Staying Ahead of the Curve with Concrete Countertops

A look a the concrete conference table that was inlayed with glass and curved for a more artistic look.When Shawn Halverson, president of Surfacing Solutions Inc., agreed to create a few conference tables for First Team Real Estate in Newport Beach, Calif., he had no idea what the final product would look like — or what challenges he would endure along the way.

Halverson originally signed on to the project because he was intrigued by the slight curve design that architectural firm Fraser McClellan & Associates Inc. had incorporated into the tables. First Team wanted a more modern-looking office, which is one of the reasons they chose concrete. After multiple meetings to determine the look of the table, Halverson and Fraser McClellan decided on a 4-inch bull nose edge.

Halverson and lead concrete counter artist Chris Johnson were also interested in creating a new look using unusual glass pieces. They obtained a small sample of glass from an acquaintance and used the entire amount they had to make a sample, which the architects loved.

The glass pieces in the countertop are a mixture of reds, yellows, oranges and greens and are all different sizes to create a more natural look.
The glass pieces in the countertop are a mixture of reds, yellows, oranges and greens and are all different sizes to create a more natural look.

“Usually when you buy glass it’s ground up into small, little chunks and is all the same color. This was a mixture of reds, yellows, oranges and green and all different sizes,” says Halverson. “This looked like broken bottles in their more natural state.”

Once Halverson and his crew realized these were the glass pieces they wanted to use, an extensive search began to track down the original source, eventually leading them to a company in the Bay Area. They bought the company’s entire stock not knowing if the material would be available again.

With the glass in hand, Halverson and Johnson got to work, using enCounter as their basic mix.

“We love the ground-down look of enCounter and how it exposes the white limestone aggregate,” says Halverson.

Surfacing Solutions faced yet another small challenge with the enCounter mix. Halverson says it is difficult to buy on the West Coast, so they ended up having 128 bags shipped from Florida.

In order to create the slight curve in the design, Halverson went to his local foam cutter to develop the perfect mold by using sheet foam and a wire cutter.

Surfacing Solutions made three tables, two that are 6 feet in length and the other 12 feet. The smaller tables weigh around 750 pounds, and the larger weighs in at 1,500 pounds.

Obviously, flipping a 750-pound table for grinding and moving it to its permanent home is no easy task. “All I can say is, lots of manpower, a fork lift and one big mistake,” says Halverson.

When the crew attempted to flip the first of the 6-foot tables, it broke and fell to the ground. “The lesson here is that cure time is your friend,” Halverson says.

The crew had to wait two weeks for a new form to be built, as well as losing 750 pounds of concrete. “I saw $1,000 sitting on the ground in an instant,” says Halverson.

The setback did not hurt their relationship with their client. Surfacing Solutions was also hired to create a receptionist counter, fireplace and coffee bar for the real estate office.

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