Step 7: Installation and Final Finish

Picture of Installation and Final Finish
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I can't mention enough that concrete is heavy and you'll need people to help you with the final installation. I was able to move all of my countertops with 3 people, but that's because I did my biggest piece in 2 sections. Make sure you have a battle plan of how you'll move it and set it down.

The weight of the countertops will keep it in place if you just apply a generous amount of caulk on your plywood top. If you'd like added support or live in an area where earthquakes are prevalent, you may decide to drill underneath into the concrete and use tapcons to secure it further.

I also wanted to hide the 3/4" plywood top that supported the countertop, so I bought 3/4" by 4' strips of galvanized steel at Lowe's. I just cut them down to size and glued them onto the plywood edges using Liquid Nails. It adds another decorative touch and looks great!

If you remember, I had that aluminum strip that I wanted to be an accent where the 2 island pieces came together. To do this I cut the aluminum down to the proper length allowing it to stick up (and out) just slightly from being flush. I applied caulk to both sides of the aluminum and pressed the countertop together, sandwiching the aluminum and holding it in place. I then used 2 part concrete epoxy, which I spread over the aluminum and onto the concrete. After it dried, I ground it down with the wet polisher until it was perfectly flush with the 50 grit, then worked back up to 1500 grit to match the finish.

The Cheng Pro-Formula kit came with a penetrating sealer that I applied according to the directions which were simple. I chose to add extra shine and protection by polishing them with carnuba wax. The wax is heat resistant, so you can still put hot pans on the countertop without it burning, and gives added stain protection from acidic foods like wine and citrus. The wax needs to be re-applied about once a month in order to keep up the shine and protection.

So now I've got beautiful new countertops that I made myself! It was a lot of work and a fair amount of expense, but it was so much cheaper than granite and I was able to add details that you can't find in any other solid surface countertops. I'm going to enjoy my fruits of labor for now, but eventually I'd like to do an outdoor kitchen which will need countertops as well. I'll document that process as well when I get around to doing it.

I hope this helps you with your project and I'll be more than happy to answer any questions you have, so feel free to ask. Major thanks go to Mr. P and my brother who helped me with this project, I couldn't have done it without them.

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cmc706 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.

dburns111 year 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)  dburns111 year 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?

brilliant, thanks for sharing!

hpress2 years 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?
asteidl3 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.
cslead4 years ago
Just stunning!!!!
Pukka job
MicroKID5 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?
shibob5 years ago

Excellent job it is rely nice

Flash6356 years ago
Is there a reason that polyurethane or epoxy sealer couldn't be used instead of wax?
Knucklez6 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:

ampeyro6 years ago
just one cuestion, did you put steel bars in here?
rufino6 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 rufino6 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
cmc706 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.
shelslay6 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!
doubleabattery (author)  shelslay6 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!
foobear6 years ago
wow, it's amazing!
jenend6 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
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.
89ragtopgt6 years ago
What color is that countertop? ?,CHARCOAL ,STONE ,INDIGO ,TAHOE ??? thanks. I will be doing this in 2 weeks.....
Pompom7 years ago
Absolutely fabulous. Love love love it. Well done.
Oscelot7 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..
doubleabattery (author)  Oscelot7 years ago
Thanks so much, I'm glad you're inspired!
dcmac827 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.
doubleabattery (author)  dcmac827 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.
elimac7 years ago
great job on the kitchen. Just one question, how do you attach the undermount sink?
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)  lisabanfield7 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.
cjones12367 years ago
Great job Did you make your cabinets to?
vlh7 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?
hkilber7 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!
belsey8 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/
fisherman238 years ago
Those look great, nice work . I really like the way that turned out.
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