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The Good, Bad and Ugly of Concrete Countertops

What to know before installing concrete countertops – the pros and cons, how they hold up over time, and how to install them for an inexpensive update.

Since the past couple of weeks have been fall-decorate-all-the-things around here and we’re diving into a huge room overhaul starting tomorrow for the One Room Challenge, it feels nice to take a second to breathe and give y’all an update for something I get asked about quite a bit: our concrete countertops.

It’s the good, the bad, and the ugly, y’all. I mean… not that I would call them ugly. They might hear me and resent me forever. (You can read about the full tutorial about how we installed them ourselves here.)

Here’s what our concrete countertops looked like when we first revealed our kitchen makeover 5 months ago:

The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Concrete Countertops | blesserhouse.com - What to know before installing concrete countertops - the pros and cons, how they hold up over time, and how to install them for an inexpensive update.

Shiny and pretty and flawless. Oooh ahhh!

But we’re not exactly easy on these things. They take a beating with regular wear and tear for as much cooking as we do. (Doing Whole30 especially put them through the ringer.)

After 5 months, here’s my general consensus…

  1. The good.

Pro: These babies are suuuuper cost effective. We managed to change all of our countertops for less than $300, which is a steal considering we have a fairly large kitchen.

Pro: They’re very easy to do yourself. Yes, they make a mess and yes, they’re time consuming, but you don’t have to use a single power tool to do it. (Unless you count a sander, but that’s easy peasy.)

The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Concrete Countertops | blesserhouse.com - What to know before installing concrete countertops - the pros and cons, how they hold up over time, and how to install them for an inexpensive update.

Pro: They have lots of character and work beautifully for a farmhouse/industrial/modern vibe. Although, if you’re a perfectionist you might called its character just flaws.

To keep them clean, I use this Granite Cleaner and it does the job really well.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Concrete Countertops | blesserhouse.com - What to know before installing concrete countertops - the pros and cons, how they hold up over time, and how to install them for an inexpensive update.

2. But then for the bad…

Con: They scratch easily.

Maybe it was the type of sealer we used, but I did as much research as I possibly could before choosing a sealing method, and the one we ended up doing was the one with the highest reviews.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Concrete Countertops | blesserhouse.com - What to know before installing concrete countertops - the pros and cons, how they hold up over time, and how to install them for an inexpensive update.

Like I said, we’re definitely not easy on them, but we try to be careful as much as we can moving dishes around on them. Although, in this spot beside our sink, it looks like we were scratching lotto tickets with car keys or something.

The good news is though, I can reapply a coat of sealer when I need to, and that scratched finish is patched right up.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Concrete Countertops | blesserhouse.com - What to know before installing concrete countertops - the pros and cons, how they hold up over time, and how to install them for an inexpensive update.

3. The ugly…

 Con: Cooking grease stains everywhere!

Okay, I exaggerate. Stains aren’t everywhere. But on either side of our stove, we have definite grease splotches.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Concrete Countertops | blesserhouse.com - What to know before installing concrete countertops - the pros and cons, how they hold up over time, and how to install them for an inexpensive update.

I cook with olive oil quite a bit and Robert is Mr. Baconator all the time, so we’ve learned we always have to put down a dish towel on either side of our stove to protect our counters from anymore staining.

This is the worst spot:

The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Concrete Countertops | blesserhouse.com - What to know before installing concrete countertops - the pros and cons, how they hold up over time, and how to install them for an inexpensive update.

All of those little black splotches aren’t so fabulous. Pretty soon, we’ll probably have to give this section another skim coat of concrete and reseal now that we know they need to be handled with love and care.

Besides fighting grease stains though, we’ve had no other issues. Water beads right up on the surface, and we’ve been able to wipe up any food spills and drips, even ones we missed and let sit around for a little while.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Concrete Countertops | blesserhouse.com - What to know before installing concrete countertops - the pros and cons, how they hold up over time, and how to install them for an inexpensive update.

In hindsight, despite the scratching/staining issues, I’d still do these countertops all over again. I love the look of them and the fact that they cost so little. I don’t think they are a long-term permanent solution that will last you 20+ years like granite or marble, but they’re still very much worth it.

If you want to see how our IKEA farmhouse sink has been fairing, you can see the full update about it here too.

Have you thought about installing concrete countertops in your kitchen? Or bathroom? Or had some good, bad, ugly experiences with your own past DIY projects? Feel free to share!

If you want to save this post for later, you can pin it here:

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78 Comments

  1. Great information about concrete counters. Didn’t realize about scratching, staining. We are building g a house & thought about doing concrete counters at one point but decided to go with cambria product, Newhaven in our kitchen, Oakhampton in our powder room, & Laneshaw in the master Bath. This product is expensive but no maintenance. We had it in our last house in our kitchen when we did a remodel & loved it.

  2. I have debated concrete counters for our soon-to-be-house too.
    Curious…though it would darken the color, would oiling the entire surface keep the oil spots from showing? Though, I’m not sure if it would damage the structural integrity of the concrete.
    If it worked, would be a good way to deepen a color for colored concrete too.

    1. I’m afraid oiling it would just make it even more splotchy and the sealer wouldn’t be able to do its job. The sealer helps harden it so it doesn’t chip as easily.

