I knew way back when I first moved in that I was going to attempt concrete countertops. I just wasn’t sure where or how until a few months down the road. I’d purchased all of the tools that I was going to need at Home Depot. I’d done my homework, but honestly there weren’t a lot of DIY attempts of this to refer to.
There were videos of what seemed like professionals doing poured concrete countertops and there were videos of others doing what is referred to as skim coating. Since my countertops were in okay shape, and because a friend of mine told me that my floors might not be able to withstand the weight of poured concrete countertops, I opted for skim coating.
I decided to test this out on my kitchen island before attempting the entire kitchen. I had purchased a laminate kitchen island countertop from a Craigslist ad. It didn’t match my house, but I knew that when I bought it that I was going to be covering it up. I was wondering how I was going to do the rounded edges, but it ended up not being a big deal at all!
The first step was to use deglosser. This is the same stuff that I have also used on my kitchen cabinets and staircase banisters. You’ll want to wear gloves when using this stuff. It doesn’t smell like it could take the skin off of your hands, but I bet that it would. It’s the consistency and color of milk. I use a sponge and wipe, wipe, wipe. Once it’s dry, you can take a little bit of warm water and wipe some more.
The next step was to sand the laminate countertop. Scratch it up really well. I used 100 Grit. Once sanded, wipe the dust off.
You can see the scratches really well in this picture:
Now comes the fun part! I used Henry brand FeatherFinish. The instructions call for 2 parts powder to 1 part water, or was it the other way around? You guys, I think I followed the mixing instructions backwards for the first layer!
Other posts all mention how it dries quickly and to make small batches because otherwise it will dry before you’re able to apply it all. Mine was not like that. I did add a bit more powder because it didn’t seem like it was thick enough. When I poured it on, it was the consistency of pudding.
Oh Hi, Kelly! Kelly came over to help and honestly I think she did most of the spreading while I tried to learn how to use a selfie stick.
After spreading and spreading and spreading, it was clear that the consistency of the concrete was nothing like what other folks had been mentioning in their DIY concrete countertop posts. We had plennnnnnty of time to spread it around before it dried.
There was really nothing left to do until the concrete dried, so I cranked the heat in the house up to 80 degrees and went to bed.
7:40 am (I hadn’t changed the chalkboard sign yet)
There was a damp spot that was a bit thicker so it hadn’t yet dried all the way. I sanded around it and then became obsessed with getting that spot to dry.
I used a finer 220 grit sandpaper on the concrete than what I had used on the laminate. I didn’t want to tear the concrete apart, I just wanted to level out the high spots before we put on another layer.
There was a lot of dust. I sanded for about an hour!
Here’s a good look at how the edges turned out after the first layer of skim coat:
10:09 am and that damp spot just would not dry. I decided to take matters into my own hands.
I tried sanding it lightly to thin it down a bit, too.
I was a little concerned, but knew that this was going to be an awesome lesson learned that I could share with all of you, in case you came across the same predicament. I tried to find other DIY posts that had already had this issue and didn’t find help anywhere.
Kelly had come back by now for our Day 2 layer of skim coating and we decided that we needed to just continue with layer 2 even if there was still a damp area from layer 1.
This is when the “A-Ha” moment happened. As I referred back to the instructions on the concrete box, I realized that I had mixed it differently (incorrectly) the day before. This time, it was true that we needed to work with small batches because the drying time was fairly quick.
Just a few hours after having put the second layer on, I was already able to start sanding! That is MUCH different than what we were dealing with on Day 1 when I had mixed the concrete incorrectly.
With the correct consistency, I was also able to use my finger to mold the edges nicely! This was like using play dough vs. using pudding. I’m sure you can imagine the difference in how this allowed us to work along the edges…
I am done sanding and this is the end of Day 2 skim coating my kitchen island!
I plan to stain and seal it, too. Until then, I’m using sidewalk chalk on it like a great big notepad!