The Counters Blog

Concrete Countertops For The Kitchen



While it takes some time — be prepared to spread the work out over several weekends because of the time required for curing — you will save yourself the high cost of purchased granite or marble countertops. Concrete’s colors and textures are endless, you can mold it into just about any shape you can imagine, and it retains the advantages of solid surfaces. No matter how small the countertop is, there’s at least a 10-day curing process during which you will need to do your grinding and polishing. The final outcome might not be exactly what you expected, especially if you’re doing it for the first time.


How To Caulk On A Kitchen Backsplash Seal The Gap Between Granite And Mosaic. | Duration 5 Minutes 30 Seconds

There are many steps that can be accomplished solo, but concrete is heavy and you should expect to need anywhere from 2 to 4 people to help move around your countertops on more than one occasion. And it’s best to cure the countertops inside a garage; however, grinding and polishing them is very wet and messy so you’ll want to do that outside. It also takes a lot of guesswork out of the process and, believe me, the last thing you want is to spend lots of money and time on your countertops only to find that they won’t fit because you were off by 1/8″. I made sure to use the factory cut edges of the cardboard around the perimeters and inside of the sink cutout to make sure it was all perfect. Make sure to label your templates so you’ll know which sides are which. The top of the mold needs to be perfectly flush so that you’ll be able to screed the concrete during the pour.

If you drill them too hard, they will split the melamine and ruin that side piece. We then took the two side pieces of melamine that connected to the curve and used a table saw to cut a 18″ by 2″ notch in each of them. Before you try gluing plexi to anything, it needs to be sanded so the glue will stick. After that set, we had 2 side pieces with a flexible piece in the middle that would conform to the curve we needed to make. By using a belt sander, we were able to sand down the edges until they were paper thin on either side. Not only is my countertop 2″, but there’s another 3/4″ of plywood below that. Even the slight texture on the melamine will be the same texture on the countertop when you first break the mold. You will be pouring hundreds of pounds of concrete into the mold, so you must make sure that it doesn’t buckle or bend under the weight. I don’t have any pictures of this, but you’ll need to properly seal the mold using silicone caulk. Since you need to remove the screws to break the mold, make sure that any exposed screw heads are filled with some type of clay or putty (plumbers putty, plasticine clay, etc.).





Caulking Gaps Between Countertop And Wall | Duration 3 Minutes 55 Seconds

By using spacers we’re ensuring that the mesh will be halfway in the middle of the countertop. The other addition to my countertop was to have crushed blue glass in it which matched the blue glass mosaic tile in my kitchen. The directions suggested using spray adhesive on the mold so it will be tacky before putting down the glass.

Also, make sure the tip on your can of spray adhesive is clean. It has the color tinting, support fibers, and water reducers to make the concrete perfect for countertops. Cheng also recommends using an orbital sander with no sandpaper on it to vibrate the concrete. Use a straight piece of lumber or melamine that is long enough to span the mold to screed the concrete. Make sure you fill any holes where the concrete might have been low and re-screed it. I chose to have it cure in my garage since it stays in those conditions through the summer. It’s also not good to cure in the sun because it will dry out too quickly and be more likely to crack.

After 10 days, the concrete has reached 95% strength and will be more difficult to grind. Don’t put any pressure on the green concrete by prying against it, as you will risk chipping or cracking. I then laid down strip of the styrofoam and laid the countertop right side up on top of it.

There are ways to get around using a wet grinder, like using a regular grinder/sander with the diamond pads and having someone else use a hose, or poking a hole in a gallon jug and letting the water run out as you grind. They will also last for multiple projects, so you may want to talk a buddy who also wants new countertops into splitting the cost of the grinder and pads. Almost as soon as you grind, you’ll start seeing aggregate being exposed. Continue grinding until you have the desired aggregate exposed. Redoing a kitchen or bathroom with concrete countertops is a home improvement project you can do yourself. But it’s concrete, so it must be cheaper than milled stone, right?

Concrete needs to be properly sealed at the beginning and waxed about every 30 days to avoid staining.

The good news is that there are ways to remedy many outcomes that you don’t like. I also supported my floor underneath the island with steel supports in the basement to compensate for the added weight, but depending on the construction of your house this may not be necessary. This can be a huge time saver since the edges of the countertop that aren’t exposed don’t need to be ground and polished. It’s also one of the only parts of the process that you can take your time with and rework if it isn’t right. Drywall screws are the easiest to use, but be very careful drilling them in.



