Anyone here doing concrete counter tops?

dawnk82January 16, 2014

Was wondering if anyone here on GW had attempted concrete counter tops in their kitchens. I did see tinan's beautiful transformation of their kitchen. I am planning to do a cast in place 1 1/2" thick countertop. Would luv to see pics and details if anyone has them to share.

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I don't have experience with concrete countertops, but I like the style and considered them for our kitchen but decided against it because I couldn't find anybody with sufficient experience & skill. Have you selected a craftsman to do it? Advice from others notwithstanding, I predict that your satisfaction or lack thereof will depend almost entirely on the skill and experience of the team that does the work.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 2:41PM
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Sophie Wheeler

It's about 3x the cost of an inexpensive granite and has all of the etching and staining issues of marble.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 2:55PM
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FWIW, most engineered quartz companies have a selection of grays that look more or less like concrete. We used one for or island. It does show grease and crumbs 10x more than our white perimeter counter though, if that matters to you.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 3:00PM
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I installed concreete counters in kitchen and master bath in 2004. They were wonderful. About six months into use, the kitchen counter showed etching. The bath counter is still primo. The etching was terrible and by 2005 turned into bubbly spots. My chocolate brown concrete looked ratty. Lucky for me, I had a slab leak that destroyed all lower cabinets. Insurance replaced and I went with soapstone in 2010. That has made my kitchen a dream.
While the master bath counters look beautiful, our family was not careful enough about lemon juice, vinegar, etc. to live with marble or concrete. The soapstone is just what we needed.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 3:19PM
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Yes, dretutz I know there are problems with acidic liquid and vinegar. Luckily, newer sealers have removed some of those problems. Only problem I can see for that is when DH gets to making his margaritas, he tends to be a bit sloppy. We are planning on doing this as a diy project. We are going to enlisted the help of a cpl friends to assist with the actual hard troweling when needed. I am most certainly going to stain, then seal the tops. Was hoping someone else had tackled this in a diy kitchen project. Thanks for your input.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 3:37PM
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robo (z6a)

My contractor did his own. They had lots of problems with trying to just seal with beeswax. Eventually he went to a ... now I believe it was a 2 part epoxy sealer. It is glossy and it smelled really strong, but now the counters are well sealed and low maintenance.

He did cast in place for the counters including building out a curved form for his undermount sink (if I recall correctly he cast on top of plywood and had already undermounted the sink before he poured, although I could be wrong about that) and also cast a waterfall return on the edge of one counter. He left them very rough and industrial looking (not super polished) and I have to say they look great.

I think his sink is now permanently with the counters, but then again, when's the last time you broke a stainless sink. And I think he chose a less-expensive sink as well so it wouldn't be heartbreaking if it had to go.

I have some photos of before they were sealed, but I don't want to post them publicly, so if you want you can message me your email address and I can send them. I don't know if they would be helpful -- they just look like concrete counters :)

PS My contractor definitely likes his margaritas!!!

This post was edited by robotropolis on Thu, Jan 16, 14 at 16:15

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 4:04PM
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Thanks for the input robotropolis. I have been researching these for along time now. Thought about doing them in our previous home, but never did. I have seen the waterfall sides on many counters and it is a neat look. They are doing some gorgeous things with expoxy, but don't think I will use it on my counters. I swear I have read every webpage and watched every youtube video there is on the subject. There is no one here local that does this, besides it is still out of my price range if they did. Here is where I am ordering my forms from , and I am no way affiliated with this company.,, I have also found many water based low voc stains available.

Here is a link that might be useful: Concrete forms

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 4:57PM
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I had read that dust from sand blasting monuments/tombstones and colored glass fine particles mixed with cement make beautiful tables and other objects I would think this would work well with counter tops also
Hardware stores sell colored fibers that are used to make the concreat stronger and colorful

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 5:30PM
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Penetrating sealers don't prevent etching, only staining. Only something film forming prevents etching, but it alters how it looks because you're basically putting a coat of plastic on top of it. If you're going to do that, who needs the concrete underneath? You might as well faux finish particle board and then cover it with epoxy. It'll be a heck of a lot cheaper and look exactly the same.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 5:52PM
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robo (z6a)

I would disagree slightly. I know what you mean about the durability of the top finish, but the counters are heavy, very rigid, hard and cold which differentiates them from plastic or faux finish. So it remains a high quality feel or stonelike to the hand. Put another way, it's a different experience walking on a laminate floor to a polished concrete floor finished with epoxy.

