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Author Topic: Concrete Countertops  (Read 1600 times)

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Offline DWyatt

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Concrete Countertops
« on: August 20, 2018, 02:33:20 PM »
Well the time has finally come in the house building process to get some countertops for the kitchen! A lot of what helped to make my decision was that I wanted an under-mount sink. This basically ruled out formica and price ruled out everything else. So i decided that I was going to do concrete. I have made a couple smaller pieces out of concrete but nothing like a full kitchen, although it is a small kitchen.

I made all my measurements in the kitchen somewhere close to 50 times and made a little sketch so I would confidently know my layout. The first few pictures are when we were pouring/the forming. I used melamine for all my forms and and 2" foam board for my sink molds. Previously we had connected the form edges using small blocks which was a pain. I decided to use pocket holes for everything which worked beautifully, a little more time consuming but a lot more exact!



 
Backsplash molds




 

Final product after a long day of pouring


 

It was a long day Friday, started with running to town to get the materials for the forms at 7 am and I got home a little after 11 that night but we got it all poured. My dad and one of his friends even stayed to supervise the whole time and a friend of mine who got me thinking about the idea for the counters

I took off the forms and flipped the counters Sunday as the side facing the melamine is actually your finished surface. Some help would have been great but everyone seems to disappear when the 250 lb chunk of concrete needs flipped ::)



 



 

All in all everything turned out great so far, I decided not to do any integral color and instead am using a polishing dye.  You can see how the edges have cured out a very light uniform grey and the rest is still a blochy grey as it cures.  Polishing will hopefully commence this Friday and I will update with more pictures!  

Oh and a sneak peak of the cabinets, yes I still need drawer/door fronts, but drop dead move in deadline is this Saturday and we can live without those till winter :D



 

Offline catalina

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Re: Concrete Countertops
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2018, 02:36:53 PM »
Looking good!

Offline Crusarius

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Re: Concrete Countertops
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2018, 02:49:43 PM »
Looks nice. you just going to polish it and leave it grey?
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Offline DWyatt

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Re: Concrete Countertops
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2018, 03:14:24 PM »
Looks nice. you just going to polish it and leave it grey?
I actually got the sample kit of polishing dye, powder to be mixed with acetone, (meant to be put on after 800 grit polishing) it has 20 different colors. I will used a few of the dark greys and browns to hopefully get more of a texture to the look. The dyes are a new process to me so we will see how it goes, I have only worked with integral colors. I will probably use the extra colors to test how I can move the dye around after it is sprayed and how it looks spraying colors over top of each other. Then polish to 3000 before sealing.

Offline Crusarius

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Re: Concrete Countertops
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2018, 03:32:47 PM »
I always thought the die was in the concrete, not an after treatment?
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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Concrete Countertops
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2018, 04:31:09 PM »
Well, they will be heavy like the southern boys like. ;D

Very interesting approach.

Pre-commercial thinning pays off. :)

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Offline Corley5

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Re: Concrete Countertops
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2018, 04:49:00 PM »
Huh...  Interesting indeed 8) ;D 8) ;D 8) 8) 8)  Looking forward to pics of the finished product.  What kind of concrete did you use ???
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Offline DPatton

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Re: Concrete Countertops
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2018, 09:20:43 PM »
DWyatt,

This is a great post and it looks as you have done a very nice job with your concrete tops so far. Im looking forward to seeing the dying process with final color and texture. Please continue to share your progress. Concrete tops can be very beautifully done and I think you have made a great choice that you will be proud of for years to come.

On a side note you said you ruled out Formica or plastic laminate tops because you wanted an undermount sink. Several years back a sink manufacturer called Karran started producing undermount sink systems for installation in plastic laminate tops. Their sink system is installed directly under the laminate creating a unique, flush, lipless, drip edge installation. Like you price was a driving factor for me when I remodeled my kitchen five years ago. I chose the Karran undermount sink in a high definition plastic laminate top and have not regretted my decision. 
Thanks again for your post and good luck with completing your new tops.
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Offline DWyatt

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Re: Concrete Countertops
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2018, 09:47:46 PM »
Crusarius, There are multiple options for coloring the concrete, one of which is an integral color that changes the color throughout, there are other options for stains that are topical. One is this polishing dye that I am using, is an acetone based dye that because of the smaller molecules of the acetone compared to water, it can penetrate further into the polished surface of the concrete. Another option is for counters that aren't going to be polished, it is an acid stain and it needs the top "cream" from the concrete to react with and etch so the stain will penetrate correctly. Another option I know of can be used on very lightly polished and not polished concrete, it is similar to the acetone based stain, just a water based so it needs the larger open pores of the concrete to work.

