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Thread: Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.

  1. #1
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    Default Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.

    I had planned on soapstone or granite for the NH countertops but with retiring early I will certainly have more time than money. I have seen some pretty nice concrete counters and think I may give that a shot for the kitchen here. There are a couple small sections I can start with to get the procedure down, of course if I use dyes I will have to make sure I get mix ratios right to get consistent color.

    So, pour in place?
    Make melamine forms and pour upside down?
    Buy edge forms for pouring in place?

    Seems to be a lot of ways of going about it. Not sure i will get to it this summer, but something nicer than the current osb with picnic table vinyl over it would be nice at some point, lol.
    Tom

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    Default Re: Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.


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    Default Re: Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.

    Never done it but plan to one day.

    I think if you pour right side up, you will spend a fair amount on grinders and diamond pads. I think it is a wet and messy process. But you get some nice surfaces. Cut through some of the stones Looks good.

    Upside down is smooth. Seems like a lot less finish work. But you have to move them. So they need to be thicker. More of a plain surface. I guess you could still grind it down to get a better surface. Can embed stuff on the surface. And can make fancy embedded drain areas.

    There are some fancy proprietary mixes with fibers and other magic that allow for a thin, strong pour. Pricey.

    Lots and lots of videos. They all look like a lot of work.

    I ended up going with honed marble 12”x12” squares. 500% less work. A lot less expensive than the one piece options. I don’t mind the grout lines. They make soapstone and granite tiles, etc.

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    Default Re: Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.

    There was a thread on here sometime back somebody was making some, I think they turned out good. Maybe a search will show you where it was. I really don't remember who or when, of course I don't remember much any more.
    "para todo mal, mezcal, y para todo bien también" (for everything bad, mezcal, and for everything good, as well.)

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    Default Re: Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.

    Seems like you'd break a lot of glasses and plates on the hard surface.
    We're merely mammals. Let's misbehave! —Cole Porter

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    Default Re: Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.

    I saw this custom concrete sink/counter on a job site recently. Kinda funky.

    4E5DE75F-DEEE-4ED5-880D-54684A0BA76B.jpg


    7F54A053-1740-42D3-B3A5-964D547E34D4.jpg

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    Default Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip-skiff View Post
    Seems like you'd break a lot of glasses and plates on the hard surface.

    I have had granite for 22 years in GA. Has not been an issue.


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    Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by StevenBauer View Post
    I saw this custom concrete sink/counter on a job site recently. Kinda funky.

    4E5DE75F-DEEE-4ED5-880D-54684A0BA76B.jpg


    7F54A053-1740-42D3-B3A5-964D547E34D4.jpg

    That is kinda funky. Mine won’t be that far out. Looks like good work though.


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    Tom

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    I'm of the mindset make them upside down on melamine or other super smooth material. Highly recommend you use the cement products marketed for this particular application they're almost not like concrete but the word can still be applied,. And styrofoam board can be inserted to eliminate some of the mass,. Edge treatments are the critical part and it's all about preparation
    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

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    Default Re: Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.

    And they used to put steel (or maybe iron) filings in concrete. I knew a fellow who did that for a gas station garage floor. He said it made for a very hard durable floor.

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    Default Re: Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.

    I just took out 60 sq.ft. of concrete countert ops in our kitchen. They were installed ten years ago when our LEED house was built by Arbor South Architects. They used it as a show house and then an office for 6 years. Why did I take them out? The black color was put on the concrete tops after they were dry and then a clear sealer on top. When we bought the house two years ago, if you put a piece of tape on the tops, when you took it off all the black would come with it...along with the crappy sealer. Needless to say the tops were not sanitary or pleasing to look at. When I took them out, I was amazed that there was no structural strength...the material broke up in small pieces with a 16 oz. hammer..no wire of steel reinforcing material. The were 1 1/2" thick.
    I would suggest this outfit....https://concretecountertopinstitute....ning-overview/ New materials and info for making strong good looking tops....not like the ones we had.

