What is the lead time? View FAQ’s

Although worktops are one of the last items to be installed, concrete worktops should be selected as early as possible. Here is an outline of the process:

  1. Color selection
    • Niche Concrete often performs custom color matching and submits samples for your approval. Allow about 3 weeks for this process. See the section on custom colors for more information.
  2. Templating
    • Templating is done from finished and installed cabinetry, and it takes less than one day.
  3. Fabrication
    • The typical time required to fabricate most concrete worktops, depending on their size and complexity, is 3-4 weeks. Note that the fabrication process may not start immediately after templating depending on how full our production schedule is. A good guideline is to contact Niche Concrete at the beginning of the project, or at the latest one month before cabinetry is scheduled to be installed, both to allow time for custom color samples and to secure a spot on Niche Concrete’s production schedule.
    • Niche Concrete uses
    • o In the case of a residential project such as a complete kitchen remodel, homeowners are usually willing to wait longer for their custom-made, handcrafted concrete worktops. However, temporary worktopscan be a way to minimize inconvenience. Temporary plywood worktopsare one possible solution. Or, the contractor can preserve parts of the old worktopsto provide some work surfaces.
  4. Installation
    • Because Niche Concreteworktopsare precast and prefinished, installation generally takes less than one day.

How are concrete worktops made? View FAQ’s

All of the slabs are precast in our shop and fully finished and sealed prior to installation.

When it comes to concrete worktops, there are two basic processes: cast-in-place and precast. Cast-in-place involves building forms and pouring concrete in place, directly on the cabinets. While this avoids the hassles of transporting heavy slabs, it does tie up the site for many days (or weeks), and it involves a messy process. In addition, cast (or pour) in place provides fewer options and less control over the finished product. Generally the only finish available is a trowelled surface, which is either acid stained or colored with pigments. The quality of the concrete, the finished appearance and ultimate performance of the countertop are all hampered by the fact that it’s all being done on site under a rushed time schedule.

Precast concrete, on the other hand, moves all of the processes off site into a controlled environment. In the structural engineering community, it is well known that precast concrete is superior to cast in place concrete, mainly because tighter quality control can be exercised. Curing, which is a critical step that is commonly misunderstood, can be closely monitored. Moving the process to a shop allows greater flexibilty in terms of the look of the concrete. Glass, stone and other objects can now be embedded; these require extensive wet grinding with diamond power tools to reveal the embedded objects and hone and smooth the resulting surface.

There are 2 methods of precasting: wet cast and glass fibre reinforced concrete (GFRC).

Wet cast uses a more traditional concrete mix of sand, aggregate and cement poured into forms. Our formula uses specialized admixtures to achieve the ultra-high surface quality needed for interior kitchens and bathrooms. We use local ingredients whenever possible.

Because of our education with The Concrete Countertop Institute, we are able to properly reinforce wet cast concrete to prevent cracking. Proper steel reinforcement is essential to combat the large stresses placed on a long, thin slab of concrete such as a worktop.

GFRC is concrete that is structurally reinforced with a large loading of alkali-resistant glass fibres instead of with steel. It is built up in 2 stages: a thin “mist coat” that is sprayed into the forms and provides the surface appearance, followed by a very fibrous “backer coat”. GFRC is extremely strong, flexible and light compared to wet cast concrete.

Niche Concrete will work with you to determine which type of concrete is best for your project, depending on the look and shape you want to achieve.

Can I put hot pots on the worktops? View FAQ’s

As with almost all types of worktop 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”. However, the Touch-Up Kit can be used to minimize the appearance of these microcracks, just like it is used to touch up scratches.

What is the process for custom colors? View FAQ’s

Niche 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. We produce two or more 150x150mm samples and submit them for your approval.

What colors are available? View FAQ’s

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.

How much do they cost? View FAQ’s

Even though it is a completely custom material, concrete is competitive in price with other high endworktop materials, typically a bit more than granite. We are happy to work with you and your designer to give you an estimate on your project, and we can help you with options to fit your budget.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of concrete compared to other worktop materials? View FAQ’s

Advantages:

  • Custom: Concrete’s biggest advantage is that it is completely custom. Your worktop will be unique to you 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: Niche Concrete 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 ishand made 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.

Disadvantages:

  • 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 your countertop if wiped up immediately, and if left on for a longer period of time, they will cause only a light spot whose appearance can be minimized with a touch-up kit.
  • Scratching: While the sealer is very durable, it is possible to scratch it. For example, in kitchens, you should use cutting boards and not cut directly on your worktops.
  • Lead time: Because concrete worktops are completely hand made from scratch for each client, they take longer than sheet goods that are simply cut by a machine. See the section on lead time for more details.

Who would want concrete worktops? View FAQ’s

Concrete worktops the most unique, personal worktop option because they are made from scratch for each client. To determine whether concrete is right for you, think about whether you believe that:.

  • you want something unique and personalized
  • you want something that looks natural and has character
  • you appreciate high-quality, hand-crafted items
  • you think granite and quartz are too shiny, too formal, too common
  • you think synthetic solid surface materials look and feel like plastic
  • you need a color or visual texture that’s not available with other materials

If so, concrete worktops may be right for you.

Where can I use concrete in my home? View FAQ’s

  • Niche Concrete makes concrete kitchen worktops, splash backs, bathroom vanity tops, concrete sinks, showers, fireplaces, tables, desks, chairs and more.
  • Concrete worktops 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 splash backs, shower surrounds and fireplace surrounds.
  • Integral and vessel sinks are possible. See the section on sinks for more information.
  • Concrete can be used both indoors and outdoors.
  • Concrete floors are a different application. Niche Concrete can recommend companies who specialize in various types of concrete floors.