This all started because of a sample we made about a year ago and put in our sample rack. We’d seen pictures of concrete countertops that looked like wood and wanted to see if we could make concrete that looked so close to actual wood, that it would fool the average person. We started experimenting and eventually figured out how to process the wood so that when we cast the concrete on it, we would pick up all the grain detail. Then we figured out how to color the concrete to accent the detail. The result was a sample that would fool any client that walked into our showroom.
For about a year, this sample served as a curiosity. Most clients who come to the shop, know what they want and were there to look at colors. They would see this sample and be amazed, but it wasn’t what they were looking for, so there it sat. One day I had a client at the shop to look at samples for her kitchen. She saw the wood look sample and asked if we could do it in other wood colors. We said we could and she said that’s what I want.
Ok, now we’re being asked to make countertops for an 80 square foot kitchen and all we’ve ever done is a 12-inch by 12-inch sample. I didn’t even know how to price it as we made our samples out of scrap wood we had around the shop. Luckily, she wasn’t ready to start the job right away and I told her we needed to see if we could replicate the look on a larger scale and figure out pricing.
To see if we could pull this off we made a 40-inch by 40-inch table top. We worked out all the details such as ensuring that the countertop sides had the appropriate grain to match the grain pattern on the top of the countertops. We thought through how we would transition the grain pattern on the sink opening to go from end grain to side grain. These types of details were critical if you want the countertops to truly look like wood and not just kind-of look like wood. Once we were satisfied we could get the look correct on a larger piece, we started pouring small samples and working on different color options. What we found with the coloring is that we can come up with an almost infinite variety of color and shades to really customize each job to the clients wants and needs.
Now we were ready to get down to business. I worked out my pricing and provided the client a quote for making the concrete wood look countertops for her kitchen. She agreed to the price, we scheduled templating and scheduled a time for her to come to the shop and work with us to get the exact color she wanted. Once we had everything we needed we started creating her countertops. A couple of weeks later we installed the countertops and the client couldn’t be happier and is already thinking of other countertops she wants to replace with concrete.
So, what is the lesson we learned from this scenario? While experimenting is fun, and you want to show off your experiments that turn out good, make sure you’re ready to produce anything you show to a client.