Learn How To Seal Granite Countertops Like A Professional | Duration 7 Minutes 35 Seconds

This is especially so when you drill too close to the end of the piece.

There are a couple of reasons for this – one being that it makes it much easier to handle without an army of people. I wanted to do it at an angle and highlight it with an aluminum strip. To accomplish this, we cut the desired curve with a bandsaw out of two pieces of melamine that were screwed together. We cut an 1/8″ piece of plexiglass down to 2″ then prepared to glue the plexi into the notches we cut in the 2 side pieces.

We used 5 minute epoxy to glue the plexi in the notches and clamped them. We screwed in the curved melamine into place and spread epoxy over the back side of the plexi. We then used epoxy and taped them down in the corners. This allowed for a proper depth for the faucet while also giving access for wrenches to screw it down. Also, you’re going to need to vibrate the concrete, so it needs to be screwed to its support. Once the concrete is mixed you’ll need to work fast so you want to make sure the mold is fully prepared. I used black caulk so you could see it against the white melamine. After you apply the caulk, carefully remove the tape before it dries and you’ll have super clean edges that will require minimum grinding. You also need to make sure that any cut sides of melamine that will be exposed to wet concrete are sealed so they won’t swell up with moisture. The tape covered up most of the screw heads in the mold, but there were some that were still exposed.

This will avoid getting the concrete into the screw heads, which would make it next to impossible to unscrew them. I laid the mold on top and screwed the edges of the mold into the plywood. I cut them to size, then stacked and offset them, and tied them with wire. Also, make sure the mesh is 1″ away from all the edges of the mold. I did this and even though it doesn’t stick to the glass very hard, it makes it tacky enough so the glass won’t pool together when the concrete is poured. Mine wasn’t and it put little bubbles on the mold which transferred to the countertop.

At first we gently put in the concrete with our hands so that we wouldn’t disturb the crushed glass.

It really wears you out using the mallets, but you’ll soon see air bubbles popping out along the surface so you’ll know it’s working.< /p> Start on one side and push the screed back and forth along the sides till you go all the way across the mold for a level finish. It’s recommended that if the temperature is below 50 degrees you get some sort of heating for proper curing.

After 4 days, the concrete is stiff enough to break the mold.

Make sure that you get all of them and it should go fairly smoothly. Once you get all the sides off, you’ll need at least one other person to lift it off the bottom of the mold. You’ll want to wear rubber gloves and rubber boots to give added protection from shock. I slowly moved it forward and backward, then from side to side. The first pad is the most difficult because your grinding down the most with it. One thing that is important is to keep your grinder as flat as possible on the surface, especially with the rougher grit pads.

Amazon: Plum Hill Silicone Stove Counter Gap Covers by amazon.com

Prevent crumbs and other small items from falling in the gap and out of reach of cleaning. Whether between stove and counter, washer and dryer, or office furniture pieces, our gap covers will put an end to the counter crack. Wash them in the sink with warm soapy water or toss them in the dishwasher on the top shelf.

I feel that the clear option of the gap covers work well with my stove and provides a smoother color transition from its white edges and my beige tone kitchen counter tops. I haven’t experienced any actual spills but simulated one for kicks. But they get dirty so easily, and then don’t clean up so well. Gap covers are 21 inches long and are easily cut to a shorter length to fit shorter counters.



How To Seal Granite, Marble, & Other Natural Stones | Marble.Com | Duration 3 Minutes 2 Seconds

They arrived in an envelope, folded in half and very floppy. I clean them carefully by hand and hand dry them thoroughly. Would be 5 star if they cleaned up as well as the rest of the kitchen. Only a couple of minor issues make these less than perfect: one had a small 1/8″ tear on one side about an inch from the end when it arrived, but it’s not worth the bother to return/replace it. Because silicone is by nature somewhat “grabby”, they show streaks, spots, and dust very easily.

How To Install A Bathtub: Install An Acrylic Tub and Tub Surround by familyhandyman.com

Then we’ll show you how to install and replumb the new shower. If you replace the shower valve and have copper supply lines, you’ll need soldering skills.

This price tag could easily double with a higher priced tub and surround and fancier valves. Begin by measuring the approximate length and width of your existing bathtub. But beware of one piece bathtub shower surrounds and one-piece tub/shower stalls. Before beginning, spread a thick canvas dropcloth over the bathroom floor and any nearby fixtures. Then turn the tub faucet on to make sure the shutoffs actually work. Wrap a rag around the jaws if you’re planning to save or reuse the spout. To reduce hassles later, check the dimensions of the new tub surround (including the nailing flanges) before you cut out the old surround or tile wall.

