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Concrete Countertops for the Kitchen - Solid Surface on the Cheap

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BUY EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO COMPLETE THIS PROJECT HERE!

So I wanted to redo the kitchen in my 1916 Foursquare and I was bored with all the countertop options. Unless you're getting formica, they all cost about the same as granite or marble, look just like granite or marble, and are as typically typical as granite or marble.


The one material that I found was much more customizable than the other solid surfaces was concrete. The colors and textures are endless, you can mold it into just about any shape you can imagine, and it retains the advantages of solid surfaces. But it's concrete, so it must be cheaper than milled stone, right? If you have a professional do it for you, it can actually cost MORE than other solid surfaces...do it yourself, and you can save a bundle. I priced granite countertops in my kitchen and they came out at around $4,000. My custom concrete counter tops ended up coming in at below $800, including the rental of the concrete mixer.

Now before you get ramped up and ready to pour, I will preface all of this with the drawbacks to doing your own concrete countertops.

+ This is not a project that can be completed in a weekend. No matter how small the countertop is, there's at least a 10 day curing process which you will need to do your grinding and polishing in.

+ Concrete needs to be properly sealed at the beginning and waxed about every 30 days to avoid staining.

+ The final outcome might not be exactly what you expected, especially if you're doing it for the first time. The good news is that there's ways to remedy many outcomes that you may not like.

I highly recommend that you buy the book Concrete Countertops by Fu-Tung Cheng before attempting ANY concrete countertop project. Fu-Tung Cheng is the Master and if you're looking to be the Karate Kid of concrete countertops, buy this book. Ralph Macchio wouldn't even think of doing concrete countertops based on my instructable.

 
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I'm getting ready to pour some countertops for my new apartment and this instructable is a incredibly helpful. I already have the Cheng books, thanks to the comments here.
I read every comment (so far) and took notes. I figure that these orgnized notes from your collective wisdom could be helpful to others, so I put them up on my blog. This is no replacement for reading everything yourself! I am sure to have missed things and new comments come in all the time. Here's a link to my notes.
Thanks, that is a helpful resource for everyone who comes here. Good luck with your project and really glad everyone here was able to help!
cmc705 years ago
Thanks for the help. I also bought the book. Together, the project wasn't that tough at all...
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cmc70 the countertops look great. Did you use anything extra to support the eating overhang on the island?
sj.. sorry I havent been back to here in a while. Yes, I used some Stainless Steel arcs anchored to the studs in the Island and the underside of the countertop. It is not finished here in these pictures.

C
hivoltage5 years ago
Hi I built a concrete desk following your instructions, and have posted it as an Instructable! I have referenced your great Instructable in it, you can find it here: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Build-a-Polished-Concrete-Desk/
Thanks for the detailed instructions, they helped me greatly in my project!

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This posting has won today's "I Made It" Challenge. For winning you will receive a 3 month pro membership!

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Great work!
doubleabattery (author)  hivoltage5 years ago
Great Job! It's awesome to see people that have gotten help from my instructable and thanks for sharing.
romac6 years ago
hi thanks so much for posting this instructable!
I used this instructable as the main inspiration for doing my own concrete countertops as part of a larger (super-cheap-ass) kitchen reno.

i've attached a couple pics and the link to the public facebook gallery in which I have a few more pics of the process. kitchen reno gallery
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doubleabattery (author)  romac6 years ago
BTW, I saw from your Facebook account you're in Atlanta...I'm just a hop, skip, and a jump to Chattanooga...
And I'm in Columbus! :D
monam808 Kaiven6 years ago
Hi Is that Columbus GA?? We are in Cols Ga and doing some concrete cabinets. M
Kaiven monam8086 years ago
Yes, we are talking about Chatanooga and Atlanta, so I think I mean Columbus Georgia.
nilmahj Kaiven6 years ago
And I'm in Nashville! :D
Kaiven nilmahj6 years ago
Nasville isn't in Georgia.... :D
nilmahj Kaiven6 years ago
Driving directions to Nashville, GA 156 mi – about 3 hours 18 mins Columbus, GA 1. Head south on Veterans Pkwy toward 9th St 0.7 mi 2. Turn left at GA-520 E/Victory Dr Continue to follow GA-520 E 78.4 mi 3. Merge onto GA-520 E/US-82 E via the ramp to Camilla/Tifton/I-75 8.2 mi 4. Take the GA-520 E/US-82 E ramp to Sylvester/Tifton 0.4 mi 5. Turn left at Clark Ave/GA-520/US-82 5.0 mi 6. Take the ramp onto GA-520 E/Sylvester Rd/US-82 E Continue to follow GA-520 E/US-82 E 32.3 mi 7. Turn right onto the US-401 S/I-75 S ramp 0.4 mi 8. Merge onto I-75 S 12.6 mi 9. Take exit 49 for Kinard Bridge Rd toward Lenox 0.2 mi 10. Turn left at Kinard Bridge Rd 5.0 mi 11. Continue on Alpha-Lenox Hwy/Coy Hancock Rd 3.3 mi 12. Turn right at GA-125 9.1 mi 13. Turn left to stay on GA-125 0.2 mi 14. Turn right at US-129 430 ft Nashville, GA
Kaiven nilmahj6 years ago
OMG THERE IS A NASHVILLE GEORGIA?! I'm sooo sorry! I didn't know it existed! LOL!
Great job on your tops! Now keep creating! Here are some photos of my most resent backsplash project in Park City Utah
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Pompom romac6 years ago
Romac, your kitchen is beautiful! I wish I had the skill and patience to do all of that. The curve is very nice, too. (And that Buddha you carved is phenomenal: most impressive).
doubleabattery (author)  romac6 years ago
EXCELLENT JOB! Your kitchen looks fantastic and it's great to hear that my little project inspired someone else to use concrete for countertops. I really like that you poured it in place as well - I was too nervous knowing that water would be flying all over the place. That $60 worth of concrete and some elbow grease increased the value of your kitchen by several thousand dollars. Thanks for all the pics!
doubleabattery (author)  FabSlab6 years ago
Thanks for your comments, FabSlab! Regarding cooking spray - I actually used spray ADHESIVE in my mold to keep the glass aggregate from pooling up in one spot. My counters came loose from the mold with no problem, so I don't really see any benefit in using a lubricant unless maybe you have an intricate mold with lots of small details.
I use spray adhesive when I broad cast glass also. The adhesive comes off when you grind it. But if I'm not exposing agg. then I'll silicone the glass one at a time and then rub on some release to the rest of the mold. I agree that it is not always needed but its good practice anyway.
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Palmer12 months ago

I was pleasantly surprised. I visited this very Kitchen in Chattanooga, TN. The house got foreclosed on soon after this project was completed.

dburns113 months ago

This is a great resource. I'm seriously considering making my own concrete countertop for our kitchen project. We have new custom cabinets of all 3/4 inch plywood construction, so I'm not concerned about weight and strength. My primary concern is that I want to do it in 1 piece, but our run of cabinets is 14 feet long. The counter would be 1.5-1.75 inches thick, standard 2-foot width. It would have 2 major cutouts in it for the sink and cooktop. I planned to use no aggregate in my mix, just solid concrete, and use a welded steel mesh (cattle panel) for the interior reinforcement. Is this feasible/possible in your opinion? Thanks!

doubleabattery (author)  dburns113 months ago
Thanks, dburns. I really wouldn't recommend doing a very long stretch like that without stress fractures, especially since you've got 2 major cutouts in it.

Thanks for the recommendation. What would you think if I waited to do the cutouts until the countertop was in place?

clippingpath14 months ago

Very very good post. You've included
all the great information in this post. Thanks a million for that. Cheers!

<a href="http://www.theclippingpathindia.com/clipping-path-service.html">Clipping Path service</a>

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brilliant, thanks for sharing!

ixisuprflyixi made it!8 months ago

Your IBLE inspired me to make my own and I have referred back to it many times. It helped me realize that I could make something wonderful and functional that I would, in the past, only have hoped to purchase.

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briley19751 year ago
Is this house in Chattanooga? I think I saw the MLS on it. Love that neighborhood
This makes sense. The glue gun to the nose does not. LOL. Awesome thanks for posting.
I agree. Indeed Solid Countertops are strong, non-porous and has wide range of designs as well. Will definitely use it for my Kitchen Counters.
I agree. Indeed Solid Countertops are strong, non-porous and has wide range of designs as well. Will definitely use it for my Kitchen Countertops.
hpress1 year ago
Looks great. I noticed some coins embedded in the top. How did you wet grind the concrete without grinding off the images on the coins as well?
Cheng Pro-Formula mix uses Quickcrete 5000 Commercial Grade, Can I use white Portland cement? What would the cement - sand ratio be? I want to use white Portland cement for a truer color when I add color.
eagle16 years ago
Good illustration. One question about crushed glass. You said we could crush our own glass, is this a special type of glass or just my regular "Ice house bottle". If it is the regular glass, will not end up being dangerous once on the counter. Please advise on this, i will try this by the end of next week.
doubleabattery (author)  eagle16 years ago
You can use any crushed glass - remember, the glass will be exactly the same level as the top since the countertop is poured upside down. If the mix is vibrated properly, the cement will fill in any voids around the glass. Then you will be grinding and polishing it all down, so it's all smooth.
Do you have any hints on how to clean the labels off glass that's already been through the crusher at the recycling center? They'll give me all the glass that I can use, but it's still got the labels on it.
Thanks for the great instructable!
You can get label remover from a brewing supply store.

I use dish soap and "oxi clean" when I need to remove labels.

If it is before the crushing I pour "oxi clean" into the dish washer and run the bottles through.

Remember to remove the labels that have fallen off before your wife tries to use the machine again.

You might try an over night soak of hot water and "oxi clean" and dish soap for your crushed glass and then a rinse off with a hose the next day.
soak the crushed glass in diesel, this will destroy the glue of the label. then in a bucket wash with detergent and rinse in a sieve. if there is still paper and glue then simply get a sheet of fine steel mesh or metal sieve and hold it over a flame to burn it away. then wash again.
Don't know if this will help but I use Goo Gone, it will remove labels, glue, chewing gum etc. You can buy it almost anywhere.


http://www.googone.com/

This is probably to late to help you, but for anyone who's worried about super sharp broken glass, cleaning it, etc. just get a bag of sand, mix it with the glass, and run the mix in your cement mixer for a few hours. this should knock off / round over the sharp edges and clean off any labels/residue on the glass. obviously, the longer you let it run, the more rounded it will get.
doubleabattery (author)  rubyintherough3 years ago
I purchased my glass from Cheung . As far as removing labels, I've always had success using an orange or citrus based cleaner.

Hope this helps!
claudg19502 years ago
Great instructable and your countertop looks beautiful. However, for the fun of it (and to open a new avenue of healthy -or unhealthy- debate) I can't resist pasting here a hilariously sarcastic comment on the Concrete Countertop book you recommend (posted by an Amazon books reviewer):

Those whose need to obsessively clean, clean, clean will find in this volume the very thing that will give order, utility and meaning to their affliction. The many and colourful photos in the book, especially those promoting the author's own business (all of them) show the gleaming and pristine surfaces that a concrete countertop offers to those prepared to perpetually be wiping them down. I will not be surprised to learn that Howard Hughes had these babies installed.

