Concrete  – A Buying Guide in a Nutshell

What types of concrete are there?

This is your main starting point. There are two main types.

  • Pre-cast: The concrete is entirely made off-site and delivered and installed (like stone bench tops)
  • In-situ: The concrete is formed up and poured in place (your kitchen / bathroom etc)

Pre-cast furniture is now usually made from fibre reinforced concrete (GFRC) as it is lighter and stronger, and therefore easier and safer to transport.

In-situ is usually traditional wet-poured concrete reinforced with steel and with large aggregate throughout.

  • Pros of GFRC: can be made much thinner, much lighter, and quite a lot stronger than regular concrete. Cabinets do not require reinforcing. No mess from pouring, grinding and polishing in your property. Pieces are made and finished in the controlled environment of a workshop.
  • Cons of GFRC: Large orders will usually be made from separate pieces and then assembled on site: so joins will be visible. No option to have exposed aggregate concrete.
  • Pros of In-situ: Usually there are no visible joins. Option of exposed aggregate.
  • Cons of in-situ: Very heavy. More prone to cracking. Associated mess of pouring on site may be a factor. Cabinets may need reinforcing. Hard to seal concrete well when you’re on a building site (dusty).

What is GFRC?

GFRC is just mixed with cement (a 50:50 mix) and reinforced with fibreglass. There is no large aggregate. Reinforcing with fibre glass (which is very thin and much stronger than steel) means it can be cast very thin and therefore made lightweight.

How do cutouts work?

The same way as other bench tops, except instead of cutting them out afterwards, we cast the hole in place during fabrication. This saves waste.

What is the surface quality like?

This is where the different concrete fabricators will stand apart. Nothing leaves our workshop until every pinhole has been filled and sealed. Some fabricators will tell you that holes are part of the natural look: however it is not hygienic and is not accepted as best practice.

What is the Concrete Studio mix?

We use our own custom blend of additives (curing agents and hardeners). Many other fabricators use a pre-mix bag to make their concrete, rather than designing their own mixes. The pre-mix bags come from the US and are a ‘one size fits all’ product. They generally cure with no pattern can struggle and lose strength in Australian conditions. Our custom mixes are tweaked throughout the year to ensure the best results in terms of strength and durability.

Why is the type of sealer so important?

We believe that once you buy concrete you should have to do no more than keep it clean. So we developed our own sealer: CS Protect. It is a totally matte, invisible and stain-proof sealer that does not require resealing. It is impervious to acids and hot oils and very easy to keep clean. If you are being offered a concrete product that needs regular resealing, then by definition that surface will not be stain-proof, and you will need to continually buy sealer.