Concrete Countertops for the Kitchen - Solid Surface on the Cheap

Picture of Concrete Countertops for the Kitchen - Solid Surface on the Cheap


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 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!
cmc704 years ago
Thanks for the help. I also bought the book. Together, the project wasn't that tough at all...
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.

hivoltage4 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:
Thanks for the detailed instructions, they helped me greatly in my project!

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

Thanks for using instructables!
Great work!
doubleabattery (author)  hivoltage4 years ago
Great Job! It's awesome to see people that have gotten help from my instructable and thanks for sharing.
romac5 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
doubleabattery (author)  romac5 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 Kaiven5 years ago
Hi Is that Columbus GA?? We are in Cols Ga and doing some concrete cabinets. M
Kaiven monam8085 years ago
Yes, we are talking about Chatanooga and Atlanta, so I think I mean Columbus Georgia.
nilmahj Kaiven5 years ago
And I'm in Nashville! :D
Kaiven nilmahj5 years ago
Nasville isn't in Georgia.... :D
nilmahj Kaiven5 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 nilmahj5 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
Mitchell 006.jpgMitchell 003.jpg
Pompom romac5 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)  romac5 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)  FabSlab5 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.
ixisuprflyixi made it!2 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.

briley19758 months 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.

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!
claudg19501 year 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.

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 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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