Designs can be pressed into concrete countertops to create a completely custom look

Anyone researching a kitchen renovation can attest to the fact that the choices are almost endless when it comes to materials and products for your space. This is especially true when it comes to choosing a countertop.

According to the DIY Network, countertops are the second most expensive element in most kitchens, right behind cabinets. And, according to a National Kitchen and Bath Association survey, as many as 94 million linear feet of countertops are installed in homes each year. 

In recent years, granite, quartz, marble and other solid surface countertops have been at the top of the wish list for many people designing their dream kitchen. However, experts say concrete has become the new "must-have" for many homeowners.

"The clients I work with feel that the current crop of countertop choices - granite included - are too ordinary or inadequate to satisfy their particular vision for their kitchen," Jeff Girard, president of the Concrete Countertop Institute, told the DIY Network. "Concrete countertops are not simply sidewalk slabs slapped onto cabinets. These are carefully crafted, highly engineered slabs that are processed to achieve a high degree of fit and finish."

These countertops can be colored with pigments to match your personal taste. Several different finishes including smooth, rough and pressed are common. And, because they are custom built to meet the homeowners' specifications, they are unique. 

DIY Network experts say those searching for a one-of-a-kind look can achieve it with concrete in a number of ways. For instance, curves and angles can be incorporated into the design. Individuals can also add sparkle with glass chips or a personal touch by adding sea shells, pieces of china or glassware with sentimental significance. 

Prices vary and can be on the expensive side. The DIY Network reports that they often range in price from $65 to $125 per square foot, depending on the design.

According to Better Homes and Gardens, concrete countertops are durable, but must be sealed in order to retain their color and make the surface easy to clean. The Florida Times-Union reports that some negatives associated with the material include the risk of cracking, as well as warping or curling caused by abrupt temperature changes.

While a concrete countertop may help you achieve the look you're striving for in your kitchen, remember that there are other elements that will impact the overall comfort of your space. Floor heating, for instance, can ensure a cozy environment all year long in any climate. 

In addition to providing superior warmth, radiant heat is also becoming popular because it is more efficient that traditional, duct-based heating systems.