This post was edited by robotropolis on Thu, Jan 16, 14 at 18:22

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 6:19PM
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Hementia8, you would be surprised at what can be added to concrete, do a search and you will find a wide variety or colors and inlays and finishes. I agree about the etching, but sounds like most counter top choices have their cryptonite. I am looking for something that has that stone look and feel. And since all quartz, marble and granite are off the table, concrete is the choice I came up with. And I can probably do my kitchen, my bath sink, and the neighbors bath sink for around $700-800.

I did look at the epoxy and some of the technics they are doing are awwwesome. Especially the liquid metal looking epoxy. Just cool!

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 8:00PM
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You can get solid surface that looks similar to concrete in color and particulate, but a nice block edge would really set it off. It will so outperform any concrete countertop they aren't comparable.

I wouldn't cast concrete in place. Set some melamine up in your garage and cast to a template, that's how the pros do it. I wouldn't trowel up the fines too much either for a finish. Pack it in the jig with as little water as possible (sloppy concrete is weak) and grind an exposed aggregate finish with diamonds.

This post was edited by Trebruchet on Thu, Jan 16, 14 at 20:42

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 8:34PM
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My husband has years of experience with concrete and we did a concrete poured in place concrete counter top on our BBQ about five years ago. There are a few hairline cracks in it, which is to be expected. We sealed it with Buddy Rhodes beeswax and probably re seal it about once a year.

I did consider a concrete countertop in the kitchen, however, I didn't think it would fit the style of kitchen I chose plus, we wanted to salvage our wood floors and I feared it would just be too messy to pour in place.

We have people coming over and asking what kind of "stone" the counter is. It's an exposed aggregate which means you can see the sand particles.

We have oil stains that happen, but my husband power washes the counter top before he re-seals it and it comes out looking new. Unfortunately, you can't power wash the counters inside.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 8:40PM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

I remembered pictures of a gorgeous marble-look concrete counter. It was DIY, but the homeowner was a concrete pro. The linked thread has a pic, and other links with more info.

Here is a link that might be useful: frmrsdghtr's tops

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 9:31PM
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Yes, I looked into solid surface also, but still at some on sale at $40/sq ft for 60 sq ft, still busts my budget. And actually wasn't that impressed with it, and it is as heavy as concrete almost. Trying to keep this reno under $10K is not easy, already have put new frig on hold till later this year. I originally thought of making the melamine molds, but then no where to set them up, heavy to transport and many seams. I dread the mess also, but I can block off room new kitchen in going in, and plastic and tarps are cheap. The marble look concrete is neat, I am going for a lot darker look, a deep rich leather look is where I am leaning. As far as the mix, that is my main concern, but many of the cement suppliers now offer some form of counter top mix with a mix of hardners and plasticizers , finer aggregate optimized for tops.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 10:18AM
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Have you considered tile counters? Large (24x24+), flat, rectified porcelain or granite?

Attached link is one of my favorite kitchens on gardenweb. Mom2cohen used large format porcelain tile. Low cost, beautiful, and a practical surface. Very few seams which are very tight.

I'm sure you can find other examples.

Here is a link that might be useful: porcelain tile counters

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 10:38AM
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debra, that is a fantastic kitchen, luv the black and white scheme, black would have been my 2nd option for cabinets and the tile job is beautiful also, she did an excellent job. Still, cost is gonna be a bit more then I want, and not overly fond of all the grout lines and sharp edges of tiles. Definitely going to save site as an option. Thanks

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 12:39PM
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Remember you will save by DIYing. There are other options too that will not give you the sharp edges. You can buy bullnose granite and porcelain tiles. You can also use ceramic rounded tiles on the edges. There are companies that will sell you a package but you really can just buy everything (the tiles) yourself. The bigger the tile the less grout lines and you can get tight fits

I researched this a lot as I originally found GW looking for granite tile counter ideas. We ended up with doing granite slab. I suppose that was our "slurge". I considered concrete too but I didn't want to deal with possible stains.

I can't see your OP right now (in preview mode) but do you need to do the whole kitchen with the same material? Another option is looking for granite counters that are being pulled out of a house. This was something I considered and went to look at some. Five year old $6000 granite being pulled out to remodel the kitchen "again"??? (I think a new wife was involved) Selling for $1,500. It wasn't enough SF for my kitchen but what a deal and I think I could have gotten it for even less.

Just some things to consider!