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    Default Re: Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wilkinson View Post
    I have had granite for 22 years in GA. Has not been an issue.


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    I have a bias against hard surfaces for countertops and kitchen floors. So... grain of salt.

    I don't like them because they're not forgiving. I much prefer corian, p.lam, paper/phenolic, or wood (in certain portions).

    And Tom... having watched a number of folks 'age in place'... I can tell you that you're NOT gonna get more graceful, careful, or coordinated.

    But I've done concrete countertops. First time - a longtime customer was willing to take a chance on my getting it right, though I was hesitant. Turned out fine. I bought a book. Followed the directions. Formed and poured in place. Too many tales of breakage otherwise. It's a brittle, fragile material when thin - even with mesh reinforcement. They are notorious for fracturing in the skinny bits just fore & aft of the sink cutout. That's often the first sign of a slab that's not evenly supported. Esp. a concern if you poured it remotely, then installed. But can happen if there's any settling. And there can be... that stuff is heavy. And it really doesn't flex if there's any movement.

    It's easier to learn the skills for tile work, and get it right... if you really must insist on a too-hard surface <G>
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    Default Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.

    Haven't done them but these books by Fu-tung Chen are reputed to be good.

    https://www.amazon.com/Concrete-Coun.../dp/1561584843

    https://www.amazon.com/Concrete-Home.../dp/156158682X

    https://www.amazon.com/Concrete-Coun.../dp/1561588822

    This is his architecture firm in Berkeley : https://www.chengdesign.com

    This is his concrete countertop/furniture/whatever biz. Take a look at the galley.

    http://www.concreteexchange.com



    [can you tell I've been thinking on this?]
    Last edited by Nicholas Carey; 07-22-2020 at 12:51 AM.
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    Default Re: Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.

    i did some last year for my outdoor grilling table. i did the upside down method since i don't possess any fine concrete finishing skills. they turned out pretty good for what i needed them to be. if i spent a little more time and effort (and money) i could have made them look good enough to put inside the house (though my wife would NEVER allow that). best advice i got when doing mine was to use the concrete thinning powder. it makes the mix really fluid without adding any extra water (adding water to thin it makes it weak). just note, they're VERY HEAVY. so if you do the upside down method you have to move them in place. if you're good at getting a slick finish, i would pour in place.

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    Default Re: Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.




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    Default Re: Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.

    I watched an old West Indian guy doing one in a bar.
    He just kept broadcasting small amounts of dry cement to the hardening countertop and working working working it in with the occasional spritz of H2O.
    I recon it's all on Youtube, but it was facinating to watch .

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    Default Re: Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.

    I've done multiple concrete tops. Yes, they're heavy. So what? Just get a couple of friends, keep the sizes manageable, and think it through. Yes, they're a hard surface. But we haven't broken all that much on ours. Things break sometimes. That's life. Concrete is no harder than granite. The biggest drawback is that concrete is susceptible to acids. That means keep lemon and lime juice off of it! Lime juice will begin to etch it right now. Wine is slower to damage but wipe it up soon. Place an open bottle of wine, that may drip down the side, on a mat or a plate. The concrete can stain from oils, etc. None of these things bother us. Surfaces age, so do I. Live with it.

    The material is dirt cheap. I cast onto melamine forms that I make. I've done a few poured in place jobs but my concrete finishing skills are not great. They're not even good when compared to a pro concrete guy. Besides, I want the surfaces as flat as I can get them and no concrete finisher is going to make them flatter than a well supported sheet of melamine. Or, for a deluxe job... use polished Formica or other p-lam but it will likely cost you a lot more. The polishing tools are not too unreasonable in cost anymore. And they're fairly available. You'll need a place to work that can get wet. A floor drain is really nice but I did the work for my kitchen in my shop that does not have a floor drain. I built a dam around the work area and used a wet vac to suck up the water.

    There's much more to tell and I'm happy to share what I know. Perhaps a PM if you want.

