I think that I will forever be a fan of concrete countertops and will continue to recommend them to anyone who asks. They are super DIY friendly, and compared to other countertop options, they are practically free. But I am getting ahead of myself. Also, get ready for photo overload. Here’s where we were a month ago.
And here is where we are now!
A lot of the prep work was already done. The rebar was definitely the most time consuming, just because to get it to stay in place you have to concrete them in. And then be patient and let it dry. Patience is not exactly my strong suit…
One the rebar was all in, we were able to frame out the lower countertop. We decided to place the countertops in two parts: lower and upper. This way we could learn from any possible mistakes. The lower countertop has a more intricate pattern to it; the upper is just a straight shot with nothing special, so it was way simpler. We used a ton of particle board and plywood to frame the base of the countertop, and 2x4s, 2x6s, and, by the end, whatever wood we could find to frame up the sides. The trickiest parts were around the grill. Luckily we have the exact grill dimensions. If we didn’t already have our grill picked out and bought, I’m not sure how we would have done this. I’m guessing there would have been a lot of patchwork later on. We also made sure to leave space for our pergola posts that will be going in eventually. Always gotta plan ahead!
And then I went on a short little vacation. The shrimp and oysters were calling to me from New Orleans and I couldn’t resist them anymore. And also, my sister-in-law is getting hitched, so any excuse to travel is a-okay in my book! We had a blast, of course, and I am already back to craving all the seafood. C’est la vie!
While I was gone, the hubby and my dad poured the concrete! Such a great thing to come home to. And I’m not too heartbroken that I missed it, since I have seen and done it all before with our bathroom countertop. I did, however, need to be there for the upper countertop pour. It’s too monumental! Anyways, I know they ran through the same process, so if you have an interest in seeing what was done, be sure to check it out.
After a week, we removed all of the forms. Apparently we aren’t allowed to just kick out all the supports. The concrete can crack and bow. So instead, my dad cut the supports off using a circular saw, and then we got to pry them out. We did end up with a few cracks running perpendicular to the bar, which is a bummer. And since we only really supported the corners of all of the plywood, the middle of the spans sagged a bit. So all of the cracking happened where the supports were. And there are small (probably not noticeable to anyone but us) dips along the countertop.
We took what we learned and put in about 10 times the amount of supports for the upper countertop. This one is way more important, visually, so we wanted it to be as perfect as possible.
We still ended up with a couple of hairline cracks, but the final countertop was almost perfectly level (i.e. no dips) and went more smoothly (ha!) overall.
The following two weeks, we used the polishing (buffing? concrete sanding?) tool to make the surface nice and smooth. It was the same one we used for our bathroom countertop, but we didn’t go as smooth. Mostly because it felt so smooth at the 800 level. So why go all the way to 1500? We let it dry out, and then the hubby just sealed it. Since it is outdoors we might need to reseal it more often that our bathroom countertop, but we will see how it hold up.
We plopped in the grill, and just like that, the bar is usable! Now we get to add in all the pretty parts of it!