We got a call from a cabinetmaker that was doing an installation at the new Dallas Cowboys merchandising center in Irving, TX. They were looking for some countertops, and after getting together with them, we decided that precast concrete countertops were the best way to go. They were getting their concrete floors polished and wanted the countertops to complement the floor. Polishing countertops is a messy job and normally not a good idea to do on most job sites, so we went with the precast option, building and finishing off the countertops in our shop.
So just what are precast concrete countertops? We start the process by making a template of the area where the countertops are to be installed. We take this template to our shop and lay it out on a wood frame. We incorporate the edge that you're looking for into this mold, add reinforcement, and then pour the countertops. After letting them harden or "cure" for one to two weeks—depending on the type of cement mix we use—we then break open the mold, polish it, touchup anything that needs it, seal it, load it into the truck, and haul it to its destination.
A great plus with precast concrete countertops is that they can be very smooth and have an edge that is more finished than cast in place countertops. Because they're cast against a smooth surface and not hand trowelled (where the surface is smoothed manually), we get a more refined, consistent finish. However, keep in mind that there are trade offs. A lot of the appeal of concrete countertops comes from how they look with the variations in color and texture that are highlighted with a hand trowelled finish. Precast concrete countertops, being so smooth, tend to minimize these differences. Also, precast countertops have to be made in segments due to their size and weight, which means they will have seams when we install them. Cast in place countertops do not have seams and no, we don't have to reinforce your cabinets. Pretty much all cabinets can handle granite, and concrete weighs just a little more. One big advantage of precast concrete countertops is that they give you a wide range of options, from embedding objects like glass chips and integral sinks and drainboards into the surface to being able to polish it. See or other projects in this section for more info.