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How about poured concrete counters?

Posted by blakey (My Page) on
Fri, Jun 13, 08 at 18:03

I just saw a sink made out of poured concrete and it was really beautiful so I am considering using this for some of my kitchen counters. Could anyone share their experience with this material? So many of the other things I like(limestone, marble, soapstone)seem to have downsides so I'm wondering how this compares in terms of maintenance, etc. Also, I would be interested in how it compares in price to honed granite, marble or soapstone. Thanks for the info!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: How about poured concrete counters?

more expensive than all if you hire someone to do it but cheap, cheap if you do it yourself '9especially if you have the tools already). we purchased a cement mixer for $200, a water fed wet grinder for $250 and the diamond polishing pads for about $200. the material itself is not expensive and will run you about $10 a bag for the special concrete and $90 for 25lbs of integral pigment. You will need 4x8 sheets of melamine for the molds. HARD WORK but totally worth it. our 9 ft island is complete along with two other slabs and we have 5 to do. i have a thread at ikeafans "bought the cement mixer" which takes you thru our process. i haven't updated for quite a while but intend to when i get some time. if you take this on be sure to check out cheng concrete and get his books from the library. we purchased the diamond pads from tool city (or maybe it was galaxy tools) and you can get his video thru them for about $20. how do they compare in terms of maintenance" - there is a new penetrating sealer (not sure if it's available on the market yet) that is as tough as nails and turns your counters into glass!!!! stains left on overnight wipe off with damp cloth, add some carnuba wax 2x/year and the shine pops. Probably not as tough as most granites out there but better than marble and will look like no other counter. can you tell i'm a fan of concrete. the learning curve is not steep-we had no idea when we started and now i'm ready to send photos to the master himself


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RE: How about poured concrete counters?

are there any photos posted on ikeafans or can you post some pics here? Thanks


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RE: How about poured concrete counters?

I agree with Biner-- done professionally, it is expensive. At home, it is relatively cheap. I purchased some basic tools and then did a lot of experimenting--I think I made 17 small batches before I got the right balance of color and glass aggregate. Can't wait to do the kitchen...

Here is the counter in the melamine mold.
counter in mould

Here is the finished product on the DIY cherry vanity
Photobucket


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RE: How about poured concrete counters?

Wow, Biner and Overly, I am so impressed that you can tackle this yourselves. My husband and I are definitely not in that category so I guess I'll have to prepare myself for the estimate!


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RE: How about poured concrete counters?

YOU CAN DO IT!!!! I agree getting the exact colour that you want can be tricky but if you stick with something neutral (we went a mid charcoal) it's easy - like baking-just follow the recipe LOL! Seriously though amount of water, temp of the water and the day, humidity etc can all change the colour ever so slightly if you pour slabs on different days. we poured 2 sample mixes - a small feeding station for our cat , and a plant pot base- to judge the colour and that was it. Here's the link to the thread at ikeafans-it's long but lot's of info and a couple of pretty knowledgable people over there. I will post pics of finished island once i take protectice covers off-still in the middle of the reno.

http://www.ikeafans.com/forums/general-remodeling/10844-bought-cement-mixer.html


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RE: counters?

PS Overly your counter is lovely. Mahlgold there are lots of pics (of process-not finished pieces) at ikeafans. If you want to see gorgeous counters go to chengs site.


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RE: How about poured concrete counters?

Well, the credit should be shared with Cheng. I think I memorized his book by the time I was done and I used his pigment.

For those who like cooking, making a concrete counter is fun. The one other tool I found essential was a concrete vibrator. You can rent them or buy them...


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RE: How about poured concrete counters?

me too-i renewed his books from the library 5 times and i bought his video. the vibrator makes the world of difference. we purchased one because we have a lot of counters but you can rent them and here in vancouver they are about $50 a day-not bad if you just need it for a day or two.we got one second hand for about $200. you could use an orbital sander or recipricating saw without the blade on the side of the form but your mix needs to be a little looser which is not a good thing as too much water in the mix is concrete's enemy and you run the risk of a weaker counter. having said that we did have to resort to that when i broke the vibrator and that slab turned out quite nicely.


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RE: How about poured concrete counters?

