Well, we did it…we actually poured our own concrete countertops! Adam and I spent hours and hours (and hours) researching this before we did it. We read tutorials and watched YouTube videos and generally felt prepared and confident…but honestly, the process still didn’t go quite like we thought it would. Turns out no amount of research or reading can compare to actually getting your hands dirty. I already knew that…but now I know it better.
There are a lot of steps and information to share about this process, so I’m breaking it up into three parts so that the post isn’t crazy long and overwhelming. Today is the first part, which is setting the forms and prepping the countertops for concrete. This is the easy, non-scary part of this process, since there isn’t a time crunch (unlike when you are actually pouring the concrete) and if you mess up you can just start over (also unlike the actual concrete). Also, I realized while writing this post that I hardly took any pictures…I took lots of the pouring process and not much of the forms. Sorry.
For our countertops we chose to do white concrete. I fought concrete for a while because I really wanted white quartz countertops, but the price of quartz is kinda crazy. I knew I needed an alternative, so once I discovered white concrete was a thing (I was under the impression concrete counters could only be gray or stained dark) I was completely on board and pretty excited. After spending lots of time looking into it, Adam and I decided to pour in place countertops was the way to go. There are two main ways to do concrete countertops, you can either pour in place by building forms directly onto the top of your cabinets, or build forms separate from your cabinets and then transfer the slabs to your kitchen. I wanted to pour in place because it seemed more user-friendly, plus doing it this way created a solid surface without seams.
After looking around at our options we decided to use supplies from Z Counterform to do ours. After we decided to use them I sent them an e-mail to see if we could barter advertising (aka, a tutorial) for supplies, and they agreed. So while this is a sponsored post, I would have used Z Counterform and blogged about it either way.
Alright, let’s get started!
So here are the supplies you will be using to make your forms…
Durock (cement board)
Z Counterform Edge Profile
If you are doing an undermount sink (we didn’t) you will also need…
Step one – Attach Durock to the top of your cabinets
This is the material that Z Counterform recommended to use and we didn’t question it. You can buy it at your local hardware store and it runs about $10 for a 3 x 5 sheet. To attach it to your countertops you cut it with a razor knife and secure with screws.
Make sure it overhangs your cabinets by a 1/8 inch or less so that you can attach the edge profile.
Step two – Assemble the edge profile
This is what really sold me on using the Z Counterform system for our countertops. They have a ton of different edge profiles to choose from, from bullnose to ogee to square (I prefer the clean modern look of the square).
For this step you measure you countertops, cut the edge profile with the chop saw, and attach to the Durock with screws.
*This would be a great place for a picture of the installed edge profile, if I had taken one. #fail
The edge kit comes with both the front profile and pieces for the back. The front pieces break off after the concrete is dry and the back pieces stay forever (you won’t see them, don’t worry).
Also, for the sides that don’t need an edge profile but need to stop flush with the cabinet (like on each side of the stove or fridge) you will have to get a little creative. We started by trying to attach a scrap piece of wood to the side, but ended up using extra edge pieces turned backward to get a nice flat edge.
Step three – Caulk everything and tape the joints
This part is very important. After all the edging is in place you will need to caulk each and every joint to keep the concrete from leaking once you pour. Don’t forget to caulk where the separate pieces of Durock come together and the top edge of the back pieces.
Where the corners meet at 45 degree angles will also need to be taped on the outside to keep everything square.
Step four – Roll out fiberglass mesh and cut to size
Z Counterform makes this part really simple by providing a roll of fiberglass mesh to reinforce the concrete (usually you would need to reinforce it with metal). You simply roll it out and cut it with scissors.
Special note on this part – Since the fiberglass was in a tight roll, make sure you install it with the curled edges facing down. If you install it the other way you may (or may not, it’s a gamble) be able to see them after you pour.
Step five – Attach the Z clips
The fiberglass needs to be in the center of the concrete to do its job correctly, so Z Counterform makes these little doodads called Z clips that make it really easy.
You break off long pieces (those are for thicker commercial countertops) and attach them to the underside of the fiberglass. Just space them out every four or five squares and screw the clips into the Durock.
Step six – Cover the cabinets and floor
Pouring the concrete is a very messy process, so you will want to protect both your cabinets and your floor. For this we found a really awesome product at the hardware store that already has tape attached to plastic, and the plastic unfolds and it plenty long once it is attached. Covering the cabinets took all of 2 minutes.
And that’s it, you’re all prepped and ready to pour! The next post will cover that whole process (this is where the fun and anxiety begin).
Continue to part II….
*This post is sponsored by Z Counterform
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