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Custom Concrete Countertops

For years now wifey has wanted a new kitchen, so she and I have been thinking and saving for this project for over 2 years. She saved a lot more money than me on this one 🙂

We did all new floors, cabinets, counter tops, and appliances. A complete redo!

I have a history of doing ceramic tile flooring so I took it upon myself to do the flooring for this remodel.
As you can see in the pics / gallery below, they turned out well.

Now the cabinets were done by a local cabinet shop Wilbourn Cabinets of Grenada, MS. They do fantastic custom cabinet work.
The tile back splash wall behind the stove was another task I completed.
The counter tops…yes the counter tops….This may surprise you but I made them and I made them out of concrete.

I know what you are thinking…. “a concrete counter top?” ….. How Ugly?

No not at all. Concrete is not just for sidewalks anymore., no it is fast becoming the new popular item in most kitchens these days. It is quickly replacing granite. Yes it really is. See granite is what everyone “thinks” they should put in there kitchen. Everyone is doing it so why not me right? Well I don’t always want to do what everyone else is doing. I want my kitchen to be unique and custom and with engineered stone or concrete you can do just that. You do not have to be limited to the puke colors that granite offers. We thought about granite and other leading products but we never could find one that wasn’t too busy and that we liked. One actually looked like vomit. I knew that with concrete the shapes, the color, the texture, all could be up to me and I could get what I wanted from it.

Whether it be color, shape, feel or whatever you like, concrete can give you what you want. No Limits!

This is a great video I found on YouTube that explains some things.

So after doing some research, reading lots of books, and watching a few videos, I decided to try and tackle this in our new kitchen remodel.

This is the picture that inspired my kitchen. It is from the book Decorative Concrete by Sunset.

Hand Pressed Concrete Countertop

We decided that concrete counter tops would be an economical way to go for new counter tops versus the tired an seen all too often granite counter tops. Also for all of you out there that like to GO GREEN and do whats right by the environment, this is also a very good green thing to be doing. I plan on talking more about that later on a website I am about to build about my love for concrete and the projects that I am doing.

When doing the concrete counter tops, there are 3 basic looks. A hand pressed look, a wet cast smooth finish look and a troweled look.
I noticed that the hand pressed look was an old world look that I loved. Its a pressed finish that Buddy Rhodes pioneered. I love this look.

Check out this video from Buddy to see how he does it.

Ok so this “Pressed Technique” watch this video to understand it.

So THAT is what I am going for. That look right there.

So I started doing this at the end of March 2011 and by the end of May 2011 I had our kitchen counter tops done as well as some coffee tables.

In order to learn this trade you really have to just dig in to it and do it, and that’s just what I did and I learned a LOT along the way.

First off there is a slight expense involved to do things right. You need the right tools. The right tools can help make your job a lot easier, trust me on this.
I ordered myself a wet polishers and diamond coated sanding pads from 50 grit to 3000 grit and some hand sanding pads. You really do not want to skimp on this as this makes all the difference in the finished result!

I sanded one table by hand with an orbital sander and regular sandpaper and it can take forever and cost you lots of money as it will just eat up the paper like no tomorrow.

Next get yourself a good mixer. I used a large drill with half inch shank and a mortar mixer paddle. You can do this with a hoe and shovel, but why? You may not get it all mixed well and you will wear yourself out.

A word or two on concrete mixes. Yes you really can go to Home Depot or Lowes and make a counter top out of a bagged mix, but I do not suggest it.
The only bagged mixes I would say you can use, is the quikrete precision grout, as its mainly a sand mix, and the Quikrete 5000 which is a very strong concrete mix used often by Cheng, another concrete artisan like Buddy Rhodes.

The Quikrete 5000 has pea gravel in it and will show up when sanding enough to expose it. If this is the look you are going for, that’s fine. Its gray concrete and takes color well, and is very very durable. You may find it hard to do a hand pressed look with this mix. Its best suited for a wet cast.

I formulated my own recipe which is a basic sand mix. It is one part cement and two parts sand, two different types of sand. Also some acrylic fortifier and fibers along with metal reinforcements and a little plasticizer .

I have learned a lot of water to concrete ratios too. Yeah there is some math to know and I have formulas stored in my notes cause I cant just wing it from my head quite yet. I had to measure out and weight all my water and mixes to keep things the same throughout. It was a challenge but a very worthwhile challenge.

