Jeff Kudrik, lead designer and production manager at J&M Lifestyles, a manufacturer of concrete countertops in Randolph, N.J., says he knows why his clients choose concrete for countertops and other decorative elements in their homes. “With concrete, we are able to give them something that is unique and different from anything else,” he says. “We offer something that is geared and personalized for them.”
For example, J&M (www.jmlifestyles.com) can create a concrete countertop from a form that gives it a surface that resembles wood. “It mimics wood but is used where you would not use wood, such as for a vanity top,” Kudrik says. “We create illusion to make something that is unique and functional. With all of these tools we have, we are creating a story that is unique to the individual, and it’s exciting to the design and architectural community because they get to create something from scratch.”
Kudrik also believes clients who choose concrete are more familiar with the manufacturing process. “How many people understand or put value in the products they buy or in how it is produced?” he asks. “Concrete gets people interested in designing and manufacturing, which ideologically has been lost in this country.”
However, manufacturing concrete, even in small batches for countertops, still poses challenges. One such challenge that exists in the manufacturing process is controlling the variables.
Once the manufacturing process become duplicable, the price will come down and “it becomes more palatable for more people,” says Steve Thomas, president and CEO of Surecrete (www.surecretedesign.com), a decorative and specialty concrete manufacturer in Dade City, Fla. Although concrete countertops currently battle with granite and quartz for high-end customers, streamlining and simplifying the manufacturing process will allow concrete to compete with less expensive laminates, Thomas says.
Surecrete’s Xtreme Series is a hybrid fiber reinforced concrete mix that contains preblended fiber, so there is no need for additional reinforcement, Thomas explains. The applicator can pour a 3/4-inch-thick concrete countertop, instead of the usual 1 1/2-inch variety.
This ease of manufacturing, which will lower the price, and concrete’s sustainable properties will allow the material to capture more market share. “We believe you will be able to find a fabricator that will literally grind your countertop up and bring it back to you in a different form,” Thomas says.