THE

CONCRETE COUNTERTOP

INSTITUTE

Learn how, and why.

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Contractor FAQs

Table of Contents
What is the purpose of the Concrete Connections membership program?
Members of Concrete Connections are a group of contractors who make concrete countertops as a business and want to raise the standard for quality and professionalism in their industry.

This website provides a lot of information, much of it public. This helps educate and inform everyone – contractors, the trade and homeowners – about concrete countertops, increasing demand for them and raising awareness about quality.

For concrete countertop professionals, we wanted to provide more:
— business building tools (Find a Contractor listing, free Sales & Marketing documents)
— more in-depth information (members-only articles)
— information channels that keep them up to date (newsletter, RSS feeds)
— opportunities to publish information, to make it a 2-way street (ability to submit articles)
— ways to inspire others (ability to create online photo albums – visual information)

It is our sincere hope that these benefits help concrete countertop professionals better themselves and the industry, ultimately raising the standard for concrete countertops.

We welcome ideas for other services that could help concrete countertop professionals or improve this website. Let us know what we can do for you!

Who belongs to Concrete Connections?
Concrete Connections membership is open to contractors who make concrete countertops as a business. Concrete Connections members are truly professionals, and they are dedicated to making the concrete countertop industry better. They subscribe to the values outlined in the Code of Ethics.
What are the benefits of membership?
See the Membership page for a detailed list of benefits. The biggest reason to join Concrete Connections is to connect with homeowners and designers seeking high quality concrete countertops. Members also enjoy the prestige of belonging to a professional society.
What about a "Find a Contractor" listing?
The Concrete Connections website offers a public Find a Contractor listing to all members.

Concrete Connections is the only site that contains large volumes of in-depth, practical information for homeowners and designers considering concrete countertops. As such, it attracts qualified buyers.

If you are a member of the Concrete Connections who has more questions about marketing your company on the Web, please post your question to the Sales & Marketing discussion forum. Let's help each other market our concrete countertops, via the Web and elsewhere!

How do I join Concrete Connections?
Because only concrete countertop professionals may join the Concrete Connections membership program, you need to fill out an application form. It takes only a few minutes, and we will review your application and approve it within 2 business days at the most. Then you'll have full access to this website as well as all the other benefits of membership.

Click here to apply for membership.

What are the exact terms & conditions of membership?
Here is a link to the current terms and conditions. We've tried to think of everything!

When you apply for membership, the online application form will prompt you to check a checkbox saying you agree to these terms and conditions. You can read the terms and conditions on that screen before you click the checkbox.

What if I join and then want to cancel?
We feel certain your Memberhip will provide value to your business. We stand by a 30 day guarantee. If within 30 days you are not satisifed with your purchase or membership, please let us know and we will gladly refund the purchase.

See the Terms & Conditions for details of the cancellation policy.

Where can I get information about how to make concrete countertops?
Now more than ever before, there is a wealth of information and training about how to make concrete countertops. You no longer need to go it alone or figure everything out yourself.

This website's main purpose is to provide information and resources for contractors who make concrete countertops as a business. You will find helpful articles and information throughout this site, and The Concrete Countertop Institute offers in-depth hands on and self-study classes that are described on this website.

If you are serious about your business and want further information and networking, consider joining Concrete Connections. Members get access to exclusive, closely moderated discussion forums on this site as well as other benefits and networking. Click here for more information about member benefits.

(Please note that this website does not provide information regarding do-it-yourself concrete countertops.)

What's the best sealer?
The ideal sealer would be stain-proof, heat-proof, scratch-proof, require no maintenance, inexpensive, easy to apply, food safe and environmentally friendly.

The ideal sealer does not exist. There are many different sealers on the market: waxes, hardeners, densifiers, acrylics, epoxies, urethanes, and many variations thereof. None of them satisfy all of the above criteria, though some come close. There are plenty of sealers that offer excellent stain resistance and low maintenance. One such sealer is described here.

The main thing to remember about sealers is to set expectations for your client. The biggest problem in the concrete countertop industry today is that contractors don't understand the sealing products they are being sold. Many of the sealers work for floors but aren't appropriate for concrete countertops. Even the sealer designed exclusively for concrete countertops can be a problem if you don't understand how it is going to behave and set clients' expectations accordingly.

