How to create a faux concrete slab over your existing counter tops for $100 dollars!
Updated: Jul 10
When we first purchased our home earlier this year in January we pretty much bought a home straight out of the year 1974, the year it was built. This so called 'golden hour' yellow color was EVERYWHERE. From the shag carpet to the kitchen countertops, to laminate flooring and the butter colored sink. I'm all for a retro feel but this HAD to go. From the beginning I knew I wanted to re do the countertops but we had just purchased our first home and we're not exactly in a position to spend a ton of money. We decided laying new floors was the most important money spending aspect and the rest we'd figure out something cheaper. I did tons of research trying to figure out the best solution with the outcome and vision I had.
I love an old world, lived in english country side type feel. But I also love an eclectic modern look too. I try not to fall beholden to one trend or another so that what I purchase and put in my home will always look timeless. I try to not have pieces that date back to one specific trendy moment. That's hard sometimes because trends happen for a reason and thats because everyone is loving that look. I like to add in easily changed trendy elements but for permanent pieces I want them to be unique and timeless.
If I could have made it work I would have loved to put in new butcher block countertops but for now we just couldn't swing it. So I looked at contact paper, painting, faux marble, epoxy resin and what I found was a faux concrete block finish! It has that lived in, industrial wear and tear look I love and it was also incredible inexpensive. Now where you save money... you will make a DUSTY MESS. We've been living with the countertops now for about 3 ish months now and I love them. I'll give you all the break down of cost, supplies, tips and tricks as well as how they are holding up and what i'd suggest living with them. I know the real reason you're here is to learn how to concrete your own countertops so let's get started.
First let's start with our supply list!
- hand sander (whatever you have on hand will work but you will need an electric sander) this is what I used
-sand paper pads - https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07RDPMZ4Y/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o06_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1
-Henry's Feather Finish Concrete in Grey (other brands will probably work and they also have this in white which could be amazing. This is what I used I know works)
-trowel (i used a putty knife like this but if I do it again I'll use this)
-disposable container to mix the concrete
- 511 impregnator this is what will penetrate through the concrete layers and protect from liquids soaking all the way through and staining. Please you proper ventilation during this process and proper ventilators
-cotton hand towels
- cheng sealant - this is the easiest part!
-Some form of face ventilator
-clothes you don't mind getting dirty
-towels to lay on the ground to protect your floors
-plastic sheeting if you want to enclose the space to minimize dust throughout your house.
So now that you have all your supplies gathered its time to start prepping your your countertops. Remove everything and put away in a safe spot. you wont be using this area for a couple days.
1. Start by sanding the surface you'll be covering with concrete. I had formica countertops so they were nice and smooth so I needed to rough them up in order for the concrete to have something to latch on to. Rough those suckers up. Then go over and wipe them down with rubbing alcohol just to remove dust and make sure they are clean of any residue.
2. mix you concrete. I went by the bags suggestion but ended up playing it by ear after a few rounds of having to do that anyways. Start with the bags suggestion and go from there. You'll begin to understand exactly what type of consistency you'll need. You want a thick peanut butter consistency and you only want enough to do a 2ft x 2ft section. It dries quite fast and you don't want to have a ton mixed up getting ruined while you're spreading it all out. If its too runny or too thick you'll have problems spreading it all out so make sure its that easy to spread peanut butter texture.
3. Figure out your start point and start spreading. I liked to figure out the direction of my strokes and start at the farthest location. So I would start at the wall and move my strokes towards the edge. This is an area if I were to do over again I would not skip. Make sure you have a large trowel to minimize the strokes. I used way to small of one and had to do a ton of work smoothing it all out and getting rid of the strokes. Work in small sections and batches until you've covered the whole surface. Use your fingers to apply to edge. Try and get this first layer perfectly smoothed out. It'll save time on sanding later and just will keep the integrity of the countertops looking professional!
4. once your first layer is finished and smoothed out let it dry. You'll know when its dry by the color difference but I made sure it had at least been a couple hours. To begin the second layer first do a quick sand especially on any rigid areas (this is why its important its dry) and wipe dust off with a microfiber cloth. Begin second layer just as you did the first. This will go a lot faster.
5. You might have to do a 3rd or 4th layer but at least two layers are necessary.
6. I've gotten a ton of questions on how I made my rounded corners a 90 degree edge. I simply added more concrete to those points. It looks terrible for a while and my husband could not see the end result. but just as you're layering the top surface I continued to do layer after layer on the round edges until i had something built up to mold into that sharp edge shape. While layers were drying i'd usually make an extra thick small batch and just use my hands like playdough to add that length. I then did lots of smoothing while it was drying and then sanding to make it even.
7. once all layers are done and COMPLETELY dry you'll want to sand it with a fine grit sandpaper. To double check your concrete is dry get a piece of saran wrap, tape all four sides down and make sure no condensation forms under the saran wrap. We want this surface smooth as a babies bottom! For me, in the kitchen, I wipe the counters up a lot because we're gross messy people all the dang time! So it's important that my work surface was very smooth with no rigid spots or holes. This is where the dust comes in and you'll want to use your mask! sand all sides and top really well! some spots were too thin and I had to go back and add more in. Thats ok if that happens it just prolongs this step.
8. Once sanded wipe everything down with a damp cotton towel or hand towel, just enough to clean up all the dust.
9. Now you're going to impregnate your countertops with the 511. This is going to penetrate through the concrete and seal it from within. Remember concrete is very porous and could stain easily without this step. This product HAS A VERY VERY STRONG ODOR! please properly ventilate your home, and wear a proper ventilation mask and even prepare to run some errands afterwards so you can get out of your house. You'll need to make sure this sits for 24 hours or longer.
10. Once your impregnator has done its job 24 hours + later it's time for its final seal. I've seen others use products that are probably way more durable but it was very important to me that I was using something that was FOOD SAFE. Even though we're adults we drop a lot of food on our countertops and I wanted to have the ease of mind knowing its ok to pick it up and still eat it! So I went with the Cheng concrete sealer. No odor and went on so easy! I followed the directions on the bottle and it worked out perfect. I also liked this sealer because it wasn't applied like a top coat but more of a rub and so you get no strokes or crazy sheen. You basically start of with a damp countertops and a very diluted solution. You then conitnue to lower the dilution of product until you're just putting on straight sealant. Let that dry for 30 mins and add one more layer with full sealant. I let this set for 48 hours before we started to use our countertops again.
And now you can enjoy your DIY concrete countertops! I ended up concreting my bathroom as well because I loved the look so much!
the harshest chemicals i've used have been Clorox wipes and its held up well. I don't normally use anything harsher than a Clorox wipe when cleaning but I wouldn't suggest using heavy duty cleaners with harsh chemicals on this surface. I've split multiple things and so far no staining. Sometimes I think it's been stained but its just from something wet and it stays discolored while it dries. We've loved having our concrete countertops and haven't had any issues with cleaning or taking care of them. I plan to re seal them maybe at 1 year mark just to make sure they are being maintained. The Cheng bottle of sealant should last through about 3 rounds of sealing both my kitchen and bathroom!
Price Breakdown -
$107 for just concrete supplies
$40 for sander
Wash clothes, ventilator mask, and micro fiber clothes I had on hand
I'm still so in love with these countertops and Its a great feeling knowing I made them as well. It was also very cost effective and if you know me you know thats the way to my heart. They're a really great color and look so nice and updated compared to old yellow formica! I plan to do a 1 year update to let you know how they are going and if i have any tips or advice going forward.
I hope these tips help and good luck on all your DIY adventures!