Cut through the drywall around the tub and down to the base trim.

The utility knife scoring method we show takes some strength, but it avoids the problem of cutting into insulation and hidden wires and pipes. Wear a dust mask if the drywall is moldy or you’re destroying old plaster. But don’t add nailers at the drain end of the tub until the new tub is in. If you have mold, scrub it away and let the area dry thoroughly before covering it with insulation and a vapor ba rrier.

Figure the shim size needed to level it, then remove the tub and tack the shims at the tub leg positions. Shim gaps between the studs and the flange to avoid stressing the rim. On larger tubs, the manufacturer may ask you to set the tub in a wet mortar bed, which will mold to the tub bottom and provide extra support. Now’s the time to plan this joint, while you can still remove the tub. But you may have a larger gap, or you may have to trim back the finish flooring to get the tub to fit. One solution for a gap is to cover the joint with a thin solid-surface or marble threshold strip.

Chisel off protruding studs and trim the drywall as necessary to get a good fit. Then measure the exact centers of the tub spout and valve and lay them out on the end panel. Reset the back panel and measure to the centers of the valve and the tub spout. Otherwise, rework the tub leveling or shave wall studs to get a more perfect fit. Spread a bead of silicone around the edge of each hole in the surround and install the faucet plate and tub spout.

It wipes off quickly and has few joints to catch mold-attracting dirt and scum. Most models consist of a tub plus three shower wall panels, which all interlock and seal. In this story, we’ll walk you through a basic installation process, beginning with what is often the toughest part—tearing out the old tub and shower. And finally, we’ll show you a tiling technique that simplifies the finish work and makes the entire installation look great. Acrylic replacement tubs are light enough for one person to lift in and out, even in tight spaces.

This is also the perfect time to replace the old shower valve, spout and shower arm. Find the shutoffs for the tub—usually behind an access panel in an adjacent room—and turn off the water. If water continues to drip out, turn off the main water supply and replace the shutoffs. If it doesn’t have one, it’s probably a spout that you unscrew (counterclockwise) with a pipe wrench. Use a utility knife with a sharp blade and score several times until the blade slices completely through. Cover or disconnect the tub drain to keep the waste line from filling with debris. If you use a drywall or keyhole saw, cut carefully and keep the cut shallow. If the old surround was screwed into place, simply back out the screws. To disconnect the drain lines, remove the access panel in the neighboring room that gives access to the plumbing. You may need the extra wall space when you’re tipping in the new tub.

Use wide spacers and nail or glue them into place at the leg locations so they won’t shift when the tub goes in. At this point, note how the apron (outer edge) of your new tub meets the existing floor.

If you’re lucky, the new tub will meet the floor almost like the old one. Solutions vary with the type of floor you have and the gap size. Use silicone to glue it to the tub or floor, and caulk the edges along the tub and floor. Then install the bathtub and anchor it to the wall studs as recommended by the manufacturer. Set the back section of the surround on the tub rim, holding it in place temporarily with a nail above the top flange. Chisel back any warped or out-of-plumb studs to keep the panels sitting flat on the tub rim.

Hole saws make the cleanest cuts, but you can also make the cuts with a sharp 1-in. Anchor the panels to the wall with the fasteners specified by the manufacturer.

Predrill oversized holes and drive special tile backer screws to avoid breaking the thin backer board. Then, starting at the oute r corner of the end walls, tile toward the back wall and down to the floor. Making a nice wall finish around the new surround requires special attention to detail. In addition, we chose to tile around all the edges to cover the joint and avoid a difficult taping job. If you have steel drainpipes, use a special “mission coupling” for transitions to plastic drains.

My Paper Bag Floor by domesticimperfection.com

Alright, now that you’ve seen the overall floor, let’s get a little closer. This scratch is a doozy, but it is just in the sealer…the paper below is in perfect condition. I was almost done with the floors and walls in the boy’s room!

This area should be in the best condition too…the way the room is set up we have both the cribs against the wall, near the corner, sitting at a 90 degree angle.

It should be in the best condition of the whole room, but instead it’s the worst. We also did a half bath and it still looks perfect!

Lacquer is harder than polyurethane, so scratching will be minimum. Polyurethane will set up, but it never fully hardens; it’s always kind of rubbery. There are several catalysts that can be added to the lacquer to make it dry faster and harder. However, everybody says to stay away from the water based stains because they’re messy and the results do not look as nice as when using an oil-based stain. I sealed my sample board with 5 coats of lacqure and it looks very lovely; it has a nice texture to it and clean up was easy. It is way tougher because machines make it and they use heat and pressure and different sealer, but it is the same idea…. I applies about 5 coats of water based poly and it looks great!

