Redoing a kitchen or bathroom with concrete countertops is a home improvement project you can do yourself. While it takes some time — be prepared to spread the work out over several weekends because of the time required for curing — you will save yourself the high cost of purchased granite or marble countertops.

This tutorial will provide all the information you need for planning, creating your own forms and molds, making joints, and distributing the poured concrete. I figured all of this out because 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 I found that was much more customizable than the other solid surfaces was concrete. Concrete’s 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? Not so. 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 for my kitchen and they came out at around $4,000. My custom concrete countertops ended up coming in at below $800, including the rental of the 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.

1. 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 during which you will need to do your grinding and polishing.

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

3. 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 are ways to remedy many outcomes that you don’t like.

I also 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 without Fu-Tung Cheng’s help.

Step 1: You'll Need (Good) Help

As you'll see in this Instructable, I've got the assistance of Mr. P; an evil genius (albeit "special") who lends his raw power and expertise to the project. There are many steps that can be accomplished solo, but concrete is heavy and you should expect to need anywhere from 2 to 4 people to help move around your countertops on more than one occasion. You'll need at least 3 people involved in your pour. And it's best to cure the countertops inside a garage; however, grinding and polishing them is very wet and messy so you'll want to do that outside. Then you'll need to install them in place so prepare to have people available to help at different times.

Note from Mr. P: "If a substance does not have a MSDS, testing should be carried out before prolonged exposure. Not all methods of testing are OSHA approved. With all due sincerity; wear a mask, gloves and safety glasses when mixing concrete or using adhesives and solvents."