Here's my concern, and I hope I don't offend anyone: "there are two kinds of concrete, that which has cracked and that which will crack." I deal with concrete footings and foundations for a living, not countertops, but does it eventually end up cracking?


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RE: How about poured concrete counters?

They really need to archive threads on this forum, there were some good ones on concrete counters recently that aren't there anymore. We made our own for the last house we renovated and were quite happy with them, but not everyone likes them in the long run. I'd be interested in hearing more about biner's sealer--we'll be doing concrete counters in our new house as well, and that sounds like a good product. Concrete is prone to staining, and you have to be willing, in general, to accept some degree of patina unless you're pretty careful. Ours, being DIY, didn't cost much at all, but they are time consuming, if not difficult, to make. Take a look at the site I've linked to for some great info and photos. If you decide to tackle the project yourself, his books are invaluable. Here are some photos of our counters:

Here is a link that might be useful: cheng's site


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RE: How about poured concrete counters?

no offense taken-i had the same concern but the concrete used for counters is different. the product we used is called flowcrete (quickcrete in the states) and contains water reducers/plasticisers which reduce the amount of water required and therefore increase the strength. add propylene fibres to the mix, rebar and mesh to the form and they're very resistant to cracking-6000 PSI. i don't have the experience, but am basing my comments on all the research i've done. any cracks that i have seen have been hairline and actually added a lovely character to the surface, just like the patina that develops on some over time. this new sealer however really does seem to be tough and as i said, you can leave oil, coffee, lemon, red wine etc overnight and wipe off with a damp cloth. i discovered a small company who uses it and they have been building counters for restaurants with incredible results. raenjapan i will contact my source and ask if i can use his name and give contact info. i discovered him when i was looking at a lithium based sealer thru convergent concrete. actually if you go to the website "new edge design" or Monart Countertops
http://www.newcountertops.com/page9329.asp?pagename=Topics&forumid=14-

contractors forum, you will be able to contact him thru that site.
I can't wait to post pics of our island and the rest of the slabs. We are very proud of it and spent many hours building the form and voids for trivets, inlaid stone and stainless. The sink area has a drainboard again with stainless in the runnels and on the other side is an integral cutting board. Any areas that will see a lot of use have inlaid stone and more exposed aggregate just in case! Do take a look at the ikeafans link above if you get a chance as there are a lot of pics of the form building etc. We used our trailor as a grinding table and had 5 guys to lift each slab onto it. the island is comprised of two slabs each weighing 400 lbs.


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RE: How about poured concrete counters?

Wow, those look really good and you are several $$$$$ ahead by DIY. I just am not that talented despite my reading ability. The bathroom and kitchen above look great!


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RE: How about poured concrete counters?

I'm still waiting for my counter to crack. I expect it will happen some day, but I'll have to wait and see. I've taken steps to minimize cracking-- polypro fibers and metal lathe rebar. I also experimented some with the formulation of concrete and kept a log in Excel. Here was my final pour in grams.

white cement 6856
white sand 25303
plasticizer 163
power poz 979
fibers 33
water 2775
green pigment 620
jade pigment 261
brown glass 874
dark green 1166
light green 874
white glass 583
clear glass 1923

The water is more or less approximate. I think I added a little more than this, but as Cheng will say, there is a balance between workability and strength.

You'll also note that there is no pea gravel aggregate. This may mean more cracks. Because we were grinding the surface to expose the glass, we didn't want to see gravel.

I then sealed it with the Cheng sealer and have used a couple different types of wax top coats.

Raenjapan-- cool counters. I like them a lot in the pics; wish I could run my hands over them... One of the cool things about concrete is the way it feels. I think it is akin to honed slate, but more hetergeneous.


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RE: How about poured concrete counters?

Here's my recipe-for every 55lb bag of flowcrete I added
1 1/2 cups of charcoal pigment (fairly packed, purchased locally), 4 oz. polypro fibres and about 2-2 1/2 litres of water depending on ambient temp. I fill the bathtub the night before so that water used for all mixes is the same temp.

Here are a couple of pictures
The first are the form for the sink slab. You can see where the drainboard and cutting board will be. We made the forms for knockouts from foam, wood or duraglass.

