Cast In Concrete
Brandon Boetto’s SlabHaus creates and fabricates solid works of art for Arizona design/build clients.
By Nora Burba Trulsson
Photography courtesy of SlabHaus
Every day, Brandon Boetto goes to work dressed in muted tones of gray and silver. His sartorial choices are not inspired by current fashion trends. “Those colors don’t show dust as much,” says Boetto, the hands-on founder of SlabHaus (slabhaus.com). “I’m around cement and concrete all day long.”
Boetto founded SlabHaus in 2013 and, in less than a decade, the company has become a go-to source for the design and fabrication of everything from sinks and countertops to tables, fire pits, sconces and more, specified by architects, builders, landscape professionals and interior designers. And with five employees and a 3,800-square-foot studio and fabrication facility not far from downtown Phoenix, Boetto says he’s currently happily slammed with work, riding the unexpected Covid wave that others in the design/build community are also experiencing.
Boetto, a third-generation Phoenician, didn’t set out to go into concrete work. Instead, he spent 12 years in graphic design. “I grew up tinkering,” he explains, “and I always liked architecture. A while back, I saw some concrete sinks and got curious about how to make them.”
A few YouTube videos and a weekend concrete workshop later, Boetto began experimenting with making sinks in his garage. “I had a lot of fails,” he admits. “We still have fails. Concrete is one of the most finicky materials you can work with.”
He soon began developing the SlabHaus brand, thinking the sink-making would be a good side hustle. Instead, getting laid off from his graphic design job gave him the impetus to give concrete a go. His first project was creating some tables for a model home project. “I was still working out of my garage,” Boetto recalls, “but neighbors started yelling at me about the noise and the dust, so I moved to a shop in Tempe.”
By 2018, he moved to his present locale—a former electrical storage warehouse—and was well underway, working on projects for the likes of Anita Lang, 180 Degrees, Construction Zone, Wendell Burnette, R.J. Gurley, Berghoff Designs, Colwell Shelor and Refined Gardens. SlabHaus projects can be seen in public places like the Westin Tempe, the Churchill and the Cambria Hotel in downtown Phoenix, and Christopher’s at Wrigley Mansion. “Some of our clients have the designs and just want the fabrication,” Boetto says, “but we can also do design and fabrication.”
Working with GFRC (glass fiber-reinforced concrete), which makes the final product stronger and lighter, SlabHaus and Boetto do everything as a custom project, from color to aggregate materials and sizes. “Terrazzo is big right now,” he says, “but almost everything we do is a natural gray, which has beautiful natural variations. Yes, I can make something look like marble, but I don’t like doing faux work. I tell people who want that to go get the real stuff.”
The work is still mostly by hand, from blending proprietary mixes and creating forms to water polishing and sealing. Currently, due to volume of work, Boetto says one piece takes ten to 12 weeks to produce.
Most unusual pieces done by SlabHaus? A concrete headboard that looks like patent leather, a 14-foot-tall sculpture, a concrete doghouse and a six-foot-square dining table that took four guys to move into a house, carefully.
For now, SlabHaus is enjoying the concrete results of experience and hard work. For Boetto, he’s living by the motto displayed on a wall in his conference room and showroom—“Stay Dusty.”