But, my floor is still very new and probably won’t be a super high-traffic area.

We are just getting ready to do the basement (on concrete).

Do you plan on sanding the boy’s room and adding more poly?

Here is my blog post in case anyone wants to laugh at / learn from my mistakes. I plan to post about my results, the resealing, and guest room floor. Plus adding another layer of poly each year would be a much bigger deal.

Sorry yours haven’t worked out so well, and thanks for sharing what you’ve learned!

Have you tried any of those countertop sealers on the flooring?

If the finish doesn’t bond then it will just flake off and the investment is lost because it will need to be resanded, so we always do test spots in inconspicuous areas such as behind a door or in a corner. Then pull it up and see how many squares of the finish come off with it. Another possibility is to use a different kind of glue for the paper, something like an epoxy.

Here’s a video of a job where some painter tried to screen and coat a floor and it failed, then they had to call us in for a complete resand. Recommended for walls but works on any clean, dry surface as quality adhesive. Looked awesome and can’t walk on walls so it lasts and lasts. My other theory is that my potty training boys might have messed it up with their, well, potty training…or lack thereof. Back to the serious side – one more thought on water and cleaner. Let me just start by saying this…we are not easy on this floor. It’s gets pelted with matchbox cars, wooden trains and plastic dinosaurs on a daily basis. Here is the biggest scratch we have (it’s about 6 inches) and you can also see all the little dents and scratches around it. The good news is that even though it scratches, it is fixable with another layer of sealer. All the paper on the floor is in perfect condition actually, nothing has gotten past the poly.

I was working my way around the room, and things were going great. This creates a little square if wasted space in the corner, a floor lamp sits there but otherwise it is unused. Maybe there has been some secret toddler mischievousness going on back there that caused the sealer to act funny?

Besides, no one wants to use oil based poly if you can avoid it, that stuff is nasty.

I did them just like you did and everything scratches them!

I absolutely love the look of the floors, but with dogs, not necessarily a great match. We don’t count it a total failure, but we will have to replace them at some point in the not-too-distant future. Also, there is a product that can be added to the lacquer to make it even harder, thus providing a very hard surface. You can also get the lacquer if different sheens (a 20 or 30 sheen will give a satin finish; the higher the sheen number the “shinier” it will be). There’s also info about applying the poly: it too thick or thin it can become milky etc.

I used a marine epoxy for the first 3 layers then applied 3 layers of poly. You know, like all the tutorials say not to do?

I have the country style beadboard kitchen in off white/bisquit color appliances so wanted to use the ivory paper and a black stain to complement my aged bronze (black) hardware and black faucet tap. Oh and we’ve been using waterborne finish over oil sealers and stains for years, it’s an accepted practice in this field. As far as the delamination, do you have any insight as to what might have caused it?

If the paper is moving then no finish out there will bond to it so that’s number one. When we test the bond of a screen and coat, we usually just start digging at it from the edge with fingernails, but the most brutal test is to cut into the finish only with a razor blade in a grid pattern, then put painter’s tape on it and push it down really hard. The potential problem is that these finishes are made specifically for wood flooring which happens to be one of the most used and abused surfaces in a house so unfortunately it might just be possible that the paper bag floor just isn’t feasible.

The rest still looks nice, though, and it’s good that you can poly over it to shine it up. I had another reader ask it thats the corner that got sunlight from the window, but it’s not…it actually the darkest corner in the room.

Their names will be withheld from publication as they are minors.

How To Install Fiber Cement Siding — The Family Handyman by familyhandyman.com

He earned his good reputation with his customers by doing things the right way, and he earned our thanks by sharing some of his knowledge with us. These strips, installed at the bottom, will make your first row of siding angle out to match the rest of the rows. Install these fragile starter strips with a 15-gauge trim gun. Nail lengths should be chosen so they penetrate a minimum of 1-1/4 in. The end of each plank making up a butt joint needs to be fastened to a stud.

That way you can tweak the ends of each plank so the bottom edges line up perfectly. Don’t use a framing gun or try to handnail the corners together; that’s a good way to break the trim boards. Staple building paper to the wall sheathing, lapping top pieces over bottom pieces by at least 2 in.

