DIY $2 Concrete Bookends

Justin Wray
by Justin Wray
4 Materials
24 Hours

Looking for a project from items you have laying around at home? That’s what I was doing! I wanted some bookends for a shelf I have, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, so I started googling and came across some similar to these from Crate and Barrel, they were so expensive! I tried to recreate them for pennies, these cost about $2!

A fun way to use up some concrete from past projects! 😊

Cardboard “Molds“

What’s better than getting to repurpose trash? 🤣 I knew these boxes would be the perfect size for me to use and I got to eat the pop tarts, a little added bonus! 🤗

Cut The Top Off
Concrete Time!

Now for the fun part! Start by mixing a regular batch of concrete. Add just enough water to get a paste like consistency. I didn’t really measure it, I kinda just added water a little by little. Take the regular batch and fill the box about 2 inches deep. That will be our first layer! Try and not have it be too watery because the cardboard will absorb the water and become mush. We need it to be able to stand for 24hrs!

Top Layers

For the next two layers, I wanted to create some contrast, so I mixed in a little paint. 😊 Using what was left from our first batch, I mixed in a little black paint. I kept adding paint until I liked the color. I added this right on top of the first layer! After, I washed my bucket and started another batch this time adding white paint. I topped off the “molds” with this final batch! This was fun and easy, a great project to entertain children and adults. 😄

Make sure you scrape the excess off the top to create a flat base!

The Reveal

Let the concrete dry for 24hrs before you start to peel off the cardboard! This was the hard part for an impatient person like me. 😂 I found out it helps to wet the paper before you try to get it off. Just make sure the concrete is dry before you do!


I’m not going to lie, after I took the paper off, I wasn’t too impressed. I realized I hadn’t added enough water to my first layer so it looked super different than the other two. What to do, what to do? I thought, hey why not make them look like natural stone? I decided I would try to create the texture of stone on the top. This was super fun! To get the rough edge, I took a hammer and went to town! I chipped off the concrete until I liked the look. 😁

Sealed and Ready to Go

Once I pummeled the tops to where I liked them 🤣, I sealed them with a coat of Polycrylic Satin from Minwax. This really helps to prevent dust and pieces from falling off. It also gives it a nice shine. 😊

The Finished Product

I love them!! These came out so much better then I thought! And to think, I almost gave up at one point. 😂 The perfect little addition to my bookcase. Simple, easy and cheap.. the best. 😊 I hope this inspires you to create your own DIY concrete bookends! Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @justinwray for weekly DIY. 🖤

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2 of 18 comments
  • Mary Howard Mary Howard on Jul 15, 2020

    I like your piece. As I read thru and followed your explanation, I thought of some colors I would like to add to it at different intervals. Great Piece!!!!

  • S S on Mar 24, 2021

    Cool beans, hot rice! Good job!