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Kitchen Countertops- Creating a Unique Look by Using Concrete

Jun 2, 2008
Concrete has become more and more popular over the past couple of years as a versatile countertop material. Not only is it long-lasting and versatile, but it can be poured to fit any space, and it can be stained or colored to match any kitchen style.

When it comes to creating your own concrete countertops, there are two methods to consider: The first is to pour the concrete directly on top of your new cabinets and hand trowel the surface; the second is to build molds for the countertops and pour the countertops off site. Pouring the countertops offsite has a lot of advantages including a smoother surface, less of a chance of damaging the cabinets, and more control over the curing process.

Before taking on the project of making your own concrete countertops, it is important to make sure that your cabinets will be able to support the overall weight of the concrete.. Concrete countertops tend to weigh between 12 and 22 pounds per square foot when they're poured at a thickness of two inches. Most higher quality cabinets that are made of plywood or solid wood can hold the weight... be careful of cabinets that are made of particleboard or fiberboard. If the cabinets are not strong enough themselves, you may have to using bracing or extra support to strengthen your cabinets.

With concrete countertops is very important to make sure that your measurements are accurate, especially since you will be building a template. There are two ways to create a template: trace the countertop base on an oversized piece of wood veneer or create a template by connecting strips of wood veneer. The template that you create should be the exact size of the countertop base or cabinet top and not the size of the countertop that will go on it. If you plan on using wood veneer strips, secure the strips to the surface of the cabinet top with the hand stapler. On corners, use a diagonal piece for extra support . If the template is particularly long or wide, add strips for cross supports. Score and snap off ends with the utility knife and square.

As you are building the template, it is important to think about where your seams and countertop overhangs will be positioned. If you have any sections that are going to be than about 7 or 8 feet, they are prone to cracking and can be difficult to move. You can reduce the chances for cracking by incorporating joints or seams in your countertop.

Countertop overhangs and the countertop lip that extends beyond the face of the countertop will add dimension between the face of the concrete and the face of the cabinet as well as prevent things from dripping onto the face of the cabinet. A good rule of thumb is to use a 3/4" overhang for your countertops.

Clearly mark the locations for the seams on your molds so that the pieces can be easily identified. You should also measure your countertop base again and write these measurements on the template to ensure accuracy. Once your template is complete, it is time to find a place to actually build your mold and pour the concrete. Since the concrete will require time to cure, it is important to pour the countertops in an area with limited exposure to tempurature changes and the weather.

When choosing the material to build your mold, use a material that will allow easy separation from the curing concrete. Once you have the mold built, use bathroom caulking to seal all of the edges of your mold. This will also allow you to slightly round over the edges, rather than having sharp edges and corners.
About the Author
I have been remodeling houses and rental properties for over 15 years. I have discovered the secret to saving thousands on kitchen cabinets. Find out my secret to buying wood cabinets at 30-40% below retail.
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