HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >
What are you cooking today? Get great advice
TELL US

concrete counter tops vs. granite counter tops?

c
countertopmadness Jun 12, 2007 06:17 PM

My husband and I are debating on concrete counter tops or granite for the kitchen? He is really pushing concrete for the counter tops as well as a custom sink. I, on the other, don't know anything about concrete. So, my delema- Concrete vs. granite?

  1. s
    shorty67 Jun 13, 2007 05:44 AM

    Been there, just done that. Hands down we went with Granite.
    Concrete is more porous, less refined and just seems to be a fading fad
    in our area. Works better as a desplay counter than akitchen counter.
    We found a custom stoneworks that did 1-1/2" Granite for $40 a sq ft
    while concrete was about $65.

    1. t
      Texchef Jun 13, 2007 05:51 AM

      I have concrete in both the kitchen and the master bath... for 3 years. I don't know if mine wasn't sealed correctly, but it stains, particularly in the kitchen. Oil goes right in. Water makes it darker in areas that get wet often. If you're what I'd call particular, for lack of a better word, you'd better go with granite. I think for resale we're going to have to replace with granite. Hope this helps. On the plus side of concrete...it's very organic and natural looking.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Texchef
        m
        mikie Oct 14, 2011 11:52 AM

        We're about to put in granite and from everything I've read and heard, your concrete experience is not unique. I just don't think you can keep it adiquatly sealed for kitchen use. Also because concrete tops are made "custom" there is a lot of variation in the quality of what you get. Made properly, they are hard and durable, although stain prone. If cast without proper reinforcement and the correct mix of materials, they are prone to severe cracks. So if I were to go that way, I'd be very picky about who made my top.

        Depending on what you read and what you like, Quartz composite is supposed to be the very best counter top material around. It's less pours than granite, doesn't need to be sealed, and is very durable. There are a number of colors available. We have it in our master bath, but to me, I don't like the look as much as real stone (granite).

        1. re: mikie
          b
          blaireso Jul 22, 2012 09:26 PM

          I've had granite for 12 years and it's definitely porous. It's also not food-rated. If money was no object, I'd replace it with Caesarstone. You have to be careful about the areas around the stove and wipe them up promptly. Also watch out if you have a dish soap container--use a coaster or other container that has feet so water doesn't collect underneath. Soap is oil-based and also stains, and standing water will eventually darken that area. Also, any type of acid (vinegar, fruit) can etch the granite. Hint: use a microfiber cloth to wipe granite and you won't get smears.

          1. re: blaireso
            e
            escondido123 Jul 31, 2012 10:24 AM

            I think how careful you have to be with granite also depends upon the color and pattern. I had heard horror stories about black and white, so we purposely chose a grey, black, white, beige speckle which hides a multitude of sins. We sealed our granite when it was new 4 years ago but haven't done anything else to it since except wash with soapy water and scrape off "crud" with a bench scraper. If there are stains, they are invisible. (Our last house had limestone which I loved the look of in theory but it was a bear to deal with because any acid left a white spot/circle.) Granite to me is fuss free.

      2. r
        renov8r Jun 13, 2007 02:55 PM

        The only kitchens that look "right" with concrete are the "supermodel" layouts in the magazines. The stuff is just too prone to wear and staining. Worse, even when it is "properly sealed" the basic nature of concrete is that it will wear unevenly.

        It can look quite unique, and the ability to custom cast various forms is appealing, but there are an awful lot of downsides -- the sinks & bathtubs that I've seen can get really beat up, this might make for a "patina" but to my mind suggests crumbly potholed roads...

        If you do want to get natural stone, you ought to be aware that besides granite there are other options too. Soapstone and slate are growing in popularity, and sinks can be crafted to match them as well. Much better wear characteristics. I think that while granite will not lend itself to being glued into a sink with the sorts of tools that most installers, you can seek out firms that have the tools to work granite into a sink too.
        http://www.stonesinksonline.com/item-...

        1. Junie D Jun 15, 2007 07:48 AM

          In the end, our choices came down to concrete vs. granite too, and we chose granite. Friends have concrete kitchen countertops which really are cool, but as others have said, wear unevenly, look beat up fast, and stain badly. Also, if you ever want to replace your countertop, with all that rebar in there, you risk destroying the lower cabinets to get it out.

          I'm afraid the granite will look dated in about 5 minutes - I really wanted stainless steel countertops like grandma had in the 1930s - but I do like being able to roll dough out right on it. My only complaint is the uneven color of the granite makes it hard to tell if there are crumbs or other junk on it, so it always looks clean even if it isn't. I guess some would consider that an upside.

