DIY Concrete Counter Tops

We just completed our kitchen renovation.  We put everything together ourselves and didn’t hire out for anything!  (by we I mean my husband 😀 )

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2″ Plywood
  • Re bar ($3.99/ 10mm x 10ft.  from Fraser Valley Ace Hardware)
  • Counter top grade concrete  ($18.99/80lb bag from Fraser Valley Ace Hardware.  2″ thick one bag per 3sqft)
  • Concrete stain  ($9.99/10oz. from Fraser Valley Ace Hardware) If desired
  • Dap Alex Plus Caulking in white  ($2.29 from Fraser Valley Ace Hardware)
  • Spray Oil (Pam) ($2.99 from Walmart)
  • Diamond plated grinders ($64.99/$79.99 each from Fraser Valley Ace Hardware)
  • Poly Plastic (10′ x 100′ Heavy poly $43.99 from Fraser Valley Ace)
  • Varathane ($44.99/Gallon from Fraser Valley Ace Hardware)
  • Mohair Roller sleeves 4″ ($6.49/2 pack)
  • Sanding Sponge ($2.99 from Fraser Valley Ace Hardware)
  • Screws
  • Rubber Mallet
  • Long 2″x 4″
  • 5 gallon bucket
  • Mixing drill piece
  • 4 Cleaning sponges

Our kitchen counter tops cost us around $700.  The price of granite would have been $2000!  What a deal!

 

First things first, measure measure measure!

We kept putting the plywood back into place to triple check for the right sizes.

concrete 12

Build your forms. Forms must be level and flat!

Keep in mind the concrete is going to be VERY heavy!  So build the forms at a place that is going to be the most convenient for moving back into place when complete.

Counter 2

* * * The concrete must be 2″ thick!  Anything less is more prone to cracking or fracturing.  My father in law has done a lot of custom concrete counter tops in his line of work.  He has done a couple 1.5″ thick  counter tops as per the customer and in no time, it ended up cracking. * * *

Counter 4

We decided to under mount our sink.  In order to accommodate the right angles for the corners of the sink, we actually cut up an old metal road sign that we had and bent that to the right angles.  Securing this with screws.  For the hole where the faucet needed to go, I found something around the house that had the same diameter as the plumbing.  This turned out to be an old craft paint container!

Counter 3

Once the forms are built, caulk ALL edges and seams using Dap Alex Plus.  Also smooth out any large grooves in the plywood itself.  It doesn’t matter what colour you use, white was easiest for us to see

*  *  * 

.Concrete 9

 

If you are ok with a slightly rounded corner, then you don’t have to be as precise with caulking as we were.  We wanted everything to have right angles, so i really had to be careful to push the caulk right into the corners and evenly.

Counter 6

 

*  *  *

Place re bar through out the forms.  This is going to give the counter top strength and help with no cracking over the years.

Concrete 1

Make sure you raise the re bar so it will sit in the center of the poured concrete.  As the concrete was poured, we removed the pieces of wood we used to lift the re bar.

 Concrete 2  Concrete 3

*  *  *

Once the forms are finished and they are caulked, use this trick!  Spray Pam or something equivalent over all the plywood forms.  This helps the forms come off easier after the concrete is dry.  Try and avoid as much of the rebar as you can.

Concrete 7   Concrete 5

*  *  *

Mix your concrete.  Add your stain but remember the ratios! Some differences in colour could be good to add to the more natural feel of the counter tops, but do keep in mind the general ratio that you have used.  We used the dark charcoal/black for ours for a dramatic impact.

Concrete 6   Concrete 4

*  *  *

Pour your concrete into the forms.  You want to have a long 2″ x 4″ to scrape along the top of the form to smooth it out as much as possible.  Also have a hammer or rubber mallet around so you can bang the sides of the forms to try and eliminate as many air bubbles as possible.

Allow to dry.

We poured some extra concrete in the carport the same thickness so that we could test the dry time of concrete before grinding.

*  *  *

Next you want to remove all the forms that you spent so much time building! The Pam that you sprayed everywhere will help this process go nice and smooth.

*  *  *

Now comes the hard part!

Warning:  This is a VERY messy part of the process.  We took the big roll of poly and created a room within our kitchen to do our grinding.  We called this the “kill zone”.   Make sure you cover everything you don’t want covered in concrete!  And wear grubby clothes or better yet, a rain poncho.

Counter 22

Grind everything down with diamond plated grinders.  Start with a 20 grit grinding pad.  This is going to really grind down any of really rough stuff. While you are grinding, make sure you keep the surface wet.

Next you want to use a 100 grit grinding pad over the entire surface.  And then after that, use the 150 grit.  This is going to make the concrete really smooth to touch and bring out more of the small rocks and pebbles in the concrete.

concrete 10

*  *  *

Move into place.  Ask your friends, neighbors, or family to come over and help with this part.  These counter tops are heavy!  Our large section probably weighed about 500 lbs.  That being said, make sure your cabinetry can handle the weight.  We reinforced ours just to be safe, especially by the sink because there wasn’t a lot of support their to begin with.

*  *  *

Wash really well.  I had to wash the counter tops about 10 times before there was so more grime coming off of it.  I used about 4 sponges because they got so grimy with all the concrete dust.  Once that is done, make sure they are completely dry before sealing them.  I waited a good 24 hours.

I used a floor grade clear coat in an oil based finish.  I wouldn’t use anything else. Floor grade clear coats are meant for heavy, high traffic areas.  The oil based products tend to be a lot more durable when fully cured.

Although this Varathane recommended using a foam roller for application, I used a mohair blend roller.  This is very similar to a foam roller but it has very small hairs as well.  I find these rollers don’t create as many bubbles as the foam rollers do.

concrete 15   concrete 13

You want to do minimum of 4 coats.  I did 5.

The first and second coats are going to soak in, the third coat is going to even it out, the fourth and fifth are the actual protective coats.

Always sand in between coats using a very find sandpaper.  This is going to ensure you get a super smooth finish, and will remove anything that has floated and stuck to the clear coat.

concrete 11

Take a look at my post on Save Your Paint for Later to learn how to cut costs on all the painting supplies you use for this project.

*  *  *

Once the clear coats have dried completely and you’ve allowed sufficient time for it to cure properly, enjoy your new kitchen counter tops!

This is my favorite part about our new kitchen.  It is unique and completely custom.

 Concrete 16abc

concrete 17 abc

Counter 20

Counter 21

Although this was a lot of work to do, I would do this in any of our future homes.  It is so unique, and completely our own!  My husband has done an amazing job on our kitchen!  I couldn’t be happier!

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