Frequently Asked Questions

Browse frequently asked questions below, or stop by to discuss your project — we are always here to help.

Concrete

Concrete countertops are the most unique, personal countertop option because they are made from scratch for each client. To determine whether concrete is right for you, think about whether you believe that:

  • you want something unique and personalized
  • you want something that looks natural and has character
  • you appreciate high-quality, handcrafted items
  • you think granite is too shiny, too formal, too common
  • you think synthetic solid-surface materials look and feel like plastic
  • you need a color or visual texture that’s not available with other countertop materials

If so, concrete countertops may be right for you.

ADVANTAGES:

  • Custom: Concrete’s biggest advantage is that it is completely custom. Your countertop will be unique to you and highly personalized.
  • Versatile: Concrete is extremely versatile. It can enhance any style, from French country to contemporary, from arts and crafts to industrial, from traditional to modern. The possibilities are endless.
  • Practical: Zenstoneworks’s proprietary sealer provides a surface that is extremely stain resistant and low maintenance. Common food items will not stain it. The sealer does not degrade, and therefore does not need to be reapplied every year like many other sealers. The sealer also exhibits great heat resistance. You can put hot pots on the countertop without trivets.
  • Lead Time: Zenstoneworks can template, process, and install your concrete with a two-week turnaround.
  • Variation: Concrete is an artisanal process made up of heterogeneous ingredients. Subtle variations in color, shade, texture, and overall appearance add character and depth. Concrete is handmade and hand-finished, exhibiting natural beauty rather than plastic perfection.

DISADVANTAGES:

  • Staining: Concrete countertops actually behave similarly to granite in this regard. Granite countertops are also porous and have to be sealed and maintained. Most people don’t realize this, because granite is usually too dark and patterned to show stains. Food, acids, and oil will not stain your countertop if wiped up. If left on for a longer period of time, they will cause only a light spot, the appearance of which can be minimized with a touch-up kit.
  • Scratching: While the sealer is very durable, it is possible to scratch it. In kitchens, you should use cutting boards on concrete countertops.

Custom concrete is competitive with granite, ranging from $70 to over $100 per square foot, and is more affordable than products such as Caesarstone, Silestone, soapstone, and similar solid-surface products. We are happy to work with you and your designer to give you an estimate on your project, and we can help you with options to fit your budget.

  • Zenstoneworks makes concrete countertops for kitchens, bathrooms, fireplace mantels, tables, desks, and anywhere else countertops are required.
  • Concrete countertops can be straight, curved, notched, multi-level, etc. Unlike granite, which would drastically increase in cost for curved shapes, creating curved concrete shapes simply involves some extra complexity and labor in forming.
  • Concrete can also be used in vertical applications such as backsplashes, shower surrounds, and fireplace surrounds. For vertical applications, concrete is generally one inch thick.
  • Maximum slab length for standard-depth countertops is about 10 feet. This extended length is longer than most solid-surface products, reducing the number of seams. Seams are located around sinks and cooktops, or wherever required for structural reasons. Zenstoneworks will work with you to design seam placement that is both structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing. Seams are typically 1/16″ wide, similar to tile grout lines. However, it is important to realize that concrete countertops are handmade and hand-processed; they are not machine cut, so tolerances for seams are more generous than with granite. Seam appearance is minimized by using color-matched acrylic caulk.
  • Integral and vessel sinks are possible. See the section on sinks for more information.
  • Concrete countertops can be used both indoors and outdoors.
  • Zenstoneworks also casts sills, thresholds, corner shelves, and other pieces for custom shower designs.

Any color! Zenstoneworks has a wide spectrum of proprietary custom colors. We also color match to any Benjamin Moore color swatch. Any color can be produced in a solid, speckled, or variegated pattern, and further customized with embedded stone, glass, or other objects.

Concrete is a natural, handmade material. Many factors, such as humidity, sand lot, and cement lot, can affect the final appearance of the concrete. All of our color formulas record the type of sand, type of cement, and exact measurements of pigments to 1/10th of a gram, and we use specially developed software to calculate mix design. Zenstoneworks specializes in custom color development. We will cast a 12″ x 12″ sample tile for client approval prior to casting. It is important to understand a whole countertop will not appear as uniform. The same situation occurs with other natural materials such as granite.
Edge choices depend on the availability of appropriate trim moulding. Zenstoneworks offers a catalog of over 20 different edge profiles, from raw split rock facing to Victorian crown mouldings. Edging may be placed on the top or bottom of the countertop.
Zenstoneworks’s concrete countertops can accommodate all types of sinks, including drop-in, undermount, and apron front. The minimum lip of concrete around all sides of sinks is three inches. Concrete can also accommodate drop-in cooktops. The minimum lip of concrete in the front of a cooktop is three inches; we recommend three inches for the back also, but two inches will suffice.

Zenstoneworks can make integral concrete sinks of almost any shape (see our portfolio). Bathroom vanities are an excellent application of integral concrete sinks. We do not recommend integral concrete kitchen sinks for engineering reasons. Kitchen sinks are deep and have angles that would put large stresses on the concrete and have high potential for cracking. Also, the size of kitchen sinks generally dictates a very thick concrete bottom that would be a problem with standard plumbing and cabinetry.

Concrete vessel sinks are also possible, and concrete’s versatility means the sink can be any color and shape.

