With concrete countertops becoming more popular by the day, mastering the art has become a priority for many contractors. But finding the perfect mix of concrete and additives to mold into the tight corners and custom shapes of many countertop projects is a complicated, not to mention expensive, process.
Simplifying that process is precisely what the folks at concrete manufacturer Quikrete had in mind when they created their own brand of Countertop Mix, new to the market this past June.
“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.” 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, because it takes advantage of Quikrete’s economies of scale.
The Countertop Mix is high-strength concrete blended with superplasticizers that ensure 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 but, unlike other high-strength concretes, 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 grey — and can be combined with either Quikrete’s Liquid Cement Colors or their Stucco & Mortar Colors to attain more than 20 different shades.
But that’s only the tip of the countertop design iceberg. The Countertop Mix can also be used with a variety of decorative aggregates in precast projects.
“Many contractors will seed our product with colored aggregates and 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.
Quikrete also has new Etching Stains available that can be used with the Countertop Mix to create a multitoned finish in Olive, Tan or Coffee. The acid-based stains are simply brushed onto the surface and then wiped off, 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 having to estimate the cost and amount of each individual component required for mix-it-yourself countertop concrete, it would be a simple matter of calculating the number of bags of Countertop Mix required 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.