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Concrete countertops - things you should know

I would like to share a few things we would do differently if we were to start over on our concrete countertops. Don't get me wrong, we love our concrete countertops but we have also done some experimenting and would make a few slight changes. I’m hoping these will help some other brave people out who might just attempt this monster project too.

 

To recap how we installed our concrete kitchen countertop...

 

CONTINUES BELOW

 

 

Having complete the project successfully, here are some of the problems we now face and things that we would do differently:

1. Start small
Make an outdoor bar counter, fireplace mantel, or pavers out of moulds to get a feel for how to mix and work with cement. You can read books and surf the web forever and nothing will be as good as getting a feel for it yourself.

2. Do not use quick setting concrete
Unless you have a mixer and about 10 friends that can help…hmmm that would still make me nervous. That stuff sets up and you could drive a car on it in 15 mins from when you start mixing, so its nearly impossible to use for large countertops (formed in place)  in my opinion.

3. Stains
We love the look of our dark charcoal stain and it sure would be nice if it was mixed into the concrete colour so it wouldn’t chip off how ours is. Only problem with mixing it in is that:

(a) we would have needed to add double what the bottle called for to get a dark colour and,

(b) you will most likely have some holes to fill along the edges when you take the moulds off and it will be hard to match the colours.

On our project, while the stain adheres very well, there are well used areas where it is chipping off. An acid etcher prevents this from happening as it prepares the concrete to accept the stain better.

Beeswax or not?
Next time around we would seal the counters and apply laquer, which helps the counter stay more shiny than the beeswax did…or better yet, have a pro come in and do an epoxy coat - we tried messing w/ this stuff on some pavers but it was very difficult to get smooth and looking acceptable.

Note: My personal opinion would be to definitely stay away from staining the top of the concrete. There are several other options that you would consider:

1. Adding pigment to the concrete mix.

2. Leaving a natural finish.

3. Having the surface polished.

 

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