Thanks for the help. I also bought the book. Together, the project wasn't that tough at all...
<p>How did you get that look? Did you just polish and seal it?</p>
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. <br> <br>C <br>
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. <br> 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. <a href="http://sputterlyutter.blogspot.com/2011/09/collective-instructables-wisdom.html">Here's a link to my notes</a>.
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!
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: <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Build-a-Polished-Concrete-Desk/">http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Build-a-Polished-Concrete-Desk/</a><br/>Thanks for the detailed instructions, they helped me greatly in my project!<br/><br/>
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Great work!
Great Job! It's awesome to see people that have gotten help from my instructable and thanks for sharing.
hi thanks so much for posting this instructable!<br/>I used this instructable as the main inspiration for doing my own concrete countertops as part of a larger (super-cheap-ass) kitchen reno.<br/><br/>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. <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.new.facebook.com/album.php?aid=23879&l=1d07e&id=624811215">kitchen reno gallery</a><br/>
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
Hi Is that Columbus GA?? We are in Cols Ga and doing some concrete cabinets. M
Yes, we are talking about Chatanooga and Atlanta, so I think I mean Columbus Georgia.
And I'm in Nashville! :D
Nasville isn't in Georgia.... :D
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
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
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).
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!
A great little forum you have started DoubleA!<br/>I keep seeing posts talking about Pam or cooking oil as mold release. Would not that potentially stain the concrete from the onset? <br/>People are asking about bagged concrete for countetops...<br/>Lowes carries (special order only so far) <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.quikrete.com/ProductLines/CountertopMix.asp">Quikrete Countertop Mix</a>. <br/>I have used it several times with great results. <br/>It is more expensive than straight up 5000 psi concrete mix ($10.50 per bag). It does have plasticizer and flow admixture already in it. So it does have desirable flow qualities. <br/>ConcretePaul has experience with his own mixtures (do share!), that would be the cheapest , most tailored to ones specific mix needs... obviously that comes from lots of experimentation. People usually don't want to give info like that out. <br/>For a reliable bagged mix the Quikrete Countertop Mix product worked well straight out of the bag for me. Although the plasticizer made the feel of the mix well.... weird and plasticky :) Very sticky.... maybe not suitable for a drier Buddy Rhodes style veiny concrete pour.<br/>I'm going to experiment mixing a 60 lb. bag of sand mix into a 80 lb. bag of Quikrete countertop mix. see if it feels more &quot;natural&quot;. I'll let you know.<br/><br/>Here's two questions for ya'll...<br/>#1 Regarding concrete sealers...<br/> I find the matte/natural sealers make bringing up a shine with waxes (later in the process) difficult. And the Semi-gloss sealers seem streaky and leave a streaky shine even after waxing.<br/>Anybody have a good sealer they recommend a good sealer? Sika and Quikrete sealers don't do it for me so far.<br/>#2 I made a bee's wax/food grade mineral oil final sealer, but the stuff is super sticky... Do I need to add more mineral oil to the mix to get it less viscous/sticky? <br/>Help, my arms are tired from buffing out this gluey goo!<br/><br/>Charlessenf-gm.... says<br/>I was thinking that, in this situation, one might spray the curing sealer onto the mold before the initial &quot;pour&quot; 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 &quot;git go.&quot;<br/><br/>Charles, <br/>Aren't you afraid that the sealer/curing agent will discolor the concrete (milky, blotchy) if you spray it in the mold prior to casting? Let me know the results of your experiment.....<br/>
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.
<p>i cant get quickrete 5000 or cheng pro formula what can i use in a basic concrete mix of 1 part water 2 part cement 3 part sand</p><p>are super plasticizers absolutely necessary or glass fibres? </p>
<p>great :)</p>
<p> I did an out door bar table top with concrete &quot;INPLACE pouring &quot; due to its size ( 2ft x 10ft) , top is uneven, by the time I finished pouring it was late and concrete was not enough to trowel to level so did a quick and dirty job of finishing it off ,( used a mix of GFRC and quickrete 5000 Mix about less than 2 inch thick,</p><p>after a week i tried leveling the top with another layer of sand cement ready mix ( no gravel ) and wasted 4 hrs topping and leveling the table but next day I checked it was popping off :( , just did not stick to the tabletop so frustrated I just scraped off the top . I think My selection of the cement ready mix was wrong . </p><p>Any one can give some pointers on which Portland cement with plasticizer , additive etc would work wonders to level this would be just great </p><p>This is my first countertop using concrete, don't want to give up. not so easy... </p><p>And yes of all the places I though this was a great forum to get some ideas on projects for a low budget DIY person with plenty of enthusiasm </p>
<p>I am planning to fix mine too.. great ideas, I benefited to it yey :D</p>
<p>I have poured 64 sq feet on counter top. I have some ruff spots in the counter top and I am at a loss. I sealed it but the ruff spots look really blouchey. I really like the gray look . If i polish the counter top will that get rid of the ruff spots and smooth it out? I sanded the edges with 220 but its still rough also. Please help me!!</p>
<p>Very nice.I will try this in my <a href="http://www.bestfreestreaming.com/" rel="nofollow">kitchen</a>..Thank you for sharing this.</p>
<p>Very nice.I will try this in my <a href="http://www.bestfreestreaming.com/" rel="nofollow">kitchen</a>..Thank you for sharing this.</p>
<p>I was pleasantly surprised. I visited this very Kitchen in Chattanooga, TN. The house got foreclosed on soon after this project was completed.</p>
<p>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!</p>
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.
<p>Thanks for the recommendation. What would you think if I waited to do the cutouts until the countertop was in place?</p>
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<p>brilliant, thanks for sharing!</p>
<p>Your IBLE inspired me to make my own and I have referred back to it many times. It helped me realize that I could <strong>make</strong> something wonderful and functional that I would, in the past, only have hoped to purchase.</p>
Is this house in Chattanooga? I think I saw the MLS on it. Love that neighborhood
Wow these concrete countertops looks great! They looks just as good as real granite <a href="http://www.haristoneslimited.com" rel="nofollow">countertops</a> and at a fraction of the price. Nice work!
This makes sense. The glue gun to the nose does not. LOL. Awesome thanks for posting.
Wow this is such a good idea! I'll definitely have to tell my friends who are <a href="http://www.helpmerhondas.com/en/" rel="nofollow">interior decorators</a> about this!
nice kitchen!
This is an awesome idea! My husband and I are in the process of building a house and we thought we wanted to go with the granite <a href="http://www.haristoneslimited.com" rel="nofollow">counter tops in Edmonton</a>. The thing is, they are so expensive! After seeing this I looked into all the things you could do with concrete and I couldn't believe all the possibilities! It can be stained and mixed with other colors to even look like some granite. My husband is a hands on guy so I think this is the way we are going to go. Thank you so much for sharing!
Thanks so much for sharing this! I have been looking into <a href="http://www.haristoneslimited.com" rel="nofollow">counter tops edmonton</a> and what I want to put in my home! I have been looking into all different options! Thanks again for sharing!
Thanks so much for sharing this information! I have been looking into <a href="http://www.rdinet.com/RDIProjects.htm" rel="nofollow">kitchen remodel champaign</a> and how they can help me get started on mine! Can you tell me where I might be able to find more information like this? Thanks for sharing!
I agree. Indeed Solid Countertops are strong, non-porous and has wide range of designs as well. Will definitely use it for my <a href="http://www.myinstalledcountertops.com" rel="nofollow">Kitchen Counters</a>.
I agree. Indeed Solid Countertops are strong, non-porous and has wide range of designs as well. Will definitely use it for my <a href="http://www.myinstalledcountertops.com" rel="nofollow">Kitchen Countertops</a>.

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