    Some photos:

    Our kitchen. The concrete was dyed green using Davis Pigments. There's a lot to say about dying concrete.
    IMGP5791.jpg


    I'm polishing in my shop. The top is part of the sink area. I split the top around the sink. By the way, my tops are 1 1/2" thick and reinforced with mesh and some small rebar. I use a 5000 pound mix I buy from the big box and boost it with more cement to get more strength and a smoother/harder surface.
    IMGP5691.jpg

    Moving the top. Two guys can pick it up. Carry it on edge. Work together. I've never broken one.
    IMGP5709.jpg

    Jeff

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    Default Re: Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.

    Why? Are they like a driveway?

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    Default Re: Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.

    Will somebody please tell me what's the ****ing point of a concrete or stone countertop?? WHY??? Why not gold? Galvanized steel plate? Glass? Preserved whale blubber? Ground sparkly pink unicorn horns? They're wildly expensive, hard to make and install, a PIA to take care of, instantly break any dish that's dropped on them, and IMHO don;t look any better than half a dozen more practical materials. WHY?? Fashion? Because you can? Bragging rights? "Yes, I hopped to the grocery store on one foot, tearing up ten dollar bills on the way! Ain't it amazing?"

    Sorry, enough of the rant; just a pet peeve.
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    Default Re: Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Wilson View Post
    Will somebody please tell me what's the ****ing point of a concrete or stone countertop?? WHY??? Why not gold? Galvanized steel plate? Glass? Preserved whale blubber? Ground sparkly pink unicorn horns? They're wildly expensive, hard to make and install, a PIA to take care of, instantly break any dish that's dropped on them, and IMHO don;t look any better than half a dozen more practical materials. WHY?? Fashion? Because you can? Bragging rights? "Yes, I hopped to the grocery store on one foot, tearing up ten dollar bills on the way! Ain't it amazing?"

    Sorry, enough of the rant; just a pet peeve.
    Cheap to make... if you do it yourself.

    Not cheaper than Formica or WilsonArt, but certainly cheaper than stone or the fancy high-tech composites. And you can make it look really interesting.

    Silestone ("engineered quartz") or granite can be $50 to $100 per square foot.

    Richlite (laminated paper/phenolic resin composite — think Micarta) is, IIRC, about the same as Silestone.

    Corian is a little cheaper... $45 to $65 per square foot.

    Soapstone? Try $70 to $120 per square foot.

    Slate slabs? North of $100 per square foot.

    https://countertopguides.com/guides/...tops-cost.html

    https://www.remodelingcosts.org/countertop-costs/

    Here you go:

    1 in x 30 in x 14 foot Paperstone (paper/phenolic composite like Richlite)... a mere $1,963. $65/square foot.

    https://www.greenbuildingsupply.com/...led-Countertop

    Even if you drop $300-$400 on a wet concrete polisher and rent a stinger to vibrate the concrete for your countertop, you're still going to come in way under what this stuff costs retail.
    Last edited by Nicholas Carey; 07-22-2020 at 04:37 PM.
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    Default Re: Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.

    I know a wealthy MD who has a concrete countertop in his kitchen. The blotchy greenish color is undistinguished in the extreme. It's smoother than a driveway, which is something, I guess.

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    Default Re: Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.

    OK, DIY concrete is cheaper than granite or marble, if labor intensive. WTF is wrong with laminate? Light, forgiving, easy to work with, impervious to almost any chemical known to man, maintenance consists of wiping off the spilled sauce, lasts almost forever, and what - at most 1/4 the cost of the cheapest minerals? No bragging rights, granted.

    FWIW, I've designed giant machines to make laminate countertops, so I know that stuff pretty intimately. But I'd rant exactly the same way if I'd never been in a laminate factory.
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    for nature cannot be fooled."

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    Default Re: Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Wilson View Post
    OK, DIY concrete is cheaper than granite or marble, if labor intensive. WTF is wrong with laminate? Light, forgiving, easy to work with, impervious to almost any chemical known to man, maintenance consists of wiping off the spilled sauce, lasts almost forever, and what - at most 1/4 the cost of the cheapest minerals? No bragging rights, granted.

