Concrete Confidential- The Inside Information on Concrete Basins

Concrete Confidential- The Inside Information on Concrete Basins

Textural, Beautiful, Unique

There is no doubt a concrete basin can lift your bathroom from ordinary to extraordinary.

The rise in popularity of coloured concrete basins in recent years has been nothing short of astronomical, so much so that it has become unusual to see traditional white ceramic basins feature at all in bathrooms on home improvement shows such as The Block.

But concrete is a very different medium to ceramic or porcelain and sadly many people end up with basins that do not look, feel or perform the way they expected, resulting in wasted money and the soul-destroying inconvenience of replacing what is essentially new basins.

There is no doubt we are all busy and while it is tempting to skip the small print, understanding exactly what you are purchasing and what you can expect from your product are very important. And sometimes even if you take the time to research, the information provided can be basic, hard-to-find, ambiguous or worded in a way that makes it hard to understand

To help prevent you from being one of the many people that hate the basins they so desperately saved for (and let’s face it, they are not cheap) and are now facing untimely, expensive renovations, we have put together the following no-nonsense information.

 

Are Concrete Basins made from Real Concrete?

This is a tricky one to answer. 

Many of the cheaper, imported concrete basins (and even some of the high-end, expensive ones on the market) are very loosely labelled “concrete”. They are made from some sort of concrete/resin polymer that is quite light in comparison to concrete. It almost feels like fibreglass. These basins feel and look more like plastic or resin than concrete.

We recently sold basins to a lovely lady who was replacing quite new “concrete” basins for this exact reason. She was so disappointed with her Australian made “concrete” basins because they were so uniform and looked and felt like resin, not concrete. They had no concrete-like feature whatsoever and she had paid a premium price for them.

You also want to make sure your basins are made from GFRC, or Glass Fibre Reinforced Concrete, rather than traditional truck-type concrete.

The addition of alkali resistant glass fibres and other high-tech additives means greater strength, versatility and lower water absorption. Traditional concrete with its steel reinforcing is much weaker than today’s Glass Fibre Reinforced Concrete although it has over 95% of the same ingredients.

Usually basins made from older style concrete are easy to identify as they are chunkier and rarely have hole sections underneath to reduce weight. Truck-type concrete obviously still has its place in home construction however basins made from it are less durable and more prone to cracking.

GFRC (glass fibre reinforced concrete) has the same look and feel of traditional concrete but is much stronger, can be cast into detailed shapes and is much denser, therefore less porous and less likely to stain. Choosing this material over traditional concrete is a smart choice.

 

Do Concrete Basins Crack?

They can...but they shouldn't.

First of all, as discussed above, it is important that your basin is made from GRFC to decrease the chance of cracking.

Secondly, your basin must be installed correctly.

While we obviously cannot speak for other manufacturers, in our experience DLH Designs' concrete basins only crack when they are not installed correctly. In our nearly 5 years of manufacture we have only ever seen basins crack that have not been installed to our instructions.

We have done extensive testing of our concrete basins, exposing them to temperature fluctuations well beyond what they would experience in a home setting and we cannot get them to crack uninstalled. 

Concrete will expand and contract due to temperature fluctuations. Our basins come with very specific but easy to follow instructions that allow the basins to expand and contract evenly, reducing uneven forces on the basins that will cause cracking.

We recommend always reiterating with your plumber/installer that concrete basins need to be installed differently to ceramic or porcelain, how important it is to have read the instructions and to follow them to the letter.

 

Do Concrete Basins Stain?

The short answer? Yes.

BUT....

So does marble, granite, manufactured stone, stainless steel, timber etc.

Every product you buy for your home requires a level of care. The important thing is to know what is required and follow the care instructions.

The rationale we often hear for people's expectations of concrete basins is that concrete basins are expensive, therefore they should be bombproof.

But sadly, that is not how it works.

You could pay tens of thousands of dollars for marble benchtops and red wine will still stain them. You could pay relatively little for laminate and red wine won't stain. But do you want laminate?

You choose the product you desire and if you want to keep it in the best condition, you read and follow the recommended care instructions.

If you follow the instructions, wipe spills up in a reasonable amount of time, and only use PH neutral, non abrasive cleaners on your basins they should look beautiful for a long time.

If you don't read or follow the instructions, leave spills sitting on your basins for days, expose them to harsh chemicals (not just cleaners...beware face peels and sunscreen) or clean them with something abrasive like a magic eraser or a cream cleanser, you will probably mark them.

It is important to remember here than concrete is not the same as ceramic or porcelain. Your basins will age and "patina". This is to be expected. And any scratches or stains that you might get on your basins will age and fade as well.

This is the beauty of concrete.

 

Why doesn't my basin look exactly like the one on the website?

Concrete basins are cast in moulds individually. Concrete texture and detail will vary between each basin due to many factors and to a certain degree, cannot be controlled. 

This is what gives each piece it's unique appearance and character.

When ordering a basin look closely at all the basins on the company's website. This will give you a good indication of the range of what to expect. Feature and texture varies greatly between different manufacturers.

Most companies will have a disclaimer on their product pages to expect slight variations in colour, texture and even size due to the fact these basins are handmade.

 

Why is it so expensive for a custom basin?

This is because of the way they are made.

It can be hard to understand why a basin a bit bigger or smaller than the one on the website will cost 4-5 times as much, but the process to achieve this is way more complicated than most people will imagine.

Every basin is cast in a mould. Making that mould involves first of all getting a perfect master-part made. This will mean either machining foam or timber into the shape of the required basin. The surface of this master will be far from perfect and any imperfection in the master-part will be reflected in the mould and therefore every basin cast in it. Getting the master part to be as flawless as possible and ready for mould-making can take many, many hours of work.

The mould then needs to be cast from that master part in such a way that a concrete basin can then be cast in that mould and removed easily from the mould.

Mould making is an art-form; a time-consuming, and therefore expensive process.

Any size changes to the basin advertised through any manufacturer will be expensive.

 

 

 Be informed, do your research

This is our most important advice. Read the information provided by the manufacturer/website, be familiar with the care and installation required, make sure you are happy with the level of texture/feature on there basins and compare, compare, compare!

Being informed and having realistic expectations will go a long way to ensuring you are happy with your end purchase.

 

We are happy to help!

We hope this information has helped you to understand what to expect from a concrete basin and helped with your decision on whether they are the right product for you.

If you have a burning question about concrete basins that we haven't answered here please feel free to comment or email info@dlhdesigns.com.au. We are more than happy to help :)

 

 

 


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