Concrete Countertop DIY
There are various kitchen countertop alternatives to choose from, and concrete countertops are one of them. Concrete is mainly preferred due to its affordability as well as high durability and low maintenance. Concrete being a natural stone is also easy to work with. You can either buy a cured and finished pre-cast counter from local fabricators or even make one yourself. Everyone can make a concrete countertop, whether you are a beginner or proficient, which will save you costs involved in hiring a contractor. If you think you are up to the challenge, here are the steps to follow.
1. Gather the Materials
The basics of building a concrete countertop are simply making the mold, pouring the mold, and finishing the concrete. This means that have to assemble the right materials and tools for creating your molds as well as mixing, setting and even curing the concrete. You can use various materials for building the form. However, it is always advisable to go with the easily obtainable and cheap materials, especially if this is your first concrete project.
2. Build the Form
First, you need to determine the dimensions of your countertop. When you have finished establishing the dimensions, you then proceed to build the form, over which you will pour the concrete. Once the concrete dries, it will match your desired specifications.
To build this form, go for Melamine-coated particleboard. It is preferred because it is affordable, readily available and most importantly, concrete does not adhere to it. Seal all joints in the construction to make sure that concrete attains dry edges after drying.
If you have never used caulk before, then you can use painters tape to outline the joints. With the painter’s tape, you can always correct any mistake, especially if you over-apply the sealant. To remove any imperfections and create smooth edges on the caulk bed, just run a wet finger along the silicone caulk.
Ensure that you remove the tape immediately the caulking is fully applied. If it dries on the tape, you risk tearing it as you remove the tape. Allow the caulk to cure for around one day then clean the interior of the form using rubbing alcohol.
Reinforce the Foam
The next step involves coating the melamine frame interior using olive oil. You might be asking yourself why this coating is necessary. Well, if you fail to do it, concrete will not slip out of the frame easily after drying. Before pouring the concrete into the frame, one crucial step remains. That process is adding reinforcement which you should do using a steel mesh.
If you want to achieve perfect results, suspend it at the mid-point, along the vertical height of your melamine form. To achieve this, just drill screws along the exterior walls of the frame. After that, attach the screws to the mesh, using strong ties, zip ties or just a bungee cord.
Proceed to extend the metal wiring throughout the width of the frame. For this to succeed, your concrete should be watery. It should not be too thick or too light. You need to obtain a certain consistency. If this sound like too much work, then you can just mix your concrete the way you like, pour it halfway into the form, set in the steel mesh, and then fill the rest of the form with concrete.
Mix the Concrete
When mixing the concrete for your concrete countertops project, ensure that you adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions. You should aim to achieve a thick consistency. Anything thicker or lighter than that either will be too hard to work with or will produce undesired results.
If the concrete is too wet, then it becomes excessively brittle after drying up. You can also augment the concrete using additives that minimize or inhibit shrinking and cracking. They are known as admixtures and you can find them at your local improvement retail store.
Pour the Concrete
Once your concrete is ready, pour enough of it into the form and ensure that you fill the volume completely. Spread the materials into the corners and along the edges, using your hands. If you had attached the steel mesh reinforcement onto the frame, it is time to disconnect.
Look for a nice and smooth flat board and use it to screen and level the concrete. Apply forward and backward motions on the board to fill low spots and smooth the surface. Your trowel should not be very far, in case you encounter any excess.
Proceed to use a wood float and use it to smooth the concrete surface. As you do this, enlist the help of a friend to shake the form side by side. If there is no one nearby, just use a rubber mallet to tap the sides gently. This way, you will create vibrations needed to dissipate the air bubbles. Allow the concrete to harden for a while then run a tool over its surface once more. If there are still imperfections, remove them with the trowel.
Remove the Foam
Cover the concrete surface with a sheet of plastic, to prevent the loss of too much moisture. This way, it will cure properly with the right texture and consistency. The longer the concrete cures, the harder it gets. However, a few days, in this case, will be sufficient to give it an excellent cure. After 4 to 5 days, remove the melamine frame and then lift your countertop to the position where you intend to use it.
Finish the Job
Chances are very high that there are visible bubbles and small cracks on your concrete countertop. Do not panic. You can leave them if either you don’t feel bothered or you can undertake spot repairs using a concrete patching compound. You need to remember to give the patches time to dry after application.
Use a diamond grit sandpaper to sand your countertop. You can either use a power sander or do it manually. When all that is done, wash your concrete countertop thoroughly, ensuring that remove all fine particles and any debris. Allow it to dry completely then cap off your work with a concrete sealer.
Making a concrete countertop from scratch should only require a few days. Meaning that you will not have to shut down your kitchen for long. Additionally, you will be so satisfied with the results that the whole experience will be worth your time. You will have also improved your skills, which would enable you to build other concrete structures around your home.