Introduction: HomeMade Modern DIY Wood + Concrete Kitchen Island

My business partner at ZeroEnergy Design has an amazing roof deck and enjoys outdoor entertaining. This outdoor kitchen island was designed to be used as a food preparation station next to the grill. Because the island was planned as an outdoor piece, I used cedar lumber and stainless steel screws. The same design could be made using standard 2x4s and deck screws for a little less money. Even though the wood bottom looks quite intricate, it's actually quite easy to make. Only a few cross cuts are needed to create it. The assembly is done with stainless steel screws. I used grey Quikrete Commercial Grade Countertop Mix cast into a melamine form to make the top. It's as smooth and hard as stone but weighs about 200 lbs.

Step 1: Download the Wood + Concrete Kitchen Plan

Click here to download the Wood + Concrete Kitchen plan.

Step 2: Supplies + Tools

Quikrete Countertop Mix (in grey)
Available at the Home Depot
I prefer the Commercial Grade Quikrete Countertop Mix for these type of projects but Quikrete 5000 will work just fine as well.

36" Long 1 1/4" Square Fir Balusters
Available at Home Depot
These square balusters are straight, smooth and easy to work with. I used them to make block supports for the concrete form.

3/4" Melamine Board
Available at the Home Depot
Melamine board is particle board with a smooth laminate surface. It's a great product for making a concrete form work. I bought a 4' by 4' sheet and had four 2 1/2" strips cut at Home Depot.

2x4s + 1x4s
Available at the Home Depot or Lumber Yard
Because the island was planned as an outdoor piece, I used cedar lumber. Cedar and Redwood weather well and are great for outdoor use but cost a bit more than other soft woods. The same design could be made using standard 2x4s and deck screws for a little less money.

3", 2 1/2" and 1 5/8" Stainless Steel Screws
Available at the Home Depot
These stainless steel screws have a small head, a nice appearance and won't rust. If you're building the island for indoor use, cheaper coated screws can be used.

This project can be made with hand tools...

RYOBI 18 Volt Cordless Drill
Available at the Home Depot

RYOBI 18 Volt Circular Saw
Available at the Home Depot

...but is easier with bench top tools:

RYOBI 10" Sliding Compound Miter Saw with Laser
Available at the Home Depot

Step 3: Cut the Melamine Board

Use a circular saw to cut three 2.5" wide strips, 4 feet long. I used the guide attachment for my RYOBI Circular Saw to get nice, even cuts.

Step 4: Screw on the Supports

I screwed pieces of the fir baluster around the edges of the 2x4 melamine board. I then placed the long 2.5" melamine strips and took a field measurement for the short side pieces. I cut the short pieces and screwed in the remaining wood blocks.

Step 5: Glue Down the Formwork

Normally, I screw melamine strips to the wood blocks, but I didn't have screws with the right length, so I tried using a hot glue gun to glue down the melamine strips. It worked quite well and also created a waterproof seal around the outside of the form.

Step 6: Seal + Clean the Form

Use latex or silicone caulk to seal the form. Squeeze a bead of sealent in the corner and then smooth it out with your finger. Once the caulking is dry, wipe the form to remove dust and dirt before pouring in the concrete.

Step 7: Prepare the Rebar

I wired together a rectangular reinforcement frame from 4 pieces of 1/2" diameter rebar.

Step 8: Mix + Pour the Concrete

Quikrete Commercial Grade Countertop Mix is easy to work with and has no large pieces of aggregate. This mix is easier to work with, but sets up faster, so you need to work quickly. I used about 2 1/2 bags. I filled the form about two-thirds of the way full and then put the rebar in place before filling the mold the rest of the way.

Step 9: Pack Down the Concrete + Vibrate the Form

Make sure the wet concrete is pack down into every corner and vibrate the form. I used a scrap piece of wood as a screed to level the concrete.

Step 10: Let the Concrete Cure

Let the concrete cure for at least 48 hours before removing the form. The manufacturer suggests covering the concrete to control moisture.

Step 11: Remove the Form

Unscrew the formwork and scrape off any of the caulk that is stuck to the concrete.

Step 12: Cut the Wood

You can cut the wood for the base with a circular saw and a speed square, but a compound mitre saw makes it a lot easier. Lightly sand the rough edges after cutting.

Step 13: Assemble the Bottom Tray

Lay out the pieces for the bottom tray and screw them together. Use a square to check and make sure that your corners are at nice, 90 degree right angles.

Step 14: Assemble the Top Frame

Screw the top frame together with 2 1/2" screws. I used a cut-off end of the 2x4 as a spacer and a square to make sure the frame was square and ready for the legs.

Step 15: Screw on the Legs

I used 3" screws to screw the legs to the top frame. Without the bottom tray to hold them in place, they will wobble a bit, so don't worry about making them square yet.

Step 16: Screw in the Bottom Tray

Flip the legs and top frame right side up and slide the bottom tray between the legs. Use scrap 2x4s to raise the bottom tray 3 1/2" off the ground. Use a square to make sure the legs are in the right position and then screw through the legs into the bottom tray with four 3" screws for each leg.

Step 17: Add Additional Screws

Now that the bottom tray is in place, drive additional 3" screws through the top frame and into the legs.

Step 18: Field Measure + Cut the Top Trim Pieces

Measure the width of the base and then cut two pieces of 1x4 that exact length. Screw them into place and measure the length for the long trim pieces.

Step 19: Put on the Top

The concrete top is quite heavy and doesn't slide, but I put a couple screws up through the wood and into the concrete about 3/8" anyway. You can also use a construction adhesive as well. I prefer screws because they allow the top to come off for transportation.

Step 20: Seal the Concrete

I used Quikrete Acrylic Concrete Cure & Seal with a satin finish to protect and finish the concrete countertop. It's easy to use and looks great!

Comments

author
ClaudioD12 (author)2017-05-08

Very nice, congrats. Will definetly do it here.

author
MakeNBuild (author)2014-12-12

how thin could you make a concrete countertop and not worry about it breaking?

author
t_pete (author)2014-08-01

Very nice! and while there are any number of things you 'could' have done to please the masses ;)

I think you did a great job with this and you deserve to be proud. I'm sure your partner is very happy with the result.

author

Nice, did you use any kind of sealant for the countertop? I know concrete is kind of porous, which isn't great for surfaces that food is prepared on.

author

last sentence in the project ... Quikrete Acrylic Concrete Cure & Seal

author
mc2517 (author)2014-07-15

some unsanded grout could be used to fill in any small voids.

author
jbentley6 (author)2014-07-14

You could have stained and polished the concrete for a marble like finish... Looks great though!

author
jessyratfink (author)2014-07-14

That's beautiful!

author
M3G (author)2014-07-14

Very cool!

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Bio: HomeMade Modern is an online design source that publishes easy-to-follow, DIY recipes for creating modern home furnishings. We provide creative ideas for making affordable alternatives ... More »
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