Frequently Asked Questions
WHY CHOOSE CONCRETE?
Concrete is a truly custom product, hand-made to the customer’s specifications. Its color, texture, and appearance can be tailored to suit your specific needs. Three dimensional effects like molded in sink troughs, ribs, trivets, cutting boards, and other inclusions can be custom made. Aggregate of all sorts can be included and ground for different levels of exposure.
ARE ALL CONCRETES THE SAME?
Definitely not! Hard Topix products have been custom formulated from years of research by the nation’s experts. They have micro fibers and polymer additives that make them harder and stronger, facilitating smoother castings with fewer voids. The process is carefully controlled for strength in curing and consistency. The sealers have been selected from the finest available for their penetration, adhesion, and durability characteristics.
DO CONCRETE COUNTERTOPS CRACK?
No. A properly manufactured, installed, and used countertop should not structurally crack. Hairline cracks or surface crazing may occur due to the nature of the material, but are considered character features of the medium, just like veins in stone. These do not affect the structural integrity. Every effort is taken to minimize the possibility of these using proper batch formulation and reinforcement.
WHERE CAN CONCRETE BE USED?
Concrete can be used anywhere that tile, solid surfacing, slate, granite, marble etc. are used. Islands, countertops, bath vanities, sinks, tubs, shower walls, desk or table tops, coffee tables, outdoor countertops, bar tops, barbeque surrounds, patios, fireplace mantels, fireplace hearths, fireplace surrounds, and building facades, just to name a few.
WHAT IS THE SURFACE SEALED WITH?
Hard Topix precast concrete products are sealed with a multi-capability stain and acid protection system designed specifically for specialty concrete and engineered cement products. Penetrating deeply, the sealer forms a film that both protects substrates from acid etching and virtually stops all types of staining on porous materials, indoors or outdoors.
Additionally, the sealer hardens concrete and softer stone surfaces making it tough and durable enough for commercial and residential installations. It is impervious to most all food and food related items as well as most household chemicals routinely used in kitchens and baths. The sealer is environmentally/ Food safe and VOC compliant.
DOES THE COLOR VARY?
Yes. Since the product is hand made, color and texture may vary. This is part of the uniqueness of concrete which is what makes each piece unique from its counterparts and individual to the client’s application.
WHAT IS THE MAINTENANCE OF A CONCRETE COUNTERTOP?
Very little. We seal our countertops with the newest sealing systems available, which both penetrates and seals the capillaries in the concrete, and also seals and protects the top surface. This will allow the countertop to resist staining from normal use, provided it is cleaned as intended. Additionally, if the customer wants additional self-assurance of non-staining, they could follow a maintenance plan of waxing the countertop on a bi-monthly basis. Johnsons paste and good carnauba are good choices. In the rare event of a severe scar a re-seal can be done
HOW THICK ARE CONCRETE COUNTERTOPS?
Standard thickness is 1 3/4” with a minimum of 1 1/4” and maximum of 3”. Any thickness beyond 3” can be achieved using techniques to give the appearance of the desired thickness, yet still maintain weight and size within desirable limits. New GFRC formulas can achieve ½ inch thickness with great strength due to the glass fiber.
WHAT DOES A CONCRETE COUNTERTOP WEIGH?
Our standard 1 1/2” countertop weighs about 17 1/2 pounds per sq. foot.
CAN I USE STANDARD CABINETRY OR DO I NEED CUSTOM-MADE CABINETS?
Standard cabinetry is designed to carry the loads of materials such as granite and marble, and thusly should be fine to bear the weight of concrete tops, assuming that the countertop was assembled and installed properly.
WHAT IS THE MAXIMUM OVERHANG?
A 1 1/2” counter can be overhung 12” without the need for additional support. Larger overhangs are possible with the addition of external supports, which may be designed to fit into the overall design of the project.
WHAT ABOUT SINKS?
We can integrate virtually any manner of sink design into your countertop including an under-mount or surface mount as well as integral sinks into bath vanities and bars. To ensure exact fit and finish, we require that the sink and faucet to be used in the project are available at the time of templating.
WILL A CONCRETE COUNTERTOP HAVE SEAMS?
Yes, a concrete countertop will have seams. The seams will be designed into the overall layout, considering overall aesthetic appearance, size and functionality of slabs, and material stress minimization. These seams will be sealed upon installation.
HOW DO I CLEAN MY CONCRETE COUNTERTOP?
Any non-abrasive cleaner would work; however, we recommend a neutral solution to clean with. Simple Green® works well, as does dish soap and water. We recommend using a washcloth or sponge. Scotch Bright may dull the finish, so use sparingly. Never use an acid based solutions or strippers.
CAN I CUT ON MY CONCRETE COUNTERTOP?
As with any countertop surface, cutting boards should always be used when cutting or chopping. Hard Topics can integrate a removable cutting board into the countertop if that would help meet your needs.
WHAT ABOUT HOT PANS?
Concrete in and of itself will handle heat, however it must be ground to a finish and unsealed. This condition is usually undesirable because the sealer makes it both easier to maintain and stain resistant. A great alternative is to design in trivet ribs near stove tops to handle this job. Brass or stainless steel ribbing is the preferred materials for this application.
Since each and every job is unique and custom, every job must be individually evaluated and quoted. Every effort will be made to give you our best price and the highest quality in the industry. Generally speaking, custom concrete tends to be about on par with granite.