Concrete’s use as furniture is relatively new. Only a few decades ago, concrete furniture would have been laughable as a concept. But you look at modern houses nowadays and it won’t be at all a surprise to see households sport a stylish new concrete dining table. As a whole, concrete’s versatility as a building material is unquestionable. Concrete has been used as early as 4,000 years ago in older civilizations like Rome and even the Mesopotamian empires. As such, its viability as a building material is time-tested and has been refined over the millennia.
Its use in more intricate details however, such as interior design applications and furniture uses, is fairly new. Its innovation in those aspects of space design started in the early part of the 1900s. Thomas Edison, interestingly enough, is known mostly for his development of the modern-day light bulb, but had a plethora of other groundbreaking innovations, concrete furniture being one of them. He set up the Edison Portland Cement Company which would use different ore mining and milling technologies to create cement mixes suitable for use in house construction and masonry blocks. Some notable furniture that Edison made using concrete was the concrete phonograph cabinet, as well as other proposals for concrete furniture and musical instruments.
The various applications and the sheer versatility of concrete have produced many not-so-conventional uses for the material. Concrete can be used in furniture, yes, but also for sculptures and other artistic media. Centuries of refinement and development resulted in various effective concrete molding and setting methodologies. To really understand the characteristics of the material, let’s take a brief look at the basics of concrete.
Concrete is generally made of two main parts: the cement and the aggregate. The cement, which functions as the main binder or “paste” of concrete, has a consistency, stability, and structural integrity that is dictated by the amount of water that is mixed into it. The basic science behind it is that the cement paste has a very specific chemical reaction with water which causes it to crystallize and harden. When it comes to the water-cement ratio, the lower the amount of water in relation to the cement, the harder the cement. On the other hand, enough water should be added so that the cement is plastic and viscous enough to flow smoothly.
The aggregate, which is qualified as either fine or coarse, are added to supplement the strength and stiffness of concrete. These are made from cleaned and consistently sized particles of rock. Coarser aggregates can be made from up to 1-1/2 inch diameter gravel pieces, and finer aggregates are usually made of smaller sand particles, usually with diameters below ¼ inches.
A third optional component is different admixtures that can be added to concrete slurry. These admixtures can serve different functions, such as change the required setting time for concrete, increase its strength, and even change its appearance and color.
A combination of these different components defines how easily workable concrete is. This knowledge is important to be able to create interesting and structurally sound molds for different concrete furniture.
Concrete countertops are done by hand, meticulously and precisely, so that different defects and imperfections can be avoided. As a material for countertops, concrete can both be aesthetically pleasing as well as functional and clean; this makes it suitable for any type of kitchen: large or small, formal or informal. The designs and layouts of concrete countertops are also endless due to the very versatile and moldable nature of concrete.
Concrete countertops can also be used not just in residential kitchens, but also in commercial restaurants and office spaces.
With its viability as a heavy-duty kitchen countertop, concrete can also be effectively used as dining table surfaces. The difference between countertops and tables is the movable nature of a table, as opposed to countertops which are fixed. As such, certain considerations have to be made when choosing to utilize a concrete dining table set.
Overall, concrete’s use a viable workable surface – whether in the form of concrete countertops or concrete dining tables – is quite commonplace in the design industry today. There’s just something about the rawness and honesty of concrete as a design material that just appeals to designers and homeowners alike.
As mentioned before, there are certain precaution that have to be taken into consideration when considering to purchase and use concrete furniture and dining tables. Here are some select dos and don’ts when working with concrete furniture.
1) Do take it slow
When transitioning from regular wooden or upholstered furniture to concrete furniture and dining tables, you don’t want to go all out right away. Even with its amazingly popular look and aesthetics, concrete will still not appeal to every homeowner. To get a feel of how you find concrete furniture, start with smaller concrete pieces such as tabletop decors, small paperweights, and even lighting fixtures.
2) Don’t expect curves
Although concrete molding technology has come a long way, it’s an undeniable fact that creating curvilinear volumes and forms with concrete isn’t nearly as easy as creating blocky, streamlined shapes. You’ll often find concrete furniture and concrete dining tables with very sleek lines and straight edges. So if you’re used to ergonomic, comfortable, curvy furniture, don’t expect the same feel with concrete furniture.