Integral drainboard
void for cutting board
forms for runnels

the following are the form for the island

island form-inlaid stone

island form-forms for stainless trivets

This is a small simple slab that give you an idea of the surface finish. With 800-1500 grit diamond and this new sealer it is truly like glass.

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This a portion of the island before being finished and covered. You can see the knockouts for the trivets.

cooktop with knockouts for trivets

And this is what you can do with leftover mix. Plant stands

plant stand

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A backlit frame for a small sculpture

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I always keep small forms available for the excess concrete. For example the large styrofoam meat trays are great for stepping stones or mix in equal amounts vermiculite and you can make your own lightweight pots for the garden.
PS I'm not familiar with posting pics so I hope posting this many is ok.


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RE: How about poured concrete counters?

Biner,

Awesome job and I appreciate the pictures of the mold the finished counter. Cool plant stand, too. Any pictures of the stones near the seam-- I'm assuming they are visible after polishing.


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RE: How about poured concrete counters?

Overly,
Don't have a shot yet but will soon. Here is sample of how the stones look with glass beads as well. The key is to lay them in with a small amount of spray on adhesive otherwise many will "float" away during pour and vibration. That happened when we poured the desk-I wanted a completely different surface and one that was bullet proof so added loads of stones but didn't glue them down - most of them dissappeared!!!The other thing we learnd is to use acrylic rather than water when making you slurry -portland cement, pigment and acrylic to get the consistency of toothpaste. Spray the surface with acrylic before applying the slurry. I know Cheng recommends removing as much slurry as possible before regrinding but we found it much more efficient to leave fairly thick-this reduces the number of slurry coats to get rid of the darn pinholes (although can be a great design element) and the extra polishing gives more shine. On the island and other slabs we used a slurry the same colour as the concrete but we used different shades of brown and grey for the slurry on the desk.

Photobucket


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RE: counters?

This was ground from 50 grit up to 800, no sealer on this sample. Our formula was
1. exposed stone and aggregate-start at 50 and grind to 400
2. grind and polish entire slab starting at 400 and up to 1500
Oh ya-good idea to keep a template or picture of where you lay the stone. They do show somewhat just after the pour but you can't always see the extent of your original design.


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RE: How about poured concrete counters?

Biner, what do you mean by acrylic? Like a clear acrylic paint? I'm having trouble picturing what you're talking about, but it sounds interesting.


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Raenjapan,
The acrylic is flexible latex acrylic additive. It's the stuff they use for laying tiles etc. It's a white liquid that is somewhat sticky and comes in various sized containers but you don't need much. The resukts are far better than water. It helps prevent shrinkage of the portland and creates a tighter bond between sluury and counter. Be sure to mist counter with the acrylic before applying slurry otherwise the slurry will dry faster than you can work it. If it gets to hard just work in a bit more acrylic. I think I figured out how to post a link. This is the company New Edge Design/Monart that I mentioned previously. The contractors forum has lots of info. Don't be turned off by how complicated the sealing process sounds. It is really quite easy. The Tips and Techniques is good as is the sealer thread.

Here is a link that might be useful: New Edge Design/Monart


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RE: counters?

ikeafnas thread

Here is a link that might be useful: bought the cement mixer


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RE: How about poured concrete counters?

Here's what we did today. Decided we wanted to pour the remaining 5 slabs all at once as this DIY process is slow and we've been at it for longer than I care to remember. So rather than take the 1-2 weeks for each slab we'll do it all at once. Getting a level surfacee to pour is a little tricky so DH built this platform and shimmed it all so it's perfectly level and will hold all the slabs.

level platform for pour

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The cost was $50 in 2x4's and 3 sheets of ply - which we already had.


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RE: How about poured concrete counters?

Biner,

Thanks for the tip on the acrylic. I went through a couple slurries, so good to know about acrylic next time. Have you experimented with acrylic as part of the mix? I used metakaolin, but don't know if that made any difference.

I hadn't thought of spray adhesive. Cheng talks about caulk, but I have some spray around.

Here is a link that might be useful: powerpozz


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RE: How about poured concrete counters?

