This post is sponsored by Concrete Countertop Solutions. I was given some concrete products in exchange for my post, but ALL opinions are my OWN. I would also like to note that I purchased some of the supplies in this post from them as well with my own money!
Hey Everyone! Happy Monday!
Many months ago, ahem, maybe even a year ago, we poured concrete countertops in the kitchen during our kitchen renovation and I wanted to share all about the process, what we did well, what we would NOT do again, and answer some questions I received! Pour in place concrete countertops are absolutely a DIY solution to countertops if you are on a budget or just love the versatile look of concrete! I say after having poured them, as long as you can lift a full five-gallon bucket up to your head 15-20 times, you are good to go…or at least have someone handy who can! Lol!
Don’t mind that fancy copper patina in the sink!😕
There are a few things you need to understand before picking concrete countertops as your new counters though, and that is one, they are not a uniform color, there are variances and the more you need to sand on them after pouring, the more they have variation because of the aggregate that shows through! Don’t think for one second that because you saw a far off picture of some concrete counters, or a semi blurred close up, that they are solid gray or white! I didn’t know this going in, and though I LOVE the look, I understand that not everyone wants that look. Since the only concrete projects I had done were flipped over, they had no aggregate showing through, they were more solid gray! If you are sold on concrete counters but want solid gray, maybe you will want to create forms and not pour them in place! I will go into more on this below!
And just in case you missed any of my previous posts on the kitchen renovation you can find them under Remodeling!
But first, I must show you more of the beauty shots! ???? And just to let you know, I did not edit these photos at all…they are exactly what the camera picks up, some spots are actually more exaggerated in the photos than in real life, but I wanted you to get a REAL clear picture of what concrete countertops look like!
Aren’t they gorgeous? 😍 First off, my kitchen counter space could be a small bedroom, it came in around 80 square feet without the drink station. It makes for great space to cook, bake, and entertain…but it does not make for a budget-friendly renovation when you look at the prices on countertops! Lol! I priced out laminate and it was going to cost me more for this space than the concrete did…and by a long shot! It was over double the cost! Marble, granite…out of the question. But concrete, there was the solution to all my problems, I love the look of concrete, industrial yet sophisticated. And wait, you are telling me there is a way I can pour them in place with absolute ease because the edge forms do all the work? Sign. Me. Up. (This was my thinking, but clearly, you need to know trowel work and such which…I didn’t exactly…but it worked well enough!😅)
Enter Concrete Countertop Solutions, I found them while searching and researching all I could about pour in place concrete countertops. They had a system that made it so easy to DIY your concrete countertops, I practically begged them in an email to work with me on this post! Lol! I was using their white concrete and edge forms regardless of what their response was to my email, I was sold before contacting them that this was the ONLY way to do pour in place concrete countertops!
Now, let’s not forget, I had only worked with concrete a couple of times in the past, I made a few tabletops and benchtops, but they were created in forms and flipped over, so the top was essentially created by the form, not by my concrete work. This made me a little apprehensive about pouring the countertops in place, but if I didn’t even try, I would never know if I could or not! Lol! So I decided to give it a shot!
While not ‘perfect’ of course, they are perfect for our kitchen! They are an option that I do not have to worry about the kids spilling anything on or hot pans melting! They work great for us and look great as well, in my opinion! Down below is the tutorial showing you how we did our pour in place concrete countertops, and what we learned in the process!
Materials Needed for Pour in Place Concrete Countertops
- cement board cut to cabinet layout
- heavy drop cloths to protect cabinets and floors…it gets pretty messy
- White Countertop Mix (from CCS if doing white counters)
- Sand / Topping Mix (from the hardware store if doing gray counters)
- Z Liqui-Crete (if doing gray counters)
- counter edge forms
- Fiber Mesh Reinforcement
- Z Clips
- Sanding Pads – Z Gem Pads are the ones I purchased and I am still using them on a multitude of projects, not just my counters…worth every penny!
- Sealer – This is the one I purchased from them (the owner recommended it for the white counters but it works great on all concrete)
- miter saw
- corded drill (you need one with low rpm – the link is to the cheap one I purchased and it worked great)
- paddle mixer
- duct tape
- small 1/2″ screws
- you will also need faucet knockouts and sink form if you have an under-mount sink
- utility knife to cut cement board
Preparing the Kitchen for Countertops
NOTE: Before starting this tutorial, I would just like to make sure you understand that I am NOT a concrete professional of any sort, I am just sharing my journey of how we poured our concrete countertops!😉
Before we could pour the counters we had to prep the cabinets, which in our case meant building them out in certain areas and adding support in other areas. Then we were ready to add the cement board to the tops of the cabinets to pour the concrete onto.
