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How To Make Homemade Concrete Countertops For Outdoor Kitchens

You might be surprised just how inexpensive and simple it is to build homemade concrete countertops!

homemade concrete countertops
The just poured homemade concrete countertop around the form.

We have completed 3 concrete countertop projects in the last 6 years at the farm. Two for outdoor kitchen areas, and one as an interior top for a wine rack. All 3 were simple to make, and have been incredibly durable.

Best of all, we absolutely love they way they look!

Concrete countertops can accent almost any decor, and they certainly stand up to the test of time.

With a little planning, a few basic materials, and a bit of elbow grease, you can create beautiful homemade concrete countertops for a fraction of the cost of what the pros charge. Here is a look at how we made ours, and how you can as well!  See : DIY Outdoor Living – Completed Outdoor Kitchen Project

Homemade Concrete Countertops – The Method

homemade concrete countertops
Our completed homemade concrete countertops.

There are two choices when it comes creating homemade concrete countertops. You can pour them in place, or pour separately, and then set in place. There are pros and cons to both methods.

Creating one in place requires building a form directly on top of the cabinets or structure the countertop will be covering. The advantage of building in place is you eliminate moving a heavy countertop once poured.

The disadvantage – it can be difficult to create the form depending on what you are placing it on.

Building separately makes it easy to pour and finish in an open area, but then there is the problem of moving it in place.

We have done both methods, and both have worked. But of the two, I can say we prefer building in place.

It is nice when you are all done and not have to worry about finding a crew of people to move the heavy slab!

Step 1. : Creating The Concrete Form

Once you decide whether to build in place or separate, it’s time to build the concrete form. We used 2 x 4’s for our exterior countertops.

We ran them through the table saw to create 2 x 3’s, and then built the form from there. The 3″ thickness is perfect for standing to the outdoor elements. Anything less, and you risk cracking, anything more, and it is simply too heavy.

We started by placing 3/4″ plywood on top of the outdoor kitchen area, and then screwed the 2 x 3’s in from the bottom. We also created a cutout where our built-in gas grill would go.

The nice thing when working with concrete is you can create any shape or cut-out by simply building it into the form.

We used additional screws to secure our 2 x 3’s to each other. It is important to use screws as nails can pop out easily from the pressure of the concrete.

Once we had the form in place, we sealed the edges of the board and 2 x 3’s with silicone caulking to keep everything in the form.

Mixing, Pouring And Leveling

homemade concrete countertops
Wire mesh or metal fencing placed in the middle of the pour adds strength

It is important to use a high-strength concrete mix for long-term durability. We used 80 pound bags of Quickcrete 5000 series concrete mix for our projects. We then added fiber reinforcement as we mixed the bags at a rate of 2 cups of fiber per bag.

This helps to lessen the chance of cracking. You can also purchase the bagged mix with the fibers already in the mix.

You can also mix in colorants to create all kinds of looks. When you add colorants, remember they are liquids, so they will change how much water you need to create the mix.

We used a concrete tub to mix two bags at a time and pour into the form. The key in mixing is to add a little water at a time, until the mix is about the consistency of soft peanut butter.

homemade concrete countertops
Our first outdoor concrete countertop project was at the barn.

If you mix too much water, it can lessen the strength of the concrete. It can vary, but we used about 3 quarts of water per bag.

Once mixed, we lifted the tub with the help of a few people into the form and spread it out. It is important at this point to work the concrete down into all of the corners.

Once the form was half filled, we pressed in metal fencing to act as rebar. We cut the fencing to fit, leaving about and inch from the edge of all sides and corners.

We then continued mixing and pouring until the form was filled. Concrete is self-leveling by nature, so once the form was filled, we troweled it until smooth.

We used a hammer to softly tap the edges of the form. This allowed any concrete voids that may have formed to fill. One final trowel and the pour was complete.

We used a total of 15 bags for an 11 x 32″ wide counter. At $5 per bag- that is a pretty inexpensive countertop!

Finishing – Sanding And Sealing

We left our wood forms in place for two days, and then unscrewed and removed them. The concrete is hard at this point, but can still be smoothed out with the use of a grinder.

We used an angle grinder and went over the entire surface to smooth over the corners. It is a dusty process, so wear a mask! We watered down the surface prior to sanding to cut down on the dust.

After the concrete had cured for a few weeks, we used a water-based acrylic sealer to give it a glossy look. We never have food directly prepared on the surface, so the sealer is safe to use.

Happy Building! – Jim and Mary. 

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