Read Part 4 of this series
A tough, durable material that you can easily create a uniquely personal surface with.
Attributes of concrete
- The two types of concrete countertops are cast in place or precast
- If you are handy, you may be able to do this as a DIY project
- Unlimited color choice. The color can either be integral (all the way through) or stained (surface)
- It can be cast in any shape and practically any size
- The edge can be almost anything you desire, including designs such as rope detail, floral or leaf motif, chiseled, etc. It’s even possible to have custom made edge molds
- The slab itself can be customized and personalized with a unique design or pattern, or embedded with items like pebbles, glass and seashells
- Large concrete countertops will have seams but the appearance can be minimized by using color-matched filler
- Concrete is porous but applying a sealer will make it water and stain resistant
Things to know
- Concrete is very heat resistant but hot pots may damage or discolor the sealer
- It will develop a patina over time. Some people will appreciate these characteristics, others won’t like this rustic look
- TLC is required. You may have to wax concrete countertops once a month and/or seal them every couple of years. Check with your supplier to determine the right care for your product
- Certain foods and drinks like lemon juice, ketchup, wine and oil can stain concrete. So, be sure to wipe up spills immediately
- Avoid abrasive cleaners or scrubbers so you don’t damage the sealer
- Concrete can crack. All is not lost though as it can usually be easily repaired
- It takes almost 4 weeks for concrete to fully cure during which time you may have to be extra careful with your countertop
- The price range is around the same as Corian at $85-$150 per sq. ft. TIP: The complexity of the job and the style of the edge profile will impact countertop costs too
Butcher Block Countertops
A natural, unique countertop that will bring softness and beauty to any interior. A great material to warm up hard-edged modern interiors.
Attributes of butcher block
- They can be a very green option as they can be made from 100% FSC wood and can either be recycled or re-purposed into another wood product at the end of their lifecycle
- Made from hardwoods like maple, charry, walnut, and hickory
- Available with many options of edge profiles. TIP: Add some wow factor and consider a live edge on your countertop or bar area
- A limited range of colors from light (ash and maple) to dark (teak and black walnut)
- A softer/warmer touch, physically and visually
- It’s possible to cut directly on some wood countertop surface (according to some manufacturers) if treated with a block oil/wax finish. TIP: Utilize a removable or flippable section specifically for chopping on
- They are great for use in bathrooms when waterproofed with tung oil finish
- It’s easy for homeowners to repair any damage done to wood countertops
- Look for Canadian manufacturer Canadian Butcher Block Company from Ontario
Things to know
- Check with the manufacturer for long-term care as they vary from very little, to quite regular maintenance
- Wood can be damaged with prolonged heat or heat over 200 degrees F
- Coffee, tea, juices and even water can damage a butcher block surface. Be sure to wipe up spills immediately
- Prices start around $100 a linear foot. TIP: The complexity of the job, number of seams, corners, and the style of the edge profile will impact countertop costs too
How to make your countertops accessible
Contrast edging along the countertop fronts will help indicate where they end for people with low vision. TIP: A secondary option is to ensure your countertops contrast with your flooring material.
Include a lowered work surface with roll-under space, to fit a chair or wheelchair. This could be a pull-out cutting board or even a kitchen table. Aim for a roll-under space 30-32in/76-81cm wide.
Consider a lowered sink with roll-under space. This sink should be shallow to allow for knee-space and have the drain at the back. The roll-under space should be at least 30in/76cm wide and could be height adjustable.
Install a lowered height cooktop with roll-under space. Ensure the element controls are on the front or side to avoid reaching over hot pots. This surface could be height adjustable and should be at least 30in/76cm wide.
A clear floor space/turning circle of 60in/1.5m between lower cabinets and countertops which will enable a wheelchair to turn around comfortably.
After reading throught this 5 part series, you should have a much better idea what countertop material is right for you. If you are still in the planning stages make sure you include accessibility features that will enable you to live in your home for as long as you wish.