Definitely try the acrylic,it makes the world of differnce-apparently it's good to add silica flour as well, although we haven't tried that. This is a quote from that forum I mentioned. "Try using a bit of silica flour as part of your slurry recipe. US Silica has Minusil....200-300 mesh and lower silica flours. They help tremendously lowering shrink of the slurry. Much better than Portland alone."

As for metakaolin, I'm not familiar with it other than I've heard people use it in their mix design but some say silca fume is better? We just use flowcrete which has silica fume, palsticers etc in it already and then add fibres and water. I would love to try various methods but just don't have the time (thx for the link, looks like lots of info).

The caulk works great for larger flat surface because you can scrape most of it off but spray adesive is good for smaller irregular pieces and dries immediately which is a bonus - don't have to wait overnight as you do with caulk. The coins in the plant stand were appliied with caulk but stones and glass beads were applied with adhesive. I would probably use adhesive if I were to do it again.

I lied about fitting 5 slabs on the platform-can only fit 3, oh well better than 1.

Photobucket


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RE: How about poured concrete counters?

How about those never ending lists on the slider behind?


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LOL!! Neverending is right, but once these counters are done things should go pretty quickly.


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To look at some very pretty concrete counters, check out julier1234's kitchen in the FKB. She didn't do them herself, though.


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RE: How about poured concrete counters?

Biner,

Can you send me an email? I think you can send me email through the members page. I'd like to keep track of your countertop progress, but I feel guilty for having hijacked the OP's question about concrete counters.


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RE: How about poured concrete counters?

Absolutely. I'd love to share whatever we learn along the way. Being fairly new to this forum I didn't realize that we were hijacking. Sorry Blakey. Overly, I just have to figure out how to do it and then I'll send you an e-mail. Don't forget to check the thread at ikeafans once in awhile as I will be updating and there's a couple of people there who are quite knowledgable. The threads don't seem to get lost either. I think I started it at the end of 07 and it's still there


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RE: How about poured concrete counters?

No, don't stop! Some of us are quietly really enjoying the series of updates -- and pix! -- and perhaps Blakey doesn't mind?


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RE: How about poured concrete counters?

Agreed - I'm loving these pictures, and the progress!


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RE: How about poured concrete counters?

Seems to be some interest so I'll keep posting as we move along. Below are the forms reinforced with 2x4's. We're also going to support floor from beneath with screw jacks-probably not necessary but just to be sure they are completely level.

four forms on level platform in LR

Managed to dig up some pics of island at a partially finished stage. The first are sketchups I did of the design I had in mind. Vertical slab supporting one end (cooktop end) and 2 stainless posts at the other. I kinda like the 3rd post as a design element but it takes away from seating so probably will leave it out.

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Here's the cooktop end of island where the vertical slab will be. There will be a wine cab between it and the cooktop cab

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Not sure if you can see it but there will be a 3/4" stainless divide on an angle between the two slabs.


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RE: How about poured concrete counters?

Biner,

I like the angle divide between the two slabs. Why did you do that versus a single slab on top?

Also, have you been using the cooktop and what do you think about the trivets? They look cool, but are they hard to keep clean and do you ever wish you had a smooth top there?

I noticed the last photo was Thursday. Any luck this weekend?

Best,

Overlyoptimistic


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RE: How about poured concrete counters?

It looks fabulous! I like the island design leaving lots of room for seating.


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RE: How about poured concrete counters?

I'm glad that my post got people talking about how to make poured concrete counters. It's way over my head, and I think I'm going to opt for a different material, but it's fascinating.....keep it going..!


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RE: How about poured concrete counters?

biner,
We are planning on doing concrete countertops. Can I ask you a couple questions?
1. What was the sealer you used?
2. We really don't want lots of exposed aggregate. We were kind of hoping for more of a honed granite/oiled soapstone look. When you first took them out of their mold, were they all one color? Do you have any pics of pre-ground slabs? If you don't want to expose aggregate, what grit would you start with?
I did buy the Cheng book, and the video, but he doesn't really address if you don't want to grind them down. Are they not as strong if you don't expose the aggregate by grinding? I was kindof hoping to get away with just hand sanding with pads, then sealing.
Thanks for all your info, I am LOVING the pics. I *think* we can do this. We are also debating the whole pour in place vs. mold. Decisions, decisions!!
S


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