Concrete countertops and floors can be customized

Concrete is gaining ground in the design industry. Its diverse uses and specialty finishes make it a simple, eye-catching way to create a comfortable, natural atmosphere with unique personality in the home.

“Everything from concrete countertops for the interior to hard landscapes, concrete is becoming more trendy, especially in Nevada,” said Don Vetter, marketing partner for Sierra Nevada Concrete Association.

Stamped and colored concrete can be poured into a mold, stamped with a customized design or tinted to a distinct color for any palette.

“I’ve seen some of the contractors do stuff that is almost Disneyesque,” Vetter said. “It is incredible.”

Concrete countertops can be personalized with embedded objects, such as seashells or pebbles. Popular now is recycled glass, which offers an almost granitelike quality to colored concrete countertops.

Also, concrete will develop a warm patina over time.

“It has a natural element to it,” Vetter said. “That’s why a lot of people enjoy it in their homes. It’s not just for landscapes or roads anymore.”

Although concrete is very heat resistant, the seal you choose is an important aspect of finishing your counters, floors or project correctly.

“You have to treat concrete a little differently,” Vetter said. “The permeability of concrete compared to, say, cultured marble or the usual countertops is different. You have to make sure you find the right seal, or you could have serious problems.”

Barry Picazo learned that when refinishing the concrete floors of his new restaurant, Cutting Board Filipino GastroPub at 2131 Rock Springs Drive.

The industrial décor of the restaurant, which serves traditional Filipino food with a modern twist, lent itself well to the look of concrete.

“The first time we ripped up the carpets and it was very raw, unfinished, and we loved it,” Picazo, co-partner of the San Francisco-based company that opened its first Las Vegas restaurant in the northwest valley in May.

Revamping the concrete foundation to work for a restaurant’s high traffic wasn’t as easy as the company had foreseen.

“The first seal wasn’t enough,” Picazo said. “We had to do a second semi-gloss and it looks so much better with a little bit of sheen on it. Now if you spill something, it cleans up and doesn’t stain because we sealed it (properly).”

The final industrial shiny sealant allowed the expansive floor to become a large part of the restaurant’s décor, rather than an afterthought.

“People love it, and we love it because we can change it,” Picazo said. “Concrete is so convenient, less maintenance and it goes well with the look we are trying to create at our Las Vegas GastroPub.”

Versatility is making concrete popular with homeowners, said Terence Thornton, outdoor design specialist for Laguna Pool and Spa. Concrete can be cast in any shape and practically any size, and it’s a do-it-yourselfer’s dream.

“You can do so much with concrete and really make it personal,” said Thornton, who has used concrete to build custom outdoor kitchens for many years. “It’s definitely become more popular with customers who want something different, unique. It’s not something you are going to find in a tract home.”

Custom concrete counters he has built recently included embedded microchips, beads and wine bottles.

“Concrete is so adaptable, and you can mold it to any shape you like,” he said. “It’s durable inside and out of your home. You just have to make sure it’s sealed properly, otherwise, you can run into problems.”

The right sealant will give you a gorgeous surface, Thornton said, and there is a myriad of choices that give a house a rich, elegant feel.

“You can stain it, leave it natural, create waves, stamp it,” he said. “It’s a really cool look you can do to redesign your space.”

In the past, sealers were acrylic or wax, but this caused etching from acidic liquids such as vinegar and lemon juice and stains from spilled liquids. Now that concrete has become a leading material in kitchens and living rooms, sealing materials are abundant; each is formulated to provide a different level of protection.

“Concrete countertops or floors are really artistic,” Thornton said. “No two are ever going to look alike.”

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