          1. c
            Cheesy Oysters Jun 15, 2007 10:26 AM

            We opted for granite. Like the way concrete looks but not it's durability. I also saw a kitchen that had a crack on the edge of the concrete where something had dropped on it. Incidentally we didn't want granite in the beginning and we tried a limestone sample. It stained easily between lemons, razzberries, and coffee so we went with granite. We basically only found one color of granite that we liked after looking at lots of different slabs. We didn't get an edge on the granite because we like the simple effect. Oddly enough, that saved us a lot of money because we were able to get everything that we needed out of one slab--that was just luck.

            1. LulusMom Jun 15, 2007 10:39 AM

              We have concrete and I just love the look of it. To me now, the granite stuff looks sort of old fashioned (go figure). We do have a fairly modern looking kitchen, which definitely helps. We didn't get the sink in concrete, we had it made so that we could fit a sink into the hole they left. It is true that concrete wears unevenly, but somehow that is part of its charm - sort of like wood.

              1. t
                taketheunder May 22, 2008 09:22 PM

                I am going back and forth with my wife on countertop options.
                At least take a look at Silestone! I have two freinds who love their
                installation.

                1. KaimukiMan Feb 26, 2010 12:18 PM

                  One point that seems to have been missed is that a concrete counter really requires someone who knows what they are doing. If you know of someone in your area, or willing to travel to you area ($$), that evens the balance a bit. If you don't know of one, or can't find someone who can show you samples of their work, preferably clients who will talk to you, then you might think again.

                  1. n
                    nmireault Oct 14, 2011 07:43 AM

                    I live in Montreal (Canada) and am a co-owner of FMC Design (www.fmcdesign.ca). We fabricate concrete countertops, as well as other products, such as fireplace surrounds, tiles, etc. Everyone brought up some great points in this article, I think it really comes down to personal preference. The article we're replying to was written in '07 so there have been great improvements made as far as technique and sealers go. The reason why I love concrete is that all our pieces are custom made, locally, and are environmentally friendly. Regarding pricing, I recently saw this quote "You can pay what everyone else pays and get what everyone else has - granite." It's important to remember that concrete products are 100% hand made and are therefore 100% unique, so inevitably that will influence price. Compare it to a painting made from a local artist or a photograph sold at IKEA. If concrete is something you're interested in, take time to find the right contractor who takes pride in their work. You won't regret it, promise!

                     
                    1 Reply
                    1. re: nmireault
                      s
                      shorty67 Oct 14, 2011 12:36 PM

                      We live in Idaho which is home to great amounts of granite. A local manufacturer has a diamond saw controlled by a computer which is accurate to 1/64th of an inch. You pick out the boulder you like and they cut it to your template. Local rock, local milling, no carbon footprint.

                    2. BIGGUNDOCTOR Oct 22, 2011 03:20 PM

                      What are you doing to counter tops to make them wear so fast?!? I don't see enough wear on sidewalks after decades of being walked on to even worry about.

                      I have seen some neat concrete tops that had glass chunks mixed into them. They looked like granite with funky colors.

                      Personally I would consider concrete just to be different. My dream kitchen is all industrial SS tables, and counters with no lower cabinets. Grab the hose, and wash it down ARRRGH ARRRGH ARRRgh! Sorry, I was channeling Tim Allen there for a minute.

                      1. emily Oct 22, 2011 07:28 PM

                        I saw a beautiful concrete counter in House Beautiful that looked so much better than granite. I believe it was waxed. I have no personal experience with it, though. Sounds like you need to hire the right person to do the job.

                        Had granite for 8 years. No complaints, except with a darker, shiny granite, you're going to see streaks unless you keep it absolutely clean. Used to drive me crazy. I've now had limestone for 3 years and I love it. I've sealed it twice and I've gotten a few light stains when the sealer wears down, but, whatever, they fit in (and I'm kind of an anal neat freak). Wouldn't go back to granite.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: emily
                          BIGGUNDOCTOR Oct 22, 2011 07:51 PM

                          Be careful with acids like vinegar around limestone,as it will eat it.

                        2. Veggo Oct 22, 2011 07:39 PM

                          The comparison is laughable, and the price, too. Granite or marble, all day long. I won't be here to tell you so in 50 years, but somebody will.