Drinking too much? A concrete countertop may be the answer! Wine, even in relatively small amounts, left on the countertop will rapidly etch and discolour the surface you laboured so long and hard to produce. The proud owner of a concrete countertop soon learns that a hangover is hardly the only thing that remains after the party ends. You'll reminisce about the good times you've had as you survey the rings and semicircles that each glass or bottle leaves, and the imbiber soon learns to moderate his consumption in the interests of maintaining perpetual vigilance.

Fitness, too can be maintained through judicious pursuit of the simple activities described in this slim volume. If your mania for a high fruit diet has left you thin and weedy, and lacking the vigorous physique that gains respect and attention, cease your fretting! The process of creating a set of countertops rewards the devotee who follows the instruction provided with the equivalent of a 6 month strength training regime, within a single 24 hour period in which you will mix, pour the concrete, and then clean up the mess that is produced. My own set weighed an easy half-ton, and after completing and installing it, no-one ever kicked sand in my face again. And, the resulting surface is even more prone to damage from citrus than wine, so that fashionable but fey diet with lots of fruit will soon be a thing of the past, replaced by a healthy preference for beefsteak and blood sausage.

All of this points to another advantage that this book will provide its devoted apostle: a more complete appreciation of modern chemistry, and in particular the many and varied chemical compounds found in the modern kitchen, many of which - certainly more than I suspected - have an acidic nature which the counter will soon reveal.

Even after the process of pouring, the prospect of moving your creation combines all the most challenging aspects of a forced march, a bulgarian weight lifting camp and nineteenth century quarry work. Trust me, there's nothing like it, and it's all in here.

I am surprised that others who bought this did not also buy Bullfinch's Mythology. Through this book I rediscovered the joy of the study of mythology, specificaly the myth of Sysiphus, to say nothing of Prometheus, especially the liver bit.

If you've heard about concrete countertops but thought that no guide existed to introduce you to concrete's magical world; if you thought that you lacked the skills and energy to take on such a job; if you thought that agonizing labour to produce a dated-before-it-is-finished work surface cum impossible-to-dispose-of millstone was beyond you - well, let's hope you're right. For the rest of us, this book is just what the clinical psychiatrist ordered. Next time, I'll use Lithium.
Hello,

I need some advice, we did some diy concrete countertops (in place) in black. The only problem im having is that the top isnt as smooth as i would like it and when i wipe it ..it grabs the cloth and it sticks to the concrete (i.e. sponge,rag, paper towel).

Grinding or sanding is out the question for a few reason which i wont bore you too much with the details (parts of the concrete was pored over an existing countertop and is only about a 1/4" thick plus sanding will make too much mess in the kitchen)

So my question is do you think I can just buff the countertop and what would you recommend i do to fix the ruff finish of my countertops.

Thanks....a mil
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This may be coming way too late...but...you could seal the surface with polyurethane, first fill any holes you may have.
If you don't want to grind or sand you are out of luck. Did you buy a kit to do this or did someone come in and do them for you?
Never poured in place, but I think your only option is sanding. I would completely encapsulate the area in plastic and start with a 50-100 grit diamond pad. You aren't going to buff out rough jagged concrete. Get an orbital sander and just go at a slow speed and construct something to catch the water. Run your hand over the surface after a couple passes to check for smoothness. Continue to increase the grit and finish at 1500 grit. You might want to have a slurry on hand. As long as your concrete is at least 1" thick you shouldn't have an problems with ghosting.
Great job and instructable! I just wanted to check, you said you did the grinding and polishing within a 6 day period, did you mean after 4 days but before 6? Thanks in advance.
asteidl2 years ago
Very cool instructable! I will definitely keep your project's documentation in mind, as I will probably be renovating a home in the near future.
MicroKID4 years ago
Really nice instructable! Thanks.

One concern... isnt the countertop very heavy? And the wood support looks weak - and in a few years might become weak with water/moisture (or even bend with heat).

Any ideas on a what a stronger support might be? Perhaps some concrete (with reinforced bars) pillar support?

If you are concerned about weight you should look into GFRC concrete, this is amazing stuff.

Can you do countertops with hypertufa? This would use peat moss and Vermiculite as alternative to the standard aggregates. I have done some hypertufa statuary and been happy with the outcome (and how light they are) but I wonder if it would seal up OK for a countertop???
Subject: Inlay & max slab dimensions

First off thanks for your instructable. I successfully finished a counter for my fireplace in my recent remodel. I'm trying to find a solution for the kitchen and I think I might take a shot at a bigger project. Thought I might ask about your inlay and a couple other things.

(1) When pouring did you pour with your aluminum inlay or did you sub something else in there that won't stick to your concrete? If so what did you use?

(2) What do you think is the max dimensions for a 2" slab should be?

Island: 180"x48" (would be two slabs of 7.5' approx x 4')
Back Counter: 10' x 25.5"

Just curious is pouring 2 slabs for the island and 1 slab for the back counter is going to work for this project. I have some stainless steel lying around so I plan to do something similar to your design.

Any thoughts are appreciated... As for the overhang on the island I would assume corbels are recommended similar to granite. I believe I would be looking at an overhang of about 10-14".

Thanks Again!
doubleabattery (author)  josephrussell2 years ago
Glad you liked the instructable! Here are my thoughts:

1. I poured with the aluminum in place and it didn't stick. when I hardened, it popped right off, then when I put the countertop in place I used epoxy to attach everything together.

2. Those are very large slabs, but I've seen slabs that large before. Your biggest challenge is going to be supporting the slabs while moving them and putting them in place. Also you will need to make sure the base they are sitting on are VERY well supported to not shift - otherwise they will crack.

For something that large, I think you'd be best off pouring in place. Other folks on this forum have done it, but I haven't yet.
Okay well I think I have two different options for the countertops:

Poured 2 pieces for the island. It would be 6'ft + (1.5ft tail) x 48" for both sides
OR
Pour 3 pieces for the island

As for the back side I think we could move it easily without problems, but added a stress point would be smarter. I attached an image, let me know what you would do. Thanks!
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jasybella122 years ago
If all of the kitchen countertop options are carefully selected, you will have a very elegant, stylish and fitting countertop on your home. I have learned a lot at : http://www.granitefairfax.com and now this post is amazing.
once again, awesome, come spring I'll be refreshing myself on this instructable!
siafulinux3 years ago
haha, excellent! I was thinking about doing my kitchen like this after seeing the table top instructable by hivoltage. I'm going to experiment with something along the lines of ferro-cement atop a wooden "table" to make the whole thing lighter; but we'll see how that turns out.

Anyway, great idea and thanks!
cslead3 years ago
Just stunning!!!!
MaranaMaker3 years ago
I've made a desk and table out of concrete using a bagged mix from ZipMixx (zipmixx.com). Their mix comes packaged with a liquid you add in rather than water. When I mixed the two together, it created its own heat so the counter top was completely dry in an hour. I've made a couple of sinks with the mix too and they were done in about 45 minutes. The mix has glass fibers in it so you don't have to reinforce it with rebar or chicken wire.

I just used a spray mold release on the melemine and it popped right off. They also sell a couple of different sealers. and have two ways of coloring the concrete. They have a dye that you have to mix with acetone and then either spray on or wipe on, but I used their dye that I actually mixed into the wet concrete so that the color was all the way through the concrete.

For my next project I want to dye two different batches and pour them into the counter mold from opposite ends so they meet in the middle and blend together naturally.
rocketguy3 years ago
Nicely done, however I would advise (well, actually, the concrete professional I've been working with advises) not to use aluminum with concrete, they're not very compatible both chemically and due to thermal expansion differential issues. Stainless steel is the way to go for an insert, it's coefficient of expansion is closer to concrete and it's chemically non-reactive for the most part with concrete.

Chicken wire is good, but a fiberglass screed might be better for structural integrity. The weave is tighter and less deformable than metal in the tensile department. But of course chicken wire is probably cheaper and more readily available.

james12143 years ago
Hi all. I am a professional countertop restoration specialist and I reccomend using stonetec waterbased dealer (I am NOT an employee of them or affiliated with them) I use the whole line of their products on a day to day basis. Insofar as wax is concerned I use Cheng's wax availabe at his website concretexchange.com.

Also if anyone has questions about any countertop materials or issues I am happy to help. You can ask them here or send me a personal message.

- james
Pukka job
sdfine5 years ago
If you build your mold out of a shiny material, like plexiglass, you do not have to grind the countertop. It will come out of the mold as shiny as the plastic. It is amazing how precisely the concrete will pick up every detail in the mold. It will even pick up a fingerprint if you get one on the plastic mold material.
timmi sdfine5 years ago
wow, this would save alot of time. Can the plexiglass be reused? and could you say two small bits of plexiglass stuck together??

One disadvantage of using Plexiglas is that it scratches.  For a DIYer Melamine is still the best bet. As a professional I use several different pour surfaces yet  Melamine is still at the top of my list.
If you have any questions you can e-mail me at   concretencounters@gmail.com

Paul

You do need to be carefull not to scratch the plexiglas.  You never push the concrete around in the mold.  You put in clumps (piles) and vibrate the mold to make it flow.  You can pound the bottom of the mold with rubber hammers or use a commercial vibration table.

All of the melamine in my area has a texture to it and will require grinding and polishing to get a shiny surface.  Do you have a source for a shiny melamine? 

My local lumberyard sells a lot of formica.  I have bought shiny formica from him.  He often has left over ugly colors that he's willing to sell cheap.

I have attached a picture showing how shiny the countertop is right out of the mold without any polishing.
Shiny.jpg
1. did you use plexi glass for the mold on that ?

2. how did you get that color and design
The color is a mixture of 2 shades that were placed in the mold and then vibrated together giving a marbled look.

No I didn't use plexiglas. Due to the cost we used MDO (Medium Dentisty Overlay). It has a smooth paper covering. We reuse these sheets. That was used as a stable, flat base. Over that we used a thin plastic sheet that comes in rolls. For the sides we used MDO with a thick tape over it for a smooth finish.
sdfine sdfine3 years ago
The thin plastic sheet is PETG but any smooth sheet will work. You have to experiment because thin flat sheets will expand and contract with the room temperature.
Top looks great.
The meli I get is from home depot so it's the cheap stuff not the fused type that your talking about. I polish everything so the texture is fine. I have been using some recycled pvc sheets from Lowe's that scratch but for BR hand pressed that's fine. I use ICT sealer products from Blue Concrete how about yourself.
ei3 years ago
My husband and I are DIYers - well, my husband would disagree a bit on that because I don't do much of the labor, I come up with the idea, the design and the basics of how to to get it done - he's the one who gets it done. Whether its a stone wall, a two-tiered deck, a family room, a mantle or making stone shapes out of cement, he is does incredible work.