SD, I don't think I am going to have to worry about fastening these down too much to keep them from moving  :D

Corley, I used a mix from a place in Columbus, OH called Decocrete. It is just their standard 5000 psi mix. Similar to a sakrete, except the stuff I got actually has enough cement to make a mix :D It also seems to have a lighter color which I would guess helps them to sell their colors/stains easier. I have been very impressed with the guys there, it's like they have actually used what they are selling which is a rarity anymore. 

I am like a little kid on Christmas morning, I am starting to twitch from excitement!!

Offline DWyatt

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Re: Concrete Countertops
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2018, 10:03:47 PM »
DWyatt,

This is a great post and it looks as you have done a very nice job with your concrete tops so far. Im looking forward to seeing the dying process with final color and texture. Please continue to share your progress. Concrete tops can be very beautifully done and I think you have made a great choice that you will be proud of for years to come.

On a side note you said you ruled out Formica or plastic laminate tops because you wanted an undermount sink. Several years back a sink manufacturer called Karran started producing undermount sink systems for installation in plastic laminate tops. Their sink system is installed directly under the laminate creating a unique, flush, lipless, drip edge installation. Like you price was a driving factor for me when I remodeled my kitchen five years ago. I chose the Karran undermount sink in a high definition plastic laminate top and have not regretted my decision.
Thanks again for your post and good luck with completing your new tops.
Very interesting DPatton, I guess I never did any in-depth research for the sink with the formica. I couldn't make sense of the seams working with water so I didn't look into it any further. As my girlfriend who has been waiting for far too long to move into the house will say, "I am always looking for the slightest reason to try something off the wall and new to keep other people's 'junk' out on our house" She says junk with a large amount of sarcasm while rolling her eyes as that is what she always has to listen to me say :D Whoops  :)

Offline Larry

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Re: Concrete Countertops
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2018, 10:04:55 PM »
Well the time has finally come in the house building process to get some countertops for the kitchen! A lot of what helped to make my decision was that I wanted an under-mount sink. This basically ruled out formica and price ruled out everything else.

I've made three under mounts with formica with the first about 10 years ago.  They all came out excellent....but it was formica.


Quote
I made all my measurements in the kitchen somewhere close to 50 times and made a little sketch so I would confidently know my layout. The first few pictures are when we were pouring/the forming. I used melamine for all my forms and and 2" foam board for my sink molds. Previously we had connected the form edges using small blocks which was a pain. I decided to use pocket holes for everything which worked beautifully, a little more time consuming but a lot more exact!

The easy way to do it is to buy a sheet of the cheapest luan underlayment you can find.  Cut it into 3" strips.  Make a template using a hot melt glue gun.  No measuring required.  That's the way the boys that make the cultured marble counter tops do it and they get perfect fits.

I've been thinking about a concrete counter top for years and would really like to do one.  Excellent thread, keep up the good work and maybe I can learn enough to try it.
Larry, making useful and beautiful things out of the most environmental friendly material on the planet.

We need to insure our customers understand the importance of our craft.

Offline ljohnsaw

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Re: Concrete Countertops
« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2018, 12:41:16 AM »
 :P
I'm gonna keep an eye on this one.  My cabin will be all wood interior.  I was thinking of slabs for the counter tops but I'm a little worried about the maintenance aspect and possible scratching of the finish.  A nice concrete (even just plain grey) would be a nice contrast to the light brown woods.  Anxious to see how the sink will fit up.  Are you doing a concrete sink as well?
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Offline Crusarius

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Re: Concrete Countertops
« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2018, 07:25:08 AM »
Thanx Dwyatt. I have always been interested in the concrete tops. Then I bought a house with granite. So, I have not had a chance to experiment.
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Offline DWyatt

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Re: Concrete Countertops
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2018, 07:43:22 AM »
I am not doing a concrete sink, it is a double basin stainless sink.

Integral concrete sinks are best when doing a Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete (GRFC). The concrete mixture actually looks like fiberglass from having so much glass fiber. In the instance of GFRC, the glass fibers are actually a complete replacement for steel reinforcing; therefore, you can go with much thinner countertops than the normal 2". It then also helps with the large stresses that a sink would see and allows you to not have a 2" thick sink. With GRFC tops you spray a thin top coat of a sand based cement mix into the forms then pack the GRFC into the forms and use what looks like a paint roller with small fingers to align the fibers in the direction of the highest stresses. Look them up sometime on Youtube, the amount of fiber in those things is incredible! They will be next on my list of projects, you know right after I get moved into the house and get it finished and get my poor mill up and running, and, and, and......... ::) ::)

Offline DWyatt

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Re: Concrete Countertops
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2018, 07:46:49 AM »
The easy way to do it is to buy a sheet of the cheapest luan underlayment you can find.  Cut it into 3" strips.  Make a template using a hot melt glue gun.  No measuring required.  That's the way the boys that make the cultured marble counter tops do it and they get perfect fits.


