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Experts Reveal a Wide Range of Countertop Sealer Practices

Fabricators' approaches to sealing countertops are as varied as their creative countertop designs. Here are some observations from manufacturers and artisans about how they protect the work:

"For customers who like a dynamic surface, a penetrating sealer can be as simple as mineral oil or olive oil. This surface will patina, change and evolve. Wears and spills are part of that evolution. It's just like a butcher block - they can re-oil it whenever they want to."
- Mike Heidebrink, Cheng Design, Berkeley, Calif.

"In my own kitchen my countertop dates back to 1988. The sealer has long since worn off. I just rub olive oil on it. That's what I like about it. Someone who wants a synthetic material that never changes wouldn't like it."
- Buddy Rhodes, Buddy Rhodes Concrete Products, San Francisco

"Now that concrete counters have been around for a while, customers know better what to expect. People looking for concrete are becoming more forgiving. They are letting concrete counters be what they are."
- Kelly Carr, Concrete Jungle Inc., Northridge, Calif.

"We start with an acrylic lacquer to pop the color. We like the color to just jump!"
- Ben Ashby, Concrete Solutions, San Diego

"Don't oversell a customer on heat resistance. My test is, can you place a pot of boiling hot water on the surface? I find when moving a pot from a gas stove to a counter, sealers fail about half the time. It doesn't hurt the concrete, but it wreaks havoc with the sealer. They should use a trivet, just like they would with Corian."
- Ben Ashby

"An artisan concrete countertop is a handmade product and it will look and wear like a handmade product. Customers should think of waxing a countertop they way they take care of a floor or fine furniture."
- Buddy Rhodes

"When I coat a table or countertop with an epoxy, pleurae, or polyaspartic, I wet-sand the coating with 1,000-grit sand paper, then buff it with heavy-grit, then fine-grit buffing compound. This rids the coating of any imperfections and makes the piece feel like a fine piece of marble. This can be very time-consuming. Fifty square feet of countertop may take two days to get perfect. This process also seems to make the piece much more scratch-resistant."
- Rick Ogden, Rick Ogden Construction, Pryor, Okla.

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