DIY Outdoor Kitchen Part 2: Concrete Countertops

I've seen concrete countertops done on the DIY and HGTV networks all the time, how hard could it be?! It turns out, not that hard. It certainly takes some time, but it was well worth it. Here is what we did.

I started with a few google searches. This 15 minute video from "This Old House" was helpful. They did a few extra fancy steps that we didn't do (you will know what I mean after you watch it) but the overall process if helpful to see.

Here is a great video tutorial from a fellow DIYer that provides thorough video instructions for how to make an outdoor concrete countertop.

Lowe's had a different outdoor kitchen design plan where they provided written steps for a concrete countertop tutorial as well.
See how the concrete is at the edge but then dips
down in the middle? This is how the lip is made similar to what
you see on indoor kitchen countertops!
  • We bought the melamine boards and silicon caulk to assemble the concrete countertop mold. 
  • We also bought the Quikcrete Concrete Countertop blend at Lowes. I recommend this brand since it really helps make sure your contertops are the right strength and consistency. 
  • We used our dimensions of the base we created and our plans to create the molds. Just remember to flip your template to ensure its right before you start. The bottom of the mold becomes the TOP of the countertop. 
  • We assembled the mold and added the concrete. 
  • Once the concrete was mixed and at least 2 inches of concrete was added at the bottom of the mold, we inserted insulform board that we bought at Lowes linked here. We cut it to size leaving a 3/4 to 1 inch gap around the edges. 
  • This gives our contertops a lip and makes them appear thicker than they are. This will save them from being too heavy and the lip lets it grip to the base more.
  • We didn't follow our own advice and ended up with a bigger kitchen than we originally planned. 
  • We tried to vibrate the sides of the mold but it didn't seem to work very well. We did all that we could and hoped for the best! 
  • Thanks to quick thinking, we used the countertop from the right side on the left side. Good thing we made them mirror images of one another! 😏 
Before the concrete slurry...
  • After letting the concrete dry for at least 24 hours we removed the forms (melamine). 
  • After about 48 hours we flipped the concrete countertop over.
  • The top had lots of small holes from not getting all the air of the mold.
  •  In order to fix this, we had to use a concrete slurry.
  • A concrete slurry is cement and concrete bonding adhesive. See the two products we used in the pictures below.  
  • We followed the directions on the bottle and combined the concrete and boding adhesive. 
  • We used a trowel to add the slurry to the countertop as a thin layer making sure to fill the small holes with the slurry.
  • Make sure to prep the area before using the wet sander. Put tarps underneath your work station and the countertop because the excess concrete will get everywhere!
After the concrete slurry and sanding!
  • We used a wet sander (you could also use a dry sander, but they are both super messy) to slowly sand the slurry. The slurry fills in the little air hole bubbles on the countertop. 
  • We did this process twice before we were satisfied that the small pits in the countertops were filled and looked so much better! It did the trick! It was super smooth and it added even more character to the countertops. Win-win!

  • After we finished the countertops, we very carefully transported the countertops onto their newly constructed bases. These are EXTREMELY heavy weighing in at over 350 lbs each so they didn't require any special attachment to the base. Plus the counterop fit like a glove in between the 4 X 4 posts on the backside so they aren't moving anywhere! 
  • The outdoor kitchen was almost complete and we were ready for the final touches- sanding, staining and of course, adding in all those copper details! 

Stay tuned for our next post, DIY Outdoor Kitchen Part 3: The Finishing Touches and Copper. 💖