Larry, I am not sure why I never considered doing a luan/cardboard template. Thanks for the advice because the next one will be done that way:)

Offline Raider Bill

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Re: Concrete Countertops
« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2018, 08:22:58 AM »
I have a friend that does these professionally. Many times he puts colored glass in the mud so when he polishes them the glass comes through. They sure are pretty.
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Offline Ed_K

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Re: Concrete Countertops
« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2018, 08:41:20 AM »
 Can someone explain the luan/cardboard template? I have a counter top thats been waiting for a concrete top for three yrs. We want to use green glass in it and try to make maple leafs in the top. Thanks for showing the concrete counter tops DWyatt.
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Offline Larry

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Re: Concrete Countertops
« Reply #17 on: August 21, 2018, 09:08:04 AM »
Just lay the luan strips on top of the cabinets flush with the ends and walls.  Glue them all together with a hot melt gun.  Besides no measuring, this method also corrects for out of square walls.  Often a wall is bowed and this can be noted on the template.

Larry, making useful and beautiful things out of the most environmental friendly material on the planet.

We need to insure our customers understand the importance of our craft.

Offline DWyatt

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Re: Concrete Countertops
« Reply #18 on: August 21, 2018, 11:48:33 AM »
Just lay the luan strips on top of the cabinets flush with the ends and walls.  Glue them all together with a hot melt gun.  Besides no measuring, this method also corrects for out of square walls.  Often a wall is bowed and this can be noted on the template.
It's a whole lot cheaper, and less delay to cut a piece too small with luan than it is with the actual countertop, no matter what the material may be. Then just make your forms match the template :)

Offline Banjo picker

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Re: Concrete Countertops
« Reply #19 on: August 21, 2018, 09:16:47 PM »
Looks good.  You just might inspire me to give it a try.  I thought when we remodled the kitchen and I layed tile for counter tops that I would never have to mess with that again.  Wrong.  Banjo
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Offline DWyatt

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Re: Concrete Countertops
« Reply #20 on: August 28, 2018, 01:10:28 PM »
Guys, I have not abandoned you! Life, moving into the new house, playing electrician, and plumber got in the way over the weekend. About 9 last night I finally got to do the first stages of the polishing process! Started with 50 grit to get the uneven areas smoothed out where the seams in the melamine were located and expose some aggregate. (Note to self, packaging tape covering the seams doesn't cut it)

Next I went to 100 grit  and polished all the tops then went over all the edges with the small buffer and the touched up the quarter rounds.

Talked my girlfriend into getting out of bed to take a couple pictures since everyone says I never document my projects very well. At that point I was using the large polisher to do the tops. It is a 3-headed oscillating unit with a water port for the wet sanding. Luckily a friend of mine has access to one because you wouldn't want to buy one to polish one kitchen worth of tops. $$$$

 



Here's the finish we are going with, just a slight exposed aggregate. As you can see, when using a standard bagged mix there is air entrainment in the mix and when you first begin polishing you open up a lot of pinhole air pockets.

 

 

The final step for the night was to mix up a cement slurry of sorts and smear over all of the tops and edges to fill any voids from the air pockets and the repair any defects. Finished up for the night around 11:30 then back up at 5:30 for work. ::) I will hit everything with 200 grit tonight and determine if any areas  need a second coat of cement. If not, I will go ahead and polish to 800 grit tonight and have everything ready for stain Thursday. Except I have to get the dryer vent cut in and get the cooktop stove hooked up so plans have a possibility of changing  ::)



 


Oh and the friend who is helping when he can with the countertops said my kitchen will determine whether we will get 4 more full kitchens. Maybe, just maybe this will all pay off ;) 8)

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Re: Concrete Countertops
« Reply #21 on: August 28, 2018, 01:17:50 PM »
next time use putty or drywall cement at the melamine seams?
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Offline DWyatt

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Re: Concrete Countertops
« Reply #22 on: August 28, 2018, 02:25:57 PM »
next time use putty or drywall cement at the melamine seams?
You would have to use some kind of modeling clay or silicon based product. Whatever is used cannot draw water out of the mix faster than the rest of the concrete is curing because it will cause discolorations. I think the ticket would just be to make sure there are not seams to deal with at all. 
I think we are going to make a bunch of samples for potential customers and at that time we will be testing different seam options in the melamine. Since this is being installed in my house, I am not all that concerned because of how I want to stain the top but it would be unacceptable in my opinion to provide something with even a faint line to a customer. They are so shallow that you cannot feel them but all of the seam line still has the top "cream" of the concrete and the surrounding areas are polished down to the exposed aggregate which makes them stand out.