He's going to hate that I found this instructable - I'm already designing the countertop (yes, I do all the measurements and determine the amount of materials needed) and, guess what? The kitchen floor tile has had it...so why not have a cement floor to match the countertop?

Just have to figure out how difficult it will be to put in the proper supports to handle the added stress. That's the only thing that might nix the project,

TYVM for this instructable!
sir_eric783 years ago
I guess I have the same question as the last guy, how did you separate the 2 sections with the metal in the middle? I would think both sections of the concrete would cure to the metal.

also, what did you use to place the two forms together durring installation?

thanks for any info

Eric
Sakrete3 years ago
Awesome idea! Very creative with Concrete.
Any problems with staining on the concrete?
Wine, citrus?

Any ideas?

I doubt it would stain, you have to remember this is lime sand and gravel here.  If you are really worried you might be able to use a granite sealer on it.  I have a granite countertop, and have yet to have acitrus stain, they are really not that prone to stains.  and if this concrete is anything like granite, it *should* behave similarly 
doubleabattery (author)  junits154 years ago
Actually, concrete is VERY sensitive to citrus.  Citrus etches the concrete and requires repolishing and waxing. A regular coat of wax will help, but it is more sensitive than granite.

BTW, I've also got granite countertops and have found that they like to stain with any oil, so no solid surface is "rock" solid.
there's a stone sealer/wax called pamir I used to use when I did granite countertops.. works really well, I bet it would work well for these concrete countertops. You put it on with a rag and take it off with steel wool.
Oh, one other thing too?

Has anyone heard or tried these???

http://www.concretecountertopsolutions.com/

Thanks....
YES!! Here is a link to how we poured our countertops in place using the 'bullnose' edge forms: http://mydiyhome.wordpress.com/concrete-countertops/ We did not polish ours since I didn't want to make a complete mess of the house (though we could always do that later if we wanted).
19shinji883 years ago
good work!
RonnyM824 years ago
just wondering if anyone knows what glue was used to bod the sides of the mold to the base? it looks like some kind of sika.... is there any risk of gettign a reaction between the glue used and the cement?
doubleabattery (author)  RonnyM824 years ago
There was no glue used. We screwed the sides in then made it watertight with black latex calk. The reason we used black is so you can see it well in the mold and can make sure you have very clean lines. White blends in so well that you wouldn't be able to see how clean a job you did.
yeah stpuid question actually, since you need to break it apart afterwards. i was thinking that you used caulk to join the two together.

On another note, since i am based in New Zealand its quite expensive for us to buy the premix from the cheng dude. So i was wonderign if you could point me to some good resources on the web to find a suitable recipe for the mix.
there's a guy on the web that I bought a great manual on how to make a concrete countertop, he gives you the right mix to buy and he talks about what to do if you are out of the U.S. and can't find the cheaper supplies they have here. his name is Pete Hawes and his website is doyourownconcrete.com
Ronny, I highly recommend you get Cheng's book, which is referenced in the Intro. It goes into great depth on all aspects of creating a countertop, as well as Cheng's standard mix, broken down by weights per cubic foot.

Dr. Pepper3 years ago
My friend did this for 1.6 million dollar home, yours looks better!
TheScreamer4 years ago
Half a dozen paragraphs down through "Step 3", you talk about the aluminum strip you left in. Did you find that, when you were going through the grinding/polishing stage , the aluminum (a notoriously non-porous metal) tended to plug up the grinding stone/disc?
Also, how has the aluminum held up for wear, now that it's been installed and in use for a while?
PS - AWESOME instructable... reading this was my starting point about a year ago :) .. Thank you!
~mw
thafunki14 years ago
looks pretty wet?
darren134 years ago
Hi thanks for your tutorial. I'm planning to make a polished concrete vanity counter for my bathroom. I have already ordered my set of diamond polishing pads, a variable speed grinder and have all the timber formwork ready. I have made a few samples but thought I'd better check to see if you had any pointers for me before I made the worktop this weekend. I will mix the concrete myself using white cement, 20mm 14-20mm crushed slate aggrgate, coarse recycled crushed glass in various colours and fine grade recycled crushed glass (instead of sand). Before pouring the concrete I will spinkle crushed glass in the same colour os the mosaic tiles in the bathroom over the form/mold so they will be on the surface when finished. I want to achieve a very smooth finish, so I was intending to start polishing with a 50 grit disk, working through each disk until Imm up to 800-3000 grit. I will decide how polished it gets when I get round to polishing the samples. After grinding (200-400 grit) I was going to fill the pores with a cement past mix before continuing polishing. I want a lot of the coarse aggregates exposed. I have read that adding a surface hardener or densifier will increase hardness and therefore improve the smooth finish and make it more resistant to staining etc. I will finish with some kind of wax, possibly bees wax. Any comments on my method before I start it this weekend? Thanks
sablesg4 years ago
Where can I find the mixing measurements for concrete and aggregate for countertops in metric?
pfred25 years ago
On my scale of evilness I rate concrete as harmless. The only time I ever use a respirator is when I spray paint vehicles with high VOC commercial paint.
limpport pfred24 years ago
 What about a mobster's preferred shoe choice?  Those are concrete. 
shibob4 years ago

Excellent job it is rely nice

dricci684 years ago
I made mine a year ago it is a 4' x 16' island....we also made the sides, and instead of polishing we used an industrial sealer....
eyerobot4 years ago
Absolutely Beautiful!
I am always looking for ways to make things that will last, And this is on my top ten list.
Thanks for the great ideas.
farmcarp7 years ago
doubleb, This is really impressive. I'm getting ready to do a countertop myself, and your instructable is about as helpful as Cheng's book and DVD. I noticed you used a 4x8 solid piece of melamine as the bottom of the mold, breaking ranks with Cheng, who recommends cutting the bottom of the mold. I was considering doing the same thing. Did you find it difficult to attach the side pieces to the bottom piece of melamine? My feeling is that it would be difficult to keep the side pieces in the right place while you predrilled and screwed. How did you overcome this, or was that even an issue for you. Also, the rounded corners with the pvc, nice touch. Is that 2" diameter pvc pipe that you quartered and sanded? Great project, I bet you're really happy. I just poured 3 16" x 24" samples last night to fine tune the color, as well as experiment with mold surfaces. I'm testing melamine, acetate, and something called tile board (looks and feels exactly like a white dry erase board). I'd like to minimize the grinding and polishing. By the way, is any grinder available at Home Depot or Lowe's or other hardware stores suitable for grinding concrete (assuming you add water). What attachments are necessary to buy with a grinder? Sorry for the long post.
doubleabattery (author)  farmcarp7 years ago
Thanks for the kind words. As long as you have an extra set of hands or clamps, it's not difficult to attach the sides to the bottom. I found this to be much easier to measure out and adjust and didn't notice any weakness in structure. I also used 2" PVC pipe for the corners. If you don't want to go with a true wet grinder/polisher, I'd suggest an air sander. Of course, you'll need a big air compressor to run it, but at least you won't have to worry about using water with electricity of a standard grinder.
Do you know about how much making a concrete countertop costs?  I have about 40 sq. ft.  Also, could you shelac the melamine before you pour and maybe it would turn out smoother.
What was the outcome of your mold surface testing? I am planning to build a mold...but want to minimize cost , as I am unemployed right now....figures, right? When you have the money , you dont have the time....when you have the time....no money!
I ended up using melamine. It was the simplest and best performing material I tested for the mold.
Make sure you're grinder is a variable speed. The discs are expensive and you will benefit from the slower speeds. definitely under 4k rpm and right about 2500 is what I am discovering. I still need to experiment more but that may be a helpful starting point.
barncat barncat5 years ago
rpm? I'm not really sure what the rating is but the 2500 part is sound.
From Mr. P.-we used Irwin Bar Clamps to hold everything in place. dbl A would pre-drill the holes and I would follow with a countersink bit. We would then carefully place the screws in with a battery drill set on low torque. The tough part was not drilling to deep into the side of the Melamine which may crack or distort it. Like you our goal was to sand and polish as little as possible. We could not find a grinder we liked locally-However the one we acquired via mail order needed a air compressor of such high CFM that it was pretty useless. We did not at the time have a high CFM compressor. Note in previous discussions the difference between PSI and CFM is significant in cases of sanders and air guns where continuos use is critical. The PVC is 2" if i remember correctly, dbl a wanted a certain radius on his corners and I think I had that pipe sitting in my shop. We sanded the edges to make them thin again to reduce sanding. I imagine if you wanted greater or lesser radius any diameter within reason would work. Keeping the PVC in place was a little tricky. We taped and backfilled the spaces to support the corners and keep them as straight as possible.
gallatea7 years ago
Wear not just a mask, aka a cheapo white one, wear a respirator type mask - or a particulate mask. I teach sculpture - this is not something you want to inhale in any amount and the cheap masks don't protect you.
gork gallatea7 years ago
3m makes a line of disposable masks rated for all sorts of things that are regarded as "respirator-only" territory. They aren't the same thing as what you are referring to as the "cheapo white ones" but they are a heck of a lot less expensive at 3-4 bucks each than a good respirator at $50+, so technically they are pretty cheap and most of the particulate masks are white or gray. (Some of the vapor masks are different colors though) Also if you do jump for a respirator get one that has the standard-size screw-in cans and replaceable one-way valves. These are generally a bit more expensive but a lot of cheaper respirators use proprietary filter cartridges that either become impossible to find after a while, lock you into a single source for replacements, or don't give you the selection of filters you might need in the future.
gallatea gork7 years ago
Good advice on the proprietary filter cartridges. I have no idea about mine as it was fitted by the university and cartridge replacements will be free luckily. Only issue I have with the disposable masks is they aren't tested for effectiveness. I suppose it's overkill, but I had to run in place and try to smell bananas in a sealed tent for 2 minutes to make sure mine was perfectly working. Probably not necessary for this project! But if you are working with evil products daily, probably a good idea to make sure it's fitted right. (and tested).
Running yourself bananas!! I love it! Protecting yourself is never overkill! Though my use of exclamation points right now is! It always amazes me when I hear people say how they never worried about dipping their bare hands in acetone one minute and then complain about their mysterious health problems the next minute and never put the two together.
Mr. P agrees he used a good quality respirator While the poor double-a used a less quality one. I don't think too many people notice the twitching but the sudden outbursts about the little people attacking are disruptive.
Re-design5 years ago
Excellent instructable and first rate looking countertops. I design custom homes and remodelings and I've suggested concrete counter tops many times and people just turn up their noses at the thought. I they could see the work you've done they would change their mind in a hurry.
doubleabattery (author)  Re-design5 years ago
Thanks for the compliments, it was a fun project and there's so many options for concrete that make it much more desirable than other solid surface...I've even thought about a terrazzo floor in an entry way and of course it would be perfect for any outdoor kitchen as well.
Really good job, especially for your first project! I started my career into concrete countertops and sinks the same way, a diy project. If you ever get interested in making your own concrete sinks, check out my website, www.GFRCworkshop.com I make and sell concrete sink molds that are in the price range of a diy'er ($295 vs. approx $1000 a year or two back). Also, should you ever have a question, feel free to drop me an email. Take care, Brandon Gore
Beautifully done. Very impressive. :) I kinda wish I was a homeowner now.
Flash6355 years ago
Is there a reason that polyurethane or epoxy sealer couldn't be used instead of wax?
Knucklez5 years ago
i also made concrete countertops. really enjoyed the project, had great success first time. i have documented the entire project, see the following link:

http://www.diychatroom.com/f49/my-kitchen-reno-complete-remodel-concrete-countertop-19987/index9/
incompleteD5 years ago
I'm working on my countertop using the Cheng Pro-Formula mix. The Quickcrete 5000 comes in two different flavors (pro finish, and commercial grade). It should be noted that they suggest using Quickcrete 5000 Commercial Grade. In my town Lowes had the pro-finish kind and Home Depot had the commercial. I emailed the cheng folks and they were very quick to answer my question about which to use.
tritech115 years ago
Hi Mr P. Top Job mate. Jus wanted to ask you a couple questions as im in the process of setting up a mould for benchtop as well. When you put in the metal strip and poured, once the concrete had cured and you removed the mould, how did you separate the two island sections of your top, didnt the concrete stick to the metal strip? If you're able could you email me your response to tritech11@optusnet.com.au ? Thanks mate. Paul
a shellac or varathane coating allows you to release the concrete from metal, and also protects the concrete from reacting to aluminum.
andi4565 years ago
Very cool. My dad does this as a side job. Comes out great.
TWMCNANEY5 years ago
very cool
Can anyone comment on the thinnest concrete countertop that is advisable? Im in an old house on piers with an old timber floor so i dont want to have to reinforce the floors.

Is 30-40mm reasonable? And being that thin, can the reomesh go almost directly under the top layer of concrete so it is furthest from the finished top (ie bottom of mold) to prevent ghosting?

From what i have read, a piece of granite 2000m x 800m x 20mm would weigh 86.11kg or at 30mm thick 129.17kg (bulk density of 2691kg/m3) and a concrete benchtop 2000x800x40mm would weigh 140.8kg ( concrete = 2200kg/m3), but if you go to 30mm the weight comes down to 105.6kg.

The manufacturer of my cupboards ensures me they will easily carry 20mm or 30mm granite so im not sure if i need to reinforce them afterall.

And one last question...does the benchtop need anything special underneath an overhang for additional support. It will be around 200mm out and 1200mm long, and is supported at both ends. I was thinking of putting a 2mm stainless steel plate underneath for added support but again is this overkill?

cheers
doubleabattery (author)  darktrooper76 years ago
I called Cheng about this because I had the same question. They don't recommend making them any thinner than 1.5", mainly because you could get a "ghosting" effect from the wire mesh you need to put in it for support. If it was a small top that didn't require mesh, you might be able to get away with less. As far as an overhang, I don't think you'd need to worry much about overhang support with those dimensions, plus the fact that it's supported at both ends. If you feel nervous, though, add the extra support.
hello, loved your Instructable! was about to pay someone to make some concrete for me, but after seeing this I'm going to have a go myself. my first question is what do i look for in the concrete specs? I'm in the UK and can't get the one mentioned... and a search for 500psi ? gave me nothing... all the cheng stuff ships so thats OK. my only other question is would it be possible to have a core in the worktop made of a lighter material? thanks martin
Thanks for the reply! :) I was thinking the same thing. 1.5" works out at 38.1mm so that is perfect for what i need. The cabinet manufacturer has ensured me the cabinets will carry 40mm granite and 40mm concrete is a bit lighter so there shouldnt be an issue. Also what do you consider a small top, one that wouldnt need mesh?
If your countertop has a stable base to lay on(plywood) you may get away with a longer span without reinforcement(use fibers instead) but you have to have a good concrete mix and know how to add water and how much of it. These are crucial details. Once again, this takes a lot of experience, imagine cooking without any practice. It looks so easy on television right? I stay away from cooking, I leave it to my girlfriend. Contact me if you want more advice. info@remikstudio.com
I have a friend that is a 'concrete consultant'. When he had a bedroom added over his garage, he had a walk in shower installed (yes, about 5' wide, and 8' long, and you enter on one end ... quite a thing. Anyway, he had a cement floor poured on top of plywood in this second floor bath (above the garage, no extra bracing below). He said it is only about 1/2" thick. He said they put a lot of plasticizes and 'plastic' reinforcing in the cement. It has been about a year and a half and no apparent issue or cracks yet! ... With enough knowledge, experience, and practice I guess you can build just about anything with concrete! -- So his concrete sheet is only about 13mm thick. It is supported but no 'rigidly'. If doing something like this, I suggest either find someone that knows what they are doing, or experiment and test vigorously on lots of samples before committing to a large project.
I work at a shipyard building boats and we contract out the granite work when it came out to the granite that hung out we just
http://robertmontero.smugmug.com/gallery/4857399_aVUDF/1/289334817_pXPG2/Medium
cut out some under arches for support which we screwed from the in side of the cabinet into the arches for support each one of the pieces they used was about 50 to two hundred pounds the cabinets had no problems holding them up with out any added support
darktrooper7 1.5in. is about the thinnest you would want to have without special a mix. The weight at 1.5in. is about 18lbs-22lbs which is close to comparable granite. Your cabs will hold the weight
Counter tops look awesome! I love how you put those coins in it. very nice.
ampeyro5 years ago
just one cuestion, did you put steel bars in here?
rufino5 years ago
Good Job! I am looking to do white concrete, without grinding down to the agg. Can I pour in place and just polish it?
Tommy_T rufino5 years ago
I'm wanting to do the same as you and I believe its Possible I live in Florida and there is many Home Floors finished with (called ) Terrazzo ,with that in mind makes me think that YES I think a top could be poured and Polished in Place Don't take my word but do look up Terrazzo Floors they are poured and Polished good luck with your Project Tommyt
cmc705 years ago
I just finished building my molds and piecing together the rebar. I'm using the Quikrete 5000 concrete. One of my friends that has made these said I should add a couple cups of portland cement to the mix for each bag. Do you recommend this?
Wow. I am impressed and inspired! Just remodeled kitchen.. perhaps an outdoor kitchen with this idea is in order.
rlmccarthy5 years ago
How about mixing fiberglass strands into the concrete instead of using wire? i used that on a drive wayand it worked great.
I think you'd get a fuzz on the surface of the concrete if you didn't lay down a bit of non-fiberglass laden mix first..
Fiber are used by most professionals, some of us use PVA , nylon or glass as in GFRC (glass fiber reinforced concrete). Google GFRC you'll be amazed.
co2h2o5 years ago
Holy *bleep* that is beautiful!
linkspider5 years ago
Great instruction but I have a question I have a U shaped kitchen 110"x110" that really would look better as one big piece is it possible to pour in place instead of turning upside down, I think carrying a U shape that size will be impossible to maneuver around doors?
Linkspider, Pour in place (in the trade it's called CIP, cast in place)is not necessarily without it's own difficulties. Tom Ralston has DVDs and books on CIP. www.tomralstonconcrete.com
also...if you notice...it looks like a lot of this counter top was done in sections anyway...isn't it possible to cast the U in sections...then move those sections in...then either put decorative spacers in the gaps OR maybe pour some more concrete into the gaps or something like that to make it look like one piece?
misfit5 years ago
I guess this method would be OK, but, I have only seen it poured IN PLACE..... In other words, supported and framed on top of the counters, then poured and finished. Cuts out all the backbreaking moving of the slabs (and the dropping of said slabs). Really, it's the only way that makes sense to me.....but that's just me.
doubleabattery (author)  misfit5 years ago
Ummm, have you taken into consideration the gallons and gallons of spraying water that comes from wet grinding and polishing the counter? If you want a rough or very matte finish (and also very porous - more stains), then maybe poured in place makes sense, but if you want a very polished appearance, you will have major water issues. Moving the counters only happens within minutes. Wet grinding with spraying gallons of water lasts upwards of 20 hours. To each his own...
You know I love wet casting. Custom molds take longer but you produce a custom top.
shelslay5 years ago
great instruction and the countertops look great. We've got a bar in the mold ready to come out and just unmolded a 5' countertop. Two questions. Any idea how to remove a countertop from the melamine mold if it won't release? We don't need to grind, the tops look great right out of the mold, but what grit do you start with to polish? thanks so much!
Shelslay, Your tops should release easily, if not just pull up with steady pressure and use compressed air between the melli and the countertop. How long were they in the mold? 3 days is more then enough, with the mix design I use I flip in 12 hours. To polish start with 400 but don't polish past 800 if you applying a topical sealer it need to be able to grip or bit on to the surface.
doubleabattery (author)  shelslay5 years ago
Thanks and congrats! I didn't have any problem with my molds not releasing after I took the sides off, so I'm not sure what you would do. A 400 grit is the last pad that is considered a grinding pad, so I would say start polishing with an 800. Good Luck!
jenend5 years ago
HI, We completed our counter tops about 8 months back. Originally I attempted to use the Cheng sealing system. This provided horrible results; which was awful after the hours and hours of grinding and polishing. The results I was getting was the counter tops were really splochy and would show rings of glasses and bowls. So I reground & polished all of our countertops, after they were in place. I then applied a car wax that had beeswax in and was colored slight dark (our counter tops are charcoal in color). This sort of worked, but was so thick I now have globs that the sander couldn't polish out with out grinding it off. I am interested in this carnauba wax idea. Would it be best to try to grind off the other waxes from the counter tops first. To do this - does heat help? What brand of carnauba wax did you use? Thanks so much. jenend
Never use car wax it has nasty chemicals in it you do not want to ingest. For a wax finish contact buddyrhodes.com and use his wax. Or go to a True Value Hardware Store and get some Trewax it is a furniture wax with carnauba in it. You should use a wax stripper to remove the old stuff, then re-polish to about 800 grit, apply a penetrating sealer then the new wax sparingly. If you maintain it it will work fine. I prefer to let it patina. There are many new concrete countertop sealers that are not for the novice. Some involve a mix design that requires additives that are very expensive, others a $3000 UV light to cure them. As concrete becomes more popular we see more user friendly sealers that will help us all.
mkushin5 years ago
Question... With the plywood sub-top... How do you hide that? I'm wondering... If you're basically just making a "block" out of concrete that sits on top of the sub-top, wouldn't you be able to see it? Or do you just recess the top far enough back that it's not seen? Any elaboration on the sub-top situation would be fantastic. Thank you!
mkushin, Most all modern cabinets can support concrete countertops without a sub-top to distribute the weight. I always install directly on the cabinet bases. If you want to put a sub-top on then trim the raw edge with a strip of wood molding stained to match the cabinets. With the overhang of the top any slight miss match in color won't be noticed.
schlem5 years ago
I made concrete countertops for my rental. About 12 square feet total, three pieces. about $300 incl tools and tools rental. I dyed it black and polished it - it looks like some kind of darrrrk marble. I filled the holes on the surface with a sparkly epoxy. I am so satisfied! I am going to make some for a buddy of mine.
benok25 years ago
i wish i can do this in my kitchen. its really beautiful.
One thing I forgot...I'd also like to hear how it is looking a year in. Is it stained, have you managed to find a sealer that's worked well, and are you still happy with it? That's always what I've heard is that the 'patina' is just a nice word for stained.
doubleabattery (author)  jessandstavro5 years ago
Yes, it has been well over a year and I haven't been good at all about waxing it every month. At first I was freaked out, mainly by citrus stains, because they actually etch into the concrete. But over time it really has formed a patina that is looking much better. I'm going to do a follow up portion to my instructable about doing maintenance on the countertop. I got a tip from one of the commenters here that I could do some light grinding with my wet sander without making a mess in my kitchen. Basically, you take 2" painter's tape and wrap the edges so you have a protective "lip" to hold water in. Then you use a spray bottle to control the amount of water instead of hooking the grinder to a hose. I'm going to give it a whirl and let everyone know how it goes. Glad you've been inspired!
This is a great Instructable with inspiring photos! I've come back to it a few times in thinking of doing a counter for our kitchen. I love all of the extra tips people have added.
etude5 years ago
A very inspirational effort and Instructable! Very brave to start with a fairly big project, and kudos to you for pulling it off so well. The photo of Mr P cracks me up! He looks like he's about to put glue up his nose. The look on his face is priceless! I'm tempted to try this but I'm just wondering about the maintenance aspect. Do you really need to wax it every month? After having it for over a year, what's it been like to live with? I'm curious to hear your comments on this.
DIYDragon5 years ago
I actually wanted to do something exactly like this, but I saw one using fiber optics. It's pretty nifty - I was thinking about trying to make a small table, or perhaps a bench or something. Since I don't have any experience with concrete currently.

