Urban Natural Homes August 1, 2014

Countertop Options: Concrete (Yes, Concrete!)


I, never in a million years, thought I’d be writing about concrete countertops. Like many people, I have thought of concrete as a boring, drab material good only for foundations and sidewalks. But I have to admit that the more I see this material used in homes, and the more research I do on its potential, the more I am realizing that it actually is one of the best options for a natural look in your kitchen—who would have thought! Whereas granite can often be too shiny and formal, and synthetic surfaces look and feel like, well… plastic, concrete countertops have a warm, organic look and they tend to go well with other natural materials such as wood, stone and brick. Poured concrete countertops also have the potential for being very unique and personalized. Color choices are infinite and contractors can add built-ins, create unusual edge details, give it a free form shape and can even embed personal mementos, such as shells, coins, pieces of glass—you name it—into the poured concrete.

Because concrete countertops are made locally, concrete also has the advantage of being more environmentally friendly than most other types of countertops. Opposed to a countertop like granite, which is generally quarried overseas, hauled to another country for finishing, shipped by boat to the US, and then trucked to its final location for installation, concrete is generally all local—and thus has a smaller carbon footprint. Even local production of cement does, however, use quite a bit of energy and the mining of aggregate and sand can be environmentally damaging. Many companies are getting around this by adding a variety of recycled fillers to the cement, which not only makes it more environmentally friendly, but also improves the products usability. One such company is Tiger Mountain Innovations which produces Squak Mountain Stone out of its shop in SODO. I took a trip down to Greenhome Solutions where my contact, Tess, showed me samples of this beautiful and unique product. One line uses recycled paper mixed with cement and it has a very organic, matte, soft finish. There’s also a line that adds in recycled glass and it has a little shinier, denser look. Tess explained that concrete, by its nature, is very porous. And certain additives, such as glass, will counteract its porous tendencies. But it’s a balancing act, as additives can also change its warm, soft appearance. In my research I read about a number of sealants that can be used on concrete countertops, but it appears wise to assume that this is a material that will inevitably change over time, acquiring a ‘patina’ that will appeal to some, but may not be for everyone.


Greenhome Solutions
1210 W Nickerson St
Seattle, WA 98119

Tiger Mountain Innovations
Squak Mountain Stone
6321 7th Ave S
Seattle, WA 98108