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How to Reinforce Concrete Countertops

Countertops for the kitchen, bathroom, or other areas in which surfaces are used extensively are an important aspect of a project. Using concrete as a countertop material may seem counterintuitive since concrete is normally under one's feet. However, when concrete is used as a countertop material correctly and has been reinforced, it serves the purpose effectively. In another article we talk about how to reinforce stone countertops in a general sense. In this article though, we will explore some important information regarding how to reinforce concrete countertops.

Why Reinforce Concrete Countertops

The reasons for reinforcing a given concrete countertop will vary depending on specific variables. Each situation is different and the reasons for reinforcing a concrete countertop might vary from one prject to the next. For example, the countertop might extend out from one ore more sides of the base, making it a cantilever. In this scenario, the tension produced on the the top of the counter by the overhang of the unsupported section means the concrete benefits from reinforcement. In the event that a the countertop is not a cantilever, it still is an unsupported span; making it in essence, a beam without support. Throw in the natural force we are all familiar with called gravity and you have tension on the underside of the countertop.

Even if the countertop is not being created under the conditions mentioned above, it still makes sense to add reinforcement. Why? Because buildings and foundations settle and change. The base could shift or twist; adding tension in areas of the countertop that might not be expected. So as a general rule, it is a good idea to reinforce concrete countertops. But the question then is, how?

Concrete Countertop Reinforcement Techniques

As with many other practices, countertop reinforcement may mean different things to different people. This is because there are multiple ways to reinforce concrete. We will briefly consider two of them in this context. The two methods we will consider are:

  1. Primary Reinforcement
  2. Secondary Reinforcement

Primary Countertop Reinforcement

As you may have inferred from the terminology, primary reinforcement is necessary. This is because it is structural in nature. Primary reinforcement of a concrete coutnertop is added by using one of many types. Primary reinforcement works by adding a grid-like structure to the mold before the concrete is added. This reinforcement material may be made of any of the following:

  • Carbon Fiber Rodding
  • Fiberglass Rodding
  • Galvanized Masonry Wire
  • Steel Rodding

The above list of materials is not all inclusive, but you get the idea. Choose a material that is able to be cut into long strips and used to create a grid structure so that when the concrete is poured into the mold and cured, the grid adds structural support.

Secondary Countertop Reinforcement

The other method of reinforcing concrete countertops is, as the name implies, not required, but adds to the overall quality of the finished countertop. Secondary reinforcement contributes to the strength of the concrete as well, but it is performed using a different form of material.

Secondary reinforcement of concrete makes use of glass fiber mixed into the concrete. This method is used as a secondary (or additional) method of reinforcement. The glass fibers should be made of non-corrosive, alkali-resistant material since other types of glass fiber will be broken down by the concrete.

Glass fibers added to concrete countertops increases the resistance of the concrete to large cracks by distributing shrinkage stresses in the material. These fibers must be added though in the proper manner so that they are invisible in the final product and perform the best.

In the end, reinforcing concrete countertops can be done in a couple of different ways using several materials for the primary reinforcement. The optional secondary reinforcement material however, should be one of a couple designed specifically for use with alkaline substances like concrete. Choosing the proper reinforcement materials for you concrete countertop will ensure that your project truns out the best it can be.

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