3) Do use them as accents
When you’ve gotten the feel of using concrete furniture and see that you like the look and feel of them, try to be experimental and creative with their use. Concrete furniture, by their nature, are centers of attention and shrine brightest when used as bold, accent pieces. Find striking forms, unusual uses, and adventurous styles when picking out concrete furniture and dining tables.
4) Don’t expect perfection
Concrete is well-know and well-loved for its raw, texture look and feel. As such, if you’re a fan of clean, sterile-looking surfaces, you shouldn’t expect to love the look of concrete. Granted, there are ways to make a concrete look and feel more “perfect”, you’d be better off with other materials if that’s the look you’re going for. The appeal of concrete lies in its varied and almost random aesthetic.
5) Do mix it up
Contrast and complementary textures are great when using concrete furniture. With its almost rough and raw look, concrete dining tables look great next to warmer, smoother wood textures, or softer pastel block colors. Experiment with contrast and see how to really make your concrete furniture enhance the look of your rooms.
Concrete dining tables come in many different shapes and sizes. It would be impossible to list all the variations within one list, but just to give you a general idea of how versatile concrete can be, here are some interesting examples of concrete dining tables.
This example just goes to show how effective complementary and contrasting textures look together. The concrete and wood dining table was made by using concrete that was poured and molded alongside reclaimed slabs of wood. The grains and texture of the log perfectly fit with the smooth, gray surface of the concrete.
When going with concrete dining tables, you’re going to want to go for more modern, more minimalist looks. This simple yet striking dining table has a solid, concrete top supported by an intricate framework made of solid wood underneath.
For concrete dining tables, it’s never a good idea to produce monolithic pieces that are too large. Several transportation and installation issues will arise. In this particular example, the manufacturers created two separate halves and joined them together with a seam and a center piece at the middle of the table.
You could very much also go for rounder forms when it comes to concrete. A concrete dining table round piece such as this one work well in fancy restaurant settings. You could even incorporate a fireplace centerpiece at the middle; concrete is a stable enough material to be able to take the heat from that. A concrete top dining table round set will also always be a nice accent piece to any room.
Concrete dining tables, due to the nature of them being made from concrete, can also be used outdoors with little for you to worry about. Unlike wooden tabletops, concrete will not degrade or rot under extreme weather conditions. This concrete dining table outdoor set is a good use of outdoor concrete furniture.
Concrete has the unique ability of being incredibly versatile and flexible as a material while also being incredibly durable, long-lasting, and weather-resistant. As a building material primarily used in the exterior of building facades as both walls and roofs, and as the surfaces of exterior flooring, its ability to withstand any type of weather is unquestionable. This is especially useful in four-season climates where drastic changes in temperature come in the form of extremely hot summers and absolutely frigid, snowy winters. A concrete top outdoor dining table is perfect for this type of climate.
On that note, it’s definitely not an exaggeration to say that concrete furniture can suitably be used anywhere – whether it’s indoors or outdoors. There are a few key differences however, when considering whether to use concrete furniture and dining tables indoors or outdoors.
First is surface treatment. In outdoor situations (and certain indoor situations like in the kitchen), surface finishes have to be applied to prevent water from seeping into the concrete. If glossy surface treatments aren’t your thing, you could always opt to get concrete furniture with hydrophobic admixtures added into its mix.
Secondly, you need to consider quality. Typically, quality, well-crafted furniture will be used indoors where its quality can be appreciated without being worn out by the harsh outdoor environments. It’s a matter of picking out which concrete furniture has an aesthetic that is worth keeping inside.
Third, you shouldn’t forget about its intended use. From the get-go, most suppliers and manufacturers will include some kind of description or note about what the furniture’s intended use is. Just take a quick glance at that and see if it’s suitable for outdoor or indoor use.
For the most part, homeowners are going to be choosing to place their concrete dining tables indoors as accent pieces. With a piece as eye-catching as a concrete dining table, we can’t blame them. So, if you’re among those homeowners, here are some design considerations and useful tips with using concrete dining tables in interior spaces.
1) Consider prices. Don’t be too caught up in how the price tag looks when it comes to concrete dining tables. Concrete, by its very nature, is a very cost-effective material. So when you’re trying to decide between two concrete dining tables and the price point is the main difference, go for the cheaper one. There won’t be too much of a difference in quality.
