The concrete countertop industry is full of opportunities for contractors to learn how to create beautiful work. Books, DVDs, seminars and industry events are great places for contractors to learn basic skills or new techniques.
Where to go
One of the great resources for learning more about concrete countertops is the Concrete Countertop Industry Conference (CCIC), sponsored by the Concrete Countertop Institute (CCI). Lane Mangum, organizer of the CCIC, says, "This event is different from any other event in the concrete industry. It is highly specific, and it's all-inclusive. Everything to do with concrete countertops is right there in one place: exhibits of everything from concrete countertop mixes to specialized equipment, seminars about highly specific, in-depth concrete countertop topics like concrete countertop mix design and how to market concrete countertops, and demos of concrete countertop products such as mixes, tooling, forming systems and more."
The first CCIC in 2006 drew 250 attendees, and the 2007 event had 400 attendees, proof of growing interest in the industry. CCIC 2008 will be Aug. 21-23 in Sacramento, Calif.
If you can't wait until August, or want year-round options for learning, explore training sessions and seminars offered by manufacturers of concrete countertop mixes and other products. Some manufacturers offer training events at their headquarters, while others travel around the country setting up training opportunities.
Another resource for concrete countertop training is the Decorative Concrete Institute (DCI). Lead by concrete expert and Concrete Contractor columnist Bob Harris, DCI offers specific classes on concrete countertop making along with personal training and consulting.
What to watch and read
Well done concrete countertops possess an irresistible visual allure, making them great subjects for books and videos. This is also a great outlet for learning the step-by-step process of countertop making. Fu-Tung Cheng offers two books on the subject, Concrete Countertops: Design, Forms and Finishes for the New Kitchen and Bath and Concrete at Home: Innovative Forms and Finishes for Floors, Countertops, Walls and Fireplaces. In addition, Cheng offers a concrete countertops DIY instructional DVD.
Buddy Rhodes offers two DVDs on the subject of concrete countertops, "Building Concrete Countertops with Buddy Rhodes" and "Advanced Techniques with Buddy Rhodes." His books include Making Concrete Countertops with Buddy Rhodes and the recently released Making Concrete Countertops with Buddy Rhodes: Advanced Techniques.
Doug Bannister of enCOUNTER is co-author with Tina Skinner of a book called Casting Concrete Countertops, which offers instructions in both English and Spanish on cast-in-place and precast countertops. Bannister is also the star of enCOUNTER's DVD that explains the company's professional countertop system.
Another great book that recently hit the market is by contractor Tom Ralston. It's called Cast-in-Place Concrete Countertops: Step-by-Step Complete Guide to Construction, and in it Ralston shares years of knowledge in the decorative concrete business and his expertise on countertop making. A section on marketing is helpful for readers just getting into the business.
These resources offer tips, colorful visuals, and helpful information to help contractors looking for guidance in design, mold-making, finishing, sealing and so on.
Online training and education resources:
Concrete Countertops Institute
Decorative Concrete Institute