With concrete countertops becoming more popular by the day, mastering the art has become a priority for many contractors. Finding the perfect mix of concrete and additives to mold into the tight corners and custom shapes of many countertop projects makes things complicated. It is also an expensive process as well.
Simplifying that process is precisely what the folks at concrete manufacturer Quikrete had in mind. This is why they created their own brand of Countertop Mix. It hit the market in June 2007.
“Previously, we had a lot of people using our Quikrete 5000 high-strength concrete [for countertop projects],” says Quikrete vice president of sales Frank Owens. “But they’d have to mix it themselves.”
Just add water
With the new Countertop Mix, Owens says, “the only thing they need to worry about is the water they add.” That simplicity, he says, is what makes this product so appealing.
Simplicity is also what makes this countertop mix different from others on the market, he says. Quikrete sells a dry mix of concrete and admixtures instead of simply selling contractors the additives and requiring them to come up with the concrete themselves. And the concrete manufacturer uses its own concrete instead of buying from third parties. Not only is the end result easy to use, Owens says, it’s economical. This is because it takes advantage of Quikrete’s economies of scale.
The Countertop Mix is high-strength concrete blended with superplasticizers. This ensures good flowability while maintaining a low water-to-concrete ratio (7 pints to 8 pints per 80-pound bag). After 28 days, it will achieve a compressive strength of 5,000 psi. Unlike other high-strength concretes, it requires very little mechanical vibration.
Suitable for precast and cast-in-place projects, the Countertop Mix was designed to be versatile. The mix itself is available in two colors — white and gray — and can be combined with either Quikrete’s Liquid Cement Colors or its Stucco & Mortar Colors to attain more than 20 different shades.
But that’s only the tip of the countertop design iceberg. You can also use the Countertop Mix with a variety of decorative aggregates in precast projects.
“Many contractors will seed our product with colored aggregates. They will then grind down the surface to expose the aggregate,” Owens says. Depending on the aggregate — which can be anything from river stones to metal shavings — this technique can produce a huge range of countertop styles, colors and textures.
Versatile and simple
Quikrete also has new Etching Stains available that are for use with the Countertop Mix to create a multi-toned finish. These are available in Olive, Tan or Coffee. You simply brush the acid-based stains onto the surface and then wipe them off. This ends up leaving what Owens calls “a beautiful, mottled marble look.”
In addition to design versatility, the new Countertop Mix can also simplify the price-quoting process. Rather than estimating the cost and amount of each individual component for mix-it-yourself countertop concrete, it is a simple matter of calculating just the number of bags of Countertop Mix for the job.
Working with the pre-blended Countertop Mix also eliminates concerns about consistency between one batch of concrete and the next.
Owens says that since the release of the Countertop Mix, Quikrete has received a surge of positive feedback for it on the company’s Web site. Its popularity, he says, really comes down to the product’s ease of application.
As demand for concrete countertops continues to grow, products like Quikrete’s Countertop Mix will not only serve experienced countertop specialists, but will also make the craft more accessible.