Inspire; Restyle XL; Naut)