DIY Concrete Countertop Overlay by Creatively Living blog

Concrete Countertop Overlay

Cement Countertop Overlay Post

Here is the post on the cement countertop overlay!

The overlay that you just trowel over your existing nasty laminate countertops!

It’s super easy folks! ….and cheap!

It’s also super messy and has some serious drawbacks that may stop you in your tracks!

So if this is something you’ve considered….read on!

Here’s a good before and after.

Ardex Cement Counters for Kitchen Makeover

What is my personal opinion about this method of countertop resurfacing?

I LOVE the way they look!

The price is pretty much UNBEATABLE!

but…..

they can not take a beating!

I have 6 kids. Three are boys and they are DESTRUCTIVE!

I seriously baby these countertops. If you’re mixing something….use a placemat under the bowl,

If you’re using the toaster…..put it on a placemat!

The crockpot….can you plug it in and set it on the stove please?

Yes, seriously, the amount of pickiness these countertops have created drives my husband a little nuts!

However, they look awesome, and they were around $90 start to finish, so don’t complain family and use a placemat!

Kithen Makeover Ardex Cement Counters

Here’s a quick tutorial and what I will share on how to help with the durability of these countertops.

The before…..(above)

We started off with countertops that were in decent shape and not an awful color at all, however, they were a little stained and looked dated. I think someone had given this kitchen an early 90’s makeover.

Even if your counters were in bad shape, I think a cement overlay would be a perfect fix.

I gave the existing counters a quick sand with the hand sander to rough them up hoping to help the cement stick well.

Then I taped EVERYTHING OFF!

Kitchen Makeover Cement Countertops During

Um…ya, don’t judge, that is kitchen plastic wrap.

I was desperate ok?

However, it worked. The goal is tape off everything because you will do A LOT of cement sanding and it gets EVERYWHERE!

It’s a huge mess. Tape off every doorway and the floors!

You can see I used a sheet to take off the doorway.

 

Also, before I keep going. I did not use the feather finish from Ardex like everyone else did.

I used Ardex SD-M white.

Why? Because it was white and I wanted light counters.

Was I concerned it wouldn’t stick?

No, not really. It’s meant for the same floor resurfacing as the feather finish is.

It didn’t really turn out “white”, but it is very light and looks almost quartz-like when sanded down well, instead of like cement.

Ardex Cement Counters 1st Coat

I mixed the cement, and troweled it on with the largest trowel I had. A large trowel or a yard stick would be a good flat surface to help trowel the cement over the counter.

Most of the on-line tutorials say to apply about three different layers of cement, sanding with 60, 120 and 220 grit sandpaper in between each layer of cement.

Now on the countertops, I followed adding 3-4 layers of cement and “sanding three times in between each layer” to a tee!

I wanted to do it right so they would have the best chance of “making it” (holding up) at our crazy house!

I later did my desk top the with the same cement and took some serious short cut…..no difference everyone! Basically, the short cuts didn’t make a real difference in my opinion.

I’ll save you some time.

The pic above shows the what the first layer of cement looks like.

It looks pretty rough. You do sand and sand and sand. I hand-sanded with 220 and maybe even 300 just to make sure it got really smooth.

Most people want an “artesian” cement countertop look.

I think I wanted mine to look like quartz for super cheap, so I tried to get any and all “ripples” out!

Here’s a pic of my finished desk top.

Cement Countertop on my Desk

Remember I said I did it differently.

I only added 2-3 layers of cement and I barely sanded in between.

This was one of the last projects in my entire kitchen makeover and I was sort of just done!

Anyways, I figured (on the desk) I would have to sand the heck out of it at the end, so why not just sand off anything super high in between layers and then get the hand sander out at the end with some super fine grit. It took a lot of sand paper, and it wasn’t quite as smooth, but it was fast….and not as messy, and really it looks the same as the counters.

The sealer I used on the desk make ALL THE DIFFERENCE.

So keep reading! I’ll hit that when I get to the sealer part.

Cement Countertops by Creatively Living

After tons of sanding, and re-applying and doing all of my dishes in the bathtub, I was finally ready to seal.

Cement Countertops Feather Finish

I followed Young House Love’s tutorial and sealed with 511 Impregnator Sealer (which you can pick up at Home Depot)

and then used this spendy food safe sealer that they suggested, AFM Safecoat Acrylacq.

Here’s the deal. It’s not that I’m into eating toxic stuff, and I’m not asking you to NOT be concerned, but this stuff didn’t cut it when it came to “holding up” against my family.

….and I think we were actually pretty counter friendly.

It’s been 5 mo, and there are a lot of marks.

I’ve told myself to just embrace the “rustic concrete” look, so that I’m not super annoyed with the counter marks. Some of the marks are concrete patina. That look is actually kinda cool and I can handle it, but anytime a kid ran a car over the counter, or accidentally made a scratch (which isn’t tough considering the sealer on these.) Anytime my husband left a sticky coffee cup and then let it set and pulled it off (taking the sealer with it), it left marks!

Coffee cup mark seen below.

Cement Countertop Coffee Cup Stain
It actually looks worse in this picture than it looks in real life.

