Outdoor Kitchen With Concrete Countertops




My project involved creating an outdoor cooking area.  This involved constructing bases of steel studs, hardipanel, synthetic stucco  and poured concrete countertops that would hold a natural gas grill and provide storage and space for food layout.  


Step 1: Framing

The first step in creating these were to create the frames with steel studs.  You really need all of your components on site to begin this framework, as grill dimensions and door openings must be exact to have a good fit and finish.  All screw penetrations and cut edges of studs were spot primed with galvanized primer to deter rust and corrosion.

Step 2: HardiPanel Substrate

Hardipanel was selected as the substrate of the finished surface.  This cuts easily and mounts with screws.  Joints are taped with mesh tape and finished with thinset.  I also did the bottom to  help with rigidity and also to keep critters out of the finished units.  

Step 3: Synthetic Stucco

I used a product called DryVit as the finished surface.  This is applied by troweling or spraying with a hopper - just like drywall texture.  I sprayed this product.  DryVit looks like traditional stucco, but has some elastic qualities that allow it to expand and contract with temperature changes without cracking.

Step 4: Countertop Template

Strips of luan were cut from a 4'x8' sheet and these were used to create the countertop template.  This works pretty slick, as you can make a perfect template without really measuring anything.  These are glued together during the process.  This makes easy work of odd shaped counter shapes.  You can get the proper overhang and perfectly placed cutouts.

Step 5: Countertop Forming

Melamine was used for the countertop forming.  4'x8' sheets are readily available.  This counter was poured upside down.  The melamine is a super smooth surface which produces a very smooth concrete surface.  I built some very robust saw horses to hold the main counter at a comfortable working level.  Strips of melamine were cut for the edges and screwed down to the form base.  One important thing here, is that you need to fill the screw heads with wax or caulking before you pour.  Otherwise, the screw heads will be filled with concrete and will be not be very much fun to remove when it comes time to break down the forming.After the initial forming is anchored into place, I assembled the reinforcing rod mesh.  I used #3 rod.   If there are any holes or seams, they can befilled with wax and scraped level.  The seam where the form edges meet the large flat area of the form can be filled with a bead of silicone caulking, running a finger down the seam to create a nice radius on the counter edge.  If you need any holes, it is is best to put them in now.  I put in a couple of holes for lights that I wanted to mount.  I used a piece of dowel, drilled a hole in the center of the dowel for a screw, and screwed them onto the bottom form.  I also coated them with a little silicone so that they could be punched out easily.  Putting these in now instead of drilling the countertop later eliminates the chance of drilling into some of the re-rod later.

Step 6: Glass Inlay

I used tempered glass pieces as an interesting inlay.  These are red and clear.  They were sprinkled over the form and will be exposed during the grinding/polishing process

Step 7: Concrete Pour, Grinding and Polishing

Not many pictures were taken during the pour.  I was pretty busy :).  I used Quikrete countertop mix along with liquid color.  Charcoal / Black was the color of the tint.  I used a large electric mixer from a neighbor, and we mixed 3 bags at a time.  It was quite a process but it went very well.  AFter allowing for a 7 day cure, the side forms were removed and the counter was flipped to begin grinding.  I used a angle grinder that has a water port that shoots water into the center of the grinding pad.  This keeps the area flushed.  I started with a rough grinding wheel for rapid material removal to expose the aggregate, and progressed up to 3000 grit with diamond pads.  The finished product looks like glass.  I found Cheng products late in the project and used Cheng spot filler, sealer, and concrete wax.  Their stuff is top notch, and I will be using their products in my next home adventure.

Step 8: Installation

This stuff is heavy, make no mistake about that.  And of course, I had to do the largest piece in one pour.  I gathered up about 6 of the strongest guys in my neighborhood, and we carried the counters out to the bases, which I had previously moved onto the deck.  Silicone was used as the adhesive , and after the counters were put in place, I installed the remaining components.  The grill and side burner are Calflame units.  The doors were purchased online, these are pretty easy to find.  The mushroom lights are low voltage, and we wanted red so I had to disassemble them and paint them.  Rustoleum is a great outdoor paint.  We have enjoyed this very much, and use it almost daily - even in the winter as we are in MIchigan.  Concrete was pretty much our only option for survival in our climate, with the freeze that cycles.  With proper care, these will last for many years.  Sadly, we will be relocating soon and will be leaving this great setup for the next owner, but I really need to win that Grand Prize of the mixer, because I will be doing this at the next house!