    FWIW, I've designed giant machines to make laminate countertops, so I know that stuff pretty intimately. But I'd rant exactly the same way if I'd never been in a laminate factory.
    Umm, I just don't like it?? I've been very happy with granite, not sure what's not to like really. The only downside so far is that it's hard and you break stufF?? Gotta say it's never been an issue.
    I like the look of some of the concrete and soapstone counters. Is that reason enough?
    Tom

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    No bragging rights, granted.

    ^

    That's it right there. Bragging may imply the wrong thing; its also pride and pleasure.

    Like: Why varnish when paint is so much easier to accomplish and maintain?

    Answer: Want, not need.


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    Default Re: Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Wilson View Post
    Will somebody please tell me what's the ****ing point of a concrete or stone countertop?? WHY??? Why not gold? Galvanized steel plate? Glass? Preserved whale blubber? Ground sparkly pink unicorn horns? They're wildly expensive, hard to make and install, a PIA to take care of, instantly break any dish that's dropped on them, and IMHO don;t look any better than half a dozen more practical materials. WHY?? Fashion? Because you can? Bragging rights? "Yes, I hopped to the grocery store on one foot, tearing up ten dollar bills on the way! Ain't it amazing?"

    Sorry, enough of the rant; just a pet peeve.
    One can put an asphalt overlay over it. That softens the surface up in case of dropping a cup. It also does a reasonable job of repairing chips in the concrete.

    I don't understand why people spend money either.
    Life is complex.

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    Default Re: Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.

    Some seem to have been cooped up for too long.

    Breathe.

    Jeff

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    Default Re: Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Wilson View Post
    Will somebody please tell me what's the ****ing point of a concrete or stone countertop?? WHY??? Why not gold? Galvanized steel plate? Glass? Preserved whale blubber? Ground sparkly pink unicorn horns? They're wildly expensive, hard to make and install, a PIA to take care of, instantly break any dish that's dropped on them, and IMHO don;t look any better than half a dozen more practical materials. WHY?? Fashion? Because you can? Bragging rights? "Yes, I hopped to the grocery store on one foot, tearing up ten dollar bills on the way! Ain't it amazing?"

    Sorry, enough of the rant; just a pet peeve.
    coffee tastes better on a handmade counter

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    Default Re: Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.

    A friend of mine did terrazzo counters by himself, they came out spectacular. White cement or concrete, with bits of various colored glass throughout, he was asking us to save colored glass bottles for him. I don't know exactly how he poured and then polished them flat. I haven't seen him in a few years but let me know if you need info and I'll try to contact him.
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    Default Re: Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Wilson View Post
    OK, DIY concrete is cheaper than granite or marble, if labor intensive. WTF is wrong with laminate? Light, forgiving, easy to work with, impervious to almost any chemical known to man, maintenance consists of wiping off the spilled sauce, lasts almost forever, and what - at most 1/4 the cost of the cheapest minerals? No bragging rights, granted.

    FWIW, I've designed giant machines to make laminate countertops, so I know that stuff pretty intimately. But I'd rant exactly the same way if I'd never been in a laminate factory.
    Stone-like materials: Aesthetics. Couth. Don't burn when a lit candle falls out of the Hannu Mikkola Diane Venora. Laminates work, but have the same appeal as "wraps" on a car, at least to me. And delaminate or melt if you put a hot pot on them. Not stone-like? Stainless steel (which I suppose could be considered a laminate). Tough as nails, can just sand or scotch-brite it to restore the finish.

