Pour-in-place Concrete Counters

I know that many of you have been asking us to re-post our concrete counter project so here it is:

WARNING: This is long so feel free to scroll through the pics for a quick summary.

NOTE: This was our first time ever touching concrete….YOU CAN DO IT TOO :) We’ll do our best to share what we’ve learned since then.

We poured and stained these in place in the Summer of 2010 and they still look great!

STEP 1: 

Attach cement board to cabinets


Attach countertop forms to cement board.

Note:You could build your own form but it would need to come down to cover cement board edge then out away from cabinets then back up to height of final countertop. We chose to order from this site (Z Counterform) to make our life easier. AND they have a bunch of options. We chose the “Full Bullnose” form.


Tape all seams in the forms and between forms and cement board


Roll out and cut chicken wire to size. It will reinforce the concrete and help to avoid cracks.

Oh, and don’t forget to attach plastic tarps to protect cabinets and floor…somehow it seems to actually clean up really easily on ours thankfully :)


START MIXING and POURING! Follow the directions on the package. We decided to mix by hand since we were doing just the island as a test. In this section of countertop we used a quick drying blend made specifically for counters. BUT we didn’t anticipate just HOW QUICKLY it really drys. You will need to work FAST and have helpers!

Here I am…working as fast as possible to get a base layer in place…pressing (rather than pouring) since it is DRYING. TOO. FAST. AHHHH…

Press it into the edges as well as possible. This will make your life much easier when you take the forms off.

STEP 6: Insert wire mesh and keep filling with concrete…

Don’t worry we’ll show you how we fixed this lower level…Let’s take a look at how it SHOULD be going…

(Next pic from upper level of island with regular–non quick drying concrete)


Screed the top (shimmy a board back and forth along the top) to get the water to come to the surface which will smooth it out.

STEP 8: 



The moment you’ve been waiting for…SNAP those forms off!

Ours looked pretty good, but there were some sections that needed some major filling/sanding etc. so don’t cry about it if it’s not perfect!


FILL in missing areas and sand any rough areas

We actually loved the texture so we mixed up a ‘slurry’ (wetter than usual concrete mix) to fill in the sections that needed it and left the rest. We are also a bit lazy and didn’t want to make a huge sandy mess in the house since we were living there.

If you like a super polished look. This is the point that you would start sanding top down in a major way. But wear a mask and tarp off the room because this will be dirty!

STEP 10:

STAINING (if you want it to be a different color)

There are some SUPER cool tricks to make your concrete look like anything you want…

We choose a solid black stain to contrast with our light cabinets.

Simply brushed it on and let it dry.

STEP 11: 


We used a food-safe wax to seal the counters.

My next post will be about how we fixed the first lower level of the counter using a concrete resurfacer (which is now our best friend and we use it to make tables all the time!) 

Feel free to ask questions in the comments or on our facebook page. I’m sure I left out some details (and I will try to find and add the specific stain/sealers etc. that we used to this post when I find them).

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