Apply caulk at the corner lap joint before installing the second piece. At home centers, you can buy diamond blades made specifically for cutting fiber cement. But we had success with a less expensive dry-cut, diamond masonry blade. In general, use nails that penetrate the studs at least 1 in. If driven too deep, the heads will crush the fiber cement board and reduce the nail’s holding power. Remember that these layout lines represent the top of each siding course. This strip will tip the first piece of siding to the proper angle. Be sure to stagger the butt joints so they don’t lie on top of each other as you work your way up. Remember, this mark represents the top of the siding piece, not the bottom of the second course. The top course should be at least two-thirds the width of the lower courses.

To protect the paint from getting scratched during installation, leave the plastic on and make your cuts right through it. Tack it to the wall so it doesn’t get knocked out of place when you install the second piece of siding. Butt joints, however, should be nailed tightly together and should not be caulked. This is to allow any water that may have gotten behind the siding to weep out. The top trim board will also need its own drip cap and 1/4-in. These tools not only create the proper reveal (the part of the siding that shows) between rows but also actually hold the planks in place while you nail. They’re cheaper and easy to install, and you can cut the proper-size hole in a plastic mounting block with a utility knife or a snips. If the cut edge is part of a butt joint in the middle of the wall, it needs to be painted (try to use factory edges on all butt joints). It’s a pain to work around, but it helps if you don’t nail the flashing tight until you have your siding cut to size. Cut along the line with a jigsaw fitted with a carbide grit blade.

These nailheads will be exposed, but the paint will cover them.

When you want the classic look of wood siding coupled with lifetime durability, fiberboard cement siding may well be your best choice. In addition, it’s highly rot and insect resistant, won’t burn and paints beautifully. He started out installing mostly vinyl, but now 80 percent of his work is fiber cement. Snap another line for the bottom row of siding, positioning it so it will hang down an additional 1/4 in. You can save yourself a bunch of time by using a pneumatic coil siding nail gun. Use 6d or 8d galvanized or stainless siding nails and install a single nail about 1-in. Fastener heads should be snugged up against the siding, not driven into the surface. He uses the same size nails to install the corners on the wall. Also, the trim nails look better where nails will be exposed, especially on a prefinished corner board.

Even a carbide tooth blade will last for only part of the day. Your nail length may vary from ours depending on the type of exterior sheathing used on your home. Be sure the bottoms of the corner boards cover about 1/2 in. Then cut and nail the first course of siding along the layout line. With the trim boards completed, lay out the siding courses with a story pole. If you go this route, practice first to make sure the nailheads will be set flush. Measure up from the bottom of the story pole to mark the full width of the first course of siding. From this point, make marks up the pole at the recommended exposure for your siding. Check your layout marks against window and door openings and other features around the house, and adjust the exposure to avoid having to rip narrow pieces. Now hold the story pole tight against the frieze board at all corners and alongside windows and doors.

This will ensure that all the siding courses go on straight and uniformly. Peel away the plastic after the board has been fastened to the wall. It’s easy to work with and cheap, and it isn’t noticeable if a seam happens to open up a little.

Make sure all butt joints are on studs, and stagger the butt joints as you work your way up the wall. Tape the drip cap to the wall, but don’t tape all the way to the bottom of the drip cap because it will be visible through the 1/4-in. Installing this stuff by yourself is tough, but it’s possible with the aid of siding gauges. Even if you do just one fiber cement job, siding gauges are worth the money. Most gauges are adjustable to accommodate reveals from 5 to 8 in. On-site painting looks better up close because the touch-up paint and caulked areas aren’t as noticeable. But the best part of using a prefinished product is that after installation, you’re done and not faced with painting an entire house.

If you plan to hang a lot of fiber cement, though, you’ll want a chop saw with a proper blade that will allow you to cut several pieces at once. Jaime prefers to use the vinyl mounting blocks typically used with vinyl siding. With fiber cement blocks, you have to use a jigsaw or a hole saw. If a cut edge is going to butt up against a corner post or trim board, it gets caulked.

It’s imperative that you honor the proper spacing between the siding and the roof surfaces and between the siding and the horizontal surfaces, such as the ground or cement slabs and decks. You’ll fail your inspection if the inspector doesn’t see it on your job. It’s much easier to get a proper fit for a plank if you can shift the flashing beneath it. Nail the top edge of the siding along the windowsill at each stud. Water intrusion around wall penetrations can be a problem for any type of siding. For pipes, electrical entries and similar fixtures, fit the siding as tightly as possible and then seal with a polyurethane caulk or non-hardening electrician’s putty.

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