September 4, 2019

How We Made Our Own Concrete Counter

DIY, House Remodel

Making your own counter can sound scary because well, anything can go wrong. This is our first time DIYing a concrete counter and here we are telling you exactly how we made it happen and what we wished we did. Once was all said and done though the cool, natural element creates such a lovely visual to the eyes that we would have no problem doing it all over again. In fact, we just bought 4 more bags of concrete mix for another project — there’s no stopping us! If you’re really curious on how much money we saved compared to a traditional counter, click here to see just how much we spent on our concrete counter for the laundry.

Be aware that we created the counter OUTSIDE of the laundry. Meaning that this DIY tutorial is for smaller sized counters because you would have to BRING IN the counter to install. It’s totally possible to create a mold and create the counter right onto your cabinets or vanity also, like Chris and Julia did here. The basics are pretty much all similar.

Watch the quick 2 minute video on the entire process! Details below.

PRESS PLAY:

https://honestlydesignedinteriors.com/wp-content/uploads/Video-Sep-03-2-26-58-PM.mov

Music: Outside by Ikson

FOR COUNTER MOLD:

  • CDX treated plywood
  • solid 2x4s
  • 2.5 in. screws
  • caulk
  • duct tape
  • level
  • measuring tape
  • saw for cutting mold to size
  • support beams or 2x4s for a level ground

FOR CONCRETE:

Photo May 03, 6 58 15 PM
Photo May 03, 7 47 10 PM
Photo May 04, 10 03 56 AM
Photo May 04, 9 59 53 AM

1. Create Counter Mold

  • to create a mold, measure what the size of the counter will be
  • we used a left over PVC board, but a thick sheet of CDX plywood will work just as well for the bottom part of the mold — screw in some 2x4s to the bottom for extra support (that’s why you see screws on our PVC board)
  • create a barrier (the sides) around the bottom mold in the height you want the concrete counter to be (ours is 2 inches) and making sure it’s secured on with screws
  • caulk all around the sides and in between each side piece, shown above, to ensure the concrete mix from leaking through and make sure the caulk dries thoroughly
  • we still had a few leaks that chipped off in the end and we sanded, so this step is important! We should’ve used duct tape on the outside for extra protection but make sure you don’t forget to caulk anywhere where the concrete may leak through
  • before pouring the concrete in, have the mold sit on support (we used 2x4s) so that it’s sitting level
  • before you pour in concrete mix, use a level to make sure that your mold isn’t wonky but straight on the inside and on top of the edges — can’t have an irregular shaped counter!

2. Mix First Bag and Pour

  • always get more concrete mix than you need  (we bought an extra bag and even that wasn’t enough! Despite what the coverage said on the bag)
  • follow the instructions on the bag to make the first bag of concrete mix 
  • pour the first mix into the mold
  • using a scraper or screed, spread out out the concrete evenly — it’s okay if it doesn’t fill the whole bottom of the mold right away but you will have to hurry and mix your second bag

**Have a helper mix and pour, as you level or vice versa

3. Add Rebar

  • add your first set of appropriate size rebar (steel bars) horizontally and spaced evenly after you poured in the first bag of concrete mix
  • you can also use fiberglass mesh with settings in place of rebar which both act as resisting forces in the concrete to keep it from cracking

4. Mix Second and Pour

  • don’t take long to mix your second bag and pour into the mold
  • as you pour each bag into the mold, use a scraper to spread out the concrete evenly throughout the mold

6. Mix Third, Add Rebar, Mix Fourth Bag and Pour (or however many bags of concrete you need, depending on counter size)

  • mix the next bag and pour in, spreading evenly
  • add more rebar, this time vertically
  • mix fourth bag and pour, spreading evenly
  • if it seems like you need more concrete mix but ran out you’ll have to add more rebar or even rocks in order to create more mass so that the counter reaches the top of all sides, beautifully (yes, we did run out even though we bought an extra bag so we had to place rocks into the counter)
Photo May 04, 10 47 48 AM
Photo May 04, 11 11 49 AM
Photo May 04, 10 52 01 AM

7. Level and Reduce Bubbles

  • as you pour each bag into the mold, you should’ve already been leveling as you go with a screed or scraper
  • but when you finished pouring all your concrete mix in, use something long and flat to level out the whole width of the counter at the same time, shown above and below (we used a piece of level scrap wood)
  • after that, use a magnesium float to make sure it’s as level as possible without too many air bubbles
  • without the sandpaper on it, use a palm sander all around the sides of the mold to help get the air bubbles out


8. Let Dry Completely

  • by this point, you let the counter dry — and pray it doesn’t rain if you did this outside!
  • we did this when we had a dry spell here in Florida, so we waited a couple days before touching the counter again

9. Take Mold Apart

  • once the counter is dry, take the sides of the mold off by unscrewing
  • as you can see here, we still had a few imperfections where it leaked  so it’s possible that you might have that too

10. Sand Counter

  •  when I say sand the counter, I mean not with the regular sandpaper
  •  you’ll need a diamond sandpaper to sand the concrete (which we got from Amazon) that can easily be attached to your palm sander
  • before sanding, make sure you hose down your counter with water
  • you want your counter to be wet the whole time your sanding, so having someone hold the hose to spray while you’re sanding makes it somewhat easier
  • sand the top and sides 


11. Installation

  • installing it is not as easy as it may look like, tbh — have another person (or two, three, four) to help you pick up the counter and transfer it to a rolling cart instead of carrying it for a little better transition
  • once you get the counter into the house, figure out the best way to get the counter into the room (depending on the room size and where you want the counter) which may take some trial and error
  • for us, we had to screw in a support piece of wood into the wall so that the counter will stay in place as we picked up the other side
  • we then slid the counter in place (with some hard pushing) right underneath the wainscoting and above the support piece we built for the counter when upgrading our laundry


12. Sealing and Touch Ups

  • it’s been a good few days since the counter was made and installed so now it’s time to seal it to protect it from any stains
  • we used this sealer because I wanted a matte finish to the concrete counter and just followed the instructions on how to use it
  • spray, wipe, and let dry!
  • As for touch ups, remember when I said we had to screw in a support piece to help us install the counter? Well, we had to fill those holes and finish painting the laundry room so that’s what I mean by touch ups (shown below)

My oh my, ya’ll this is one heck of a DIY. But I promise, it’s totally doable! Concrete counters may not be for everyone but when if it’s something that has been on the back of your mind, go for it! It was so much fun and yes, stressful, but the end result is beautiful. Even with the imperfections. 

Earlier I mentioned we purchased 4 more bags of concrete mix so a master bathroom project is coming up! Stay tuned by subscribing. ♥




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