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Re: Concrete Countertops
« Reply #23 on: August 28, 2018, 04:28:37 PM »
When you say 50 grit, is that some sort of sandpaper / emery paper or are you using a grit powder?
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Offline DWyatt

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Re: Concrete Countertops
« Reply #24 on: August 29, 2018, 07:08:25 AM »
When you say 50 grit, is that some sort of sandpaper / emery paper or are you using a grit powder?
They are diamond polishing pads, 5" round. I'll take a picture of them tonight after work.

Offline DWyatt

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Re: Concrete Countertops
« Reply #25 on: August 29, 2018, 09:55:09 AM »
Another late night in the garage last night, I got the tops all polished to 200 grit. Just basically taking the cement off from Monday night. They look fantastic and I decided not to put another layer of cement down. 

Here's a couple pictures, mainly focusing on the sink portion as I am so pleased with how the hole for the sink turned out. The "color streaking" that you see is just the water drying that I missed with the squeegee after I cleaned them off for the night.

In the first picture, right side, you can see the corner of the concrete top I made for the bathroom vanity, hopefully getting that installed tonight.



 



 



 


Offline DWyatt

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Re: Concrete Countertops
« Reply #26 on: August 30, 2018, 06:51:17 AM »
When you say 50 grit, is that some sort of sandpaper / emery paper or are you using a grit powder?
Here's a picture of the two different kinds of pads, These two are the 1500 (lower) and the 3000 (upper). The 1500 is a wet sanding pad and the 3000 is for dry sanding. All of the wet sanding pads look/feel the same, regardless of the grit, I think it is just different diamond particle sizes. Both are 5" diameter.
br>
 

Offline Bill Gaiche

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Re: Concrete Countertops
« Reply #27 on: August 30, 2018, 07:40:24 AM »
DWyatt,

This is a great post and it looks as you have done a very nice job with your concrete tops so far. Im looking forward to seeing the dying process with final color and texture. Please continue to share your progress. Concrete tops can be very beautifully done and I think you have made a great choice that you will be proud of for years to come.

On a side note you said you ruled out Formica or plastic laminate tops because you wanted an undermount sink. Several years back a sink manufacturer called Karran started producing undermount sink systems for installation in plastic laminate tops. Their sink system is installed directly under the laminate creating a unique, flush, lipless, drip edge installation. Like you price was a driving factor for me when I remodeled my kitchen five years ago. I chose the Karran undermount sink in a high definition plastic laminate top and have not regretted my decision.
Thanks again for your post and good luck with completing your new tops.
I also did the Karran installation on my kitchen sink. Under mount sink is costly but well worth it. Looks nice and love the smooth transition from counter top right into the sink with no lip. Overall cost was way less than anything else besides concrete. I would do the same thing again if I had it to do over.

Offline DWyatt

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Re: Concrete Countertops
« Reply #28 on: September 06, 2018, 12:42:31 PM »
Sorry to leave everyone hanging, I finally got the counters installed last night. I had several issues with the finish I used due to the humidity and heat lately that resulted in me having to repolish the finish to remove the roller marks. I was definitely not happy about that and will not be using that product on ventures in the future as I have to do a couple repairs now that the counters are installed. However, the distributor has been very helpful with providing a solution that should be pretty easy to accomplish.

Also, after testing the polishing dye that I had planned to use, I decided against using it. The dye just gave a very fake color look and took away from the richness of the concrete. The dye would be great for decorative finishes where you had a design highlighted with bright colors, but in the end it just wasn't the look I was going for.

I will try to remember to get a couple more pictures tonight, finished up installing around 10 last night and just took one quick picture. Overall I am very happy with them and this winter more will be made 8)
 


 

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Re: Concrete Countertops
« Reply #29 on: September 06, 2018, 12:47:38 PM »
That looks really good. Are you going to add a backsplash? Is that going to be concrete?
I knew what I thought I meant.

Offline DWyatt

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Re: Concrete Countertops
« Reply #30 on: September 06, 2018, 01:32:28 PM »
I started off planning to do a concrete backsplash, but I think I'm going to put up some tile. Since I ended up not staining the concrete, I need some color. Also planning on doing a dark stain on the doors/drawer fronts rather than painting them grey.


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