DIY – Concrete Countertops
Posted on Saturday, April 09 2011 03:32:00 PM in Kelly Moore Bag Blog by Anna Davis
When we purchased our home, I knew that I wanted to try and make our own concrete counter tops. I’ve been hearing about this technique for a while, and really liked the idea. I did a little research online, and then Kelly Boy and I dove in head first! The only issue I had was that I wanted counter tops that looked like concrete. Raw, industrial, grey concrete. Most of the DIY tutorials I found online were more geared to tinting, dying, and buffing the concrete until it looked like marble or granite. I just wanted concrete! In fact, when it came to the final look we just guessed at how to finish it because I couldn’t find any suggestions on what I was looking for. All that being said, that’s why I wanted to share with you how we went about making our counter tops. So here it is!
As with all great projects, you must start by being warm and fully hydrated
We used good ole’ quikrete for this project. As for how many bags you’ll need….you’ll have to figure this out yourself! Kelly Boy did the math, but I think he really just guessed. We always overbuy, and then return what we don’t need. I wanted my counter tops THICK, so we made them 2.5″ thick. This took more quikrete and it made them REALLY HEAVY! They look fabulous, so that’s all I was worried about.
Kelly Boy started off by making forms from Coated Melamine Particle Board. This is particle board with a slick white surface so that the final counter tops have a really smooth surface. Some tutorials say to use regular plywood and coat it yourself, but using melamine made the prep work really easy! We purchased this at our local builders supply store. You can also see below that Kelly pre-drilled the holes before screwing together the forms. This is a MUST. If you don’t do this, the melamine will crack very easily, leading to a huge headache!
Side Note: I do recommend doing a test run before you dive in. This helps you to get the hang of it and work out all the kinks.
I’m impatient, and didn’t want to wait all that time for a test run, but you can make that decision!
Once the forms where made, we then caulked the inside edges with silicone caulk. Make sure that it’s SILICONE CAULK or else the edges won’t look right.
Side note: Kelly Boy used a Sharpie to write on the forms so we would know where they went. In case you were wondering, Sharpie DOES transfer to concrete. I was heartbroken to see the backwards writing on all my couture tops! Luckily, when I sanded and acid washed them, it came off.
Everything I read said we needed to have internal support in the counter tops, so we used a thick chicken wire.
We didn’t show this, but we actually poured 1/2 the concrete in the form, placed the chicken wire in the center, then poured the rest on top to cover it.
We have a friend who loaned us a concrete mixer. I think you can rent them as well. I would recommend doing this over hand mixing any day!
We basically eyed the mixture. We added water until it looked to be the right consistency. I remember it looked really rocky, and I was worried that there was no way the counter tops would look smooth, but miraculously, it all turned out!
We used a long piece of wood to skim off the extra quikrete. We did this with a back and forth motion until it was even on top.
Side note: it’s important to have your forms on a level surface when you pour the quikrete.
It’s really important that you shake the bubbles out of the concrete. Air Bubbles can lead to weaker counter tops. We used a sander and went around the edges of the form to shake out the bubbles. We poured all of our forms, and then came back to shake them. I would recommend NOT doing this. I think it’s better to pour a mold….shake….pour the next mold….shake….etc. By pouring them all first, I think the concrete actually thickened too quickly, and made it hard to get all of the bubbles out.
We let our counter tops dry for about a week before we took them out of the molds.
Observe below: The rocks exposed on the edges is what happened when I DIDN’T use silicone caulk. If you like this look then you may want to use regular caulk. I preferred the more perfect edge that the silicone gave.
Side note: any task goes better with a cute helper!
So from here, I slacked and didn’t take photos, but I will tell you what I did next. It was pretty simple….
Once the counter tops where out of the molds, we let them sit for a few days before we sanded, put acid on them or sealed them. I don’t know if that was necessary, but it worked for us.
I used a circular oscillating sander and sanded all of the surfaces that would be seen. Everything I read suggested starting with a rougher grit and moving to a finer grit. Since I’m a slacker, I didn’t do this. I sanded it twice with about 80 grit paper, and was done. It looked good to me!
Next, I purchased a concrete acid(not a stain) from Lowes Hardware and followed the directions. I’m not sure exactly what this was for, but everything I read recommended doing this. I think it really cleaned the surface as well and took off our sharpie marks!
From here, I purchased a concrete sealer from Lowe’s hardware and followed the directions. I chose the kind that would give the concrete a wet looks since I wanted to darken it a little.
Side Note: We did not STAIN the counter tops. There are lots of colors and techniques out there for this, but I just wanted them industrial grey!
Once it dried, we were done! My wonderful hubby and some friends installed them from there. Many of you have asked if I added support to our countertops before we added the heavy countertops. The answer is no. Of course, I’m sure we should have, but the house hasn’t fallen in yet, and they seem really sturdy.
On a few of the countertops, there were some places where the surface was not completely smooth. I think this might have been from waiting too long to shake the bubbles out?? Since you really want the surface to be solid, I took some tile grout that was the same color as the concrete and filled them in. I was planning on resealing them once more, but haven’t done that yet. This solution works great, and I love the way they look! They are by no means perfect, but that’s definitely my style
I would recommend googling , “DIY- Concrete Countertops”.
There are tons of tutorials out there that helped me.
This project cost us around $300.
Hope this inspires someone out there to try this at home!
Just comment if you have any questions!