http://www.fiberopticproducts.com/Fiber_optic_countertops.htm
foobear5 years ago
wow, it's amazing!
Handsy6 years ago
Glad to see more people gettin down and dirty with concrete. I just a few tips. - RapidSet makes a water additive called Flow Control. You premix this with your mixing water prior to adding the concrete. It makes your mix soupier (as if it had more water in it), so that you can pour a very smooth finish that self-levels. You can make it so thin, in fact, that you no longer have to pound or shake to remove bubbles, and yet it is still very strong once it's cured. - With the addition of Flow Control, your mix will pick up every nuance of the surface that makes up the form. Melamine, as doubleabattery says, is not perfectly smooth, it has a slight orange peel finish, which may actually be desirable as a surface finish, but will not give you a high gloss surface straight out of the mold. By using Flow Control along with a smooth plastic you can achieve glass-like smoothness with ZERO polishing. I have even used double thick cardboard coated in clear packing tape to shore up the edges of a form, once cured, these edges feel exactly like running you fingers over cardboard with packing tape!! Keep in mind that this will not work with decorative additives such as crushed glass or large pebbles. - Lastly, and this has to do with available workspace, if you want a concrete counter top, but don't have the space to perform all the procedures in this instructable, I recommend (from experience) pouring directly onto the location where you want your new contertop. To do this, you remove the old counter and build a form all around the area where the new counter is to reside. Seal it up and pour away. Your new counter is ready to go. Keep in mind that the surface of the concrete will self-level to a smooth, but not glossy finish. I have not tried it, but it may be possible to achieve a glossy finish by placing a rigid, smooth surfaced sheet of plastic or plastic coated cardboard on the surface of the freshly poured concrete. This invites room for many errors, air pockets etc, so try a test first. Cheers, I hope this helps out. Great Instructable btw.
I am considering a concrete island counter top and was pleased to see that one could be made on site. The island will be six feet by seven feet with a few smaller pieces around a chimney. Do you have any advice? As I scanned some of the postings, I think I understand that the counter can be poured in sedtions with brass or stainless edges. Is that correct? Thank you for any help. Lynn
remik Handsy6 years ago
What Handsy says sounds good. In practice it is a recipe for a disaster, I mean it. I offer $500 if you can do what you say and end up with a surface that resambles countertop surface. I have been making countertops for money for the last 5 years and I can guarantee that this is not a DIY project. Of course if you are doing it for yourself you can always tell your friends that this is your first time and get away with it. But if you want to end up with something that looks like the work you can see in magazines I recommend a professional. Remember "cheaper means more expensive..." . Contact me if you want some advice. info@remikstudio.com
Patented6 years ago
Why am I a colaborator to this instructables?
89ragtopgt6 years ago
What color is that countertop? ?,CHARCOAL ,STONE ,INDIGO ,TAHOE ??? thanks. I will be doing this in 2 weeks.....
santakart6 years ago
Mr Aaron some errors have been made on both sides of this deal. Things have worked out and all is well I would like to offer you my most sincere apologies for any inconvienience this has caused, Once again I apologize, and Thank You To anyone that has read some of the comments that I had lef here, they were incorrect, I have jumped before I had all the facts. Mr. Aaron has sent me the goods that I have asked for, and they are as promised, new and in proper working order. I wish to offer an apology to Mr Aaron and all that have read the other comments they were incorrect. Mr. Aaron my most sincere apologies. Thank You Steve
doubleabattery (author)  santakart6 years ago
Steve - Great, I'm really glad it got there. I look forward to seeing pictures of your project(s) and feel free to ask me any questions if I can help. Good luck and thanks for the comment! Aaron
XxZombiexX6 years ago
When I worked for a concrete solutions outfit we added 'sulfur fume' to each batch for a creamier, more even result with less pitting/bubbles at the initial pour. We also used industrial vibrators and shake tables to eliminate 99% of air bubbles (although many people prefer to leave the pitts and air for a more industrial look). Also something to consider is using an even bead of caulk inside the mold to give the piece a rounded edge when stripped.
mwwdesign6 years ago
Great result! Looks absolutely superb. Excellent 'ible. Thanks.
karimck6 years ago
Okay--I have been referring to both Cheng's book and this Instructable often as my husband and I planned and poured a section of our countertop. Based on the book and the advice of another DIYer (visit IKEAfans.com for another great discussion regarding this project), I came up with my own concrete recipe that seems to have turned out well. We will grind later today and polish in several days.

Here's my recipe;

In 5 Gallon Bucket:
1 1/2 Bags Quikrete 5000 Commercial, Measured by Weight (Don't forget to weigh bucket first and subtract from total weight to equal 1/2 bag weight.)

In a Separate 1 Liter Container:
1 Liter Water
2 T. Enflow High Range Water Reducer for Concrete Countertops ($4)

Another Liter of Water

1/10 Bag of Enforce Heavy Duty Fiber ($10?) (I divided the bag of fibers in half and then "eyeballed" 5 equal piles and put them in baggies for later use.)

Put premeasured Quikrete in a wheelbarrow. Add Water Reducer solution a small amount at a time and mix thoroughly. Add more water, a little at a time, until the mixture looks like thick oatmeal. Add fibers a little at a time. Mix thoroughly. Let mix "rest" for 10 minutes. Add a LITTLE (a spray bottle works well) more water and mix to return to the thick oatmeal consistency. You are now ready to pour!

FYI, this makes one square yard of concrete. You can find all of the enCounter products online (http://www.encountertop.com). If you choose to use and different brand of water reducer and fibers, just convert the measurements on the bottle to those for 1 square yard and substitute in place of mine above. This can be a little tricky but I was able to do so using the product websites.

IMPORTANT: We chose not to add pigments or special aggregates as we want a relatively even, gray appearance.
I always pour a 1/2" of mix in the mold then put the remainder back in the mixer and add the fibers. By adding the fibers last you eliminate them from poking their little heads out of the finished surface. You can torch them... I have been in the biz for 5 years if you have any questions--- concretencounters@gmail.com
Pompom6 years ago
Absolutely fabulous. Love love love it. Well done.
steed11726 years ago
omg! that looks sooo....freaking sweet! i would do this for my kitchen seing as it lacks....pazaaz!(or how ever it's spelled) but im not very good with concreat
lokichomps6 years ago
It is nice that some others who have built the counter tops have written in. Never having built one, but tons of experience with concrete I have $.02 to add. Not all reinforcement is the same. Most WWM is already rusting, and rust expands and cracks the Concrete in time. Some are plastic or epoxy coated to help with this issue. My favorite is an additive called PVA fibers (PolyVinyl Alcohol). They form a molecular bond to the calcium, and keep non fatal cracks almost invisible. There are also some densifiers (penitrating sealers) that are pretty killer for sealing/strengthening concrete. Check out ConcreteNetwork.com for ideas!
Beautiful. Just Beautiful:)
doubleabattery (author)  AsherBoBasher6 years ago
Thanks so much....do I know you?
Esmagamus6 years ago
Not only this is a great instructable, you also have great taste. Your countertops look great, especially with the personal touches you added. Keep on it!
doubleabattery (author)  Esmagamus6 years ago
Thank you!
keramos6 years ago
Excellent instructional! Did you add other aggregate to the concrete mix? In the closeup pic of the coin I see a nice mix of fairly small rock besides the crushed glass. In my samples I'm finding larger whitish quartz that I didn't notice in your pics.
doubleabattery (author)  keramos6 years ago
...and one other thing to remember is the more you grind down, the more aggregate is exposed, so since I spent a good amount of time grinding, alot of the smaller aggregate was exposed.
doubleabattery (author)  keramos6 years ago
Thanks! No, that was the aggregate in the mix, however I do also have white specs in the counter as well.
puffyfluff6 years ago
This is a really nice, detailed instructable. The results came out good! Wonderful job.
JellyWoo6 years ago
do you have to wax every 30 days? what if you don't? thanks.
doubleabattery (author)  JellyWoo6 years ago
Waxing just makes the countertop more resistant to stains, although even with wax applied, things such as citrus, wine, etc. will still stain if left on the countertop for more than 15 to 30 minutes. Over time, however, the stains form a patina on the countertop which makes concrete very unique and desirable. I've read where some people say that their countertops look better after several years of forming a patina than they did when they were brand new. Wax also adds a sheen to your countertops which will wear away if not applied every 30 days.
so stains are good? is there any way to avoid waxing? like putting on something else that prevents stain and gives shine?
sypher6 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
sypher sypher6 years ago
oh yes, the reason why I have not used it, the glue is not cheap.
The Moog6 years ago
Excellent instructable one of the best I've seen on here 10/10. I shall be trying this method myself with a few additions of my own.
cyclohexane6 years ago
WOW! i love the counter tops! i also like what you did to the kitchen(contemporary style)! quick Q .... where might i find melamine? i've looked just about everywhere, of course my luck would have it home cheapo and lowes dont carry the stuff, some places dont have a clue what it is... would there be a better alternative than using melamine? i've seen Cheng use styro foam or insulation foam for the sides but im still unsure what to use if i can't find melamine, could i possibly use regular particle board with a release agent?
You can get 3/4" melamine at Home Duh-Po for about $27. The local Lowe's discontinued it here. I've gone to Inter mountain Wood Products we have here, sometimes they can be cheaper and will discount damaged pieces (corners) more then Homer Duh Depot. Cabinet shops will know a local suppler or may sell you some.
Also all "melamine" is not the same, the original company stopped making it (that's what I heard) and some finishes will peel off when you flip your mold. Look at the edge and if it feels like paper then I'd go somewhere else. I reuse my mold since I build on top of a full sheet then flip it over. After that if it's in good shape I rip it into strips for sides. There is also a heavy weight plastic sheet that you pour, I haven't tried it yet.
I guess I should answer the other question about particle board. No don't use it it will swell even with a release. Your mix will need to hold the water as long as possible for the hydration process to work properly hence the melamine with its water proof surface.
Oscelot6 years ago
That is absolutely gorgeous! This is one of the most professional and comprehensive tutorials I've seen to date. unfortunately (for my pocketbook..) you've got me wondering if I can get away with making 1/2 inch countertops to slot over the existing ones in my apartment..
You need alot of experience to pour a 1/2" top. Glass fiber reinforced concrete is what professionals use. 1 1/2"-2" is about standard, you could do a pour in place and save some money, it will have a different finish but look great.
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Thanks for warning me ahead of time. I'd probably have ended up trying it and failing utterly. ;)

