230) White Concrete Kitchen Countertops

by Gail on May 23, 2017

Listen to my story. It’s a long one. Seven years, in fact.

This is after:

This is before:

Notice the plywood countertops. They are seven years old. They were ‘temporary’.

I referred to this exercise to give me courage.

Then this one, two years later, to give me confidence.

In the end – and I mean the end, because with this step, This Green House is really, truly, officially finished – it took the encouragement of a whole team to get us here.

Our kitchen countertops are done! At the risk of rude-yelling-in-caps, I say again, OUR KITCHEN COUNTERTOPS ARE DONE!

Here’s how it went down:

Weekend Number One, four intrepid young people rode their bikes to the ferry, then relaxed for the 40-minute ferry ride. Then, they hit the ground running, like this:

First, I drew a rough line on the tops of the plywood to indicate where the seams should be.

The countertop slaves tore out the plumbing and electrical, then unscrewed the plywood countertops/forms.Leaving our poor defenseless kitchen looking like this:

For more details on the HOW, go back to this exercise. The main difference was that we did not place beach glass in the molds.

The countertops molds were, as before, based on the existing countertops installed by our fantastic cabinet-maker, Vincent Lang. They were made from finished birch plywood, and we were able to use them as the base for our forms. We first filled and sanded the plywood cracks and holes.

Pay attention to that seam, if you’re interested, because it presents a problem later.

We (and I mean the Royal We for the whole process) added the edges of melamine, and a tin “seam” to make the three separate countertops into six more manageable pieces. We cut the tin on the table saw.

You’ll notice it’s getting dark here. The pressure was on to get the molds completely ready, so that the silicone would be dry the next morning for the “pour”. 

We just packed (and packed, and packed) the ‘dry’ concrete into these cumbersome molds.

And we left it to cure for 12 days (except for the small section we had to get 2 more bags of concrete mix for in the city – that only cured for 4 days.)

Weekend Number Two, six strongwo/men rode their bikes/cars to the ferry, then relaxed for the 40-minute ferry ride, then did this:

With the wet grinder, Mike ground off any high points we found on the underside.

Then “we” unmolded:

This is unbelievably scary. Unmolding. See that stain above? That was where we used wood filler. Who knew? Later, I’ll point out how it looked after we worked to repair it. As before, we got this disappointing result:

We had to make the best of a bad situation. We ground the slurry off the concrete with the wet stone polisher.

Got this (bland and uninteresting):

I LOVE the photo above – it is shows how this particular group of people discuss when they’re problem-solving: rational and respectful of each other’s skills and thought processes. For the record, most of them are engineers – that helps!

We spent hours and hours filling and grinding and filling and grinding and filling and grinding and filling and grinding.

Wore out the sanding pads before the job was done, and replacements were not available on our coast without a ferry ride to the city.

We had to use too coarse a grit, and even resorted to regular sandpaper for some steps. It would have been much more efficient and given us a smoother finish, to have an additional rented grinder for this big task, but none was available on the coast, and we had to get done before the strong people had to leave.

The concrete had no character. This is what I was hoping for:

So, trepidatious as I was, with the help of my brave artist crew, we painted fake marble with black and brown oxides, keeping it understated and subtle.

Ridiculously happy with its new look.

Colleen sealed it with 2 coats of Broda Clarity. The section she’s working on below is the filler-stained one – see how we managed to camouflage it? And THEN,  the strong men and women just lifted those 700-lb concrete slabs, carried them up the driveway and into the house.

Super-scary. Will they fit?

They did! We cheered! We drank a toast!

We had to level the countertops with shims.

Then, decided that we didn’t need any adhesive to keep them there.

Colleen and Alice sealed the front crack with black silicone. The crew, sans Liam, who had to catch a ferry home, reinstalled the sinks, cleaned everything, including the garage and driveway, moved the stove back, and all the lower drawers.

Then they went home, and I was lonely. I applied two more coats of sealer.

The next day, I attempted to fill the seams.

Oh, my! That proved difficult. All the advice suggested silicone, because it has flex for the inevitable movement. But the silicone choices are white, brown, black and grey. Not StarPatch white countertop sand-colour. I tried white with the off-white filler powder over it. Did not work. I gave it a time-out to improve its behaviour.

Came back several days later, and decided to mix white silicone with grey mortar silicone. I think it worked – anyway, it looks much better than stark white.

So that’s my 7-year-long story. Thanks for listening.

Just for the record, here are the costs for a 47 square foot countertop.

14 bags countertop mix and box of filler:   $420.00

Rental cement mixer: $50

Mold-building material (melamine shelving and screws): $48

Silicone: $48

Grinding pads: $?

TOTAL ~ $600 (12.75 per square foot) and about 160 wo/man hours

In truth, I don’t think concrete is a very green material, especially since we can’t use fly ash, a waste material, instead of the lime in concrete, as we did for house construction. One of those occasional green dilemmas that have plagued me over the course of this project.

Late breaking news: According to 5 Kitchen Design Trends that Buyers Hate, DIY concrete countertops are one of those. I’m just glad that I’ve never cared about trends at This Green House.

Sharing with these generous blog parties: The Essence of Home, Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olsen, Home and Garden Thursday, Sundays at Home, Amaze Me Monday, Rustic and Refined, That DIY Party, Coastal Charm, A Stroll Thru Life, Savvy Southern Style

 

 

 

 

 

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Joy May 24, 2017 at 1:34 pm

What a great team! Congratulations on a well planned and executed team effort to create your final concrete counter tops in the kitchen. Looks like marble from your photos. Great rounded edges and the fit is fantastic, a fitting final job to finish your home. Hugs.
Joy

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Jann Olson May 25, 2017 at 8:48 pm

Wow, it really turned out beautifully! A lot of work, but the results paid off big time. Thanks for sharing with SYC.
hugs,
Jann

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Vickie Westcamp May 28, 2017 at 5:27 pm

Those countertops are gorgeous! We are also considering concrete countertops in our new home. We are building with ICF and are hoping to break ground next week! Thanks for sharing this!

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Christine May 31, 2017 at 5:31 am

I love it. All your hard work paid off, plus the corner joint??? I love how you handles that. It looks so unique. Thanks for sharing this at the Dishing It & Digging It Link party.

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Vanessa June 5, 2017 at 2:57 am

Wow, That is amazing and looks amazing. I love your kitchen transformation and so happy you shared at Dishing it and Digging it link party.

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Annemarie September 20, 2017 at 8:10 pm

It looks fabulous! Nicely done 🙂

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