Here is a small video of me sanding the concrete to get the glass like finish. It was hot and normally I do not wear a shirt in the backyard when I am working.
I had a poncho on the keep me from getting drenched in water. Sorry for not having a shirt on.

Here is a video I shot recently after all was in place.

Below you will see several pictures in the gallery from templating, mixing, hand pressing, and all.

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19 comments ↓

#1 Concrete Sink Project Part One ~ Seize The Page on 10.23.11 at 10:26 pm

[…] ← Custom Concrete Countertops […]

#2 My First Concrete Sink ~ Seize The Page on 11.22.11 at 4:52 pm

[…] been taking my time with this sink because it will be my first sink. If I wanted to do it like my kitchen counter tops and make it with the hand pressed technique I could have already been done, but I want to try […]

#3 Megan on 08.14.12 at 6:41 pm

I was wondering what color you used in your concrete countertops? And what type of Dye was it if you don’t mind?

Thanks!!

#4 seizethepage on 08.14.12 at 8:59 pm

No I dont mind. I use a charcoal colorant and this is a hand pressed design so when I filled in the voids I used black pigment in the slurry coat. After wet sanding to 3000 grit I acid stained it with a Black acid stain twice.

#5 Megan on 08.20.12 at 10:25 am

Thanks, I really think they came out amazing. Can I ask you where you go the charcoal colourant and the black acid stain? Thanks!

#6 seizethepage on 08.20.12 at 2:53 pm

The black charcoal colorant is from quickrete, and I used Kemiko acid stain (black)

#7 Megan on 08.21.12 at 10:23 am

Thanks!

#8 lane on 10.11.12 at 5:23 pm

What would you say the total cost of the counter tops were? Tools, mix, molds ect.

#9 Susan on 12.09.12 at 5:58 am

Beautiful, simply beautiful!!!

#10 Keenan on 01.28.13 at 12:14 am

Awesome job. I have been convincing my wife we need to install concrete counters in our house.

What if anything did you use for the seams between the slabs of concrete?

#11 seizethepage on 01.28.13 at 12:26 am

Silicon Caulk

#12 Cory on 11.02.13 at 1:43 pm

Great job! Turned out really nice. Really love the “go get it” attitude you have. Impressed!

Any problems / defects you see years after, or anything you would do differently now?

#13 seizethepage on 11.02.13 at 2:12 pm

Going on 3 years old and no issues at all. Nothing I would have done differently.
In another year I may put another topical coat so sealer on. All I have to do is lightly buff the top with a gray scotch pad and then dust it off and apply a fresh coat of acrylic sealer, the Buddy Rhodes acrylic sealer. This is very good, lite stuff. Doesnt take away from the concrete and give it a plasticy coating.

#14 David on 02.05.15 at 6:41 pm

Hi. After doing concrete counters in my outdoor kitchen, I must say that yours are phenomenal. I am planning on doing more in my garage, and I want to simulate the look of the pictures in the third row. Was that before you added the acid stain? You mention you made your own mix. Can you share what cement and sand you used? If I could get the color of the pictures in the third row, I would be one happy camper. Thanks for the write up

#15 seizethepage on 02.13.15 at 6:57 pm

Yes you are correct, that was before I acid stained it black using Kemiko Black Stain. I used regular portland cement, that bag thats 92 lbs and contains no gravel, and a mix of playsand, and regular sand. You can achieve that color simple by not adding any coloring or stain. I would seal it with the Buddy Rhodes sealer system, which is an acrylic water based sealer and I have had it in my kitchen for 3 years now. Lots of birthday gatherings, and stuff later, its still holding up just fine. Thanks for stopping by the site and good luck. I would like so see your finished work, so come back and link us.

#16 Renovation Considerations: How to Choose the Right Countertop - KUKUN on 04.10.15 at 3:58 am

[…] Seize the Page […]

#17 Gus on 06.19.15 at 8:43 pm

What did you use to form up the opening around the sink? (It looks great!)

#18 seizethepage on 06.19.15 at 8:47 pm

Thanks for stopping by and reading the blog. The stainless steel sink came with a pattern on cardboard. I traces it onto 2 inch thick pink styrofoam from Home Depot. I affixed it to the mold.

#19 Jay Hagen on 06.06.16 at 7:54 pm

I ve been working on concrete recipes, and like cooking there certains tweeks that change the way a dish turns out. What is your hand press concrete recipe, maybe you have things that I haven’t thought to include. Thank you Jay

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