Sadly, I can't try *anything* that could possibly leave a mark on the apartment.. so I'd have to do everything outside. If I could hazard it I really would just pour it in place. But hey, when we get a house in ten or 15 years I'll be sure to follow your advice about the reinforcement etc. ;)

Thanks again!
doubleabattery (author)  Oscelot6 years ago
Thanks so much, I'm glad you're inspired!
No Color6 years ago
My contractor poured out c-countertops and used a Valspar glaze after they were poured. It came off. Everything I have tried comes off. Epoxy, Porter paint permatex. It all peels off back to the gray. Any suggestions?
Sandisk1duo6 years ago
it looks a little thick
elimac6 years ago
great job on the kitchen. Just one question, how do you attach the undermount sink?
caymanty elimac6 years ago
to attach an undermount, depends on the style of hardware with the sink. most of the time you use the hardware that is supplied, most are designed to mount to granite and if properly mixed and cured, those pieces will work. if unsure of how strong your mix is, good old epoxy. when mounting the sink, just epoxy the underside of the counter, and position sink, then use scrap wood to prop the sink up between the base of cabinet and top.
I had the same problem. When building my vanity, I initially planned to do an over the counter mount vessel sink, but due to my cabinet height you would have been washing your hands at your chest, so undermount was the best option. Since the counter weighed in at 200+ lbs., I wanted to reinforce my cabinetry. So what I did was create a frame around the inside perimeter of the cabinet with 1x5's, then cut the melamine board I used for the form to fit recessed inside and flush with the top of the cabinet. I then mounted the melamine to the 1x5's, layed the counter on top and traced my sink holes and faucet holes. I then cut the melamine with a jigsaw to fit the sinks and have cutouts for the faucets. Then I treated the sink as a drop in on the melamine, securing it with caulk, and installed the counter on top to create the undermount.
hank you so much for sharing this and for the great instructable - good work on all counts. Two things I would share. When I poured a slab recently the wire mesh was simply laid over the initial pour. Then, covering it with more cement left it in the middle. Immediately after the fellows left, I applied a sealer/curing agent to the surface. I was thinking that, in this situation, one might spray the curing sealer onto the mold before the initial "pour" and it would work to seal the surface and provide a slick counter top all in one step as my surface (albeit a bard slab) looked slick and shiny from the "git go." I think my first shot will be an outside table for the yard - if I can learn to do this instructable thing, I'll post it! Thanks again.
That will not work, use vegetable spray (pam) or form release. I hope I didn't come off to harsh. Paul
dcmac826 years ago
doublea: I'm building a custom concrete vanity for my bathroom. It's a good size, about 25" x 60". It's a double sink set up with both sinks using an undermount application. I poured the concrete last night and am just waiting for it to cure. My question is I noticed in your barstool cutout you had a nice curve to it. How did you go about grinding and polishing that to match the finish of the remainder of the countertop? I have two circular sink cutouts that I need to grind and polish the insides, but am wary of using the grinder in fear of creating deep gash marks. Lisabanfield: Quickrete has concrete dyes available. I went with charcoal, but they have a number of reds as well. I think backsplashes would be done the same as the counter, though poured in a separate mold and mounted as needed.
Have you finished your top yet?
doubleabattery (author)  dcmac826 years ago
Yes, you have to be careful grinding ovals like that because you can cause gashes with the lower grit pads. I suggest just using a light touch and also remember that you may not get the exact same shine off of the inside, but as long as the top of the countertop is done right, you won't notice the insides if they have a bit more of a matte finish.
FabSlab, I would recommend that you DO Not Use aluminum because it will eventually react with the cement in the concrete. A better choice would be stainless steel, brass, or copper. Paul
SPAustin6 years ago
Is the wire cage required? How did you keep it suspended 1" away from all exterior surfaces?
Some sort of reinforcement is needed and one of the best is remesh. You can get it at HomeDuh Poe. To suspend in a 2" thick piece, cut some foam or wood blocks 2" or so. Cut the grid about 1.5" short all around the mold. Lay the wire grid on the blocks that you have spread out in the mold. Now use drywall screws about 1.5" in length and screw them on the outside of the mold by the side pieces. I angle the screws out and leave about 3/4" sticking out. Then take some tie wire and wrap around the wire remesh, then over the side to the screw, wrap firm not tight. I usually do one on each side then I can pull enough to just suspend the remesh. I will usually tie the grid up about 18"-20" apart. After it is tied up and tight, then remove blocks It will stay in about the middle or higher. Ideally you want the reinforcement in the bottom 1/3 of the finished slab (right side up). I do not use rebar but instead I use allthread or threaded rod. More on that later if you want. Paul concretencounters@gmail.com
Jack086 years ago
Thanks for posting your experiences. The countertop looks great. After doing lots of research I used the Buddy Rhodes countertop mix system and found it to be the easiest to use. What I found appealing was the ease-of-use: I basically just added their liquid color with mix water to the Rhodes bag mix and didnt have to do all of the vibrating and making forms water-tight. They also had a nice line of natural looking sealers. When I called them for questions regarding applying sealers and beeswax their support guy was very helpful. Just thought I would pass along another option. Good luck to those DIY'ers who want to save some money and create something unique.
Knucklez6 years ago
how quickly do the grinding pads wear down? i.e. should i buy 2 x 50 grit pads for a standard kitchen counter? thanks!
doubleabattery (author)  Knucklez6 years ago
If you keep your pads properly lubricated with water while you grind, they will last for many projects.
I am getting ready to replace my countertops. I find that none are cheap. Were your countertops very expensive to do? I loved your countertops.. They look beautiful. I'd like to do the same in my kitchen as well, but I want to add a back-splash. How would I go about doing my countertops with a back-splash? What do I add to it if I wanted to add color?
doubleabattery (author)  lisabanfield6 years ago
Thanks for the compliments! I saved alot by doing my countertops - I got a quote for $4,000 to do granite, and my concrete countertops cost well below $1,000 including the rental of the mixer and some specialty tools. One thing I didn't skimp on, however, was buying Cheng's Concrete Countertop BookCheng's Concrete Countertop Book . This book should answer any questions you may have and is well worth the investment.