The spots are what I consider countertop concrete “patina”.

I think moisture gets in the concrete pours and darkens them.

The cup ring is obviously from a cup.

Like I say, it doesn’t look like this when you are in front of the counter. In fact, you barely notice it unless I point it out, but still…..it’s annoying.

How to avoid this and make your countertops more durable.

Forget the expensive food safe stuff and just use polyurethane!

I know….it sounds like I’m saying just be toxic or something, but for heaven’s sake…just use a plate!

Let’s think about it. What makes your dinning room table durable? Probably something toxic.

Unless you’ve gone to great lengths to buy or refinish a table yourself with non-toxic sealer, you are eating off toxic sealer!

Just use a poly, and then have your kids use a plate when eating off the counter.

I used polyurethane in satin on my desk. It has held up beautifully with only one coat.

Use two coats on your counter and I think you’ll be fine.

I let my stick coffee cup sit on my desk every day…no problems.

I drag things across it…no problems.

I really think Poly is probably the answer to keeping these countertops from staining and scratching like mine have.

Cement Countertops with Ardex White Cement

Cement Countertops Ardex

Kitchen Makeover White and Gray

Office Area in Kitchen --Creatively Living

So what’s the consensus on this cement overlay?

Find an Ardex dealer and buy some cement (I think around 15-30$/bag depending on white or gray and location).

Follow these tutorials: Mine, Young House Love’s or Little Green Notebooks, they do include a couple details that I didn’t include.

…and then seal with the impregnator and polyurethane!

…and just use a plate.

Then  enjoy the beauty of your new countertops, and the money you saved!

Ardex Cement Counters for Kitchen Makeover

Please feel free to ask me any questions!

I think this is a fantastic makeover option and I’d love to help you try it!

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the tips. I’m seriously considering doing this in my question and appreciate the pointers!

  2. These turned out so great! We love the look of concrete countertops but the pouring in place seems so difficult. Laying it over your current counters seems like a great option. I also love the color of your cabinets!

  3. Pretty incredible makeover you’ve done for a song! I love it, even if it’s not an uber strong finish. You’ve worked miracles in that space!!!

  4. I have been seriously considering doing this in my master bath – but not anymore after reading your post! With hair color, makeup, anti-aging products containing acid…I just don’t think they’ll work for that space. So bummed! But I am thankful that I didn’t do it and then hate the results. Your kitchen looks great! And props to you for being so diligent about the care of those counters!

    • Well…eventually I’m probably going to have to take some light sandpaper to them, do one more coat of cement and then polyurethane. Hopefully I’ll get a good couple years out of them before I have to!

  5. Had cement before and loved it.. Gonna do this in a couple weeks.. Please use poly when you seal them. You will love them. Mine looked great for years. If you do have problems, it is easy to fix them. Great tutorial.

    • That is so great to hear! My desk is seal with poly and It seems to be holding up well, so I’m glad to hear that worked for you too!

  6. Katie,
    Your kitchen is gorgeous. The counter tops are simply awesome. I know it took a lot of work but, I bet you saved some great cash.
    Congrats on an amazing project. Thank you for sharing the shortcuts you took on the desk. I agree. A good coat of poly and use a plate, people.
    Happy Creating,
    Karen Marie

  7. Logan Troxell says:

    Great idea with the Poly. Question did you use water or oil based poly? Do you remember the brand too? Thanks! your counters look great!

    • Hi,
      Sorry to get back to you late. I used a water-based poly in satin. It was by Minwax. The oil-based poly will yellow your project. I’m finished with another cement countertop at our rental and am putting 4-5 coats of water-based polyurethane by Minwax on it. I will do a follow up post on how that holds up.

  8. Looks great! Where did you get the whiite cement?

    • Great question. You can go to Ardex cement website and find local dealers that sell Ardex cement. I live in Spokane and there was one dealer here.

  9. What brand of poly would you recommend? Also, polyacrylic or polyurethane…wouldn’t the polyurethane yellow the finish?

    • Great questions. I used a water-based polyurethane from Minwax with a satin finish. The oil based polyurethane yellows, but if you use the water-based it will not yellow.

      Hope that helps.

      • Thank you, Katie! You’ve been a huge help. I plan on taking the plunge very soon. I’ve been living with peach countertops since we moved in, and I cringe every time I walk into the kitchen.

  10. This looks awesome. Thanks for the tutorial. We are going to do this for a work bench my husband is building for me. He’s going to make the wooden countertop and put cement board on top for me to do the application. Food sealer isn’t needed but I need the most durability I can get. What brand of poly did you seal it with?

    Thanks!

    • I sealed it with a satin water-based poly from Minwax. For extra durability I would recommend the oil-based, but it will yellow more than the water-based.

      Hope that helps.

  11. Hi – great comments about your shortcuts and durability. I hadn’t heard of this way to recover countertops – so I’ll definitely do more research. One question i had about the durability factor – do you think I could put down 3 or 4 coats of the minwax poly and then top that with a couple of coats of the food safe sealer?

    • Yes, I think that’d be a great idea Neil! Let us know how your project turns out and if you come up with any additional tips!

