DIY CONCRETE COUNTERTOPS
First I’ll start by saying that our counters were perfectly fine they just aren’t my style. It was like the galaxy came down and landed in my kitchen. Cute but not MY cute.
There is a lot of sanding that happens in this project and for most of it I sanded by hand. But when it came to roughing up my granite, I brought out my Ryobi sander and went over the counter a few times. Then wiped the counters down to get any dust off before priming them. (You don’t need an electric sander for this, you can do it by hand. Just might take a little bit longer.)
Before starting the concrete process I applied two coats of KILZ all purpose primer. I used this primer because I’ve worked with it before and have always had a great outcome. Follow the directions on the can for best results. You can use this primer for pretty much any project in your future. I always have some on hand.
When working with Ardex Feather Finish concrete I used one part concrete to half part water. I measured with disposable cups so I could just toss them out after my project was complete. You can mix this in anything from containers to a zip lock bag. Whatever you use will get ruined so make sure it’s something you can throw away.
DO NOT MIX UP TOO MUCH! Work with small amounts. When you use my concrete to water portions (1 cup concrete half cup water) you will see that the concrete starts to harden after about 10-15 min. Work fast and work in small portions.
MIX, MIX, MIX. I used a wooden dowel to mix my concrete. Work out any bubbles and get it as smooth as you can but know it won’t be perfect and that’s okay. You can flatten out any bubbles as your spreading the concrete on the counters. Just mix it until its a thick cake batter consistency.
This is where the fun begins. Scoop out all of your mixed concrete with a putty knife and place it on the counter. I had two different size putty knifes based on the size of my counter but really found myself only using the one pictured above.
Spread that concrete like your icing a cake. Start in the corner and work your way to the edge of the concrete and across. Work in THIN layers. The putty knife will most likely create lines in the concrete but don’t worry about them too much. You can sand them down after it’s dry. Using the putty knife will create a very smooth even surface so if you’re like me and want a little more texture make sure to watch my video tutorial below to see how I added some. When you get to the edges of your counters you will apply the concrete with your fingers and spread it evenly. This will give you that concrete texture also.
Because my concrete is white it’s a little difficult to photograph but you can see here how my concrete looked as it was drying. If you don’t like the texture you can sand it down, if you do like it… like me… you’re probably feeling pretty giddy seeing this picture.
Now for the messy part. It’s messy, but let me tell you I overestimated how messy it was because for the most part the dust stayed on the counter or right below it on the floor. I took sandpaper in two different gritts 180 and 220 alternating between the two. I cut the paper to fit around a sanding block for easy grip.
SAND, SAND, SAND. I went over the counter twice with my sanding block after each layer of concrete dried. The first round I evenly sanded across the whole countertop and the second round I just went over the parts that were still rough like those lines I mentioned before that the putty knife created.
To help keep the dust under control I vaccumed my countertops twice and then dusted them off with a dry rag. Repeat these steps starting with mixing the concrete 3-4 times. I personally did 4 layers of concrete.
Once your final layer of concrete is sanded down and cleaned up you can move on to the sealant process. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PROCESS! Have patience and follow the dry times. Start by applying a layer of the 511 impregnator sealant. I applied mine with a roller brush to really get inside any pin holes (my favorite texture on the concrete) and penetrate the concrete. After applying the layer evenly you’ll remove any access with a CLEAN DRY WHITE rag. I did three layers of the 511 and allowed them to dry 3-4 hours between each layer. Sand before applying the next layer. Then allow at least a 12 hour dry time after your last layer.
After it has been 12+ hours since your last layer of the 511 sealant you can sand down your countertops, clean them up, and apply your first layer of the safecoat. I applied 3 full layers with 12 hours of dry time between each. I poured a decent amount on my counters and brushed it out. You can apply each layer sooner based on the instructions on the bottle but I wanted to be extra sure my countertops were protected so I had no problems waiting.
Your countertops will continue to harden and cure for the next few weeks. 2-3 to be exact. But you can start putting things on them after 48 hours. They will just continue to work behind the scenes while you do.
The Final Look
What You Need
If you are looking for perfect, this is not the countertop solution for you. You can get a perfect concrete countertop but that will be with pouring concrete and not using a feather finish. The reason that we wanted feather finish concrete counterops and chose this route when redoing our countertops is because we wanted texture, character, and more dimension in our kitchen. And we got it! I’m so giddy every time I walk by this section in our kitchen and can’t wait to get started on the rest of the space. I will provide updates in the coming months on how they are holding up!