Good luck on your project!
Quickrete 5000 can be used? Or what other kind of concrete can be used, Do I need to special order the concrete for countertops.
doubleabattery (author)  maria78996 years ago
Quickrete 5000 is what I used, however any fast dry concrete that is rated to 5000 psi can be used.
Katzsta6 years ago
After being ripped off by a fraudulent unlicensed contractor (who is still ripping off Katrina victims), our funds to do our remodel were significantly limited. We had discussed different types of countertops, including granite tiles, regular tile, slabs, and concrete. I had only been mildly impressed with the concrete countertops I had seen completed. Your countertop just amazed me. I appreciate your detailed descriptions and helpful hints. I think this may be the way we are going. I have NEVER seen such a beautiful job, even on all the "professional" DIY tv shows that we watch religiously. If we can even come close to as beautiful a job as you did, we will be more than pleased. Thank you for this writeup and inspiration!
doubleabattery (author)  Katzsta6 years ago
Thanks so much for your kind words, I'm flattered that this instructable has inspired so many people. This was my very first concrete countertop project and I have never worked with concrete before, so I believe anyone can get the same or better results than I did. I will mention that Mr. P, albeit an evil genius, is very skilled in working with tools and had some great ideas which I've documented in the instructable. I couldn't have done it without him!
country lou6 years ago
Great ! Great ! Great ! Like everything about yuor project but the idea of coins in particular !!
oncex6 years ago
When I was a kid I was able to do a better wire mesh than that but I guess it's just for the counters so it's O.k. But I have to say the finished product was great and it works because of the design of the kitchen. Some people might want to add color to the concrete to make it work to their non-euro style kitchens;) Gallatea is right half-face respirators are great, but most of those "paper" mask are worthless because people don't take time to put them correctly on their face or they just don't know how. About the curing concrete, the best way is to pour some water on top (slowly) and cover the concrete with plastic and if the water evaporates put add more water. As mentioned before, might sound crazy but you can even cure concrete underwater with great results.
Amills6 years ago
http://www.concretedecisionsinc.com/gallery.php I know that you can also get creative with the design of the edges.
cjones12366 years ago
Great job Did you make your cabinets to?
cboc336 years ago
Great to see these such a well laid out plan for these counter tops. I remodel kitchens for a living and have built/laid dozens of concrete counter tops of many shapes and sizes. I don't think I could have explained things any better. For those who are planning to do this themselves... Don't be afraid, take a chance... If you screw up, it'll only cost you a couple of extra dollars, as opposed to granite!
Bill Allen6 years ago
Just completed my third countertop, all with broken glass. I broke the glass myself, (brown beer bottles and light olive green and blue wine bottles). I tumbled them for a day or so to take the sharp edges down (bought a cheap tumbler from the sporting goods store, works great). The glass is an awesome affect, if you're not gluing it down first I recommend adding like 50% more to make up for migration. For my next project I want to swirl 2 colors of concrete together. Has anyone done this and if so could you advise? I wish Cheng would publish an more advanced book.
Excellent instructable! My parents recently completed construction on their new home. The whole concept was to include exposed materials, e.g. stainless, raw wood, and concrete. They opted for exposed concrete floors and counter tops. If this is something your considering definitely jump in, they look amazing, perform well, and if done correctly can save you lots of money.
tgillesp6 years ago
Thanks for the info and nice job on your countertop. I’m going to attempt casting a concrete countertop for an outdoor kitchen soon, but I have a question. Has anyone tried casting it right-side up on top of the cabinet? I think I would like to try that for two reasons: less heavy lifting and less risk. By less risk I mean I get to see the final top right away, minimizing the chances of revealing a top with issues. This would require leaving the concreate on the base material during and after it is dry – would that casue any issues? I realize I will have to support the 1” overhang during the pour, but after it’s dry I could cut away 1” of the base under the top to reveal the underside of the overhang, and then cover the exposed base endgrain with a thin piece of molding. What do you think? Thanks again, Tom
doubleabattery (author)  tgillesp6 years ago
Tom - Yes, it's common for concrete countertops to be "poured in place", although it definitely adds some complexity. I think you'll actually be incurring more risk because it is a more difficult pour and set up the molds, so I don't think you'll be saving yourself much. If this is your first countertop, I'd recommend not pouring in place. Just my two cents...
vlh6 years ago
did not find this mentioned: What happened to the 1" styrofoam pieces you had UNDER the wire mesh to prop it up to the proper height when you poured the concrete? How did you get them out so the concrete could fill in? also, like the TIGHT metal seam - one of the only things I dislike about concrete counters are the wide seams I so often see - why can't concrete be cut and put together like other slabs to end up with a tight seam? Does it need breathing space for some reason, ie: are there contraction and expansion issues that warrant thick seams?
mshynson7 years ago
looks great. i'm planning on doing concrete on my ikea cabinets and was wondering if you used the Ikea legs or if you built new supports as Cheng recomends. my house is so unlevel that the Ikea llegs would make things much easier.
2A and I did add some support to the ikea cabinets where needed. The center island does have a 1/2 plywood support running down the center to increase the support. 2A in fact bought a floor jack and placed it in the basement under the center aisle to help support the floor. You'll realize just how heavy concrete is when you go to put it in place. Support will save you grief in the long run.
I would be careful, you could use the Ikea legs for the initial setup but then use 1/2in. and or 3/4in. plywood to support the load. Now would be the time to level your floor with self leveling cement. Ask a tile setter what he uses. I have been doing concrete countertops for about five years and only install on good custom bases or build my own metal stands
Bill Allen6 years ago
Bill again. It's Sakrete "fast setting" 5000 that I was referring to, sorry. Should I use it? The first piece I talked about was a 34" square table top and it turned out pretty nice! You never know until you un-mold it, but I like surprises! Thanks again.
doubleabattery (author)  Bill Allen6 years ago
I believe as long as it's 5000 psi, it should be fine and the fast setting is what I used as well. Lowe's and Home Depot like to confuse you with different names among the same brands so they look more "exclusive". You should be good. Anyone else have comments about this?
Bill Allen6 years ago
I'm ready to do my first top but I can't find regular Quicrete 5000, only the "Pro Finish"5000 at Lowe's. What do you know about Sakrete "high strength" 5000 (Home Depot). Sakrete also makes a "pro level" 5000grade. Thanks. Bill
caymanty6 years ago
Great instructions. I have done five counters now, they get better and better with practice. The biggest thing is patience and prep work. Molds are THE most important part. Two things i would add to your instructions, if you dont mind, are the fact that the lye in concrete will eventually eat away the aluminum insert you put in the sink piece, stainless steel or brass are recommended. Both can be picked up at metal supply stores. The other additional tip is after cleaning your molds and preping to pour, is to use a cooking oil or spray butter on the inside of the molds, this helps to release them after the pour. I hope these suggestions help others and i encourage all to try them, even to start out with small sample pieces to get the hang of it before trying a full kitchen.
doubleabattery (author)  caymanty6 years ago
Thanks for the heads up, I didn't think about that. Well, hopefully the caulk that I put between the insert and countertop will protect it (or at least delay the corrosion). Good suggestion on the cooking spray!
Good catch on the aluminum insert, I'm in the concrete countertop business and missed it. I have found brass at ACE Hardware stores and hobby stores. When I first started I sprayed the molds with Pam. Worked great, now I use a form release.
hkilber6 years ago
Wow, this is a great 'how to'. Any thoughts on my countertop 'situation'? They were already done when we moved in, but had been installed without being polished or sealed. They're kind of stained already. Any thoughts on removing the stains and finishing them? I think it would look better even if we polished and sealed them stains and all. Thanks!
doubleabattery (author)  hkilber6 years ago
That's the great thing about concrete - you can always go back and grind and polish it. I would suggest taping your kitchen off with plastic and go to town with a wet grinder and diamond pads. Then seal and wax.
Bill Allen6 years ago
I'm anxiously awaiting to remove my first piece from the form after 7 small samples. As I lie awake at 2am I'm wondering about clipping the wires that support the internal mesh. I don't recall you mentioning this step, I did mine after the final pour and a little action with the rubber mallet. I couldn't figure how to screed with the wires in the way so I hope it didn't sink to the bottom ("top"). One more day to wait! Great Instructable, it's what inspired me! Thanks!
doubleabattery (author)  Bill Allen6 years ago
Good for you! Yes, you did right by cutting the wires before you screed. The cage will stay in place once you surround it with concrete. Let me know how it turns out!
kirnex7 years ago
Thanks for putting this up! Seriously the best instructable I've seen yet. I've been wanting to do these for ages, and bought the Cheng book a while ago, but I love to see a "real" person doing it. Gives me hope. You did a marvelous job. I'm so jealous.
leitningbug7 years ago
Congratulations on a great job! And thanks for sharing your experience. I just unmolded my own countertops, and was searching for reasonably priced diamond pads. You included a link to a great source. Thanks! I took the workshop through Cheng Concrete Exchange, and I learned a lot. The things that we did that weren't in the book or DVD were that we spread our black caulk in the corners of the mold with a beveled plexiglas rod, then cleaned up the excess with a straight edge razor blade. I don't know if this saved anytime. The blue tape is time consuming, but so is the razor blade cleaning method. Cheng liked the plexiglas rod at the time I took the workshop. We also used metal angle brackets to brace the outside of the mold to the table. For final vibration, we were told that at home, we could use a Saw-Zall without its blade placed againts the sides of the mold. We had 2 of them going, and they worked well. I had 6 people at the pour, since I was doing 4 sections of countertop at once. No one stood around! I put up a quonsett hut in my driveway made of PVC pipe and a really big tarp. My garage wouldn't have held the operation. It was a big deal. You are right about the prep time. I spent a week just getting the forms made and caulked. One of my sink knockouts was very challenging. I have a farmhouse sink that was neither entirely undermounted nor at the surface of the concrete. The overhang was a bear to create!! All in all, this is such a great project. My countertops are not yet ground, but already they are beautiful. (My boyfriend keeps peaking at them like they are a newborn baby.) Thanks for pointing me in the right direction for the diamond pads. I need to get them sent ASAP. Sorry for such a long post. Hope it helps someone.
doubleabattery (author)  leitningbug7 years ago
Thanks so much for your experience, glad to hear you've taken this project on! Yes, it really is rewarding and I'm glad to hear what you learned in the workshop. Taping the seams is a bit time consuming, but I've done plenty of taping while painting the interior of my house, so it went pretty quick. Good luck with your finishing!
That is a neat kitchen..... I don't think food acids will be a problem ..
My Chem. teacher mentioned something about how concrete counter tops don't react well to citric and acids in general. sometime about them being made up of a base and many foods are acids. I don't know, I hate that class.
whamodyne7 years ago
I love decorative concrete and all that you can do with it. Of course, my instructable is at a much smaller scale :)
I have Cheng's book and DVD, both are fantastic. The other book I really like the the one from Sunset - I found it to be a great help as well.
Time to save up the spare change for a a grinder. I've been keeping an eye on the air one but you are so correct, my compressor does 4 @ 90psi and getting one that does 8 is way too much money. Doesn't Cheng sell an adapter to turn a $20 4" angle grinder into a wet version? You lose a lot of the shorting protection but a good GFI setup should work.

ermockler7 years ago
If you had to guess, what does it weigh per sq ft, at 2" thick?
Using this information from the QUIKRETE 5000 data sheet; YIELD An 80 lb (36.3 kg) bag yields approximately 0.60 cu ft (17 L). A 60 lb (27.2 kg) bag yields approximately 0.45 cu ft (12.7 L). You should be able to calculate a pretty close approximation.
That doesn't count all the water necessary to hydrate the Portland cement. Won't it end up gaining some weight as it's mixed?
doubleabattery (author)  polyparadigm7 years ago
I would believe that as it dries, all of the water is evaporated, so the water shouldn't add any weight. I could be wrong, though.
You are wrong. But don't worry. Many people suffer from the same misconception. :)

Portland cement is not like Elmer's glue, which becomes liquid by dissolving in water, and solidifies as it dries.

Rather, it's like epoxy; it undergoes a chemical reaction as it cures. The hardener, in this case, happens to be water. That's why I said "to hydrate" earlier: the *anhydrous* form of the chemicals in cement are a loose powder, but the *hydrated* form is a solid block of stone.

This is why high heat destroys concrete: it drives out the water, and returns it to a powdery, anhydrous state.

The cracking you mentioned doesn't come from too-rapid drying; rather, it comes from incomplete hydration, similar to epoxy with too little hardener mixed in. You can dry concrete in the sun if you keep sprinklers on it. Similarly, you can cast concrete underwater without any problem.

