When people hear “concrete furniture,” they often think it’s going to be extremely heavy, ugly stuff only fit to sit in parks and bus stops. But most people are now realizing modern concrete furniture can be just as elegant, nearly as light, and far more durable than other furniture materials. But do you know every reason why concrete is a great material for furniture? Here’s fifteen of them, starting with its incredible functionality and then its versatile aesthetics.
1. Concrete lasts a long time, potentially thousands of years, as Roman concrete structures have. Concrete can hold hundreds of pounds, resists scratches and gouges, and is highly heat and cold resistant. It will never warp, though it may develop hairline cracks that are non-structural and often enhance the beauty of the piece. While corners and edges can chip, it generally takes a heavy object hitting the table or the table being dropped for that to happen.
The Pantheon has stood for more than a thousand years.
2. Great modern sealers make concrete very stain resistant. And even if it is stained, the stain will often go away after a while, especially if bleaching out in the sun (though many sealers also make concrete highly UV resistant so the sun won’t damage concrete or yellow the sealer). Spending a few minutes waxing the table every few months with beeswax or concrete floor wax (not automotive wax) will further protect the sealer and extend the stain resistance for decades, and the table can be resealed after many years if needed. If you take care to not let acidic substances sit for extended periods of time, your table might not need to be resealed for decades.
The sealer we use is a penetrating densifier, which means it hardens the surface and makes the concrete less porous so liquid can’t easily penetrate the surface. It will never flake off since it has changed the chemistry of the concrete itself, and does not affect the look of the concrete.
3. Can be refinished and repaired more easily than some materials. If a table does get a nasty stain or scratch that won’t come out, or just generally has been neglected for a long time, re-polishing the table can often revitalize the table. Chips can often be filled in and mostly or nearly completely repaired, with no experience with concrete required, just by grouting with matching cement (though it depends on what kinds of aggregates and cement used to get a complete match). In the worst cases, color staining the whole table can make it feel brand new without completely covering up the beauty of cement, unlike how staining or painting gorgeous wood can often ruin what makes the table beautiful. Existing color stains can be touched up or reapplied. Other materials like glass and acrylic can be very difficult to refinish at all.
4. Our tables can easily go from indoor to out without need of a different sealer that changes the look of the concrete like often is the case with wood. Since UV, heat, moisture, cold, and freeze-thaw cycles have little effect on our concrete, you don’t have to worry about bringing in the concrete in extreme weather. Nor will all but the toughest winds blow tables over.
5. No off gassing of odors. Non-toxic and food safe. Easy to keep clean with just soap and water. No or negligible amounts of VOCs are emitted by concrete, and concrete won’t harbor dust like softer materials. And of course (just to pad this list) concrete is not flammable.
6. It’s really not that heavy. In fact, hollow concrete can enable shapes and sizes of tables that would be extremely heavy if made of wood or steel, and stronger than tables made of lighter materials like plastic or ceramic. GFRC (glass fiber reinforced concrete) techniques give concrete a nice solid weight that’s not back-breaking but feels very sturdy.
7. Concrete can be ecological since it lasts such a long time. Cement production is not the most ideal process, since it takes energy to heat the cement in kilns, but concrete tables (especially end tables) require relatively small amounts of material to create long-lasting, strong furniture. Also, since we replace about a quarter of the cement with a recycled product, that means even less of a footprint. Other materials may take less initial energy input, but if it lasts much shorter then concrete, then concrete wins out. Concrete plays the long-term game of green.
8. Concrete can take on almost any shape, color, many different textures, and tons of different impressions. It’s arguably one of the most versatile materials for furniture and design in general, with its combination of strength and freedom of appearance. It can appear machine-finished and glossy, or handmade and textural, industrial or fun and artistic. Every room and yard has some color and shape of concrete that would look good in it.
9. There’s a huge number of aggregates that can be used in concrete, both to to create unique surfaces, and improve qualities like making the table lighter or more heat or sound insulating. We can even used recycled aggregates for most of the material.
10. Can be relatively cheap for the handmade uniqueness and quality of each piece. Compared to most other high quality materials for furniture, cement, aggregates, and other raw materials are relatively cheap, so the price accounts more for labor and expertise than materials. That way, a beautiful, one of the kind concrete table tends to sell for less than a similarly beautiful table made of wood or other materials.
11. Instant “wow” factor when friends come over. “Is that concrete?” is what people usually say first, and then, “How heavy is that?” Then you show strong you are by lifting it. People love to to feel how smooth and solid it feels. It starts a conversation, but without dominating a scene (unless you want it to with a bright color or high contrast impressions.)
12. There’s few or no seams, and often seams can be polished to a subtle effect or completely hidden with color stains. Many shapes are difficult, heavy, or expensive to make seamless with other materials.
13. Concrete can have a more “natural” look than many table surfaces, especially when aggregates are exposed or there are organic impressions. Concrete also arguably has a warmer feel, both on the eyes and hands, than steel, glass, or wrought iron, especially. Certain concrete colors can even compete with darker woods for warmness.
14. Concrete’s hardness and clean lines contrast well with soft furniture like couches. In fact, concrete looks good with almost any furniture in any room. Concrete furniture is modern yet ancient. This industrial look is very popular now and can help raise your house value by a lot more than the cost of the products themselves. It’s a timeless look that is unlikely to ever go out of fashion.
15. It is versatile enough to appear in every room of the house for a consistent, fashionable theme. Concrete counters in the kitchen, concrete sinks in the bathrooms, concrete dining table and side tables in the bedrooms. Maybe even a concrete bench and birdbath in the garden. Never mind concrete floors, walls, window sills, stairs, patios, driveways and more. How many materials can boast that nearly an entire home could be made of just that material and actually be quite functional?