How to Get the Concrete Countertop Look For Less

9 Materials
$80
5 Days
Medium

...And without removing your current countertops!


I always wanted concrete countertops, but what I didn’t want was to have to pour them myself.


That requires quite a bit of work. Usually, you have to build a custom mold, take lots of steps to ensure your concrete cures correctly, and spend a decent amount of money and time in the process.


Not to mention poured countertops are heavy and could cause damage if your floors or cabinets aren't properly supported.


I wanted to skip most of those steps but still figure out a way to get the look!


So I dug into some options and realized that you could actually coat your current countertops in concrete.


SOLD.


My laundry room countertops were a thick, dated laminate. I wanted to replace them so badly. But a stone counter would have cost us way too much, and poured concrete counters would have been such a hassle.


This option was perfect – inexpensive and just a few days from start to finish.

Before...

MEASUREMENTS, MATERIALS, & PREP


For reference, the countertop I was looking to cover was about 7 feet long and 2 feet wide.


And here’s what I used…


  1. 2 packages of Henry’s Feather Finished Underlayment Patch & Skim Coat Mix
  2. 1 can of Clear Matte Water-Based Interior Polyurethane
  3. Broad putty knife
  4. 4″ putty knife
  5. 2 mixing buckets
  6. Linen white chalk paint
  7. Sandpaper
  8. Soft paintbrush
  9. Staining pads


Once I had all my materials, I got to work cleaning and sanding my countertops!


PREP YOUR COUNTERTOPS


First things first, clean your countertops really well! Get all the grime, dust, and dirt off of them.


Then, grab some sandpaper or an electric sander and sand them down just a little bit. I just did a quick sanding on mine to create a surface in which the concrete could stick a little easier.

MIX YOUR CONCRETE & ICE YOUR COUNTERTOPS WITH CONCRETE


I learned some lessons with this step, especially considering this particular type of concrete starts to set in just about 15-20 minutes.


I suggested 2 mixing buckets above for a reason! What I learned on my very last layer of concrete was that for my size countertops, it worked best when I divided my concrete mix into two buckets.


I then mixed my water into one bucket and used it first around the sides and more time-consuming areas of the counters.


Once that started to set, I put that bucket aside, added water to my new bucket to mix up a fresh batch of concrete, and spread that across my larger, flatter areas (these areas go faster).


I used my putty knives to spread my concrete in a thin but not too thin layer across the counters, allowing there to be some variations and strokes here and there. I wanted my countertops to look a little rustic and worn in the end.


You’ll get the hang of this quickly – I kept telling my husband it was just like icing a cake!


After you wrap up your first layer, leave it alone for about 12-24 hours or until it’s nice and dry, then you’ll want to grab some sandpaper and sand down any rough edges, bumps, and markings you want to get rid of!


Once it’s sanded and smooth to your liking, repeat!


I did 3 total layers of concrete and sanded in between each!


A FEW QUICK TIPS HERE


Wash your buckets and putty knives off well each night. The reason you need multiple buckets is that once your concrete sets, it won’t become spreadable again just by adding water. So if you try to mix a new batch of concrete in a used bucket with hardening concrete, be prepared for some issues!


Depending on the size of your countertops, you might want to mix in small batches at a time to cover smaller areas at a time. Since mine were pretty small, it was easy for me to get them done in two batches of concrete before they started to set, but that might not work for you!


I chose to sand by hand to have more control over what I was taking off, but an electric sander would work too. Just be careful not to take too much off the edges!


I taped around the walls, cabinets, and sink to do this, but my tape ended up getting stuck in the dried concrete. It was such a pain to get out. I’m not telling you NOT to tape… but maybe just maybe you could save yourself the time and trouble by using caution around edges and foregoing the tape OR taking the tape off while the concrete is still wet and retaping each day.

WHITEWASH YOUR CONCRETE (OPTIONAL)


Once my third layer was nice and dry and sanded down, I decided that I wanted to whitewash my counters so they could look a little more aged and worn.


I grabbed some of my Linen White chalk paint and poured some in a bucket. I diluted it with a lot of water (about a 1:1 ratio of paint to water).


Then I grabbed a staining pad and slowly brushed on the whitewash mixture, then wiped it off with the dry side of the staining pad.


I did one layer of this over the entire countertop and let it soak in. The more it soaked in and dried, the more I loved it!


SEAL, SEAL, & SEAL AGAIN


Once the counter was totally dry, I started sealing with my poly in a matte finish! Matte finish was key here — the last thing I wanted was for my concrete to look all glossy when it was all said and done.


So I grabbed my poly and a soft paintbrush and put a nice thick layer on it. This poly dries pretty quickly, but I always like to give my poly ample time to dry and cure before I add the next coats. So I let this dry about 8 hours between coats.


I ended up doing 4 total coats of poly, but you may want to do more or less depending on how high traffic your countertops will be! I made sure to seal a little extra around areas that would get wet like the sink. You don’t want water seeping in there and discoloring your pretty concrete!


I always like to let my poly cure for about 24 hours once I’m finished just to make sure it’s all set, then you can start using it, setting things on it, etc.!

After!

And that’s really it! This was a pretty simple project, and it was the perfect way to hide those not-so-pretty laminate countertops that were here before, don’t you think?


Plus all in all, it only cost us about $50 in materials since we already had most of this on hand! But even if you needed to purchase all the materials, none of them are overly pricey!

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 8 questions
  • Kim Campbell
    Kim Campbell
    on Dec 24, 2020

    Would this work on tiles? I have a tile countertop with grout in between the tiles. The tiles are about 2 by 2 inches

  • Kim Campbell
    Kim Campbell
    on Dec 27, 2020

    Would this work on tiles? I have a tile countertop with grout in between the tiles. The tiles are about 2 by 2 inches

  • Judy
    Judy
    7 days ago

    Your countertops have a sharp corner edge. Mine are rounded on the edges. Will the concrete work to make it a sharp edge? I'm afraid it would just chip off if I tried to build it up.

Join the conversation

3 of 13 comments
  • Aimee
    Aimee
    on Dec 20, 2020

    I love how you make this look easy! The counter tops turned out beautifully!

  • Mary E Rosson Woods
    Mary E Rosson Woods
    on Dec 24, 2020

    Your countertop is beautiful. But I have blown on concrete walls. EVERY room in my house! I hate them. It’s so hard trying to hang pictures, etc. The walls were already this way when I bought my house. I didn’t realize what a “pain” they are. So far, nothing that the local home improvement stores have told me anything that works. It’s very frustrating.

    • LorriLJ
      LorriLJ
      on Jan 10, 2021

      Try glueing a 1" x 2" piece of wood cut to size of the picture on the wall where you want to hang something. Contractors glue works great. Mark the board on the wall then sand any paint or finish in that area. Wash thoroughly then allow to dry completely. Apply the glue to the board and set in place. Use tape to keep it snug against the wall. Let it set for 72 hours. Remove the tape and set your nails or screws in the board. Be sure to not use screws or nails that will go all the way through.

      Cheers.

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