Using Polished Concrete for a Kitchen Benchtop or Floor
If you don't want something commonplace for your kitchen, you might consider polished concrete. You can install it on the floor or a benchtop. Here's an overview to help you decide if it will work for your home.
Polished concrete can be installed in different ways. As flooring, the contractors can treat and polish an existing concrete slab, or they can pour an overlay on top and decorate that. For a benchtop, a mould is made, including cutouts for the sink and taps, by measuring your kitchen counter area. The contractors will create the benchtop off-site by pouring the cement into the mould. After it's cured, the mould will be pulled away and the benchtop can be installed in your kitchen. The decorative treatments are often done at this point, in your home.
While polished concrete can be grey, it can also be coloured and provide you with many design choices. The contractors can add colour to the cement before they pour it. Plus, they can apply hues afterwards by scattering dry shake colour onto the concrete and adding stains once it hardens. These products react with the concrete to produce marbling and patterns that give the impression of stone. Each installation of polished concrete is unique, as the exact effect can't be replicated.
You can also add aggregates, like crushed quartz, granite, or coloured glass, to the cement before it's poured. Later in the installation, after the concrete is ground to a smooth finish, the aggregates will form patterns on the surface.
Polished concrete looks different from the concrete you see on a footpath, which is porous and dull. In contrast, polished concrete is smooth and shiny, with a finer texture. The contractors use grinding pads full of grit to create the sheen, using progressively smaller grits to increase the shine level.
During the final stages, they add a densifier or a penetrating sealant. Because the concrete is polished in stages, you can stop the process once it reaches your desired sheen. You can choose a soft glow or a mirror-like finish, both of which look much more sophisticated than a footpath!
Concrete is tough and durable and doesn't require a lot of care. However, be careful not to put hot or cold things on a concrete benchtop to protect it from thermal shock. This type of concrete gets its polish from a grinding process rather than from applying a sealant. This means that you won't have to worry about reapplying a protective coating. However, check with your installer for their recommendations.