Don't feel bad about not knowing this; I'm actually studying materials science. But I do like to spread the word.
Interesting in that there is an online lesson that covers what you just told us.
doubleabattery (author)  polyparadigm7 years ago
Thank you for that clarification, it makes total sense. If the concrete does retain all of the weight of the water, then I used a little over a gallon of water per cubic foot. If a cubic foot takes 120 lbs. of mix and a gallon of water weighs a little over 8 lbs., then I would calculate a 2 inch thick countertop being about 22 lbs. per square foot.
I really don't know, that why I said approximation. I mentioned it as a place to start. Information found at www.cement.org suggests a cubic yard of concrete weighs 2 ton, so take it from there.
zain7867 years ago
Love it - fantastic - have to try just one thing .... can i do some thing permanent to prevent stains - like add some kind of ingredient to the concrete mix?
Water glass (Sodium silicate) painted onto the surface, will help quite a bit. I'm not sure it will make the concrete completely impervious, but it's permanent until the surface of the concrete wears away.
Grendal zain7867 years ago
Mr. P - There are a variety of sealing options. I don't think any will make the concrete impervious to staining without affecting the finish. Some garage floor or walkway sealers would work, weatherproofers, etc. I would use caution with regards to unpleasant chemicals and really rough or caustic results. Read the labels carefully Mr. P is not the only evil genius out there.
wikkit7 years ago
Nicely done. I particularly like the coin detail. One caveat for anyone else who tries this: because it's so soft, aluminum will gum up some kinds of grinder. The way you did it there involved grinding down a relatively small aluminum area, but if someone else tried it with a larger area (a lot of inset aluminum details, thick aluminum edges, etc) it may cause some difficulty.
rudolph7 years ago
I'm a cabinet maker and solid surface countertop guy (sure there's a technical term) mostly working with Samsung's Staron (like Dupont's Corian only cheaper, and just as good). I just finished the countertop in a natural-finish hickory kitchen in an old (~1875) barn-converted-to-house. I have to say, working with solid surface is really pleasant. The material is pure acrylic, and just glues together. With just a little bit of finesse a pure seamless finish is fairly easy to accomplish, including the sink bonded to the bottom of the surface (no seams or lips to collect water, stains, crud, etc...). Anyway, enough rambling about that. While installing the cabinets in the aforementioned barn I was BS-ing with the customer's friend about turning a barn into a house, specifically pouring a real foundation under an existing 100+ year old structure, and he brought up how slick it would be to pour concrete countertops. The customer had already ordered up a solid surface top from us (the biggest one I ever built, fun to drive a 145x30 inch slab o' plastic up the mountain road) so it wasn't gonna happen in this house. It is really nice to see it done though, just a few weeks after the topic had come up in my work. Looks great. Probably will have to consider this for my own kitchen one day. Thanks.
Dimitrios7 years ago
Wow! Very nice instructable. Nice picture of your kitchen as well. Very inspiring to do a similar (experiment) I think I will fool around with it to make other objects maybe like furniture or so. Do you think this could work with sand as well? Check out www.thousandlotsofsand.com
ll.137 years ago
This is pretty awesome!, nice finish too.
gork7 years ago
doubleabattery: You know there is no law of air compressors that says you have to get all of your output from a single monster tank/compressor. Getting to 9scfm@90psi is not that hard given two or three of the little guys.
doubleabattery (author)  gork7 years ago
I don't know much about air compressors and air tools, but would be interested in learning more about that. Can you supply a link that describes how to connect them?
Well I am by no means an expert, but without getting into the nitty gritty it's really fairly simple. The first thing to remember is that the ratings on compressors are (generally) sustained SCFM -- ie how much air the compressor itself can deliver. When you add a tank to a compressor you get two benefits: 1) The assembly can deliver a higher SCFM than the sustained rating for "burst" work (this is why your pancake compressor can drive a roofing nailer) and 2) The compressor doesn't have to run constantly. So, if you were only going to use a tool that requires 9scfm for a few seconds every minute you wouldn't need a 9scfm compressor to use it. Unfortunately for a grinder you need the sustained duty, so tank size is actually quite unimportant. I guess I should have included an example for plumbing compressors together -- I can't find much about it online (there is not a step-by-step or anything) but people frequently do this and it is very simple. You basically just put a tee fitting between each tank and its regulator and plumb them together with a high pressure hose. This gives you increased total tank volume (burst scfm) and the advantage of having two compressors that can keep it full (sustained scfm). You can use a high pressure valve on each fitting so you can disconnect them when necessary. There is flex hose that is rated for pressures high enough to use without being regulated down to 90psi or less but be sure yo do not use a 90psi rated hose on this 120+psi air! You also want to make sure your compressors have similarly rated pressure tanks. Do not plumb a compressor that shuts of at 150 psi into a tank that is designed for one that shuts down at 120psi unless you can adjust the 150psi compressor to limit at 120psi. Hope that makes sense.
Grendal gork7 years ago
Mr. P will gather a following of evil minion air compressors for his doomsday device and try this-Gork,when the revolution comes you may be appointed High inquisitor of Air Compressors in the New Order. You may thank me later.
rdy4trvl7 years ago
This is an excellent instructable! One question - Care to take a guess at how many total labor hours went into the project .....and if you had to do it again, how much faster could you produce a similar counter? Thanks for taking the time to post your instructable.
doubleabattery (author)  rdy4trvl7 years ago
I'm sure that if I estimated my time it would be horribly inaccurate for 2 reasons: + There's alot of waiting in between certain phases and there's also many times that I only spent an hour here and there and wouldn't be able to even guess. + Even though Cheng's book covers every aspect of concrete countertops, I wasn't following any plans of his exactly, so Mr. P and I came up with several ways of our own to get our results, which took alot of time for trial and error. If I were to do the countertops again, I would estimate that it would take me a day to build the molds, a day and a half for mold preparation and pouring, two days for grinding, slurry, and polishing, and a half day for installation, sealing, waxing. I'd guess about 48 hours of work spread over a 2 to 3 week time period.
Thanks for the estimate. I hope I get the chance to try this sometime soon. Again, thanks for taking the time to post your Instructable.
belsey7 years ago
This looks great... but I'm glad I saw it AFTER I redid my countertops because otherwise I'd have been sorely tempted to make some and I don't have the space (or time). However, I found another option -- it's called Paperstone, it's made out of recycled paper and nuts (seriously!). It's harder than wood, softer than stone, resists heat and stains and it's mat and soft to the touch. Plus it's cheaper than granite (but more expensive than making our own granite). Here's the link: http://www.paperstoneproducts.com/paperstone-certified/
lactoso7 years ago
Wow, this is a very well done instructable and project. Kudos on your success! Just a quick question - just what's involved with waxing the countertops every month? I mean, is it a ten minute job or is it more involved?
raysireks7 years ago
ever thought of a resin overlay? Clear polyester or epoxy? there are many resins approved by the FDA for use on food surfaces...laid over an unfinished piece and then polished smooth could provide some dramatic looks..
doubleabattery (author)  raysireks7 years ago
Cheng gets into this in the book, however from what I remember they can be difficult to apply and easy to mess up. Also, there are polyurethane finishes that you can use on concrete that produce an ultra-high sheen, however they will burn if hot pans are put on them. They also wear off and every few years you have to strip them and re-apply. After taking this into consideration, I chose to rub wax on mine once a month.
youd be surprised, most resins are self-leveling and very easy to apply. They require almost no prep as the stick to almost everything (too well sometimes) and you can usually just pour a batch onto your project and lightly brush around to coat it nice and thick. A couple of applications while its still wet isn't bad. just let it flow over the sides and drip.. essentialy drench the piece, obviously cover the floor well wih plastic. When it gels up and the drips turn into stalactites, you can use a sharp blade to run under the edges and cut them off. Applying it wet like this makes it look like water and ultra clear. Just a tip.
doubleabattery (author)  raysireks7 years ago
Thank you for the info, I'd really like to try that at some point!
Leon Close7 years ago
This is one of the best Instructables I have read. Well done and thanks for the information.
ansleybleu7 years ago
Totally cool!
fisherman237 years ago
Those look great, nice work . I really like the way that turned out.
chrubble7 years ago
Excellent instructable - I've been looking for something like this for eons! I'd really be interested in techniques for dying concrete as well.
doubleabattery (author)  chrubble7 years ago
Here is a link to all the colors Cheng has to offer with his Pro-Formula kits. Also, Lowe's has a few color options in their concrete area. With a quick Google, I found this place. Also know that different pigments are more expensive than others because it takes alot more of some colors to dye the concrete. Blue is one of the most expensive colors.
LasVegas7 years ago
Incredible Instructable! I wish I had the space to do a job like that. I've been considering having my floors done in concrete. Some of the work I've seen has been beautiful.
Lindie7 years ago
Very nice! I've heard about these. Now I'll have to conside concrete when we redo our cabinets. Thanks.
putnamcs7 years ago
Do you think it would be possible to incorporate a backsplash in the concrete mold or would it need to be a separate piece of material, cast independently?
doubleabattery (author)  putnamcs7 years ago
Absolutely, it just has to be integrated into the mold. Cheng's Book goes into detail on this, as well as many other options you might not think of - like integrating a removable cutting board into the counter or adding a piece of rough cut marble into it for the perfect area to roll out dough and pastry.
shanemac7 years ago
Excellent Job - I did my countertop about 5 years ago after buying the Councrete Contertop book from Cheng... you've done a very good job of putting together a quality job for everyone to see.
you should check out Buddy Rhodes website - amazing concrete countertops. http://www.buddyrhodes.com/
buzban7 years ago
Wow. Very impressive, and very useful as I consider options for my upcoming kitchen project. Thanks!
drone17 years ago
Excellent job. Well written. Looks like it turned out great. Thanks for taking the time put it all down.
garvious7 years ago
Beautiful job! I bought the Cheng Book and DVD's, and I found them very informative, but I've been hesitant to actually try it. You've given me the courage to finally give it a shot.
rthunder7 years ago
Brilliant! You are a master. Your care and precision -- not just in your countertop work, but in your instructable -- is admirable. Now you will have to challenge Mr. Cheng as the new concrete countertop sensei. Wax on! Wax off!
Chrisjob7 years ago
Could you please include a breakdown of your expenses? Like, materials vs. tools? Cheers.
doubleabattery (author)  Chrisjob7 years ago
All of the countertops that I poured (one countertop isn't pictured) came up to about 36 square feet @ 2" thickness, which came to 6 cubic feet of concrete. This is alot of countertop space, so you're countertop could cost less depending on the size of your kitchen. This is a fairly comprehensive list and I didn't include the cost of the grinder in my estimate of less than $800. If you add up everything except the grinder, it comes to $792. Depending on how you finish the countertop and whether you need to support your cabinets and floors, you can include the grinder in the estimate and still come in less than $900. Cheng Kits, Slurry, Glass + Sealer - $230 Melamine - $100 9 Bags Quickrete 5000 - $72 Cement Mixer Rental - $50 Aluminum and Galvanized steel - $60 3/4" Plywood for adding support to the cabinets and tops - $90 Steel Supports for the basement- $60 Screws, Caulk, Epoxy, Wire Mesh, PVC, Styrofoam, other misc. - $60 Hellcat Grinder - $270 Diamond Pads - $70 As you can see, the Cheng supplies were one of the biggest expenses. If you'd like to experiment, you could really get the cost down. I knew that I couldn't afford the time or money to redo the countertops, so I spent the extra cash....let's just call it "insurance".
meerar7 years ago
wow that was amazing. can you send mr. p over to my place as well :-) your wife must be very happy to have such a personalised countertop. meera
Grendal meerar7 years ago
Mr P is always willing to help-And am currently recruiting evil minions for major doomsday device.
rimar20007 years ago
VERY VERY VERY Good Job. Congratulations.
canida7 years ago
That looks fantastic! Great job!
carlos66ba7 years ago
This is a truly awesome instructable. I have read Chang's book on concrete countertops and you really got into his spirit. Your counters look very beautiful, I wish I had the time to do the same (we'll probably end-up getting granite).
royalestel7 years ago
Grrrreat detail. Thanks for posting. I like a person willing to save money by doing it yourself.
Mnweni7 years ago
Fantastic detail. A truly remarkable effort. Thanks for the inspiration!
HamO7 years ago
Too Fine! Most excellent instructable. Thanks for sharing.
ewilhelm7 years ago
Looks great! Any idea what happens if you don't rewax every 30 days? Is the counter simply more susceptible to stains?
doubleabattery (author)  ewilhelm7 years ago
Yes, it just has a tendency to stain easier. Some people dont mind over time since it starts forming a patina. Thanks for the kind comments!
Very cool!
crestind7 years ago
That is awesome! I really like how it has all the little chips in it. Your kitchen is amazing too - sleek and modern.
lightpacker7 years ago
one word AWESOME! Thats cool as hell
Sintax7 years ago
This is an awesome instructable, if i owned a house this would be the way I want to go. Thanks for all the info.