This post was edited by debrak2008 on Fri, Jan 17, 14 at 13:08

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 12:56PM
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Debrak, that would be a great find, I have been scouring graiglist and that is where we found our cabinets, they were a great deal, $11-12K worth of cabinets for $4k, plus the solid surface counter tops and the hardware and kitchen sink. Not a bad deal, of course counter top would not work with layout and it was a blue color, kitchen sink wasn't great, so have picked out a new one, hardware I liked. Debra, I am assuming OP stands for overall Plan, if so, I have a west wall, that is mostly refrig and pantry cabinets, except for a 36" wide landing beside frig for MW, then opposite from that I have a u shape kitchen, with stove, sink and a 8 1/2 ft counter with seating, so I don't really have that option. I have layout posted on another post here

Here is a link that might be useful: kitchen layout

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 1:46PM
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Sorry, I meant your original post (start of the thread). I was in preview mode so I couldn't see any of the posts in the thread without losing what I had typed. Posting your layout was a good idea as it may inspire some counter top ideas!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 3:00PM
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About 10-12 years ago, everybody was talking about concrete! Today, hardly anyone asks me about it. It fell from grace due to many reasons as stated above: 1) hard to find qualified and reputable people 2) costs as much as mid-level to high end granite and quartz 3) Does not hold up as well

I have only seen one concrete top that was really looked like a bunch of teeney pebbles and had lots of texture. This was for a bar in a downtown nightclub....but I would not want it in a kitchen....a nightmare to keep clean.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 3:21PM
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"...of course counter top would not work with layout and it was a blue colorâ¦"

Of course it would have worked. That's the big advantage of solid surface. It can be refabricated much more easily than other surfaces.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 12:32AM
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Trebruchet, sorry, I didn't know they could fill in sink cut out holes and change the color of already formed/cut solid surface, I did read where it could be pieced together again, but we still would have been short sq footage. I guess I should read more on solid surfaces. But it is no loss, hubby will be using a cpl pieces for his man cave bar.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 9:08AM
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Yes, even sinks with unmatched footprints can be changed out in solid surface if you have color matching material, but there are tricks around that too. Yesterday I changed a damaged "cast iron" sink for a hammered copper sink. Solid surface colors cannot be changed.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 8:44PM
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Years ago, and many houses ago, my ex husband and I did concrete. It was all DIY. It really looked great. My only reason for never using it again was that the edges were easily chipped and needed repair too often. I was always worried about it. I would not do it again, however, if you are very careful and want a great looking low cost solid surface it is a great way to go. Ours costs us nearly nothing. It was really just a great deal of time and patience.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 8:01AM
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A good friend of ours has done many concrete countertops and they look amazing. We seriously considered it for our remodel.

The staining/etching is what turned us off. To be perfectly frank I'm a slob in the kitchen. A countertop that would be damaged by red wine or lemon left on it overnight is just not feasible.

Instead we went with soapstone. If it can hold up to legions of teenage chemistry students I feel it can hold up to me. :D

If you do decide to go with concrete have you seen the books by Fu-Tung Cheng? They're excellent.

Soapstone can be a lot more affordable as a DIY project. The quarry we bought from has DIY kits for about $25/sq ft or you could make it even cheaper by using tiles. Soapstone seams incredibly well.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 10:18AM
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I wanted to share pics of our finished DIY Concrete countertops. Everyone that sees them , loves them. I did and am still having problems finding the right sealer, but it will work for now and is loads better then what I had. We spent about $600 total on countertops and I still have enough material left over to so several more countertops.

This post was edited by dawnk82 on Wed, Jun 4, 14 at 13:09

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 1:07PM
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Another view

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 1:11PM
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We used an acid stain, 3 actually to jazz it up a bit.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 1:13PM
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That is beautiful, Dawn!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 5:26PM
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Looks fantastic! How hard were they to DIY? I love the color you picked also - it works really well with the backsplash.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 9:53PM
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The countertop looks awesome! Thanks for coming back with the finished project.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 11:28PM
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Very nice.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2014 at 9:55AM
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Melissaki5 actually, they weren't as hard as I had expected, husband and I did them ourselves. He did most of the sanding, then I acid stained them and then sealed them.
I used an ebony, walnut and amber acid stain and left some of the natural concrete color showing. For the veining look I used a plain ole paint brush.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2014 at 11:13AM
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I've had these concrete countertops for almost a year. Concrete requires more care than granite, so if you don't want to mess with it, don't do it.

You have to seal it every 3-4 months, you have to wipe wine and any other staining spills (don't leave them overnight), NO HOT dishes on concrete. Chips if you aren't careful. Those are the cons.

Pro is you have a beautiful custom piece. My home is old world italian so this fits perfect.

They came out and did templates, poured at their shop, then came out to install. I'm tired of granite, everyone has it...for me it was worth the compromise.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 6:41PM
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