    EDIT: HOWEVER, there's a 70' cold molded sailboat in these parts, fairly new, spectacular, carbon everything include helm wheels, and at the last minute in the build, the new owner/spouse decided they wanted granite countertops inside. They had to repaint the waterline, at least that's what I was told.
    Last edited by Bob (oh, THAT Bob); 07-23-2020 at 12:43 AM.
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    Default Re: Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob (oh, THAT Bob) View Post
    Stone-like materials: Aesthetics. Couth. Don't burn when a lit candle falls out of the Hannu Mikkola Diane Venora. Laminates work, but have the same appeal as "wraps" on a car, at least to me. And delaminate or melt if you put a hot pot on them. Not stone-like? Stainless steel (which I suppose could be considered a laminate). Tough as nails, can just sand or scotch-brite it to restore the finish.
    We've also done both copper and zinc tops. They have their appeal, for sure. Though price is not one of them.

    And paying a pro to do concrete is not a cheap option either.

    Oh, and don't discount p.lam (Formica, etc.) too quickly for aesthetic reasons. It's amazing the variety of patterns they offer and the things being done with it. 'Taint the 1950's anymore. <G>
    David G
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    Default Re: Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.

    Quote Originally Posted by jpatrick View Post
    Some seem to have been cooped up for too long.

    Breathe.

    Jeff
    Agreed.

    Your kitchen looks great. Thanks for the input. The layout I have gives me ample room to make the countertop in manageable sections weight wise. Thinking the melamine forms are the way to go. I have one of chens books back home in GA. I'll pull it out when I head back for a couple days.
    Tom

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    Default Re: Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.

    I've always lived with laminate countertops, but we've got some granite in the shed we picked up cheap from a restaurant reno that didn't happen, which will go on the kitchen's horizontal surfaces in our next big reno project.

    Laminate .. eventually de-laminates. Maybe not the super-duper high end stuff (which we've never had), but in the mid consumer-grades it feels like a decade of use is pretty good innings. Our present kitchen is about 12 years old, and some vulnerable parts of the laminate surfaces are buggered. Not most of the counter tops, but the vulnerable parts.

    For me, for all that stone is loud, hard, cold, expensive, and difficult to work ... it's also got at least the potential to outlive me in a still useful form by a few million years. Not so with laminate, for all of its other admitted virtues.
    If I use the word "God," I sure don't mean an old man in the sky who just loves the occasional goat sacrifice. - Anne Lamott

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    Default Re: Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.

    This one is made of GFRC ( you know glass fiber....), it's a long commercial but it shows how it's done.

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    Default Re: Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.

    Quote Originally Posted by TomF View Post
    I've always lived with laminate countertops, but we've got some granite in the shed we picked up cheap from a restaurant reno that didn't happen, which will go on the kitchen's horizontal surfaces in our next big reno project.

    Laminate .. eventually de-laminates. Maybe not the super-duper high end stuff (which we've never had), but in the mid consumer-grades it feels like a decade of use is pretty good innings. Our present kitchen is about 12 years old, and some vulnerable parts of the laminate surfaces are buggered. Not most of the counter tops, but the vulnerable parts.

    For me, for all that stone is loud, hard, cold, expensive, and difficult to work ... it's also got at least the potential to outlive me in a still useful form by a few million years. Not so with laminate, for all of its other admitted virtues.
    The super-duper high end stuff is still cheap.

    Home Depot has Post-Formed counters (the really cheap stuff with the molded backsplash) for about $7/sf.

    My Wilsonart dealer has PLam in two lines, the Standard and the Premium.

    Standard line laminate is about $2.30/sf, while the super-duper high end stuff is about $3.30.

    Using a hardwood edge on the front of the counter doubles longevity, as the wood protects the edge of the laminate from impact.

    At those prices, you can give yourself new counters every 7-10 years and never spend as much as for Granite in a life time.

    Anyway, I'm glad you scored some good counters, and I hope they get installed with no fuss.

    John T
    Rattling the teacups.

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    Default Re: Concrete countertops??? Who has done them.

    my outdoor tops were pretty cheap. and since they were outdoors, the concrete just made more sense. i spent about $40 on the wood to make the forms and about $60 on concrete and wire. since my labor is free (aka worthless) that was a pretty good deal for the results.

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