We had an abnormal situation because our cooktop was 49″ wide and left a span between cabinets that a 3×5 sheet of cement board couldn’t cover. We also have a vent that is inside the counter so you can’t put a support board across the back wall. This led us to have to find a larger 4×8 sheet of cement board. We could only find one brand, Perma Base at Lowe’s, and let me tell you…I would NOT use it again. I would special order the Durarock or Hardy brand! The Perma Base was the only one I could get in-store, and I regret it…it did not cut easily with a utility knife like the other brands, and it had the strangest Styrofoam balls in it, which made it so much weaker than the other brands! No lie, it was awful! So do not make that mistake, use the other brands…okay!
Once all your cement board is cut to size, attach it to the cabinets! Our kitchen looked a little silly at this point!
After attaching the cement board, I was able to start attaching the edge forms! The edge forms were lifesavers for this project! I do not know what the outcome may have been without this special piece! Edge forms not only make the front…or should I say, the most important part of your counters look good, but the system is designed with edge forms that go up against the wall as well to give you two pieces to screed the concrete with to make sure they are level! That is worth every penny, trust me on this one! I still managed to make a mistake that I will show you later but it was due to the awful cement board, not the edge forms!
The edge forms are super easy to install. You cut them to the length of your counters, mitering the corners at 45 degree angles! You will need to duct tape the corners as well just to keep the concrete from seeping or opening the corners. Small screws are used to hold the forms in place! Concrete Countertop Solutions offers a vast selection of edge forms too, you don’t have to go with a straight square edge like I did, you can have a more fancy edge if you’d prefer! They even have a thinner square edge that I love…they didn’t offer that a year ago, but now they do! It is perfect!
This part did take me a full day to complete because I had a ton of corners to go around and concocting a way around the pillars wasn’t easy! Lol! I brought my miter saw inside because walking back and forth into the garage was wasting way too much time!
Can we say MESS? 😳 Wow, things can really get out of hand when I start projects!
At this point in the journey, I measured from the top of the edge form to the ceiling along the back wall, at both ends…they measured the same! I thought yes, great the cabinets are level! Muahahaha! Boy was I wrong! I sat a level along the back edge forms…showed it to be perfectly level! Yesss! Muahahaha! Boy was I wrong! One, it was a smaller level than I should have used…it was a 3 footer, should have been six! And, here’s where that Permabase board really bit me in the a**! It was sitting level but once the weight of the concrete was placed on top…it quickly sloped in the area where it wasn’t supported as well as we should have supported it. Now is that all the Permaboard’s fault, no. I have a fault as well in that I should have made sure it was super supported and not moved forward until we came up with a way to do that. But Hardy board or Durarock would have been so much stronger than this stuff so it would have helped as well! Lesson learned!
You know how I measured from the top of the form to the ceiling, yeah, and the measurement was the SAME on both ends…well guess what?! The countertop was sloped the opposite direction of the ceiling…neither one was level! Had I have had the laser level at that point in the journey I would have known that.😬 How does that manage to happen, I mean seriously…how?! So all the while I was WAY off, thinking I was golden! 💩 Lesson learned…laser level for the win!😁
Anyway, once the edge forms are in, AND THE COUNTERS ARE LEVEL, another part of the Concrete Countertop Solutions system, is the fiberglass mesh and little clips to hold it in place. This keeps the fiberglass mesh right in the center of the concrete so it doesn’t float to the top or stick out anywhere. And since the main goal of the mesh is to keep the concrete from crumbling and cracking, being held right in the center is best. There are also fiberglass fibers in their concrete mixture as well to help with this! I am telling you, this system is pretty awesome, and they have thought of everything!👌
Here’s the kitchen awaiting it’s pouring!
Mixing and Pouring the Concrete for the Countertops
So, my husband was heading out of town for over a week, and remember I was trying to complete the kitchen in 6 weeks for the One Room Challenge…so I had no time to lose! He had 4 hours before he had to leave, and so we were going to do the island together and then I was going to try the rest by myself. Well, that plan didn’t quite work out the way we planned…our corded drill I bought, yeah, it wasn’t made for mixing concrete! It burnt up after less than 5 minutes trying to mix that concrete!😵 My hubby finished mixing that batch by hand and we put in into the island form so it wouldn’t be wasted. But now I had to drive an hour to get to a store that sold a drill that was able to mix concrete! An hour there and an hour back…yeah my hubby was gone! On my own now, I had to mix the rest of the concrete and pour it myself! After that fiasco, I was a little worried!😰
Luckily, the new drill, even though it was from Harbor Freight, worked great! I was able to mix the concrete and throw them in the form in minutes…only I about died having to lift the 5 gallon bucket of concrete over the counter all 8 times I had to! Lol! That’s why I wanted to make sure and state that in the first paragraph!
