Installing an outdoor kitchen is the new hot-ticket item in modern home improvement. An outdoor kitchen is so much more than just a fantastic addition to one’s entertaining a
Concrete furniture is really “in” at the moment, and it’s not just outdoor furniture. Bathroom sinks and vanity tables, bathtubs, kitchen counters, as well as outdoor seating, benches, birdbaths, decorative items, and more. Concrete is truly one of the most versatile and desirable materials on the market.
pparatus, it’s also a boon for property value, can save on air conditioning by not heating up the house to uncomfortable temperatures every mealtime, and allows one to enjoy cooking in the fresh air.
The problem? With concrete, the main issue is the expense, especially if you want to make something that’s fairly ornate or complex. You might not know, but the exorbitant cost of concrete and the complex molds required were one of the reasons the Sydney Opera House’s original budget of $7 million grew to more than $100 million by the time it was finished.
In today’s blog, we’ll explore the reasons why people want the concrete look for their furniture, but also some ways to achieve it with an alternative and innovative solution like the Semco system.
Background: Why is Concrete Desirable?
Concrete doesn’t always carry positive connotations — e.g., “concrete jungle. There’s an image of ugliness, of function, of hardness and coldness. On the other hand, we also use the word “concrete” to mean solid, dependable and realistic. For example, can you back up that claim with anything more “concrete” than just your own ideas?
When it comes to modern concrete furniture, however, it’s nearly all positive. People love the durability of concrete, but also the versatility. You can use it to make benches, tables, planters, pots, end tables, coffee chairs, fire pits, walls…the list goes on. If you’ve got a mold for it, concrete will conform to that mold and shape into whatever you want.
Those with the skills can also make anything in concrete look ornate with additional detailing. What’s more, concrete is easy to clean and paint. It’s essentially a brilliant kind of “blank canvas” for all manner of construction, and that goes for furniture, too.
Problems with Concrete
Durable and solid it may be, but that comes with a price — weight! Concrete makes furniture heavy, it’s as simple as that. If you create a concrete table measuring 30 x 60 inches and just an inch thick, it will weigh over 100 lbs!
That weight is also an advantage if you’re placing outdoor furniture, of course, since you don’t want the wind to blow it away or thieves to be able to easily cart it off, but it makes it very inconvenient when you need to move things around.
Furthermore, it’s hard to make really intricate shapes and sizes because you either have to use fasteners, which will give away that it is not in fact one seamless piece of concrete, or use very complex molds, which makes things even more expensive.
Another issue with concrete is the consistency of the finish and its potential for staining. If you have a very specific color or finish in mind when you start a project with concrete, you might be disappointed because concrete tends to cure quite inconsistently. What’s more, it easily stains and that’s obviously a problem when you want a clean color and finish.
Finally, concrete may look and feel solid, but it’s actually quite porous, which makes it easy for things like mildew to grow on it. Mildew creates an unpleasant appearance but also a bad smell, especially if the concrete is being used indoors. It has to be regularly sealed and resealed to ensure that the pores can’t become home to these undesirable things.
And so we see concrete isn’t necessarily all it’s cracked up to be all the time. What other solutions are there, though? If you want that concrete look, do you have to put up with the downside? Semco offers an innovative solution.
Solution: The Semco System
Instead of using solid concrete on the furniture, the Semco system allows users to coat a cheaper alternative substrate like plywood or foam in their micro-concrete coating. These micro-toppings from Semco form a surface layer that’s only ⅛ of an inch thick, but at the same time provides the chemical resistance, solidity and durability that people love in concrete, as well as the grand beauty of concrete.
How Does Semco Work?
As innovative as Semco is, it’s not just a case of troweling it on and letting it set. The substrate surface has to be properly prepped, and then the coating is added in layers for the best results. In some respects, it’s not unlike paint correction on a vehicle.
First, the substrate surface has to be thoroughly cleaned to be totally free of any dirt or other contaminants. You don’t want those affecting the primer or showing up in the mixture once it’s set.
Next, the substrate has to be properly primed and fixed in place ready to be coated. The coating is then applied in layers, each of which dries before a new one is applied. The end result is a mind-blowingly hard and solid concrete-like surface that reveals nothing of the real substrate below.
Benefits of Semco
To finish, let’s look at some of the reasons people are switching to Semco as a solution. It brings numerous benefits to a project.
It will almost always work out cheaper on a project to use a more affordable substrate coated in Semco than it would to use pure concrete. At the time of writing, prices for concrete are very high, so it makes even more sense in the current climate to use a budget-friendly solution that doesn’t compromise on quality. It is also very challenging to finish concrete to have a uniform look throughout. Semco can be finished with a uniform look throughout.
Solid, but Lightweight
Semco coatings provide the same chemical and physical resistance as concrete but without the sheer heft that pure concrete brings. The lighter substrate means you can get that winning combination of mobile, movable objects with the strength of concrete. To those who don’t know that what you’re moving isn’t solid concrete, you might even look like you possess superhuman strength as you haul your “concrete” tabletop and chairs around the yard.
Easy to Clean
Unlike concrete, the Semco surface is non-porous and therefore doesn’t allow mildew and other unpleasant life forms to get in there. It means you can clean it relatively easily with a pH-neutral soap. Mildew may not find a natural home in the non-porous Semco, but if there are any voids left from the troweling process — no matter how small or unnoticeable to the naked eye — there can be dirt embedded in there. A good soap and a brush can remove whatever is there and leave you with clean, bright concrete furniture.