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Looking for a reasonably inexpensive shop countertop that’s tough as hell and pretty easy to clean? TM reader PeterP wrote in with his answer: Gather some buddies and build the tops out of concrete. Starting with a set of instructions from Instructables, Peter and friends put together a pretty decent-looking countertop for their Atlanta-area makerspace.

Check out their website for the details (and lots of photos), but they essentially started with a form made of melamine sheet screwed together with drywall screws. Adding some chicken wire and rebar for reinforcement, they poured it full of Quikrete’s countertop mix. They polished the resulting slab with a low-buck air polisher from Harbor Freight. Finally, they sealed it up with a “wet look” concrete sealer from the local big box.

Again, check their makerspace site for lots of additional details, including how they sealed up the form, what they’d do for better reinforcement next time, and lots of tips on how to save yourself hassle. But as far as we’re concerned, this looks like a success: very little money spent, good times had by all, and a nice countertop to boot.

Concrete Countertop [Freeside Atlanta]

 

8 Responses to Concrete Countertops On The Cheap

  1. Meng Trondson says:

    Teets, brah. Nice countertop!

  2. IronHerder says:

    Nicely done, not a “yeah, but” anywhere.

    IronHerder

  3. Kurt says:

    What I really like the the commentary about how they would have done a particular step better, well done.

  4. Been extremely interested in this for a long time, thanks.
    i wish they had some mention of securing the top to wherever they mounted it.

  5. Paul says:

    We’ve got solid surface countertops, and the installer affixed them with puck of epoxy and at our island bar with a bead of silicon caulk along the steel plates installed for the cantilever. I’d assume concrete can be secured the same way.

  6. PeterP says:

    Thanks for all the nice comments!

    We actually used Liquid Nails to secure the concrete. There was a plywood counter already there, and minimal overhang, so it should be fairly secure.

  7. shotdog says:

    Zinc used in the galvanizing process reacts with the cement, creating hydrogen gas. This results in a poor bond, and as these guys found out, the hydrogen probably contributed to the rising of the chicken wire. sd

  8. FredP says:

    They mentioned that they had problems mixing the concrete and had to add more water, ending up with a soupy mix. That’s the single biggest mistake people make when working with concrete. You have to measure the water carefully and only (potentially) add extra to make the consistency correct, not to make sure all the concrete is wet.

    When mixing by hand, it seems like you’ll never get all the dry material wet with the small amount of water you’re supposed to add, but it *does* work. You just have to be patient and keep working the mix.

    Adding extra water weakens concrete. If it didn’t, then you could treat concrete like homeopathic medicine and build an entire skyscraper by using one bag of concrete and all the water needed to occupy the space of the building. Of course, at some point, the water will be gone and you’ll be left with the contents of 1 bag of concrete spread out of an entire skyscraper.

    Any extra water simply suspends the cement and aggregate further apart. When the water is gone, you still have only as much cement and aggregate as you started out with. Extra water in the mix means less dense and weaker finished concrete.

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