See how I transformed my dated kitchen with skim coat concrete counters. This DIY decor project can easily be completed in just a weekend.
Welcome to my budget-friendly kitchen remodel, and my latest DIY project: skim coat concrete counters. Over the past year or so, I have poured my heart and soul into this DIY mini remodel:
- Raised the cabinets to the ceiling, added an open shelf under with a shiplap backsplash.
- Painted the cabinets and hardware – the color is SW Patience
- Installed peel-and stick vinyl floor tile.
- Used a kit to paint the counters.
Video Tutorial: DIY Skim Coat Concrete Counters OVER Old Laminate
Watch this video to see this step-by-step tutorial. Or you can click here to watch the video on Youtube.
Why Concrete Counters?
First things first – I didn’t hate my painted counters. They just weren’t a great option for our busy family. You can watch my 16-month review here.
Our kitchen cupboards are nice, but not great. Painting them has definitely helped, but it’s kind of like putting lipstick on a pig. So what I’m getting at here is this: I’m not going to buy and install new counters until I replace the cabinets as well.
My biggest deciding factor here was budget.
How much do skim coat concrete counters cost?
Since painting the counters didn’t work for our needs, I needed another budget-friendly countertop option. That left me with concrete.
Here’s my budget breakdown for this project:
- concrete and bonding additive – $35, and I have LOTS of leftover product here, so you could easily do a bathroom vanity or tabletop for no additional cost.
- countertop sealer and wax – $65, in hindsight, I would have only purchased the sealer and not the wax, so you could save some money here
- miscellaneous supplies (most of which I had already from other projects) like a scraper, masking tape, sandpaper, mixing buckets, etc. – $20, maybe... I’m being liberal in this estimation
TOTAL COST: with a few days labor and $120 in supplies, I have all new countertops! When you compare that to the cost of new counters, I’m a pretty happy home owner.
Supplies Needed for DIY Concrete Counters
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My supplies are generally listed above in the budget breakdown, but here’s a more specific list with links to sources.
- Prep Supplies – painter’s tape, drop cloths or plastic tarp, coarse sandpaper (for roughing up the counters)
- Protective Gear – goggles, gloves, and clothes that can get dirty
- Thinset concrete of some sort – Like I mention in the video, I used Henry FeatherFinish from Home Depot. For these counters, I shopped at Menards and used Rapid Patch Feather Edge Pro and Akona Concrete Bonding Additive
- Mixing and Spreading Tools – a small bucket and paint stick work well for mixing concrete, a wide putty or drywall knife like this one ended up being my tool of choice for evenly spreading the concrete.
- Sandpaper and sanding block – for between coats of concrete. The grit doesn’t matter so much on this, but something in the coarse to medium range would be fine.
- Concrete sealer – along with rags to apply and a bowl to water it down in (I used an empty plastic sour cream container and then threw it away after)
Do I really need to use the concrete additive instead of water?
I don’t have a straight-forward answer for you on this one. On these counters, I used the concrete additive because that was recommended on the side of the Rapid Patch Feather Edge Pro that I used. Like I said, I was shopping at Menards. I know that is not an option for many of you.
The Webpage for Henry FeatherFinish reads “No primers or additives needed – ever!” – BUT…. Henry does sell a Feather Edge Additive. In fact, on the Home Depot website, it says that this additive is frequently bought together with Henry FeatherFinish.
At the time I am writing this blog post, the price of the additive is under $7. At that price point, I think it would be well worth going with the additive instead of water. It can’t hurt, right?!?
A Few Notes About Applying and Smoothing the Concrete:
You can watch the video above to see how I applied the concrete, but I will type out a few notes here.
Work in small batches.
If you mix too much concrete, and you don’t work fast enough, it will dry out. Then you will have wasted concrete. In my small kitchen, I found it easiest to mix a batch and apply to the counters on one side of the sink. Then I mixed another batch and did the other half of the counter.
There is a BIG difference between skim coat counters and poured concrete counters.
If you want modern counters, with perfectly smooth surfaces and sharp corners, then this project is NOT for you.
Sanding concrete counters can be messy.
Continuing from my previous point about these counters not looking like poured concrete, think about what kind of mess you are willing to create. Concrete dust is very fine and will stick to every flat surface in your kitchen.
I was not willing to have major clean up after this project, so here’s how I minimized the dust mess:
- Limit the sanding you actually do, especially with an electric sander. This may mean there will be more texture and “character” in your countertops. I was OK with this. In fact, I like my counters more because of it.
- Take the time to smooth the wet concrete. The smoother your application, the less sanding will be required. I like to spread the concrete left to right at first to get complete coverage. Then I smooth back to front, all the way down over the front edge of the counter.
- Practice your technique. After doing a dining table and a kids table with this method, I had plenty of practice with my technique. If this is your first concrete project, consider practicing beforehand on a piece of plywood.
Do you have questions about my DIY concrete counters?
Hop on over to Youtube and leave a comment on my video. I do my best to answer new questions (that haven’t been asked before) and will update this blog post as well.