                          1. c
                            CounterIntuitive Jul 21, 2012 06:24 PM

                            Concrete has come a long way since this article was published! As the owner of Counter Intuitive Concrete in Phoenix, Arizona (www.counterintuitiveconcrete.com), I have a lot of first hand experience with this topic. Concrete countertops are now much more stain and wear resistant, thanks to newer, high-quality sealers. They can also be made much thinner, and much stronger, thanks to new decorative fiber reinforced concrete mix. Couple the above two points, with the fact that they are completely customizable to the customer's needs, and the choice is clear.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: CounterIntuitive
                              t
                              ThanksVille Jul 22, 2012 04:17 PM

                              Always been a fan of concrete. Designed and built a concrete boat shell. Also did a modern form concrete chair suitable for exterior decks and lawn seating. I've designed and installed sealed and custom finished concrete floors for warehouses, schools and even high end showrooms. Unfortunately, the efforts at concrete in kitchen counters including those where we have formed it against super shiney laminate and then buffed it to a mirror glaze have never transcended to a material that has any "warmth" or affinity with food. Maybe its a lifetime association of concrete floors but I keep wanting to wash a fruit or vegetable after being in contact with the concrete counter. Admittedly, concrete remains a new addition to our visual vocabulary and will take time for some iconic images to become embedded in our style sense. Somehow granite suffers from none of those 'floor related' associations.

                            2. BiscuitBoy Jul 25, 2012 06:24 AM

                              Granite is proven and timeless.....concrete is a passing fad, like lime green shag carpet, glass tile back splashes, and over cooktop pot fillers

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: BiscuitBoy
                                splatgirl Jul 31, 2012 11:50 AM

                                "Granite is proven and timeless"
                                Really? It's only been common as a kitchen finish for 15-20 years. Maybe that's timeless to a 20 something, but to me it screams late 90's mcmansion. And now that it's become part of the de rigeur "kitchen upgrades" insanity, it screams beige vinyl siding HOA.

                                What constitutes "proven"?

                                OTOH, marble is timeless. Butcherblock is timeless. Both have been used for tabletops and food work surfaces for hundreds of years.

                                1. re: splatgirl
                                  BiscuitBoy Jul 31, 2012 12:31 PM

                                  marble as a kitchen counter? Good luck with that my splat friend! Butcherblock? Maybe in magazines or pro kitchens where the commis care for it daily. I've been alive a bit more than 20 years, and can remember the rise of Corian in the 80's as an alternative to granite, (yeah even waaay back then, timeless and proven) but never really delivered, cost or performance....Corian is what I see in the vinyl sided box behemoths you mention, and has the boring lifelessness that is seen in products such as that resin and stonedust stuff called quartz, engineered stone, whatever. Maybe you've only known about it for 15-20 years, but it's been around long before oprah. You think granite quarries just opened up 20 years ago? Proven? Compared to concrete? Pahleease! Do me a flavor, go to your local library and ask for old issues of JLC (Journal of light construction) or Fine Homebuilding and tell me how "new" granite is. Sheeesh! It's one thing to have a personal preference, and another to spew disinformation

                              2. s
                                shortykeith Jul 25, 2012 07:08 AM

                                This may be useful for a "countertop beginner" - a quick pro-and-con review of some countertop materials.

                                http://www.futurofuturo.com/rangehood...

                                 
                                1. r
                                  Rigmaster Jul 26, 2012 01:48 PM

                                  I looked at both last year and chose granite. Granite variations simply were more beautiful, and the installers were more skilled at cutting and polishing it than concrete installers were with their product.

                                  Both stain, but it's much easier to seal and reseal granite. The top reason for me though is after seeing a few concrete installations, none looked like timeless additions. They all looked like they might be a bit boring and and very difficult to remove/replace if you want to change the look. Concrete seemed just a bit too institutional looking to me.

                                  Good luck though. Both were decent choices. If I didn't do granite, I would have done engineered quartz.

                                  1. i
                                    Isolda Jul 26, 2012 02:00 PM

                                    We installed granite countertops in our old house, sealed them once, and never had a problem with them the 11 years we owned that house. You could pull hot pans right out of the oven and put them down (it took me two years to get up the courage to try this, even though the installer had assured me it was fine), and they never stained, even though we spilled a lot of red wine and tomato sauce on them. I just cleaned them with white vinegar and they looked great.

                                    In our new house, we have, well, I don't know what these countertops are made of, but they stain like crazy and you have to use hot pads. As soon as I get up the courage to deal with another project, they are being replaced with granite!

                                    1. m
                                      Mr. Bingley Jul 31, 2012 09:30 AM

                                      we've had out granite for 6 years. Love it to death. My Bride seals it, oh, once a year I guess. We drink lots of wine and occasionally some of it spills; as long as you wipe it up right away, and why wouldn't you, we've never had a single stain.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Mr. Bingley
                                        KaimukiMan Aug 1, 2012 02:23 PM

                                        occasionally, such as during a party, things do get spilled onto counters, glasses and plates are set down without being careful about whats on the bottom, and they do stain. sealing it regularly does a lot to minimize the problem.

