Making It: Ideal Surface Casts Concrete Countertops in Cleveland

MAKER: Michael Potts, owner

BUSINESS: Ideal Surface

FIXER UPPER: Ideal Surface has creating decorative concrete since 2004, and the business started through experimentation. 

"I had a background as a concrete person and had been working on a renovation in Tremont," Potts said. "I was looking to cast a slab for one of the bathrooms. After a few failed attempts I was able to produce a slab that was decent enough for the bathroom and at that point kinda caught the bug." 

The choice to use concrete had advantages.

"We cast different things out of concrete. Lots of times we'll do countertops, tabletops, stair treads," Potts said. "It wasn't so much that one day concrete had become this wonderful material for countertops. It was more that you could mold it and make what you wanted." 

Ideal Surface now has installation pieces at Michael Symon's Lola on East 4th, Sweet Melissa in Rocky River, Beerhead in Avon and Worthington Yards in downtown Cleveland.

CONCRETE VS CEMENT: Concrete and cement are sometimes confused as the same thing, but cement is actually part of the mixture that creates concrete. It's typically used with an aggregate such as sand or even seashells. Cement acts as the binder in concrete, and it is often lime or calcium-silicate based.

"You need stone and sand and cement to make concrete," Potts said.

When water is added, the mixture hardens over time. Potts incorporates fibers into his mixture to give the concrete flexibility and make a thinner product.

"We're always thinking about how we can make pieces lighter and longer," Potts said.

He uses a variety of additives and casts against materials like wood or fabric resulting in unique textures.  

ONLINE COMMUNITY: Potts' expertise came from formal training in decorative concrete, but it is supplemented through inspiration online to this day.

"These days with Instagram, it's nice to be able to see what someone is doing in California." Potts said, adding that the online concrete community has been a helpful source of creativity, "whether it's for advertising purpose or just gaining knowledge."

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