Learn how to install concrete overlay countertops. You might also like these wood countertops.
My countertops in my home were probably very expensive when they were put in. I suspect that they’re quartz, so very pricey. But they were so ugly. Like no paint color on the planet can make them look good ugly.
And they were bringing down the whole vibe of my kitchen. No matter what I did, they just weren’t looking great. So we decided to find a budget friendly solution until we can do a full kitchen remodel because who knows when that will be. Learn how to install concrete overlay countertops!
*This portion of the countertop makeover was closer to $25 because we already had a lot of the supplies.
Things to Know Before Installing the Concrete Overlay Countertops
- Feather finish sands very easy, so don’t worry about imperfections while working. This stuff sands like joint compound, not concrete.
- It’s probably best to alternate between a medium thick coat, thin coat, medium thick, thin coat.
- If you’re using concrete dye, don’t worry too much about the batches perfectly matching. The slight variations in color will give it a really cool effect. Even a batch of un-dyed concrete will vary from batch to batch, so expect it.
- One box of feather finish was plenty for our countertops. I bought 3 because I didn’t think 1 sounded like enough. Now I have to return the extra.
My countertops before
Can you even handle all of this beauty? 😉
Concrete Countertop Overlay FAQ’s
What is concrete overlay?
Concrete overlay is a thin coat of concrete over an existing countertop.
You can use it over any existing countertop, as long as it’s stable without cracks.
Concrete overlay versus concrete countertops
Concrete overlay allows you to use your existing countertop. In our case, the Corian would be extremely difficult to remove and possibly destroy the cabinets in the process. Plus, they are incredibly heavy.
Full concrete countertops are also very heavy. Most cabinets need to be reinforced to be able to handle the weight.
What is the cost for concrete overlay countertops?
We bought 3 boxes of Henry feather finish and ended up using one. The concrete cost us $15 a box. The concrete dye was about $7. The sealer we ended up using cost about $70. For under $100, we were able to give our countertop a new look!
What kind of concrete do you use for concrete overlay countertops?
We used feather finish concrete. There are 2 brands that I know of: Henry and Ardex. They come in a box and are found in the flooring aisle because they are used to level sub-floors for tile installation.
Feather finish concrete is applied in thin coats, as the name suggests. This allows you to keep the weight light and control the amount of coverage. It’s a lot like paint: lighter coats are better because you can always add more.
How to Install Concrete Overlay Countertops
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- Henry Feather Finish
- Black Concrete Dye
- Sander and sandpaper in different grits
- Trowel and putty knife
- Plastic drop cloth
- Frog tape
- Mixing bucket
- Concrete mixer for drill
Prep Work for Concrete Overlay Countertop
- Remove your faucet and any appliances that are in the way. We have a slide in range, so it had to be moved. Thank goodness for furniture sliders! We also taped off the tile backsplash.
- Protect your home from dust. That meant taping up doorways with plastic drop cloths. You may be tempted to skip this step, but I’m really glad I didn’t. Our sander has an amazing dust collection system, but there was still dust everywhere.
- Thoroughly clean your countertop to remove any grease. Wipe down your tile backsplash as well. Any invisible grease spots will show concrete dust.
- Sand your countertops. Our countertops are indestructible, so they didn’t even show a mark. (Laminate sands much easier.) Be sure to wipe away all the dust.
Installing the Concrete Overlay
- Mix your first batch of concrete. Put water (and dye) in your bucket first and then add the concrete. This makes your concrete mix much smoother. Your first batch will be the biggest, but you still need *much* less than you think. You might need 2 cups of mixed concrete. Your mix should be the consistency of pancake batter. When using the drill attachment, set your drill to low. Mixing concrete is hard on tools and even though we have powerful tools, it’s still best to not overdo it.
- When the concrete is mixed, let it sit for 5 minutes. All of the bubbles rise to the top and you will need to mix it again for 1 minute. This keeps the mixture workable for a longer period.
- Trowel a very thin layer onto your countertop. Because our countertop was so glossy, we did a slightly thicker 1st coat for our concrete overlay countertops. My husband did the majority of the countertops with a large trowel, while I worked on the edges using a putty knife and my fingers. (It didn’t stain my hands or irritate my skin, but my nails are pretty gross looking.) You want to build up the edges pretty thick. It sands very easily, so don’t skimp.
- Let it dry. The first coat took longer than any other coat, probably about 1 1/2 hours. Don’t worry too much if you didn’t get 100% coverage on the first coat.
- When it’s dry, lightly sand it. Be very careful on the edges. You don’t want to remove too much.
- Repeat steps 4-7 until you’re satisfied. For our last coat, we used the trowel to make swirl marks, then we watered the remaining concrete mix down to make splatter marks on the surface. This was my husband’s idea, and I was nervous. So this step is optional if you’re happy with the results already. Sand until smooth.
- Once it was dry, it’s time to seal it. I’m breaking that part into a tutorial of it’s own because we wanted to use an extremely durable sealer.
They look beautiful like this and I wish we could have just added a thin layer of wax, but we wanted to make them extremely durable.
Want to learn how I sealed my concrete?
Curious how the whole kitchen turned out? Click here for the final reveal!
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