How to Successfully Build and Install a Concrete Counter Top

As an adventurous type, you’re the type of individual who’s excited to learn new things and take on new challenges.  You’re pretty handy on your own, so you’ve decided to take on the task of building and installing a concrete counter top.  Not only will it be fun for you, but your spouse will appreciate the new addition to your house.

 Here are the Steps to Install a Concrete Countertop

  1. Make sure your counter top can support concrete.  Before you begin anything, make sure the counter top you have constructed can support concrete, which can weigh between 12 and 22 pounds per square foot.  If the carpenter determines yours can’t, attach 3/4″ plywood sheets to the top of your cabinets.
  2. Transfer the templates.  This is actually a fairly tricky process by itself.  Basically, you’ll want to make sure the overhang is between 1/2″ and 3/4″.  Ensure that you mark the locations of seams and overhanging edges on your template.  Seams should be placed every  eight feet maximum to ensure cracking does not occur.
  3. Construct the mold.  Cut out the sides and bottom of the mold with a table saw.  The length of each side of the mold should measure the length of the bottom plus 2-3/4″.Be sure to pre-drill all holes and place screws near each corner.
  4. Seal and create edges.  Place blue painter’s on either side of each seam at the bottom and edges of the mold.  This helps create a uniform beveled edge.  Caulk using 100% silicone along all seams.  Prepare the worktable for pouring concrete while the silicone dries. Make sure it is perfectly level all ways.  Clean the mold you created thoroughly of any dust.
  5. Mix concrete and cut steel mesh. Allow your supplier to calculate the amount of concrete you need to pour.  Mix up the concrete per manufacturer recommendation.  Clean your steel mesh thoroughly with acetone or denatured alcohol.  Add steel mesh to your counter top, which adds strength and assists in preventing cracking.
  6. Pour concrete and set the mesh.  Now, pour your concrete into the molds you constructed. Spread it evenly throughout the mold.  When the mold is about half full, place the mesh within the concrete.
  7. Remove the mold and clean, sand, and seal the counter top.  Simply reverse the process you used to construct the mold.  Use a 10 part water to 1 part muriatic acid mixture to clean the concrete.  Sand the surface beginning with 120-grit sandpaper, then 180, and finally 220.  Use clean water to remove excess dust.  Finally, seal the counter top with a white rag saturated with sealer.  Allow the sealer to dry.
  8. Install your counter top.  Check to make sure your counter top is level.  If it’s not, make small shims to create a perfectly level surface.  Secure your counter top to the cabinet with large puddles of caulk approximately 4-6 inches apart.  Caulk all seams.  Use a concrete cleaning solution made of mild detergent and water and avoid using ammonia.

Finally, make sure to enjoy your new concrete counter top!  It’s a great excuse to have a party to show off how resourceful, environmental and unique your new kitchen is. You could be the envy of the neighborhood as your neighbors see how inexpensive and easy it is to install and maintain this feature.

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