Concrete is a relatively new material in the countertop world. Although it is a less popular countertop option than the usual suspects (ie. granite, quartz, etc.) its popularity is increasing as people discover just how many aesthetic options are available with concrete. People also like that concrete countertop are unique; they aren't found in every bathroom and kitchen. The average concrete countertops cost is between $65 and $135 per square foot without installation and industry experts say to plan for an average cost of $120 to $140 per square foot installed.
Photo by Walter Barda Design
Concrete Countertops Cost Factors to Consider
Where your concrete countertops land in the $65 to $135 price range depends mostly on the following cost factors.
Artistic upgrades and add-ons
As described in more detail below, basic concrete counters with few to no artistic upgrades and add-ons will cost between $65 and $100 per square foot, without installation. When you start putting in stylistic extras such as special casting, polishing, aggregate, colors, and designs, concrete countertops cost can go up to $100 to $135 per square foot or more.
Standard concrete countertop thickness is 1½ inches, but with additional cost can go up to 2 inches thick. Thicker counters are not always an option with concrete, however. Concrete is already very heavy and when you add an extra ½ an inch, you have to make sure that your base is solid enough to hold the countertop or you have to find a way to reinforce the cabinets to support them. Reinforcing cabinets will come at an additional cost as well.
Slab backsplashes have become a popular alternative to tile backsplashes, and a solid concrete backsplash is also an option. A solid concrete backsplash adds to the countertop square footage and therefore, adds to the price. On the other hand, tile material may be less expensive, but the cost of labor may be more expensive, so it's something you need to look into when comparing the cost of tile vs. solid concrete backsplash.
Sealing and waxing
There are differing opinions as to how often concrete counters should be sealed after installation. People also use countertops differently, so you have to remember the more you use your counters and the harder you are on them, the more often you will need to seal them and the more expensive it will be. At a minimum, it is recommended that concrete counters be sealed every year. Polished concrete counters need to be waxed every 6 months or more to help protect them from stains and scratches and to freshen them up.
There are many edging options with concrete and several different options should be available at no additional charge. If you want a custom edge that is not available in one of the fabricator's existing molds, you are going to have to pay an additional cost.
Irregularly shaped counters
If your counters have a non-standard or irregular shape, the cost of concrete counters will be more due to more difficult fabrication and possibly more difficult installation.
Photo by Kenneth Davis Lux International
Concrete Countertops Price Breakdown
The cost of concrete countertops is made up of construction and design, installation, and maintenance.
Construction and design
Labor and design make up most of the cost of concrete counters. If your concrete countertops are straightforward with basic edges (edges that are straight or that are included in one of the fabricator's existing mold patterns) and 1 ½ inch thickness, your counters are likely going to fall on the lower cost side between $65 and $100 per square foot. On the other hand, if you want extras that were discussed above such as 2 inch thick counters, custom edges, additional cutouts (for things like a second sink, extra soap dispenser, or beverage faucet), and fancy designs such as colors, aggregate, polishes, etc., you're going to pay in the higher, over $100 per square foot range.
A favorite additional cost design is to add a veining effect to make concrete look like marble, granite, or other natural stone counters. Another favorite is to add glass, stones, or other materials to give the concrete a terrazzo style finish. People are also attracted to concrete because added pigment can make concrete counters in any color.
The average cost to install concrete counters is between $40 and $50 per hour and is discussed in more detail below. Beyond paying for the labor to install the countertops, it's also important to remember that there could be additional installation charges for the cost to remove existing countertops and plumbing costs if you are moving/adding water faucets or sinks.
There's also maintenance to consider when you're looking at the cost of concrete countertops. Concrete counters are susceptible to scratches and staining. You can try DIY repairs, but to hire someone to repair scratches in your counter, you will most likely pay at least $150. As mentioned above, concrete counters also need waxing and sealing. You can buy DIY wax for $30 or more. Sealing starts at $50 for a DIY product, or you will pay at least $150 to have concrete counters professionally sealed.
Photo by Pinemar, Inc.
Cost to Install Concrete Countertops
Tip: If you've been pricing other popular countertop materials, you're probably used to seeing installation cost based on a price per square footage of countertops installed. Unlike those installation costs, concrete countertop installation costs are often on an hourly basis instead.
We have found that the average going rate for installing concrete counters is between $40 and $50 an hour, but in some areas that cost can go up to $90 or more per hour. You can get a very rough estimate yourself by assuming one hour of installation for every 7½ square feet of countertop. So if you have 30 square feet, installation should take around 4 hours at $40 to $50 per hour for a total of $160 to $200 for installation. An experienced installer should be able to give you a good idea of how long it will take to install your concrete countertops. As mentioned above, you also may need to include the cost to remove countertops and costs for a plumber if you plan to add or move any plumbing.
Photo by Robin Bond Interiors
Concrete Countertops Prices by Type
Price ranges for concrete countertops depend on the level of customization and artistic labor required.
Basic Concrete Counters
Basic concrete counters should cost $65 to $100 per square foot. Someone who wants to install concrete countertops that more or less look like concrete is going to pay the least. These counters will not usually have added color or high-end finishes and the countertop edge will be straight or something from the fabricator's existing molds.
Mid to High-End Concrete Counters
Mid to high-end concrete countertops cost $100 to $135 or more per square foot. Prices for other popular countertop materials are often based on popularity and quality. More popular designs and higher quality material means the material will be higher priced. Concrete countertops prices, on the other hand, mostly come down to customization and labor. The more labor intensive and customization involved, the higher the prices are going to go. So mid-level concrete counters will have some added elements of artistic design and customization, and high-cost counters will have a lot of these elements.
Finishes for concrete counters are endless. Polishing, staining, stamping, veining, and coloring concrete are only the start. There are so many techniques to make concrete counters look like almost any stone or surface you can imagine. Aggregate and embedding are popular concrete countertop looks. Classic additions are stones, glass, and rocks, but almost anything can and has been added to make the countertops more unique such as adding seashells, metal shavings, and bottle caps. These artistic and labor-intensive finishes do come at an extra cost.
Customized edges and 2 inch thick counters, as previously mentioned, can also move concrete countertops from the lower price range up into the middle to high-end range. One trick that can be used when you're wanting to achieve the look of thick countertops but don't want the added weight or added price is to utilize a dropped edge. A dropped edge is lower at the edges than the actual 1½ inch thickness of the rest of the countertop to make it look as though the entire counter is thicker.
Also, things that will move concrete counters into the middle to the high-end range are extra cutouts, concrete sinks, and irregularly shaped counters. There are so many options when it comes to concrete countertops and so many looks that you can achieve that it could be easy to get carried away with implementing different design options. If you decide on a realistic budget, you can work with a fabricator who will be able to wade through options with you and help you decide which upgrades you can take advantage of and which ones you should ditch in order to stay within your budget.
Photo by Scale Architecture
Concrete Countertops Cost vs Granite
A popular question is how much do the concrete countertops cost vs granite? The answer is concrete costs more than granite. Of course you can spend more on high-end granite than you might on your most basic, no-frills concrete countertops, but when you compare apples to apples, basic concrete will cost $65 to $100 per square foot plus the cost of installation while you can get basic level slab granite for $60 per square foot including installation. And if you opt for granite tile or modular, you can go even lower to $30 to $55 per square foot.
Concrete countertops are stylish and unique, but they aren't cheap. Just like with any countertop material, there are ways to save on concrete countertops and there are ways to make the price of those countertops go sky high. When you're shopping for countertops, concrete is a material worth investigating because of its seemingly unlimited style and design options.