When my husband and I became homeowners, everything in the house was pretty up to date and in working condition. However, I wanted to change things immediately. I painted the bedroom the same day we closed on the house. My husband and I painted the kitchen the following day. We were excited and ready to make this place our own. Plus, renting apartments for years and having nothing but plain white walls drove me nuts! Must have color!
One of our kitchens was fairly new and needed no work (except for color). Yes, I said one. We have a kitchen in our basement “family room”. My first instinct was to take the kitchen out and build a bar. Then we had our first party and used the second oven. It was a life saver. We tossed out the window the idea of removing the kitchen and decided to take some time and figure out what we could do to make the kitchen nicer.
The kitchen was not up to date, nor overly attractive. It was not nice looking and it drove me bonkers. We painted the “hospital” cabinets first. That made a huge difference. Finally, I decided that I had to do something about those god awful laminate countertops. I am a huge Pinterest fan and get lots of ideas from the site. I started looking around at concrete countertops. Not only do they look cool, they’re practical. They are cheaper to make than buying a countertop and they are durable. A lot of what I was finding seemed like a long, complicated process. Ripping the countertops out, building a frame, mixing cement and pouring multiple times. Drying time varied from a day to a few days. This seemed like a lot of work for not a lot of space. It also would have cost around $150-200.
Thank god for Pinterest and so many creative people. Instead of removing our countertops, which I am fairly certain would have ruined our cabinets, I found a few DIYer’s who used a cement material and literally layered onto of the old countertops. Brilliant! I was dead set on doing it this way and I also bet my husband I could do this project for under $60. He was skeptical. I would like to toot my own horn — toot toot. I did this project for $52. Not including the sealer which I have yet to apply to the counters. I will explain that later.
So here is how I did it:
- Henry Feather Finish (this is the cement) Home Depot carries this brand for $16. I had more than enough for my project.
- Plastic putty knives – Home Depot has a three pack, all different sizes. I only used the large and medium sizes.
- Fan and or hairdryer
- Sand paper – two types of grit. 120 and 80
- Sand the heck out of the countertops. Make it as rough as you can. If you can’t get it real rough with the sand paper, I found that a utility knife worked just as well.
- Before mixing the cement, wipe down the counter to remove dust. Mix cement according to box directions. We had to fiddle around with the water ratio – generally adding more water. You don’t want a runny texture, more peanut butter like. Also, a tip I got from Designer Trapped was to only make what you need for one layer. The cement will harden and make things tough. This was one of the best tips!
- Get ready and plop some of that cement down. Spread in even strokes. It is OK if it doesn’t cover all the counter on the first go around. I did 5 layers.
- Give the counter about 30 mins to dry before lightly sanding and adding the next layer. I got impatient and used a fan and hair dryer. That worked and cut off a few minutes. I frankly felt more productive than sitting and watching it dry….
- Sand lightly any big imperfections. Big bumps and lumps.
- Repeat with the concrete layers and sanding process.
- A tip on the applying concert on edges: Use your fingers. The small putty knife seems like its a good tool, but I found it to not work as well. You can apply the cement with the knife, but smooth it out with your fingers (especially the edges).
- Once all layers are complete, let the counters dry, at least 30 days. Cement holds in moisture. Then you can seal the countertops with a water based acrylic sealer.
If there was a difficult part, the sink area was that. We didn’t want to remove the sink so we detached it from underneath and used plastic water bottle caps to hold it up enough so it wasn’t sitting flush on the countertop. Yes, I got cement on the sink. Try and wipe as soon as you see it, if not you can scrape it off.
Before and after photos.
Final product without the sealer. I left some imperfections because I think it looks good.
I am currently on the search for the correct acrylic sealer. Home Depot doesn’t have one that would work. Once I find and apply the sealer, I will update!