20/01/2020

Pros, cons and alternatives to concrete worktops

Concrete worktops are the look of the moment. They are sleek and minimalist, yet with a warmth and earthiness that makes the concrete aesthetic a popular choice in recent years. Fitting perfectly in industrial style kitchens, they are in fact incredibly versatile, being used now in Scandinavian designs and even as an alternative to marble in traditional farmhouse kitchens. 

4001_Fresh_Concrete_Render

4001_Fresh_Concrete_Render

Pros and cons:

Alongside their visually pleasing appearance, concrete worktops have other benefits. They allow for a truly unique design, as it is possible to mould and cast concrete into any shape. They are also relatively practical, with resistance to heat and staining if regularly maintained with an appropriate sealant. 

Despite being more durable than laminate surfaces, concrete is prone to cracking. Though it is relatively easy to fix with filler, this issue provides an additional unnecessary worry. Concrete is also especially prone to stains and scratches. The best precaution for this is to seal upon installation, but even this does not fully protect the surface and remains susceptible to stubborn stains (from the likes of red wine, coffee, fruit juice and oil) and is easily marked with scratches – though some would argue this simply adds to its character.

Depending on the fabrication and fitting process, there is potential for prominent seams and visible grout lines and installation is prone to being problematic. For a more seamless finish and installation that is relatively stress-free, then an engineered quartz surface designed to look and feel like concrete is preferable to poured concrete.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that, with concrete’s connotations with industrial and utilitarian buildings, that it would be a lower-cost product. But in fact, the opposite is true and bespoke concrete worktops come with a hefty price tag. For this expense, other surfaces that require less maintenance and are more practical are likely a preferable option, especially when the same visual effect can be created with other materials.

 

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Alternatives

With developments in technology and in the manufacturing process, it is now possible to find concrete interpretation surfaces made from alternative materials, each of which is advantageous in its own respect. Laminate sits at the more economical end of the spectrum meaning it’s a cost-effective option that isn’t prone to staining like concrete. However, the low cost of this choice is definitely reflected in the finish. With a slightly ‘plasticised’ appearance and the same issues with lack of heat resistance, increased likelihood of scratch marks and visible seams, which combined, cheapen the overall look. 

The other alternative is engineered quartz - this premium material benefits from being a highly durable, incredibly practical material that is scratch, stain and heat resistant, and requires little maintenance, giving an impeccably flawless finish. 

Concrete stylised quartz surfaces are available in an array of shades and finishes, offering an authentically rough, tactile look and feel (such as Caesarstone 4011 Cloudburst Concrete). Weighing up all the considerations, quartz has it all and seems the obvious choice for a work surface that combines stylish design with longstanding functionality.

4033_Rugged_Concrete4033 Rugged Concrete

Looking for advice on how best to preserve your quartz worktop, along with which cleaning products to use and avoid? Download ‘A guide to caring for quartz’.

A guide to caring for quartz

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