Two weeks ago, I was the owner of a very sad dining set: el-cheapo Ikea table and chairs, and a bench I ordered online from Target. Poor, sad, mismatched dining set. I desperately wanted to update our kitchen look, with something lighter and brighter.
Meet my sad dining set:
There was only one problem: my children. 2-year-old twins and nice furniture do not make for a winning combination. Right now, the twins stay home full-time. This means that my furniture takes an all-day, every-day beating. I find it much easier to let messy and mischievous things roll off your back when you don’t have nice things.
Ok, R. So you want to flip over the living room chair and use it for a jungle gym? No problem. I stole the chair from Grandma’s house anyway. Climb away!
So the twins want to have races pushing chairs around the house? Race away. They were $20 at Ikea.
And so it goes that I will not be purchasing a new dining set for at least a few more years. I didn’t feel like living with a sad dining set for a few more years, which left me with a DIY project on my hands.
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I have been coveting concrete-topped dining tables: like this one. I have also seen some pretty do-able looking tutorials for DIY concrete kitchen counter tops around the blogosphere. Mix the two together, and you have a recipe for a DIY Concrete Dining Table Top!
Here’s Everything You’ll Need to Make this Concrete Table Top
- A dining set – the uglier, the better!
- Hardware (L-Brackets and screws, to be exact) – to secure the leaves of my dining table. This is optional if you have a normal leaf-less table.
- Masking Tape
- Sandpaper – a variety: coarse, medium, and fine grit
- Paint Brushes
- Primer – I LOVE Kilz Premium and use it all the time
- Paint – I used Behr from the Home Depot in a gloss enamel
- Concrete – Henry FeatherFinish Floor Patch
- Mixing Bucket
- Trowel and Putty Knives
- Concrete sealer – This one is food safe!
With the exception of the actual dining set, and the concrete sealer, you can get everything you need for this project at the Home Depot (No, they didn’t pay me to say that. I just like shopping there. I know where to find things, and people don’t judge me when I ask really stupid questions).
In case you forgot, here’s a reminder of what my sad, mismatched dining set looked like. Yes, those are stickers on the bench. Like I said… toddlers.
Step One – Sand & Paint
This table came with a leaf, so the first thing I had to do was stabilize the top. I installed L-brackets to the underside of the table. I didn’t want the table top sliding or shifting once I applied the concrete.
Sanding was a breeze, since the table and chairs were only lightly stained.
For primer, I turned to Kilz. I have a quart that I keep on hand for various projects. Just one coat worked perfectly.
Then it was time to paint. I used a high-gloss paint (extra durable and washable for the kids) in a custom shade of white. I love white Ikea furniture, and Debbie over at One Little Project went through the trouble of bringing the front of a dresser drawer with the to Home Depot to have a custom color mixed.
I did two coats of paint on most surfaces. I went for a third coat on the top of the bench, since it gets so much use.
I waited a few days, and then taped off the painted area of the table base before getting to the fun stuff: concrete!
Step Two – Concrete
After taping off any surface that I did not want to get covered in concrete, I proceeded to rough up the table top and edges with coarse grit sand paper. I’m not going to lie. My table top was pretty scratched and dented to begin with, so this step was pretty easy.
Next up: the actual concrete. Ardex Feather Finish is a common choice for concrete counter tops, but I have heard it is hard to come by. The guy at the Home Depot hadn’t head of it. So, I hopped on my iPhone (in the aisle of the store) to try to come up with another solution: Henry FeatherFinish. According to Emily at Better Remade, it’s pretty much the same thing. Sold!
Start mixing: I am by no means a concrete mixing and laying expert, but I do have one piece of advice. Mix small batches. This stuff dries quickly, so you don’t want the mix in your bucket to dry up before you get it all laid down. You can sprinkle water on top of the concrete mix as you go along to slow down the drying process, but just be careful not to add too much water.
The recommended ratio of powder mix to water is 2:1.
Layering the Concrete
Your first coat is going to be pretty rough. Don’t expect to get complete coverage on your first go-around. I ended up doing three coats, sanding between each.
Here is the table after one coat (but before sanding):
Here it is after 2 coats:
And here we are after 3 coats:
Somewhere around coat 2, I think I began to lose my mind. Like I said, I am not a concrete laying expert, and I just couldn’t get the perfect, smooth finish that I wanted. After a near-meltdown, I just accepted the fact that this was going to be imperfect, and it would just add to the “character” of the table!
So be warned: if you have perfectionist/OCD tendencies, this project will challenge you to your core!
A note on the edges: I found it easiest to keep the knife flush with either the top of the table of the edge, instead of trying to round corners when laying the concrete. I ended up with nice corners.
Does my putty knife look funny to you?
I have a confession to make now: I forgot to buy a putty knife. And the temperature was below zero, leaving me with no chance of leaving the house again just to buy a putty knife. Minnesota problems, people. So… I improvised… With a frosting spatula. Hey, whatever works!
Step Three – Seal
I didn’t take any pictures of this while in-progress. You know how it goes. You’ve already had enough close-calls with getting wet concrete on your camera. Why risk it with counter top sealer?
But, I can say I am happy with this sealer so far. It does make the concrete a bit darker, and it leaves a semi-shiny finish. So far it washes well, and I haven’t noticed any staining. But, it has only been a few days. I think if I do have problems, I will just re-seal.
All-told, I think I spent about $100 on supplies – paint, concrete, buckets, etc. Compared to the $1000+ I could have spent on a new dining set, I’m pretty ecstatic!
Do you love those botanical prints as much as I do? They’re available here!