Claudia Arancibia, Sydney Styles Bathrooms
Concrete is a versatile material that works just as well in kitchens and bathrooms as it does on driveways and right now it’s enjoying a renaissance not least due to its beautiful imperfections!
Its grey hues make it perfect for providing toned flashes across a room, and its neutrality means it works well with both modern and traditional designs. Many people think of the industrial look when they think of a concrete benchtop, but paired with rich timbers to soften the look mean it has huge potential in domestic settings.
Their strength and durability, subtle variations in colour and texture are what provide the unique character and beauty of each piece. In basins, the finished product is polished, non-porous, durable and sealed to withstand heavy use.
Benchtops are fabricated either in situ or off site in NSW, depending on the complexity of the design. Cement contains calcium, iron, silicon and aluminium which becomes the glue that holds the concoction together. The aggregate is a grainy substance that makes up approximately 75% of the mixture and gives the unique texture. The grain-addition can be quite varied, but may include sand, pebbles, stones and seashells. The ratio of aggregates and their coarseness will determine what sort of strength, flexibility and appearance that the concrete will have. Pigments can be mixed in many hues to give the surface a natural, stained look. Unusual items can be mixed in or embedded to make a bold, artistic statement which personalises and makes your benchtop or basin unique, like broken glass, small tiles, marbles and coins.
Due to its heavy and brittle material, concrete products will require special reinforcements and supports built into the design to prevent collapse, and the surface finished with a sealer and polished. Sealers have come a long way over the years and the focus is on making sealers specific to kitchen benchtops and bathroom vanities/basins.
Slings and arrows
Concrete may chip at the edges and corners, but it is repairable. And while surfaces may scratch, they can be remedied with re-sealing and polishing to remove any scratch marks. Whenever the surface is damaged, a re-polish is recommended. Leaving the surface damaged can allow for spills to seep through and staining of the area as it’s a porous material. Although concrete can handle heat, the sealers often can’t and hot saucepans may leave a visible mark which can potentially damage the surface permanently.
While the raw material for concrete is quite cheap, the cost of making the formwork support structures and reinforcing makes the cost of concrete benchtops at the higher end. There are several variables that will dictate the final price for installing concrete countertops – design, construction and time it takes to install all play a part in cost. Irregular shapes, custom edging and backsplashes will add to the overall cost.
At Sydney Styles Bathrooms & Kitchens in Hornsby caters for all types of worktops from laminates, natural stones like Caesarstone to wood and concrete. Cabinets are custom made, backed by a 10 year warranty – our designers have been in the bathroom and kitchen industry all of their working life. Come into our showroom at 3/4 Bridge Rd Hornsby or call 8411 2958. www.sydneystylesbk.com.au