One of the knocks against concrete countertops is that they can crack. As the thinking goes, a hairline crack along the length of a countertop reduces its value and suggests the whole thing could crumble and fall apart. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation about concrete countertops out there. The truth is that cracks are usually no big deal.
If you have entertained the idea of installing concrete countertops but the potential for cracks scares you, take a step back and breathe. Then do a little research. You’ll discover that cracks aren’t necessarily a sign of trouble. In most cases, cracks are purely an aesthetic issue.
Why Concrete Cracks
As strong and durable as concrete is, it is incredibly brittle. It’s not flexible and doesn’t absorb energy all that well. So when a house naturally settles and moves, concrete is less likely to settle and move with it. It cracks rather than flexes.
Have you ever seen a cracked concrete driveway? Driveway cracks are almost always the result of underlying soil giving way. Because concrete is brittle and inflexible, it cracks under its own weight. You have a similar situation when a concrete countertop cracks. However, Salt Lake City’s Modern Craftsman says that countertops have an advantage.
Concrete countertops are supported by a wood structure underneath. That structure provides enough support to prevent catastrophic failure, even as a house settles. This guarantees that almost all countertop cracks are minor – even more so if the concrete is reinforced with rebar.
Cracks Add Character
Knowing that cracks in concrete countertops are usually no big deal, there is a very good reason to appreciate them: they add character. Think about it in terms of how a wood countertop would look after several decades of use.
A piece of clean, unblemished wood looks beautiful in its own right. But after years of exposure to hot dishes and sharp knives, a wood countertop definitely shows its age. It is no less beautiful, though. It’s just beautiful in a different way. The same is true for concrete countertops.
Cracks here and there give concrete an aged look. Combined with natural patina (yes, concrete countertops do patina) a few hairline cracks add a level of character that you just don’t see in freshly poured concrete. They can really make the difference between countertops looking like they were just poured and showing the character that comes with age.
Cracks Are Easily Repaired
The icing on the cake is this: even if you are not interested in the character cracks add to your concrete countertops, they are easily repaired. A little concrete filler in the hands of a skilled craftsman can take care of everything. You might still see a slight blemish if you look closely, but an otherwise noticeable crack fades away after a good repair job.
Ask yourself this: can you repair a laminate countertop as easily? And how about marble? Most other countertop materials are not as easily repaired. Major blemishes require replacing the entire surface. Not so with concrete.
No Perfect Surface
To wrap all of this up, there is no perfect surface for a kitchen countertop. Every material has its pros and cons. Every material has its weaknesses. With concrete, one of the weaknesses is the potential for developing hairline cracks. They are usually nothing to worry about from a structural standpoint.
Cracks add aesthetic beauty and character. If you don’t like them, they can easily be repaired. So long as the underlying support structure is doing its job, you will not have to worry about concrete countertops crumbling and falling apart.