Before you attempt diy concrete countertops, there are several things to consider that can help save you some major grief. Experienced contractors encounter problems sometimes and chances are you will too. But most major problems can be prevented with good planning and preparation. This kind of project is only for the serious diy'ers.
First off, keep it simple. For diy concrete countertops, try something small such as a bathroom countertop or an outdoor kitchen top. Don't attempt an entire kitchen layout first because you don't have any idea what you're up against. If you screw it up it won't be near as disheartening. If it's possible, start with a project that is not going to inconvenience the rest of the household. It will take several days from start to finish. You might anger some people if the kitchen is out of commission for that long.
Make sure the cabinets are strong enough to support the weight of concrete. A countertop poured at a thickness of 1.5" inches weighs approximately 18 lbs per sq ft and 2" thickness is 25 lbs per sq ft. Most standard cabinets can support them but it's a good idea to check with the manufacturer.
Decide where you want to construct the countertop. Do you want to build it in place or offsite and transport it in. Remember concrete countertops are extremely heavy and take several people to move them. It's also a messy job so you may want to build it where you don't have to worry so much about making a mess. That way you can concentrate more on the task and not cleanup. But be sure you will be able to maneuver it through any doorways. What a shame that would be!
If your countertop will have a sink in the middle, I recommend the one piece drop-in style. The outer edges of the sink will sit on top of the counter and you don't need separate holes for the faucet and sprayer. This gives you a little room for error with the sink hole.
Use a mix that's specially designed for countertops. Concrete shrinks as it cures which causes "shrinkage cracks". Special mixes are designed to minimize this problem. They are also much easier to work with and you don't have to worry about water:cement ratios or any of that other mix design mumbo jumbo. The instructions for mixing are right there on the package.
Have the proper tools and materials ready when you start. This is especially important during the pouring process. You don't want to have concrete setting up and getting hard and find out you need a tool that you don't have.
What's the best advice I can give you before you start? That's easy. Get yourself an instructional video. Watch the pros do it and learn some tricks of the trade.
With proper planning and preparation, diy concrete countertops can be the most interesting home project you ever attempt. And if it's successful, what a nice feeling it would be to show it off to your family and friends.
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