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    66 Discussions


    Question 1 year ago on Step 1

    I formed the countertop in place due to stone veneer already installed on the hardy board. When I pour the top can the metal studs framing come in contact with the concrete or should I put a thin rubber barrier between them? Thanks

    1 answer

    Answer 1 year ago

    Yes put some type of barrier that concrete will start attacking your steel studs


    3 years ago

    Your work looks awesome! I'm in the middle of building my own outdoor kitchen. Quick question- did you apply some sort of concrete adhesive to cement board before shooting your Dryvit? Thanks!


    4 years ago

    How did the seal hold up over time? What sealer did you use and how often did you reapply, if ever?


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Did you mix the charcoal color at the recommended ratio of 1 bottle : 2 bags or did you do a custom ratio?

    Ole bally

    5 years ago on Step 8

    Did you have to vibrate the concrete once poured to get the air bubbles out of it?
    Your project looks great! Well done!

    2 replies
    glennmaggardOle bally

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I used an electric sander with no sanding pad to vibrate the underside of the form after the concrete was poured. Worked very well.

    Ole ballyglennmaggard

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Aaah clever puppy!!! :)
    we are about to do a similar project but using Agate stone that's been cut to make table tops!


    I don't have a complete cost for the project. construction materials were from Home Depot, DryVit was from a distributor, that was about $80. The SS doors were about $125 apiece. I bought the SS Grill from a vendor in CA. It was a distributor that used the grill as a demo in the store. It was fired but never cooked on. Saved about $300 on it. And of course the concrete, 8 bags of Quikcrete concrete countertop mix special ordered from Home Depot, liquid color, I had the glass from another project (fire glass in the gas fireplace). I'll try to get a fairly accurate tally together.

    LOVE THIS!!! We had an outdoor kitchen built back in 2010, and the guy that did it used OSB board and stuccoed the outside of it. Of course, about 2 months later the stucco began cracking from the swelling and contracting of the OSB board. :(
    Lo and behold Mother Nature took care of it....We got hit by a tornado that came thru in June of this year and it wiped out the entire outdoor kitchen. (no one was hurt...just house and patio) Anyway, I was SO HAPPY to find your instructions to do it the right way this time!! So.....thanks so much for posting!!
    Quick question.....what are the red little (lights?) sticking up and how are they powered?? Thanks again!

    4 replies

    those are low voltage landscaping lights. They were purchased at Lowe's and were originally brown in color. I have some lights around the deck that are 12 volt, and thought these would be great. All light is directed downward and none is shining in your eyes. These have a threaded connection that would take a threaded spike to insert into the ground around your landscaping. I just used a pipe nipple, attached to the light, and used a threaded coupler for the nut on the underside of the counter. I ran the 12 volt power from the power supply that feeds all the lights through a switch inside one of the doors so that I can have the deck lights on without having the mushroom lights on all the time, only as needed.

    Ingenious! We are starting to build and follow your instructions today. I hate to pummel you with more questions, but what did you use for a floor in the cabinet? We were trying to figure it out based on the pics, but couldn't tell if that was a base that you were temporarily building on, or what was ultimately used in the end.Thanks so VERY much for your help.

    That is composite decking left over from a project. I also built a temp platform to build on because my garage floor was sloped. This gave me a level surface to build on. The composite decking is dark brown, the platform is light 2x4s


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I'd like to thank the staff at Instructables.com and also Cheng Concrete for sponsoring the Concrete and Casting contest. It is wonderful to win First Place, and the prize of a grinder/polisher will be put to good use! Thanks for a great site with so many ideas!
    Glenn Maggard


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Just wanted to say congratulations on being a finalists in the Concrete & Casting Contest! This was a fantastic instructable! Good luck!

    1 reply

    5 years ago

    What brand/model of grinder did you use and at what speed?