Are you considering new countertops in your kitchen? This post will talk about the pros and cons of Pre Cast vs Cast in Place Concrete Countertops and ultimately help you decide what’s best for your home.
When we bought this fixer upper I named it “The Cherished House” and one of the first things I new I wanted to do in the kitchen was pour concrete countertops. I’ve wanted these since before I started blogging. In fact I’m pretty sure my mom used to talk about them when I was younger. So when we finally poured them ourselves for our Kitchen Renovation I was ecstatic! Let’s take a stroll down todays post: Pre Cast vs Cast in Place Concrete Countertops
The question I get asked the most is “did I pour them in a mold or did I pour them in place?”. Let’s talk about this! It is after all a very important decision in DIYing Concrete Countertops. I ended up going with a pre cast countertop, but I’m going to talk about both. There are pros and cons to each method and after lots of research we ended up going with pre cast. But there’s no wrong way, I promise!
Pre Cast vs Cast in Place (or Pour in a mold vs pour in place)
Cast in place means that you actually pour the countertops in place on top of your cabinets. There are probably a million and one reasons why or why not to go with this method. We did not use this method but I did lots of research and I’m sharing it with you here today!
Pros for Pour in Place Concrete Countertops (Cast in Place)
- Seamless design option
- You don’t have to move them
- Easier for more complicated designs
- Perfect fit
- No need for a mold
Let’s dive in a little deeper here, I’ll go through each bullet point. The seamless design is just not possible with a pre cast option, unless you are pouring a small countertop. By pouring it in place you can get one seamless design because it’s all poured at once on top of your cabinets. This is especially great if you have a huge or wide island. Speaking of, if you have a large section pouring them in place eliminates the need to move the countertops. And guys these things are HEAVY!!
Let’s move on to the aesthetics of the pour in place. If you have a more complicated countertop design this is easier to work with and requires less math to figure out everything exactly. Say for example you want your sink base to be deeper than your surrounding cabinets, that leaves you with a bump out and you need to be able to build that in a mold. Anytime you start making a bunch of angles and geometrically complicated designs it gets harder and harder to move as well. Pouring in place just makes this process easier.
The perfect fit is something that is a what ultimately causes people to move in this direction. For example our walls are in NO way square. We had somewhat of a complicated pour and took some extra brain power to figure it all out. If you have this issue you might want to highly consider this option. However we did not… we like to live dangerously, haha!
A lot of people use Z Counterform. I have no experience with these because we poured our own, but I’ve heard great things!
Cons for Pour in Place Concrete Countertops
Just like anything there is always cons, so I’ll share some of the things that were cons for us.
- Very messy in a recently remodeled kitchen
- Much more “permanent”
- More difficult to fix mistakes
- The top is where you can make mistakes
When you pour concrete countertops in a kitchen it’s one of the last things you do. So you have to consider the fact that you just did all that work, and you now have to pour concrete in place. It’s a messy job and you risk damaging your cabinets, floors, or both. I’ve heard and read a few stories that once you pour cabinets in place they are pretty much permanent and you might not be able to remove them should you make a mistake or end up not liking them.
If you make a mistake with pour in place countertops you have to start over from the beginning, assuming of course you can get them off. If you’re super comfortable working with concrete then this might be fine for you, but it is a big consideration. Getting the top smooth is essential and there’s always the chance that it might not work out that way. And like I mentioned before, fixing anything can be quite daunting.
Pros for Pre Cast Concrete Countertops
This is the method we ultimately ended up going with. Like I’ve said, there really isn’t a right or a wrong way, it’s about deciding what works best for you in your kitchen!
- Easily fix mistakes
- Keeps kitchen clean
- Safer choice for protecting floors and countertops
- More customize-able
When you’re pouring countertops into a mold and you make a mistake, you can just re-pour that one section. Sometimes you might notice a mistake right away, but sometimes you won’t know until you get that countertop onto your cabinets, so being able to remove them is ideal. This is also essential in case you ever feel like you might want a change. Being able to remove something is always a pro in my opinion.
By pouring the countertops outside of your kitchen you are keeping your newly remodeled space clean. Or even if you’re just replacing countertops, you don’t have to completely remove everything from your kitchen and leave yourself without a surface to work on. And there’s the added benefit of keeping floors and cabinets safe from damage during the pour.
Pouring countertops in place is easier if you want to do custom work. We didn’t really opt for anything custom, but it gives you the opportunity to incorporate grooves for draining dishes, design aesthetic, and I’ve even seen sinks cast out of concrete for one solid piece. Those kinds of things are definitely more complicated, but definitely an option.
Cons for Pre Cast Concrete Countertops
Now for the cons.
- Extremely difficult to move
- You will have a seam
- Isn’t easy to work around un-square walls
- You don’t know what the top looks like until it’s done curing
- Building the mold can be challenging if you have a difficult design
First and foremost these countertops will be extremely HEAVY. It took us 4 strong men to get these in place. So if you don’t have help, just go ahead and skip this option completely! When you pour concrete countertops in a mold you will very likely have a seam. There’s always the chance that you don’t have a part of countertop that runs more than 8′ but most kitchens do at least somewhere. If you don’t want a seam then this wouldn’t be the right choice for you.
One of the biggest obstacles we faced was working with our un-square walls. It’s certainly not impossible, but pour in place would’ve honestly been a little easier in our specific situation. You can caulk small gaps, but if you’re dealing with an older home more than likely you won’t have small gaps, you will be dealing with inches. Figuring out all the math of that can be difficult since in the mold the bottom is the top and you have to flip it. Obviously anyone can figure it out, but it does complicate it a little!
Not being able to see the top is very frustrating. It takes days to cure so you don’t even know if you messed up until you flip your countertops over. So if time is something you are concerned with it definitely takes longer this way should you need to re-pour anything.
Remember how I said pour in place was much easier if you have difficult design. Well that’s because if you are building a mold you have to figure out every single dimension based on your measurements taking quite a bit into consideration. I’ll get more into that in the tutorial, but it’s a much more involved process in my opinion.
Why We Chose Pre Cast Concrete Countertops
Ok, I’ve shared the pros and cons of Pre Cast vs Cast in Place, and like I’ve said several times before now… there is ABSOLUTELY NO RIGHT OR WRONG CHOICE HERE. It really really depends on your specific situation, what you’re more comfortable with and what works best in YOUR kitchen. I’m here to share my experience and opinions with you, but I’d highly suggest doing some extra research because as much as I try to write this from a neutral perspective I’m sure my personal opinion shines through a little bit ;).
We know this won’t be our forever home. This house was a big investment and with a bold and uncommon decision like concrete countertops if somebody doesn’t want these in the home when we sell we want them to know they can choose something different. Not only are there pros and cons to the method in which you pour, there are pros and cons to the material you choose in your kitchen, but that’s a whole different post!
Ultimately we wanted to be able to change the countertops, we didn’t want to risk ruining our cabinets or original hardwood floors, and give ourselves an out in case we just completely messed everything up. We really don’t have a ton of experience in concrete other than a few small projects so it wasn’t worth ruining our brand spankin new cabinets! And that’s really what lead us to our decision. The thing I was least excited about was the seam. I really would’ve loved to have a seamless countertop but that was my compromise for ultimately getting what I wanted in the best way for our personal situation.
Pre Cast vs Cast in Place Concrete Countertops
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