The number of concrete countertops in Australian homes continues to climb. The reasons why homeowners choose this material greatly varies. Some say they prefer concrete over other flamboyant materials, while others opt for it because it is durable and guaranteed to last for a long time.
Apart from the mentioned reasons, concrete counters are functional and offer complete customisability. If someone tells you the material is too boring to look at, you can surprise them that concrete can now have vast colour and texture options. You can even have concrete looking similar to wood and other materials. The choices are endless, and therefore, having a concrete countertop gives the perfect combination of beauty and functionality.
Even better, concrete counters are easy to clean and maintain. Whether you already have these benchtops or you are planning to switch to them, one of the main concerns is with cleaning. If you are always busy, you may not want to go for a counter that retains stains. You also do not want to keep cleaning, especially when you do not have the time.
Cleaning the Concrete Counters
Taking care of your concrete countertops includes making sure it is clean all the time. The good news is that concrete is not a demanding material. You can clean the counters using standard dish detergent. Just make sure that you avoid anything aggressive. If the product is bleach-based, stay away from it.
As a general rule, you should only use a pH-neutral cleaner. If you do not have the product, you can use dish soap. Just mix two tablespoons of the solution with warm water. You should also avoid using scrubbing pads with any abrasive cleansers because they tend to wear away the material’s sealer.
Getting rid of spills is simple. You can simply wipe the surface with a clean cloth. You can try a damp cloth if there is a little bit of stain. However, if the stain already dried and hardened, you may need to scrub the surface. The trick is to rub gently until the blemish comes off.
Here are more tips that will help make cleaning the counters easier:
- Follow the cleaning guide from the manufacturer or contractor.If you are a DIYer who installed the counters on your own, you should know the concrete mix you used, along with the surface coating. This way, it will be easier to figure out how to clean and maintain the counter.
Meanwhile, if a contractor installed everything for you, then you most likely received instructions after the service. If not, you can simply call and ask about the proper way of cleaning the countertops. Note that using some cleaners that the contractor does not approve may void any warranty.
- You can use pH-balanced wipes.If you want the quickest way to clean the surface, use pH wipes that you can buy from grocery and hardware stores. They are pre-moistened and are gently enough on concrete and natural stone surfaces. Some wipes are labelled “pH neutral” or even “countertop wipes.”
Although concrete countertops are not challenging to clean, it makes sense to clean them regularly. They do not ask to be cleaned thoroughly every day. Just a little bit of wiping is usually enough, particularly after using. Another advantage of regular cleaning is that it helps maintain the appearance of the countertops.
- Clean in small circles.Keep all your movements even, smooth, and gentle. It is better if you can rub in a circular motion while applying steady pressure.
- Rinse with water.Just cleaning with dish soap, detergent, or any solution is not enough. You need to do a final rinse after you are done wiping. Even if the stains are gone, you should still wipe the surface with a wet cloth. It will remove any residue from the cleaner.
The final step is to let the surface air dry. If you need to use the counter right away, you can wipe it again with a microfiber cloth.
Pro Tips on How to Care for Concrete Countertops
Concrete is a practical and hard-wearing material, making it easy to maintain. But nothing lasts forever, especially if you do not properly care for it. Just like with other porous stone materials, concrete sealants can wane. Over time, concrete counters will age and patina. To make sure that the countertops age gracefully, here are the best tips in caring and maintaining your concrete benchtops from CoastCrete pros:
- Avoid spilling anything acidic.Acidic liquids, including red wine and vinegar, are bad for most surfaces, including concrete. All CoastCrete counters are sealed using a high-grade sealant that can serve as a barrier if you spilled any liquid. However, anything acidic can harm the sealant. Of course, accidents can happen anytime. If you spilled lemon juice, for instance, we recommend that you wipe it up as quickly as you can. Never leave the liquid on the surface of the counter to prevent it from etching through the sealant or leaving a mark.
- Clean as frequently as you can.Cleaning the counters daily is an ideal way of maintaining durability and appearance. However, some people find the task impossible because of their busy schedules. In this case, you should just clean as much as possible, preferably after each use if there is any spill. If not, you can just wipe the counters before you use them.
- Be careful with the items you place on the surface.When you use the counters, you place heavy pots and other kitchen items. You may even place vases and centrepieces to make the benchtop look appealing. Concrete countertops can handle them without any issues. However, it is best to use felt pads or table runners under the centrepieces to protect the surface from scratches.
Colour changes can also take place if you do not put a separator between the item and the counter. You can prevent it from happening when you have a protectant underneath.
Another big issue that can cause problems with your concrete counters is thinking that they can handle anything, including your weight. Even children should not be placed on top of the counters to avoid any accidents or the countertop from chipping.
- Mind the direct sunlight exposure.In some houses, exposing the concrete countertops to direct sunlight is unavoidable. Perhaps the sun hits the only available space, so there is no way to move the counters. If possible, use curtains or any window covering that will block the sun from entering and hitting the countertops.
Colour changes also happen when the counter is exposed to the sun. You can switch the items on the surface every few days to avoid any discolouration.
- Know what to do when there are cracks and chips.One of the main attributes of concrete is its durability. However, it does not mean that it is unbreakable. Despite its strength, cracks can appear. Inspect the edges because they are usually where the chipping starts. If you hit the corner with a hard object, it can crack. As a rule, you should never use the concrete counters as your chopping board.
Hairline cracks are normal, but they are unsightly. You do not want to see them on your counters. The best way is to prevent them from appearing in the first place. Never put anything hot directly on the countertops. Place a mat or anything thick that will protect the counters from the heat if you will put a pot on the surface. Also, understand that heat is not the only culprit. The subsequent cooling can also cause the cracks because it causes concrete to shrink.
Repairing the cracks is not impossible. However, it can be a lot of work involving filling the holes using a material that bonds to the concrete. The repair material used should be flexible or at least as strong as concrete. This way, any cracks in the future can be prevented.
- Extend the life of the concrete countertop with a high-quality sealer.Finishing all concrete surfaces with a sealant is the best way to avoid any problems in the future. Have it reapplied once a year to keep the material durable and looking stunning. A suitable wax can also be applied once every six months or so, depending on how often you use the countertops. The sealant you used will also determine the frequency of wax applications.
Maintaining concrete countertops mostly involves common sense and a little bit of your time. As you can see from above, you can just wipe the surface off and keep unnecessary things on top. Adding a topcoat or a sealant can help improve its life while also ensuring that it will stay exquisite even as time passes.
If you need any advice on the concrete countertops that we installed in your home, call the CoastCrete professionals today.