Countertops and Accent Features

 

Airy French Kitchen

Kitchen Sink Detail

Warm 'Stone' Countertop

Lightweight Bench Seating

Fantasy Sink

Welcoming Kitchen Bar

Relaxation Corner

 

Concrete countertops are often credited to Fu-Tung Cheng, a Bay Area architect who pioneered this beautiful art form in the 1980's. I was struck by the creative use of such a seemingly coarse if not vulgar material of the building trades, and also struck by the beauty and level of finish achieved with a material that carries strong associations with driveways, sidewalks, and highway dividers. Having worked with concrete myself both poured in place and precast, I knew the amount of work that must have gone into that first concrete countertop I saw while visiting a potential plastering job. The wheels turned in my mind as I thought of how there must be an easier way to produce these in a lighter weight version with plastering techniques.

It was not as easy as I thought, and a long process of trial and error with shop experiments followed my ideas before coming up with a system that works well. Part of the learning curve was to allow the materials and tooling to express itself rather than trying to make it look like a cast in place product. The result has the dimensionality of plaster finishes, and the material itself, an appearance of both highly trowelled concrete and honed limestone. The pictures of the countertops shown here are all plastered in place, with the exception of the smaller table tops. Because these are not poured into a mold, or mechanically cut and polished, they have a wonderfully organic and hand applied quality that is not found with granite, solid surface, or the precast concrete that inspired this process.

In researching what countertop is best for you, designers and the home improvement books and magazines often point out that they all have limitations as to what kind of use they will withstand, as well as cost considerations. Stone can be etched with acids such as lemon juice. Solid surfaces can be burnt and scratched, etc. My countertops have held up well for over the 15+ years since my first. The important considerations are that there will almost always be some cracking as the material cures. This occurs in most any Portland cement product.