Backsplashes are cast and finished separately and deck mounted after the countertops are installed. Backsplashes are nominally one inch thick and can be from three inches high to full height. Outlet openings are cast in, not cut on-site.
Zenstoneworks’s concrete countertops are sealed to prevent staining. We use a high-performance sealer that is exceptionally durable and provides excellent resistance to incidental contact with staining agents, such as red wine, lemon juice, and olive oil. Complete care instructions are included in your owner’s guide. Touch-up of any marks that do occur is simple and easy.

While the sealer is durable, it can scratch if cut with a knife or subjected to heavy, sharp objects dragged across the surface. Cutting on the concrete may compromise the integrity of the sealer and allow stains to permeate the concrete matrix. Cutting on the concrete will also ruin knives, requiring a professional resharpening to reshape the damaged edge. Remember: Concrete is made with stone, the same thing used to sharpen knives (and will therefore dull them just as easily). If you do scratch a countertop, the sealer can be easily repaired.

While concrete can tolerate high heat, the sealer is not designed for extended periods of heat exposure. Repeated exposure to heat can cause the sealer to show micro-cracks. We recommend the use of trivets and pot holders. We can also embed trivets into the concrete next to your cooktop.

Zenstoneworks precasts all concrete in our controlled shop environment. In the structural engineering community, it is well known that precast concrete is superior to cast-in-place concrete, mainly because tighter quality control can be exercised. Curing, which is a critical step that is commonly misunderstood, can be closely monitored. Moving the process to a shop allows greater customization as well.

Typically, no special considerations are necessary for standard kitchen or bathroom vanity countertops. Cantilevered slabs, bar tops on knee walls, and similar situations sometimes require brackets or other structural supports for the countertops.

Yes. Zenstoneworks warrantees the structural integrity of the concrete for one year after installation. The countertops will, of course, last a lot longer than a year, but if any problems were to occur, they would occur in the first year. We subject the concrete to much larger stresses while handling it than clients ever could once it is installed. In addition, Zenstoneworks provides each client with an owner’s guide and a direct phone number for support from owner Lenny Cushing.

Stonework

Drystack generally means that the stones are stacked with a technique that uses their own natural shapes and sizes to interlock them – no mortar. Stones can also be mortared tightly together so as to give a “drystack” look while gaining the integrity of a mortared substructure. Generally, natural stone walls shouldn’t be stacked much higher than a couple of feet. If you need to go higher, walls can have very large stones as a base; or you can terrace your walls, which can add a dramatic effect as well. To get walls higher, you may need significant site work behind the wall to prevent future heaving or damage.
For most decorative walls or retaining walls, we generally excavate six inches down and compact a bed of crushed stone. This helps with drainage under the wall and minimizes heaving during the change of seasons. If the wall is a veneer wall, we need to get a concrete footing in the ground. Then we build a structural wall out of cinder block. From there, we can face that structure with veneer stone.
Similar to a stone wall, we excavate down between four to six inches and then fill the void with stonedust. This is compacted, smoothed, and pitched for water runoff. It is then ready for setting pavers.
This generally depends on the preparation done around the firebox. Pallet stone can be used if there is a concrete base wide enough to support it. If this is something being retrofitted, you will likely need to use veneer stone.
Interior walls can be prepared with a cement board or with particle board that is then wrapped in waterproof materials. Exterior walls are very similar in their preparation. Both usually require a wire lathe as well that helps create a strong bond between wood and the masonry.
Cultured Stone is actually a specific brand of faux stone, but most people use the name generically to describe any faux stone product. Most faux stones have similar prep to natural stone, but some brands specify certain types of mortar that must be used with their product.
We do not offer brick and mortar construction for home facades, but we do offer fireplace construction inclusive of all masonry elements.

Tile

Yes. Our services run the gamut, from cash-and-carry material sales for the do-it-yourselfer to design consultation to complete installation services. We can be involved as much or as little as you want us to be.
It depends on what is on the floor already. Sometimes materials must be torn up. From there, the floor must be prepped with a cement board and then tile can be set.
No. We are able to mortar your tile directly to your existing walls, making a backsplash project an affordable way to update your kitchen’s appearance.
This is not an incredibly intensive project, but it does involve a few steps. A plumber needs to shut off your water and disconnect fixtures. Then the tub and existing shower can be removed. From there a new waterproof shower system is built out, and we’re set to tile.
Yes. We work with some of the best contractors in the area for aspects of plumbing, electrical, and carpentry. We oversee the process through every step and finish off the project ourselves.

Quartz

Quartz is a manufactured surface that is made by mixing 93% ground natural quartz with 7% polymer resins. The result is a material that still looks natural, but the engineering provides for more consumer customization based on the individual’s design plans.
The color palette is very broad, giving you many options to choose from. Available colors range from neutrals like creams, browns, and blacks to apple reds and grassy greens. Regardless of decor, quartz will complement a traditional, modern, or contemporary theme. For an added effect, recycled glass or metallic flecks are added in certain lines during the manufacturing process.
No. Quartz countertops do not require the resealing needed for surfaces like granite. Extra maintenance is practically nonexistent if the countertops are cleaned on a daily basis or after use.
Use quartz for kitchen counters, bathroom vanity tops, fireplaces, shower surrounds, windowsills, and coffee tables. Businesses can use quartz for food service counters, conference tables, and reception tops. Just remember that quartz cannot be used for exterior purposes as it can discolor with too much exposure to ultraviolet light.