In 2015, homeowners who had traveled throughout Italy contacted Darryl Bates of Excalibur Surfaces in Simi Valley, California, about wanting Old World-style concrete countertops that looked like the Italian granite they had admired on their trip. Using products purchased through StoneCrete’s Ashby System, Excalibur delivered 52 square feet and 1,660 pounds of beautiful 2-inch-thick countertops in three sections that look as if they were hewn from a cliff.
“This job was a challenge from the word go,” says Bates, whose company also serves as the Western division of Florida-based Xtreme Polishing Systems. Together with his nephew, Cody Bates, and Jeff Schaffer, the team created marbleized effects using colored pigment powder in San Diego Buff and Palomino, with graphite added to the grout, providing the darker color on the edges and the finished surfaces. For this project, as well as for most of his others, Darryl Bates created the edging mold.
“Grout was applied three different times, as I couldn’t easily find the balance between perfect or too dark, so I would remove a lot of each initial grouting until I was satisfied,” he says. “Also, the homeowners wanted some color to the grout in random places, so even though it’s not easily noticeable there are subtle colors throughout.”
Grouting alone was about 20 hours of labor. First the work was primed, then sealed with a spray sealer and twice more after that with a satin sealer. “That gives it the lustrous look without being glossy,” Bates says.
Marbleizing powder was applied to the bottom of the mold, prior to pouring. “If done right, this leaves you with a veining/textured surface when demolded and flipped, to apply grout to. It really does add a level of character to it that looks like marble,” he says.
“The marbleizing is what’s neat. It’s like you’re throwing flour — it’s a powder that you toss to let it spread across the bottom of your mold. We really love art and we really want to be considered artists rather than installers and fabricators.”