Making Concrete Countertops

| 4/1/2009 12:00:00 AM

Can you tell me the pros/cons of concrete countertops? 

Willem Maas
Napa, California

Concrete makes terrific countertops for kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities. This option is inexpensive, DIY-friendly and yields a beautiful finished product as long as you understand a few tricks.Concrete Countertops

The first thing to realize when making concrete countertops is that you won’t be using traditional concrete to do it. ‘Concrete’ refers to a mixture of sand, crushed stone and Portland cement, with the stone being added as low-cost filler. But bits of stone can mar the finish of a countertop if they remain visible along the edges of the wooden forms that impart the countertop's shape. And because you can’t see formed surfaces until the wood has been removed, crushed stone creates unnecessary risk with no reward, at least as far as countertops go. Also, since the cost of a stone-free mortar mix for a bathroom vanity is a whopping $10, why bother with stone? The results are just as strong without it, and visual success is more reliable.

A good general-purpose mortar mix for basic countertop applications is one part Portland cement with three parts sand packed into a form built on top of a cabinet. Just remember to make your mixture dry enough to hold together in a pile, without being sloppy. If it’s even slightly wetter than this your countertop will be hard to finish correctly and won’t cure to full strength.

Perhaps the most challenging part of the concrete countertop equation is appearance. After all, who wants a countertop that looks like a sidewalk? Avoiding this fate requires two things: the addition of color to the surface; and the sealing of that surface to add depth to the color and protect against stains. The best looking concrete countertops are stunningly beautiful—a result that comes only after being smoothed and polished with power tools before the final sealing steps.

Beth Reynoso
10/8/2012 10:53:14 PM

I would also compare local pricing between the different stones. Heres a good link - for local pricing.

7/2/2010 8:27:43 AM

Okay, do sound like an expert on countertops...many thanks for your advice...but, do go one step further and tell me what type of countertop you do recommend for the long haul. Wood? Laminate? Ceramic?

6/26/2010 7:08:21 AM

Wow, this article sounds like you can go to the local hardware store and make your own countertop! I will talk anyone out of installing a concrete or any natural stone(granite/marble/soapstone)countertop. Whether you make them yourself or have a professional install it. These products need care. In other words, you have to maintain them by sealing them every couple of years. All these stones are porous which means water can, over time get into them.(Water and cabinets don't mix and can create a great home for mold). Unless you are extremely wealthy and like buying tops every few years, go for it! On a positive note, I agree that some of the concrete tops look really nice and I like the idea of using recycled glass products in some products. [My knowledge in this field is 12 years of experience in making countertops.]

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