Concrete countertops have seen a recent resurgence in popularity for kitchen remodeling, due in part to their unique combination of beauty, functionality and customization. Working with concrete does, however, also present its own challenges, and nearly all concrete countertops develop small, hairline cracks over time. Although these cracks are usually harmless and many homeowners find them charming, too many can weaken your counter's structural integrity and begin to look unsightly. Thankfully, you can slow down the development of these cracks and extend the lifespan of your counters with a few simple precautionary measures.
Limiting Heat Exposure
Concrete counters do not respond well to heat and must always be protected from hot pots and pans. Scalding temperatures can permanently damage your countertop's seal, stressing the concrete below as it expands to accommodate the heat's energy. Once too much pressure builds up, the concrete snaps, expelling the extra energy but creating a crack in the process. Use a trivet to create a barrier between hot dishes and the concrete; you can even have custom trivets built into your counters as they harden, making them a functional, permanent feature of your kitchen.
Ensuring Proper Support
Concrete is heavy, and without adequate support it can begin to sag and crack under its own weight. Speak with your remodeling contractor to make sure that your counters will receive the support they need from walls, cabinets and appliances. It is also important to tighten faucets and other fixtures within their recommended specifications. Screwing them down too tightly may lead to unforeseen stress on the concrete that will eventually lead to cracks.
Waxing and Sealing the Surface
Every kitchen remodeling contractor has a different strategy for waxing and sealing concrete countertops. Depending on the finish you choose, you may only need to have your surfaces sealed once, or they may require maintenance every few years. Waxing and sealing shields the concrete from stains, cuts and erosion, so keeping a healthy coat is vital to ensure the longevity of your counters. Before you start pouring the concrete, check with your contractor to get a better idea of its expected upkeep.
Investing in a Quality Product
Concrete countertops are a divisive subject in the remodeling community because, despite their beauty and durability when manufactured correctly, they also have the potential to break quickly and collect stains when contractors take shortcuts. When it comes to budgeting, don't just seize the lowest offer. Take your time to guarantee that you are getting a quality product from experienced professionals with proven results. With conscientious planning and a little regular care, you can help your concrete countertops stay attractive, useful and sanitary for decades to come.