DIY Concrete Countertops

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After Photo

Howdy Readers,

Josh and I have been in the process of updating our house so that we can sell it all nice and pretty when the time comes. The list of projects seems to get longer with each look, however, we did finally finish the “roommate” bathroom upstairs (note: its a bathroom that only really gets use when we have roommates which at this time we do). Anyways, after all the painting and laying tile we wanted to do something to make the vanity look updated as well without having to break the bank.

As an avid Pinterest-er I found several DIY sites that talked about concrete countertops as an overlay for the counter that was already there, and bonus they weren’t expensive! If you have laminate or formica counters and want something to get you by for a couple years until you can splurge on stone, this is a really great option. The best part is it costs about $20 and it’s incredibly easy to tackle as a solo project!

As there are several concrete overlay tutorials floating around the web. I used searched on Pinterest to find the best ones (this one from  Designer Trapped in a Lawyer’s body was my favorite, she also has an updated post for 18 months later). You might want to look around yourself and find a tutorial that works with your existing countertops, though the concept is pretty much the same across the board.

MATERIALS NEEDED FOR DIY VANITY WITH CONCRETE OVERLAY:

For the Ardex Feather Finish you can look on the Ardex website for local distributors, but it was easier for me to run into my local Home Depot and get Henry’s Feather Finish. It’s going to give the same results but it just depends if you want to wait on ships or whatnot. A 10-pound bag cost me only $15 and I needed about half a bag for my laundry room. So pretty cheap, right?

I used a small bucket to mix Henry’s finish and in small amounts! This stuff drys pretty quickly and if you don’t give yourself some time to spread the concrete on the countertop it will harden on you.

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Here you can see the old countertops (ek!) and the process starting. I sanded the counter first to get a rougher texture for the finish to have something to hold onto. In this case i used our electric sander for the wide counter spaces then switched to sand paper for the back edges and around the sink.

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Then we taped off the walls and the sink since those didn’t need the concrete finish. We used painters tape for this. We were also painting the bottom counter of this vanity at the same time.

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Then it was time to wipe it all down and lay the first coat. The feather finish says to use a 1 part water to 2 parts dry cement ratio when mixing smaller amounts, but I suggest only doing 1 cup water and 2 cups of dry cement per batch so that you can spread it all before it dries (any more and it tends to harden before you can use it). I also use hot water to keep the mixture for longer and found that it helped. I used a small and a wide putty knife as well as a large drywall trowel. It was nice to have a mixture of tools to work with since particular ones came in handy at different points in the job. Use the tools to spread a thin layer of concrete over the top of your countertop. It does kind of feel like you are icing a cake, but it also reminded me of using spackle to patch a hole in a wall-you use the same type of motion. Don’t worry about getting the whole surface covered on your first go, if you have a few areas that look thin, you’ll cover them with the second coat. You can see how thin my coat is in the photo.

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My second coat dried looking much thicker and then is the time I pulled out the sander and sand paper. The first coat wasn’t thick enough for me to sand, however, the second had some trowel marks and such.

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The back and bottom edges were the hardest part. Though, after i realized it was much like clay and I could mold it with my fingers I just started using them to spread the finish. Then sanded the excess off when it dried. It came off easily, and I would recommend a open window or something for when you’re sanding because it gets pretty dusty in there.  We wiped the counter with a damp sponge before each reciting of the finish.

Here’s a photo just after my third coat. It really started to even out and look like a countertop. We used a wet sponge after roughly 15 minutes after we laid the finish and molded it a little more to make it smooth and take of any lines that were left. It really made the difference and I would tell you to make sure to do this before letting it completely dry to get the smooth surface look you want.

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We removed the tape after the third coat and did some touch ups around the sink where the finish didn’t get to, and then a final fourth coat to make everything even. While we waited for this to dry we epoxied the sink for a bright finish on it and then waited for all of it to dry. We only waited 24 hours then  sanded it to how we liked. When you are happy with the coverage, you will want to do a final sanding of the entire vanity surface.  I did it by hand to ensure that I don’t remove too much of the concrete, particularly on the edges and corners.  But again, if you have significant imperfections, you may need to break out the electric sander. We left some spots rougher to keep the concrete look but you can sand it as smooth as you’d like. Then we wiped down the counter with a damp sponge to lay the sealer.

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The last step is to apply a sealer.  I recommend using a water based acrylic concrete sealer in satin finish {this is the exact sealer we used: Quikrete 873002 Concrete Cure And Seal Satin Finish}.  It gives your concrete a nice, smooth finish with a slight sheen.  It also darkens the concrete up a bit, which I like.  When you apply the sealer, it will have a milky appearance.  Don’t worry, it dries clear.  Follow the directions carefully–do not apply the sealer too thick and/or leave puddles.  Also be sure to smooth out any air bubbles.  I applied two coats. I showed a photo here which looks like bubbles but it is smooth. This shows you what it will look like before it’s dried.

On the actual counter bottom and doors we uses poly instead of the concrete sealer.

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Not bubbles but this may appear. They will dry flat and will not show.

We waited over night to paint on the second coat of sealer and then gave it three days (this was actually for the epoxy to dry but we figured we could wait for the counter too).

We then went back in and added the new faucet and doors to he counter and here is the final product.

The surface is completely smooth  with no bubbles or nicks or anything, and stands up to water. I took the photo below just to show you guys how the water just sits on the countertop and wipes off easily.

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The sealer did darken the feather finish a bit but I like it better this way. It might be a rather physically demanding project but it is totally worth it. I am impressed who nice it turned out and will be using this on the rest of my bathroom counters!  Any one think they’ll be trying it  anytime soon?

Note: Some of the tutorials do use this DIY project on kitchen counters so it might be worth trying in your kitchen. Here are a few more tutorials that I compared information from before I started.  A Beautiful Mess and A Little Green Notebook both have concrete countertops for the kitchen and laundry room.

“There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.” -Jane Austen

XO,

-Brandy

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One thought on “DIY Concrete Countertops

  1. Jon Lopez October 5, 2016 at 10:15 AM Reply

    I like that the sealant darkened the feather finish as well. My wife and I would really like to get our countertops redone. This seems like a really good way to do it. I am not very handy at all. I’ll get a pro to do it for me.

    Like

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