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Old 02-25-2009, 03:50 PM   #1
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concrete counter tops


I would like to do my counter tops in concrete and am very interested to know the drawbacks of having concrete counter tops and the benefits. Also, any first hand knowledge of doing the project including products that have been found to work well.
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Old 02-25-2009, 05:00 PM   #2
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Concrete works well. What are you asking. You need some special tools. a vibrator, wet polishing and grinding tools. Forms are made from melamine. You need to make the forms in reverse of what you will get for the counter top. Best to make small sample pieces to play with the process first. Drawbacks? none really. Cabinets need to be strong enough to handle the weight. All newer cabinets are. Floors also would only be a concern for older homes. Get a book... buy the tools needed or find a rental store that has them. (not likely) Tools will be about $2000.

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Old 02-26-2009, 01:29 AM   #3
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I strongly considered doing this on a recent bathroom renovation. A few things caused me to drop the idea and go with granite.

First, the cost of the materials is not insignificant. Melamine forms and all the caulk and such to make the forms was a chunk of change. The concrete itself is not your average concrete. It is a non-shrink mix...Often white portland...Not your average $4/bag sackrete (which shrinks). The acid staining process and finishes are expensive. The rental of the tools to vibrate it and the grinding and polishing equipment must be rented. I couldn't find anyone that had rental gear for polishing the tops, but I only checked 3 or 4 rental places. Weight was a major factor. My 8' top would have been as heavy as a Buick if poured in one piece, but I didn't want a seam.

For my 8' countertop I would've had $300 invested in materials before any finishing or polishing took place. If that pour failed for any number of reasons, I'd be out another $300 to try again. I didn't want to take that gamble while my learning curve was still steep.

There are some very good books on the subject, and I strongly suggest you read them very carefully before trying it. It isn't too tough to make a top that looks like regular concrete, but making the aggregate show, getting it glossy, and a number of other things take a little bit of magic.

I have seen a few concrete tops that really impressed me. All were done by professionals. I've seen even more concrete tops done by DIYers and builders that hadn't done it before, and all of them looked like hell. It is one of those things that takes some practice, experience, guidance, and experimentation.
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Old 02-26-2009, 06:30 AM   #4
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This ties in with another post of DIY versus a professional. Some jobs needs experience and specialized tools. Yes, a DIY with skills and time to obtain the knowledge can do the project. But the cost will be the same or more than letting the pros do it and the quality will be much less.
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Old 02-26-2009, 08:58 AM   #5
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I will say that I was shocked at the prices pros charge for concrete tops. Here, it is easily 30-40% more than mid-range granite.
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Old 02-26-2009, 09:03 AM   #6
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Fads always cost more. But labor is much more intensive. Granite tops take about 1 day, two people to fabricate and 1/2 that to install.
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Old 02-26-2009, 01:04 PM   #7
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I considered DIY on concrete tops
I mean a bag is only $4 right?
After watching some shows & looking into it more I decided against it
I've done sanding & polishing before - not fun
Wife wants the kitchen "perfect"
That means a pre-made top, granite or something else
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Old 02-26-2009, 01:40 PM   #8
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The drawbacks of concrete countertops:

Not many concrete contractors know how do them right , and someone who pours concrete outside for a living is for from an expert on concrete countertops. Concrete countertops are molded, polished, installed. It may seem easy, but it takes a tremendous amount of skilled labor,and patience, to do these things correctly. On my site I offer a couple of free pdf.s on ideas for the concrete countertops, sinks, bathroom accents.http://makingconcretecountertops.blogspot.com

Benefits and Products:

My favorite concrete countertops to make our with recycled glass. You can get really creative here with your colors, and they just look really cool.

Make sure your forms are made with a template, and are very strong. You will have a better chance of getting it right the first time this way, and use rebar, along with wire mesh or lath for reinforcing.

When pouring and curing, make sure the form is above ground on a level flat surface. If its cold, place a space heater underneath the forms. Let it cure for a couple of days.

Polish it off with a wet grinder, starting with a diamond cup, going up to about 400 grit diamond abrasive pads.

If you did not add color in the mix, now you can stain the countertop. I use water based stains most of the time because there are more color choices, and mixing colors is easy. Just make sure the concrete will accept the stain by placing some water on it. If it absorbs fast, your in. If not, try opening it up with a light muriatic acid wash, then neutralize it with water and baking soda.

I always seal the countertops with a few coats of water based penetrating sealer, then a couple of coats of natural "buffed on" waxes. Gives it a real shine.

Though its not expensive to make, messing up in any of these steps could set you back the money to do it again, and valuable time. Its always frustrating doing something twice.
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Old 02-26-2009, 01:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scuba_Dave View Post
I considered DIY on concrete tops
I mean a bag is only $4 right?
After watching some shows & looking into it more I decided against it
I've done sanding & polishing before - not fun
Wife wants the kitchen "perfect"
That means a pre-made top, granite or something else
See if your wife likes Paperstone... it is a green (but needs a lot of your green) counter top. But they sell off sizes as handyman specials for 50% and it is a very DIY project. Excellent tops. The off sizes are maybe 1/8" too thin or shorter than 12' otherwise are perfect.
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Old 06-07-2009, 08:06 PM   #10
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concrete counter tops


well, i did it. i bought tools from ebay for $250, and rented the rest for $100 (mixer/vibrator) plus i had delivery of mixer and pickup for extra $60.

then i spent about $700 on pour table construction, forms, screws, caulking, cement, colouring, rebar, wire remesh, etc etc etc.

i bought the video (ebay) and got the books from the library.

i also spent another $100 reinforcing my existing cabinets, but to be fair they were really far gone to begin with and i had to build 50% of them from scratch!

i did 22sq ft. countertop. here are the results.

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Old 07-13-2009, 02:25 PM   #11
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concrete counter tops


I am in the middle of pouring concrete countertops. It has been very challenging but rewarding. I have poured two so far, the second taking three pours before I was somewhat satisfied. It takes a lot of time so if you don't have any to spare this is not for you. If you have patience and can follow directions, are relatively handy and have a good space to work, you should be able to complete the chore. Concrete is extremely heavy and requires sufficient manpower to move around unless you plan on pouring in place. There is great reference materials available online. Follow the experts advice and you should be allright. I got into trouble on the second top by 'winging' it and was disappointed with the final results (one turning out to look camouflage and the other had ghosting). I am still learning and will probably be pretty good at it by the time my last pour is completed.

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