      • How would you describe the finished colour of the white? Have seen lots of grey and looks great but we want a lighter colour as everything else is dark. Is it cream colour, off white, light grey? Any comments would be great. Thanks

  12. Michele says:

    Okay I know this might sound crazy but could you do this over granite tile? Trying to get a brighter look in my kitchen without spending a fortune. When we built our house the dark counter tops and cabinets were in. Now 13 years later I need a change. Love your new kitchen!! Your tutorial was very informatice, thanks.

    • I think it would work. You apply and then sand and continue building it up like that, so I think it would be fine. That’s just my opinion though….I’ve never tried it.

      • can you install an undermount sink with the ardex over 3/4 plywood and 1/2 inch cement board as application. thanks

        • That is a great question! Probably best to ask a contractor, or try calling Ardex Company themselves. I only have experience putting it over laminate, so I don’t feel educated enough about undermount sinks to give you adequate advice. I think it would look beautiful though!
          Best of luck! Let me know what you find out!

  13. I did full croncrete countertops and used a food safe sealer. I also am having coffee cup rings and I and my husband are the only ones using it right now. I know it will get worse. Did you re apply the poly over top yours or did you strip the food safe sealer first? I am not trusting the info from the Chang sealing company. Also boasted a matte finish and it shines. Did all the right things applying and am so disappointed with all the work involved.

    • I totally agree Bonnie! I’m currently looking at mine (1 yr later. I should probably write a “1 yr later” post) and thinking…..should I just totally re-do these, or install a real countertop. We have 6 kids and they are VERY hard on things, so at to,es I think it’s just us….but then reading what you write makes me think it’s the concrete! I have places that have chipped off and stains everywhere. I’m wondering if an epoxy type sealer would be best. I’m just not sure. My desk is holding up ok, and it has water based polycrylic on it….then again, it doesn’t get used nearly as much as the countertops. Sorry…I know that doesn’t help! I think that I’m not quite sure to do with mine at the moment!

  14. Two suggestions for those considering doing this: 1) if you want a lighter color but can’t find the white Ardex, just get some white titanium dioxide. The white Ardex is hard to find but titanium dioxide is easy to find and cheap. Plus it gives you the ability to mix exactly the lighter color you want and you can even turn the dark gray Ardex to white. Just mix the titanium dioxide with the water before mixing in the Ardex; if you mix the titanium dioxide with the Ardex, then water, it will give you white streaks. 2) I have never seen this on a DIY Ardex blog post but I discovered quite by accident that if you use a knockdown knife (found in any big box store in the textured wall section) you will have a far easier time of spreading as opposed to using a tape knife or trowel or anything metal really. The knockdown knife is for textured walls but seriously, it was made for spreading an Ardex counter. You will have very little sanding to do if you use the knockdown knife.

  15. How long did you have to wait for each layer to dry? How long did the project take you from start to finish?
    Thanks in advance

    • I can’t remember the exact time, but it does say on the bag how long it takes to dry. I think from I started with prep one day and finished sanding/sealing the last layer by the end of the following day. I have 6 kids though and homeschool part-time, so I’m sure my work was sporadic!

  16. Considering do this as we want to change out our tile countertops. Do you know, can we just do the concrete right over the tile? I love the idea of not having to demo the tile countertops!

    • Hi Jennifer,

      I’m not sure. I’ve never heard of anyone doing that, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work. I would call the cement company that carries the particular cement I mentioned in the post and ask how that would work. Best of luck!

    • Hi, Jennifer. I have covered the ugly tiles in the bathroom with joint compound and the concrete overlay. Even joint comp (painted and sealed) is holding up well. But the concrete is better since it doesn’t melt when water finally gets to it. But i would seal with something like “diamond clear”.

  17. Did you remove the sink during the project or work around it?

  18. Hello,

    Question – how long did you wait to apply the satin water-based poly to the counter top?

  19. Dumb question… Um, how do you do the edges? Like front of counter and sides? I’m not getting how you can apply the concrete so as not to slough off and end up on the floor? Is it the the type of cement you said you used the secret?

    • You just smooth it out around the edges with your trowel and build the edges up. You might need an extra layer on them. Sand in between layers. It works better than you’d think.

  20. Laura Bladen says:

    I am tossed between doing the concrete overlay and just ripping off the laminate and painting the wood (particle board?) underneath the laminate. In eaither case, I would need to seal the counter. I have used both Polyurethane and Polyacrylic in home projects and I can honestly say that I like the Polyacrylic so much better. Polyacrylic is water-based and so easy to clean up, but more importantly, it doesn’t yellow like Polyurethane.
    Question: Have you tried adding color to the concrete mixture prior to applying? I am wondering if I can add dye powder, such as RIT.
    I am not concerned about color variations, I am aiming for a granite or venetian plaster look. Your comments are greatly appreciated!

    • Hi Laura,

      Yes! Polycrylic is best for many reasons! I agree. The Little Green Notebook Blog added black to her cement and it turned out wonderful, so adding color does seem to be quite possible! If you are looking for a marble look, there are some amazing painting tutorials on line too! Just a thought. Bets of luck!

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