2) Be careful of scratches. Especially in activity-heavy interior spaces, there will be more than enough opportunity for accidental scuff and dings. Concrete as a whole is pretty durable and can take large compressive forces pretty well, but it doesn’t fare too well against concentrated, sharp forces. So either keep your sharp objects away from concrete or find concrete dining tables that are specifically engineered to withstand these types of blows.
3) Take advantage of its texture. Concrete is famous for its rough, raw texture. That characteristic is one of its main selling points, in fact. As such, make sure the rest of the room complements this type of aesthetic. Interior design themes that lean to the modern, industrial, mid-century modern look are perfect for concrete dining tables.
4) Use them as accent pieces. Concrete furniture and concrete dining tables especially are very eye-catching pieces. As such, you’re going to want to use them as the main selling point of your dining room. Be careful not to add too many bold statement pieces in any one room; you’ll run the risk of making the room feel stuffy or cluttered. As such, it’s a good tip to keep concrete dining tables in rooms that have more subdued furniture and décor.
When you’ve decided you want a concrete dining table in your home and you’ve figured out the type of look you’re going for, the next step would be to find a place to purchase the right fit for your design vision. Purchasing furniture can be a bit harrowing to some people, so let’s ease the burden a little bit by going through some considerations when shopping for concrete dining tables.
1.) Consider going online. Although it’s always nice to get to actually see your furniture before you decide to purchase it, shopping in local furniture stores can only get you so far. Going online gives you the freedom to choose from an infinitely larger variety of concrete dining tables and can give you an opportunity to really find that one furniture piece that would be perfect for you. If you really want to personalize, you can even go the concrete dining table DIY route.
2.) Choose what’s most convenient. When it comes to customer service, ease of accessibility usually gives you a hint as to how well-managed a furniture supply store is. The better the easy of accessibility with the purchase, the better the chance that the store has good management and good quality products. This is another good point for online shopping since you can do your browsing in the comfort of your home.
3.) Compare, compare, compare. Don’t just settle for the first concrete dining table you see. Look through many options first before picking out your chosen piece. Consider price points, quality, looks, and functionality.
4.) Keep an eye out for return policies. Concrete dining tables can be a bit more fragile than other types of dining tables, so it’s always useful to buy from a vendor that offers reasonable warranty terms and great return policies, just in case.
5.) Check out reviews. There’s nothing better to speak about the quality of a product than the testimonies of actual users. Look online for review posts on the concrete tables you’re eyeing to see if there are some details or future issues that you may have overlooked.
When you’ve purchased and installed your concrete surface, your work is still not done. Like with any quality furniture and design centerpiece, regular maintenance is required. Granted, concrete may not be as needy as some wooden materials or rust-heavy metals, but it still needs some love and care to last as long as it can.
Concrete, as durable as it is, is still a porous (and therefore moisture-prone) material. With that comes the potentiality of getting stains and other discolorations. So the first thing you need to make sure of when maintaining your concrete surfaces is checking out if a water-resistant surface finish has already been applied. For most purchased surface, it usually already has a finish like that, but it’s always useful to double-check.
Another thing to consider is the types of activities you do on your concrete surfaces. Avoid any sharp blows to the surface as some of these, if forceful enough, will leave dings and cracks on the concrete. Also try to avoid any extreme heat, like hot pots and pans, since doing so might cause discoloration, if not on the concrete, then perhaps on the top finish of the concrete.
Needless to say, you’ll want to keep acidic or volatile chemicals (like in some cleaning products) away from concrete. This holds true for most materials anyway, and even though concrete can withstand some heavy chemical punishment, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
When it comes to cleaning concrete surfaces, avoid using high-pressure washes too often. These are good for very occasional washes, but in order to avoid any untimely deterioration of the surface, a good scrub with some soap and water will suffice.
Using concrete countertops and concrete dining tables is a design trend that is quickly getting more popular in the design industry. Its character is undeniable, its cost-effectiveness is more than a little appealing, and its versatility makes it king.
As such, be an innovator when it comes to residential interior design and get on the concrete dining table parade as soon as you can. We can guarantee you won’t regret it.