  3. I wanted concrete counters when we redid our kitchen but my hubby vetoed it and we went with butcher block. Though I love the look of the concrete and I am so into a well used look (I don’t sweat any stains or scratches at all, a well used kitchen will always show wear and tear but it is just fine with me). We did not Poly the butcher block, real butcher block is great with oiling and waxing only and that is what is recommended by the supplier I purchased from. I go in and sand and re-oil every 6 mos or so. It is not hard at all and I went in knowing this. The scratches come right out easy by steaming it first with an iron and damp towel, then sanding and the stains come out with sanding too. The real upside is it forces you to remove everything off the counters and you declutter while you are at it.
    You may think that is a lot of work but did you know you are supposed to do that to granite as well, not the sanding but the resealing? Most people think you put it in and you are done. I have family that are in the industry of installing tile, granite and marble and the upkeep, if properly done, is as labor intensive or more so than that of butcher block. But most people don’t do it.
    Let me tell you, being in the housekeeping industry, that granite is the WORST to get and keep clean. Marble is a close second. I have cleaned every type of surface in homes repeatedly for the past 10 years and from experience I can tell you that those are to two worst surfaces to keep clean.
    Funny enough the easiest to maintain is Formica or laminate surfaces. Go figure.

    1. Good to know! Thanks, Pamela! I’m thinking ours will be getting a resealing job this month since we’re coming up on the 6 month mark. It was a toss up between butcher block and concrete for us too.

  4. I actually think the grease stains by your stove give it some extra character. Your counters look beautiful and sound like they are definitely a cost-effective way to upgrade your kitchen. Thanks for sharing your list with us at Merry Monday this week!

  5. First of all – beautiful kitchen! So bright and still cosy. secondly, I had never thought about doing concrete countertops but in your pictures they look really beautiful! The scratching, on the other hand, is not so nice. Can you really see the scratches so easily?

    1. Thanks, Madison! You really can’t see the scratches unless the light hits them just right. It doesn’t really bother me but it’s probably not for everyone.

  6. I love the look of your kitchen and your countertops. I know it can be so hard to pick the right counter tops and honestly each type comes with ups and downs. We did butcher block and I love it but same issue, it gets scratched a lot. I accepted it and tell myself it adds character. ? Thank you for your honest review!

    1. I’ve always loved butcher block so good to know you’ve had a similar experience. I guess everything does have its drawbacks. So with you on calling it “character” though. 😉

  7. Thanks for this review! We have butcher block counter tops and in our next home, I have been debating between butcher block and DIY concrete… or maybe both! It seems like both have their flaws. The ugly of butcher block is that you can’t let water sit on them or it’ll leave a mark or a blotch! I’m used to it by now, but I always feel bad when we have company over. Do you have to be really careful to not drop anything on them? It seems to me like plates and cups could break easily on them (similar to the farmhouse sink… which I have broken a plate in also, by the way! … I think it was you that wrote that you broke a plate in your sink).

    1. I did! I broke a coffee pot in our sink… it’s never a good day when you have to go without coffee. Haha! But the concrete countertops aren’t as hard at our porcelain sink. Granite and marble are harder than our concrete.

  8. I love how they turned out! We installed a concrete countertop in our bathroom and they have help up extremely well. Ours are concrete through and through, rebar and all. We have been using our concrete countertop for about 5 months now and I can’t see any wear and tear. Granted, they don’t get exposed to dishes, grease, or random food bits, but they are exposed to a ton of water. We have been able to just wipe it down with a towel and the water spots disappear pretty quickly. We are considering putting in a concrete countertop in our eventual bar outside, but that won’t be for a while 🙂

  9. This is good information! I have been telling my husband that I want to install concrete counter tops when we move because I always thought they were lower maintenance. But the price is totally worth the extra couple steps to maintain them. Thanks for the update!

    1. They’re higher maintenance but they’re also easier to patch if they chip or anything. We still really love them. 🙂

  10. We considered concrete when we started with our kitchen remodel, but were cautioned against it by a friend that had more experience with them. The big con was if they ever crack, which concrete is prone to do, you have to either live with the patching method or rip them out and do them again. Since our home is not on a concrete slab and has been known to shift (thus cracking the tile we put in our master bath), we opted not to use concrete. But your’s look really nice and I agree with Ivory.

    1. Oh that would be an issue. Good point. I didn’t even think about that. Ours is on a concrete slab so it wasn’t something we had to consider.

  11. This post reminds me… how are your spray painted shower doors holding up? Would love a post on that! Thanks! I enjoy your blog immensely.

    1. Pretty well! There’s a place on the bottom where the door swings open and causes friction and messes up the paint, but you can’t see it with the door closed. Our shower fixtures though are holding up perfectly since we used primer and lacquer on those, so I would suggest that route to make them extra durable. I keep meaning to write an update about it. Here’s the fixture post: https://www.blesserhouse.com/2015/10/how-to-spray-paint-shower-fixtures.html

  12. Thank you so much for posting this, Lauren! We have been talking about adding concrete to ours, but we just might bite the bullet and do a full countertop upgrade. Our butcher block has a poly on it, and it also scratches so we could use one less thing on our to-do list!

    1. It sounds like butcher block and concrete countertops are higher maintenance, so if you don’t mind the TLC with them, they’re great. But they’re not for everyone. 🙂

  13. Thanks for all of the great info -being open and showing all of the pics. I really do appreciate your blog and look forward to reading it. You do such a great job, and your sweet funny personality always shines through!! Many Blessings to you and your family!

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