Whatever sealer you use, test it thoroughly. Confirm for yourself that what the manufacturer says is true. Write up detailed instructions for you clients about what to expect and how to maintain the sealer. The Concrete Countertop Institute sometimes gets phone calls from homeowners asking what can be done to fix their sealer. The answer is call the contractor! Contractors, PLEASE, understand whatever sealer you're using and give your customers good instructions. Please don't let any more homeowners have bad experiences.

Read this article about all of the different types of sealers and their pros and cons.

If you are a Concrete Connections member, please visit the sealer forum to ask specific sealer questions and relate your own experiences with what works and what doesn't.

How should I price my countertops?
Price high!

Seriously, concrete countertops are high end. They are inherently custom and hand-crafted. You will occasionally get a call from someone who thinks that because concrete is cheap (it's just sand, rocks and cement, right?) that concrete countertops are cheap. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Even if you didn't have to account for all the labor and overhead involved in your concrete countertop business, you should still price concrete countertops high. It's called Value Pricing. The actual costs involved in making a product merely set a floor for the price. The ceiling is highest price someone will pay for the product, the price the market will bear.

Now, if you set your price too high, the market that will bear that price is too small and you won't sell any countertops at all in your area. For example, the prices in California would be a lot higher than those in Kentucky. But if you set your prices too low, even if they do make you a decent profit, you are leaving money on the table and degrading the image of concrete countertops.

Pricing is an art, and a delicate balancing act.

Should I do precast or cast in place countertops?
The Concrete Countertop Institute generally advocates precast concrete countertops because fit and finish tend to be of a more consistently high quality. However, there are pros and cons to both approaches. Here some considerations for you:

Precast:
+ Wider range of looks, including embedded decorative aggregates.
+ Less mess in the client’s home or place of business.
+ Clients better understand this way of purchasing countertops. You can assure them the process is “just like granite”, as far as they’re concerned.
+ Easier quality control, plus the client doesn’t see the countertop until it’s done.
– You need a shop and more equipment.
– More seams required because you have to be able to transport the slabs.
– More technically challenging.

Cast in place:
+ You don’t need a shop.
+ Quicker project completion.
+ No seams.
+ May fit better with your existing business if you do on-site decorative concrete work.
– May be less efficient because it requires multiple job site trips
– Can’t make looks that require grinding, such as embedded decorative aggregates
– More challenging to make fancier effects such as integral sinks and edge returns.
– Risk of damaging client’s home or place of business. Cabinets can cost tens of thousands of dollars – not something you want to damage.
– Less ability for quality control because the job site is not secured.
– More hand craftmanship skill required – you have to be very good with a trowel.

In deciding whether cast in place or precast is right for you, you may also want to consider your local competition. If there is someone else in your area making concrete countertops, do you feel that competing effectively with them requires using the same technique or a different technique?

Generally people do one or the other, but some do both.

Is GFRC a good method for making concrete countertops?
There are detailed articles about using Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete on this site in the GFRC articles category. See in particular the Introduction to GFRC article.

GFRC is a great way to add large, complex or three-dimensional pieces to your repetoire, but it is very different from the typical wet cast or hand packed techniques for making precast concrete countertops. It requires completely different mixes, procedures and equipment. In general, it's best to have both regular precast and GFRC in your "bag of tricks".

Where do I buy tools and supplies for making concrete countertops?
The Concrete Countertop Institute does not sell products, but we recommend the sources for the best concrete countertop products.

Finding specialty tools and supplies for concrete countertops can be difficult in some areas of the country. Your local decorative concrete supply store may not know enough about concrete countertops to make good recommendations, especially about sealers. A company that sells tooling for granite often doesn't understand how different concrete is from granite (concrete has hard sand with soft cement, whereas granite is all hard). Therefore, it's best to use a company that caters specifically to concrete countertop makers.

Here are some resources specifically for concrete countertop makers:
— An online resource is www.concreteproductsweb.com, a service of Concrete Network.
— We list some recommended vendors on this page.

We are always looking for ways to help people find the products they need. Please contact us with ideas for how we can help you in that area.