The instructions from CCS are great and well written on the packaging materials! For the white concrete, you just mix it with water in a 5 gallon bucket, water first, then slowly add concrete.
*Note: My video directors were not the best in the business,😂 so they only caught parts of this and that…but I compiled the little footage that I did have to create snippets of video!
I decided after pouring the white concrete on the island that maybe it would be better to wait and not finish the kitchen on time, than mess up the whole main counter! Because once you get started, there really isn’t any stopping and the main counter is one solid, very large piece so if I started it, I had to finish it! Let me just say, a few extra hands are worth the wait! Yep, lesson #2 learned.😆
I purchased the island screed from CCS to make the island a breeze…ha ha ha…joke was on me, the island was larger than the screed! 🙈 I had to run into the garage and try to find the straightest board that I could. Talk about sweating! This is typical of DIY projects around here, the faster you learn to roll with the punches, the faster you learn to enjoy the challenge… I think! There is always something new, something you didn’t think of, and something you have to quickly think on your toes to improvise! I think I enjoy that!🤔
Anyway, fast forward a week or so and my hubby returns home! Yay! Now we can do the BIG countertop! s Another problem, my grandma was in the hospital fighting for her life, if you have been following along for a while, here and there I have talked about her bout with liver cancer. This happened to be the last bout she faced, as it did take her life shortly thereafter. We poured our counters on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I rushed out and left my hubby to smooth them at the hour mark and went to see her in the hospital. She bravely hung on until she was able to eat her thanksgiving meal and passed away the Sunday after Thanksgiving. My countertops will forever remind me of her! She would have been so proud of them and my hard work in here, even though she wanted to see it finished and was never able to! I know she would have been! 😊
Let me dry up my tears! Back to pouring these babies! So with help, someone mixing and someone pouring, it was so. much. better. It was still a lot of work don’t get me wrong…but oh so much easier than the pressure of doing it without any help! Lol!
We worked and poured, mixed, and poured some more.
Once they set for a couple of days, we sanded the edges of the edge forms and popped them off!
Viola, the edges looked like some kind of glass or marble, it was crazy how smooth they were. Since we smoothed the top, of course, it wasn’t quite as smooth as the edges! We just used our orbital sander to sand the tops and one thing to note, once you sand down you expose small aggregate…it’s tiny flecks and you can’t see them unless you are right on top of it, but it is what creates the overall tones of the concrete! The white mix, you had to sand down a lot farther to get to it. I think it’s because I mixed the white a lot thicker (drier) than the gray. So that is something to be leery of if you don’t want to see aggregate, they have to be perfectly done…and even then I’m not sure it’s possible! Lol!
So two things here…first, we didn’t have the trowel marks in the gray counters quite as bad as on the white counters…so I am thinking if you mixed the concrete a bit thinner than I did the white, but a hair thicker than we did the gray…they would be perfect! Wait, actually I think the white concrete with two people working it so that it doesn’t dry as fast would work the best! 😅 Then you would not have the trowel marks…I think that’s an experiment I need to try! Hey, I have a bathroom counter that could use a makeover! Lol!
Anyway, I don’t mind the aggregate or trowel marks, I love the handmade, organic look of them! You know my favorite mug is from Magnolia Market and is hand made and not at all perfect…but I love it! Perfectionism is overrated! (Ahem, says the DIYer that can’t manage to do anything perfectly!😂😏) Here’s the imperfections best as I can capture them!
Sealing Concrete Countertops
Once they are smoothed out to your liking, you seal them with the Aquapoxy! I love this stuff! It is so easy to apply, it is thin, not like I expected. I thought it was going to be thick and hard to apply, showing all imperfections, but nope, you roll it on with an epoxy roller and it dries beautifully! No talent needed here, thank goodness! 😎 I thought I had pictures and a video of us applying the epoxy but I couldn’t find them anywhere! Sorry about that…but if you got this far, sealing is the easiest part!
Let it dry between coats and sit for three days I believe and they are DONE! Finished, ready to go, finito! The kitchen is back in working order! Yep!
All in all, it was not a bad experience and I can’t wait to try concrete countertops somewhere else in the house! I’d love to know what you think, would concrete countertops be something you would consider? Let me know below!
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