Industrial chic has been a growing trend in the kitchen industry for some years, and with it has come a rise in the popularity of concrete countertops. These counters certainly have a unique, raw look; however, despite what you may think about the hardiness of concrete, countertops made from the material can actually be more difficult to maintain than more traditional choices like granite or quartz. They are also expensive, costing from $150 to $250 per square foot installed.
Other issues homeowner are often eager to avoid are the extra weight, thickness requirements (3 to 4 centimeters minimum with 5 cm recommended around built-in sinks), the fact that it patinas with age, risk of damage from acid or grease, lack of heat-resistance when lacquered, and a tendency to develop hairline cracks.
If you love the look of concrete, but don’t want to deal with the extra maintenance issues and costs, there are several great alternatives to be found among natural stones and quartz countertops.
Quartz Alternatives to Concrete Countertops
Quartz is about as easy-to-maintain as it gets and much more affordable (quartz costs between $59 and $89 per square foot installed, depending on the color you select). Quartz weighs about the same as standard granite countertops, and if you are living in an apartment or old house where weight is a concern, you can even get it in thinner 2 cm quartz slabs.
Since new colors are developed every year, there are already several great colors designed specifically to look like concrete:
Caesarstone’s Raw Concrete and Fresh Concrete Quartz mimic the color distribution of a real concrete counter. Not only are the colors spot on, but Caesarstone’s “concrete finish” gives the counter a matte, textured surface so you also get the raw feel of concrete.
If you prefer a smooth finish, Q Quartz’s Concerto Quartz has the color of concrete with the standard smooth polished surface you see on most quartz countertops.
Granite Alternatives to Concrete Counters
Many homeowners turn to expensive products like concrete counters precisely because they don’t like the standard granite options they see in big box stores. In fact, there are several great granite options that provide the raw, industrial look and feel of concrete without any of the extra cost and hassle.
The key to using granite to pull off the concrete look is to choose a slab with a honed or leathered finish. This finish feels rustic and similar to the feel of concrete counters.
Though not the typical steel gray color of concrete, many slabs of Absolute Black Granite have a lighter slate-gray color when honed or leathered that makes them a great centerpiece for the industrial kitchen look.
Other black granites perfect for that heavy, clean, post-modern look are Leathered Cambrian Black Granite and Leathered Black Pearl Granite All of these choice are low- to medium-priced granites.
For a closer match to the gray of concrete, there’s Honed Virginia Mist Granite, a North American granite with a gray background and a consistent pattern of light gray that resembles sand scattered on a smooth surface.
Granite is scratch and stain resistant, heat resistant, won’t crack, and will not patina or change color over time. It does need to be sealed once a year, but other than that there is no maintenance needed.
Soapstone Alternatives to Concrete Kitchen Countertops
One more alternative to concrete countertops is soapstone. Gray soapstone is plentiful, and it’s easy to find clean slabs with a concrete gray color and minimal veining.
Soapstone is a natural heat conductor, so it cannot be damaged by any normal kitchen heat. This also means that it is much warmer to the touch than concrete or other stone countertop options.
Soapstone has a smooth, matte finish that is popular in rustic and industrial style kitchens.
Like concrete, soapstone will develop a patina over time. If you like this aspect of concrete, you can keep the soapstone unoiled. It does not require any sealing or other maintenance if you like the patina. If you don’t like the patina, you can oil it yearly or twice a year to return it to a like-new coloring.
One of the features many homeowners like about concrete is that you can have a sink made from the same material. Soapstone gives you this option as well; it’s a popular material for farm sinks.
Soapstone can scratch and nick, but these can be removed with water or a light sandpaper pad.
Last, but not least, soapstone is much cheaper than concrete, costing between $75 and $80 per square foot installed in the greater St. Louis area.
How to Decide Which Concrete Alternative is Best for Your Home
Talk to your local fabricator about which features you like most about concrete and what features you would like to avoid. They will be able to help you decide which alternatives fit your unique criteria and home style.
If you are living in St. Louis metro area or Metro East suburbs of Edwardsville or Collinsville, Illinois areas, you can have a no-obligation consultation from Arch City Granite stone design experts.
Call our office 314-426-3100 for St. Louis showroom, or 636-329-8400 for our O’Fallon, MO location to set up a stone design consultation.
Image source: Gray Soapstone Kitchen by Houzz