The ancient Egyptians and Romans mastered the art of building with concrete. Other civilizations had used the material, but the Egyptians and Romans figured out that adding ash to the mix made for a much better concrete. And the rest, as they say, is history. We now use concrete to build everything from bridges to skyscrapers.
Concrete is often chosen as a building material due to its strength and durability. But what about its beauty? Salt Lake City’s Tyler Thomas Blaine, a functional artist and the owner of the Modern Craftsman studio, works with concrete to create all sorts of nontraditional pieces. He says the material’s beauty makes it a pleasure to work with.
Concrete in the Home
Bridges and skyscrapers are necessary and good. But we can use concrete for so much more. In the home, concrete garage pads and patio decks are pretty routine. Inside though concrete is a very workable material. Let’s start with floors.
Most of us live in homes with wood floors. Even when homes are built on concrete pads, they generally have wood sub-floors built on top, followed by finished flooring. But wood floors are not mandatory. Floors can be solid concrete. And in fact, concrete floors are pretty standard in places like Arizona and Nevada.
Concrete countertops are another option. They are tough and sturdy, they hold up for years, and with the right finish, they can be aesthetically stunning. Perhaps not as stunning as concrete sinks and tubs in the bathroom, though.
Imagine your bathroom being fitted with a custom concrete tub made to your specifications. Imagine pairing it with a concrete sink designed as a ramp or bowl. The options are almost limitless when you’re talking concrete.
Concrete in the Office
You might already be familiar with concrete at work thanks to your office building featuring classic concrete construction. But take a closer look. Blaine does all sorts of things with concrete in the office. For example, he has installed concrete wall panels to surround elevator shafts. He has also installed decorative concrete wall panels similar to creating a contrast wall with a different paint color.
In a commercial bathroom, concrete ramp sinks are pretty popular right now. In cafeterias and cafés, concrete is being used for everything from benches to tables to countertops. Designers are looking to concrete for its combination of beauty and durability.
Colors, Finishes, and Textures
From an aesthetic standpoint, one of the many benefits of working with concrete is its customization possibilities. For example, you can choose from a variety of colors, finishes, and textures. In terms of color, adding different pigments to concrete is as easy as painting a wall. Concrete finishes can be glossy and bright or more opaque or matte in nature.
Where texture is concerned, smooth isn’t the only option. Concrete can be roughed up to give it a more tactile presentation. It can also be stamped with near limitless designs. Thus, you can make concrete appear to be tile, cinder block, natural stone, or just about anything else.
Concrete is so versatile that architects and builders make extensive use of it when building theme parks. Much of what looks like stone and brick at a typical theme park is actually concrete. If you have ever visited the happiest place on earth, a significant portion of the facades you saw were made from concrete. From princess castles to mountain peaks and larger-than-life trees, it is all concrete.
No, concrete is not just for bridges and skyscrapers. It is one of the most versatile building materials on Earth.