COUNTERTOPS: Concrete from VitraStone (Part 2 of 2)
GetWithGreen.com recently spent some quality time with two industry and market leading concrete product manufacturers. We gave you the scoop on one about a week ago, and today we are going to introduce you to the second: VitraStone.
As we discussed last week, both Sonoma Cast Stone and VitraStone are at the top of their game in the concrete countertop, concrete sink and concrete tile market. These products are a must see as you are preparing for your kitchen or bathroom remodel.
We started our first discussions with VitraStone in July of this year. The company is headquartered in Durango, Colorado, and the team has been delivering concrete products to homeowners for seven years.
Founder, Ryan Waxman started in the concrete business in 2001. His work began using ceramic cements in landscaping projects, he then began fabricating vessel sinks, soon people wanted matching countertops. He moved from one shop to the next, gradually needing more space. VitraStone now has 3,000 square feet dedicated to fabrication, and a huge yard for storing and processing recycled glass.
Ryan’s personal favorite concrete piece is his concrete patio countertop. During the summer months, family and friends eat and drink on this seven foot counter. And, over the years the counter has acquired a patina from all the usage. The patina tells many stories to all those who sit down to drink, or dine. After the guests and summer depart, and the Colorado winter rolls in, multiple feet of snow rest each year on Ryan’s countertop until the Spring thaw.
The VitraStone factory is open to the general public. Product can be purchased online and through select dealers.
VitraStone’s product-line includes; concrete countertops, countertop tiles, vessel sinks and sink tops. All products are manufactured on-site, and are delivered, or shipped to homeowners (if you purchase a vessel sink via the company website, shipping is free). Typically, the sinks, sink tops and the counter tiles are the only products shipped, simply due to freighting costs. That being said, the company is there to serve the customer, wherever that customer may be.
The VitraStone pre-cast kitchen and bathroom countertops are built custom from a template that is made on-site at your home. VitraStone’s countertop tiles, like the pre-cast countertops come in 18 standard colors, and countless custom colors. These tiles are installed on a cabinet frames and are joined together with a thin bead of Polyblend grout. This is typically viewed as a less costly product than a counter built to fit your home.
Vessel sinks are a must see from VitraStone. Their online store will deliver you a great photo viewing experience, and pricing is listed for the VitraStone sinks – making it very easy to plan your budget (GetWithGreen.com likes this!!).
VitraStone does not offer a stainless concrete product like Sonoma Cast Stone. So the VitraStone products will patina over time. Natural patinas are often a desired effect for those interested in concrete countertops, it’s the way it ages that gives concrete counters a unique ability to outlast trends in the market. VitraStone tells us that people also try to compare concrete to granite, but its really apples and oranges, granite looks good at first but ages poorly, and is eventually replaced. VitraStone counters will age beautifully over the years, becoming stronger, and retaining their honed finish, according to Ryan.
VitraStone Countertops are reinforced with steel, have a high compression strength of 10,000 psi (VitraStone tell us this is twice as strong as high strength Portland cements), and are very stable under changing climates (as the extreme outdoor case noted above). VitraStone products carry a limited warranty and all shipments are insured.
As we’ve told you before, concrete is beautiful, but it is not all together inexpensive. Here is a breakdown of pricing for VitraStone countertop products:
- Pre-cast for kitchen: $85 – 125 sq ft. Fluctuation in price is due to color, thickness of the counter and other custom elements.
- Pre-cast for bathroom $85 – 175 sq ft. Fluctuation in price is due to color, thickness of the counter, integral sinks and other custom elements.
- Sinktops: $999 – 1,899
- Vessel Sinks: $455 – $695
The company has price ranges for all products on their website, so it is really easy to understand what will fit into your remodel budget.
Fixtures for sinks should be chosen based on the dimensions of the sinks. There are countless faucets available for vessel sinks and integral sinks that will fit with VitraStone products. It is important to make sure that you are using a non-overflow drain assembly, as VitraStone products do not have an overflow.
The Eco-Friendliness of VitraStone
VitraStone products do not use “Portland” cements. Portland cement requires large amounts of energy to produce, according to VitraStone, and they contribute to 7% of global green house gases. The company uses a ceramic cement, which they view makes their concrete stronger to others in the market. “Ceramic cements are an age old technology, in fact the mortar in parts of the great wall of China have similar ceramic cement,” commented Ryan. VitraStone claims their ceramic cement is very low in embodied energy, about 1/20 of the energy needed to create Portland cement. VitraStone does not off gas, and is mold resistant.
The company’s standard countertop mix uses 70% recycled content. 50% of that is glass sand, and 20% is recycled fly-ash. The glass used in VitraStone is ground to a fine sand which resembles natural sand, and the look of traditional concrete countertops. A second mix is comprised of 85% recycled content, which has larger pieces of glass that are visible to the homeowner, much like a terrazzo.
Key Points about Concrete
Take-aways from our discussions with both manufacturers:
- Pay close attention to how many years your concrete countertop supplier has been in business. Quite often pour-in-place manufacturers have been in business for far fewer years and their products may be more prone to cracking and warping.
- Whether a show room or residence, make sure you go see the products before you buy. Not all concrete is created equal in strength, beauty and durability.
- Make sure your manufacturer has a warranty and some form of maintenance plan/program – because if you do have a problem it could be a major investment.
GetWithGreen.com will definitely be discussing more about concrete in the future, but as you are looking for remodel solutions today…make sure you take a look at both VitraStone and Sonoma Cast Stone! The products are fantastic alternatives to granite. Also be sure to sign up for our green product newsletter, as we will be discussing the purchase and installation of concrete counters by one of our GetWithGreen.com employees in a couple months!
For more information on making a decision about whether concrete countertops for you, visit our article on maintaining a concrete countertop.