                                      2. splatgirl Jul 31, 2012 11:30 AM

                                        Concrete vs. granite is apples to bananas in terms of patina and maintenance.
                                        If you want an idea of what you could expect with concrete, the closest stone to compare would be soapstone or limestone. You have to be OK with patina or a lot of routine maintenance vs. granite which is widely understood to be low-effort, low patina.
                                        It's not even sort of going to be the same look.
                                        I love concrete. I have lots of concrete stuff in my house, including all the counters. I love them and I love their imperfection, but I would NEVER sign up for a concrete sink in the kitchen. There are about a hundred ways that can almost be guaranteed to end up sucking.
                                        If I ever switch to something different, it would be marble (again, love the patina) or an engineered stone.

                                        1. t
                                          Tom34 Jul 31, 2012 01:20 PM

                                          Have had Granite counter tops, granite breakfast bar top & granite entertainment bar top for over 12 years. The latter seeing plenty of alcohol spills. Only sealed 1 time when installed & no issues. Installer recommended CINCH (Ammonia & Citrus free) to clean them which is all we ever used. Still shine like new.

                                          Granite is also very easy to complement with Travertine tile back splashes which is what we did. Because they are stone, they go very nicely with the granite. It is colored all the way through which means after a tile is cut it is easy to sand the sharp cut edge back to the factory rounded edge. This makes design work much easier. Applied about 6 coats of sealer after installation and never had an issue since.

                                          1. Caroline1 Aug 1, 2012 02:58 PM

                                            One of the problems with concrete is that some people (I happen to be one of them) are highly allergic to concrete, so if you go that route, it *might* have an impact on how easy it will be to find a new buyer. Beyond any allergy issues, as has already been mentioned, there are staining issues and other things to deal with. Concrete will chip MUCH easier than granite (it nearly takes an act of God to damage granite) and repairs are extremely difficult abd rarekt satisfactory. The repairs just never seem to blend in.

                                            For a lifetime of satisfaction, I would absolutely go with granite. It's what I have in my kitchen and in my wet bar, and I love it! Mine is black, which I especially appreciate because if it's dusty or needs some attention, it speaks right up! EASY to clean. Windex and paper towels! It's magic.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: Caroline1
                                              Veggo Aug 1, 2012 03:09 PM

                                              You have beautiful granite surfaces, I am privileged to know. The only down side to granite is what can be the damage from even low speed colissions with crystal. Crystal loses every time.

                                              1. re: Veggo
                                                t
                                                Tom34 Aug 1, 2012 04:58 PM

                                                I have ceramic floors in the kitchen and the same can be said for that. Full ice cold Corona hit the floor and exploded. Biggest piece of glass was the size of a pinky nail and boy did it travel.

                                                Like everything else in life, every surface has its pros & cons. Just have to do your homework, find out the pros/cons of each, decide whats best for your lifestyle and go with it.

                                                1. re: Veggo
                                                  Caroline1 Aug 2, 2012 02:59 AM

                                                  I will admit the granite has me thinking about Schott Zwiesel, but so far none of my lead crystal has "bought it." Or anything else, for that matter. Gee! Does this mean I'm careful?

                                                  Probably not.

                                                  1. re: Veggo
                                                    TraderJoe Aug 27, 2012 05:30 AM

                                                    I've never lost crystal but I've had a few dishes KIA from the granite lip over the dish machine. Can't imagine concrete would be any different but I really like the "life" in natural stone.

                                                2. l
                                                  llednevir Aug 25, 2012 07:38 PM

                                                  I would consider other materials in addition to concrete and granite. I have slate contertops and they are great. I was very lucky to find reclaimed "ribbon " slate that is approximately 1 inch thick. The slabs were recycled from bathroom stalls! I bought all the supplier had and would have purchased more. In addition to the kitchen counter tops, I made a small table with a slate top. The frame is made of ash stained black with an aniline dye.

                                                  Since I could not get more slate, I used limestone in my barn tackroom counters. It is a bit more prone to staining, but still looks great.

                                                  In short, you are not limited to granite or concrete - look around for some alternatives.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: llednevir
                                                    t
                                                    Tom34 Aug 26, 2012 06:59 PM

                                                    "Its a bit more prone to staining" ......Have you tired giving it a good rub of sealer every day for a week......assuming it is meant to be sealed? I did this to my travertine back splashes and even tomato sauce wipes right off.

                                                    On another note, slate sounds like a good surface for an outdoor kitchen (which I am building) being slate has traditionally been used outside.

                                                  Show Hidden Posts