When I bought this house, I knew the countertop would have to go (along with most of what was in the house.) I also knew I didn’t have the $35 per square foot to put in a cheap granite, and the other options seemed less than desirable to me. At first glance it wasn’t too bad, the Formica resembled a butcher block. In fact if you plugged you nose, stood 20 feet away, and squinted your eyes to give just enough blur, the counters were great!! It’s just that dreadful eye opening experience that causes your heart to sink when you realize these counters, are in MY home! Yikes!
I did some research. I found quite a few people had transformed their hideous countertops to a beautiful concrete with an Ardex feather finish skin coat. They looked beautiful! The problem is, I would have to order the product, wait for it to come, and then plan out the project. This sounds like a horrible idea. My husband had taken all four kids on a drive about an hour and a half away, to go on a hike that would be a few hours. My time was now! I researched a bit more, and found a similar products that is available at Home Depot! Off I went! Here is the list of supplies I used:
1. Henry’s Feather Finish Underlayment Patch and Skimcoat
This will be found in the flooring aisle of Home Depot – not with the other concrete mixes. This is a sturdy product – similar to what Bed Bath and Beyond uses on their floors.
2. Sacrete Cement Color in Charcoal.
This was in the outdoor area by all the concrete mixes, charcoal is the color I wanted for my counter, but they also had Blue, and a few other colors.
3. Sika High Gloss Clear Sealer — also found in the concrete aisle (see below for picture)
4. Zep commercial High Traffic Floor Polish — found in the cleaning department — to give an ultimate protection and beautiful shine.
5. Sandpaper — I used one sheet of 80 grit to rough up the existing counters, and 220 grit later to smooth the concrete in between layers.
The tools I used are as follows
1. Bucket from the dollar store to mix concrete in – a one gallon bucket was more than big enough.
2. Paint stir to mix the concrete
4. Drywall blade after much research, this was the most recommended tool to use as a novice.
5. Drop cloth
6. Painters tape
7. Latex gloves and a mask
8. Two cheap Paintbrushes.
So the process began… I bid good riddance to the hideous countertops the house came with, and began to burry the evidence that they ever existed in concrete — I felt like a mobster taking care of an enemy once and for all.
The first step is roughing up the existing countertops, they will stay put, and you will use them as your base. Use the 80 grit sandpaper to rough them up, then remove the dust, and make sure the counters are clean before proceeding. Next use painter’s tape to protect walls or anything else that would potentially meet up with the counters.
You can see here how poorly the countertops were installed. I’m not sure what you would one would even call the little extra cracked and broken up ledge that lies between the wall and the counter. Soon it would all be buried in concrete.
You are now fully prepped! The next step is mixing the Henry’s Feather Finish compound. The instructions call for two parts compound and one part water. It warns not to add any extra water due to the break down of strength, however since this is not a floor that will be holding hundreds of pounds at a time, I took the advice of those who had gone before me and added a bit more water in order to make the mixture a bit more easy to spread. My first batch I mixed one cup of water with two cups of the Henry’s mixture (and an extra 1/8 cup of water). I also added 1/8 of a teaspoon of the dye. The instructions on the box recommended 1/80 dye vs concrete mixture. It looked nice and dark, just how I wanted it. My first batch was the smallest — this stuff dries FAST, and if you don’t work quick enough it will begin to dry, and you will be stuck with a bucket full of unworkable concrete. Every batch after I used 2 cups of water and 4 cups of the powder mixture. I recommend using a smaller batch until you feel comfortable, and once you have the hang of it go ahead and mix a larger batch of concrete for your counter.
Well, that beautiful first dark layer dried, and ended up being a very very light shade on concrete! It dries much lighter than it looks when it is wet. Below is a picture half way into the seconds layer.
This was not the color I had in mind. Going forward I used about 2 teaspoons for every 2 cups of water and 4 cups of Henry’s.
I ended up applying a total of three layers of the concrete. It was easiest to glop the compound onto the counter using my paint stick (of all the things I tried go figure that the free tool was the most effective.) After the concrete was “glopped” onto the counter, I used my drywall blade to smooth it over the counter. One of my concerns was that the concrete would not stick to the sides well, that ended up being no problem at all, and the easiest part of the whole process.
The day I chose to concrete the counters happened to be an extremely humid day. Ever instructional I had read, and the instructions on the Henry’s box all stated that the dry time should be 15 – 30 minutes before it was fully dry. I ended up waiting hours before they would dry due to the extreme humidity. Hopefully you will have a lower level of humidity to speed the process up!
In between layers, the concrete must be sanded smooth. Use the 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out any bumps that may have formed, and make sure to remove all dust before applying an additional layer.
When you are satisfied with the results, it’s time to seal! Before the seal and polish the counters will be a bit dry and dusty looking, but the seal and polish will take care of that.
I used an old plastic food container that I could throw away, and the cheapest paintbrush I could find at Home Depot to apply three layers of the sealer, and then four (or five, my husband and I tried to keep track but finally settled with four or five) layers of the polish.
Both the sealer and the polish looked a bit blue when applied, but both ended up drying perfectly clear!
After the polish dries, score the seams of the painters tape before removing, and enjoy your beautiful counters!! We have had ours for about a month, and the have been absolutely fabulous! The only scratch that we have is from a very hard chop on the counter from a knife. Other than cutting directly on the surface with force, the counters are scratch-less! Cleaning has been breezy, and the shine is so enjoyable! An easy upgrade at a low price point — the look and the feel has been SO enjoyable, a project that in hind sight I would have done much soon!
Basically everything looks pretty on it.
Now for that backsplash, and the faucet…