How to Make Concrete Countertops

Concrete countertops are becoming an increasingly popular option for kitchen and bathroom remodels due to their unique look and durable nature. While prefabricated concrete countertops are available, many homeowners opt to make DIY concrete countertops as a way to save money and create a one-of-a-kind look. With the right materials and techniques, you can create stunning concrete countertops yourself. This comprehensive guide will walk you through every step of the process from building the forms to polishing for a professional finish. Follow along to learn how to make concrete countertops that will add instant style and value to your home.

Getting Started with DIY Concrete Countertops

Before you start mixing and pouring concrete, take the time to learn about the basics of concrete countertops. With an understanding of the materials, tools, and techniques involved, you will be set up for success on your project. Here is a quick overview to get you up to speed on making concrete countertops:

  • Concrete Mix: You will need a high strength premixed concrete designed specifically for countertops. This provides compression strength of 5000+ psi. Using a standard concrete mix is not advised.
  • Forms: Melamine coated particleboard or plywood can be used to build watertight forms for pouring and curing your concrete countertop.
  • Reinforcement: Steel rebar and/or wire mesh is embedded into the concrete to prevent cracking and add strength.
  • Admixtures: Plasticizers help improve workability of concrete. Color pigments add built-in color to the concrete.
  • Finishing: Once cured, the concrete is sanded and sealed to create a smooth polished finish. Diamond polishing pads are used in progressively finer grits.
  • Sealers: Penetrating concrete sealers protect the surface from stains and scratches. Topical sealers add gloss.

With the basics covered, let’s dive into each step of the concrete countertop making process in more detail.

How to Make Concrete Countertops Step-by-Step

Follow this comprehensive step-by-step guide to create flawless DIY concrete countertops for your next kitchen or bath remodel.

Step 1: Design and Build Forms

The first step is to determine the size and shape of your concrete countertops and build custom forms.

  • Take precise measurements of your cabinetry and draw out plans for your desired countertop layout. Account for overhangs and any cutouts needed for sinks and cooktops.
  • Construct watertight forms using melamine coated particleboard or plywood cut to your measurements. Seal seams with silicone.
  • Attach vertical sides to the form with screws or nails to create the thickness of your countertop. Standard thickness is 1.5″.
  • Coat inside surfaces of the form with a release agent so concrete won’t stick.
  • Build additional forms for any cutouts or special features like a textured front edge.
  • Reinforce forms with additional bracing to prevent bowing or bulging when filled with heavy concrete.

Take your time building sturdy, precision forms as this will ensure your finished concrete countertops fit perfectly on installation.

Step 2: Install Reinforcement

Adding steel rebar or wire mesh reinforcement prevents cracking and strengthens the concrete:

  • For rebar, cut lengths to size and bend into a grid shaped frame using standard tie wire to hold in place.
  • For wire mesh, cut sheets to lay evenly spaced across the form. Overlap adjacent pieces 2-3 inches.
  • Elevate rebar or mesh 1/3 from the bottom in the form using concrete bricks or plastic chairs. This centers it to withstand tension as concrete cures.
  • Make sure reinforcement extends into any seams or edges to tie the concrete together. The end goal is even distribution of strength.

With proper reinforcement installed, you can move on to mixing and placing the concrete into the forms.

Step 3: Mix and Pour Concrete

Mixing and pouring the concrete is one of the most important steps in the process. Follow best practices to achieve a flawless finish:

  • Wear proper protective gear like goggles, gloves, a mask and cover exposed skin. Wet concrete can cause skin irritation.
  • Mix concrete per manufacturer’s instructions. Start with 3/4 initial water, adding more sparingly until desired consistency is reached.
  • Optional: Add plasticizer admixture to increase workability. Only use recommended dosage.
  • Optional: Add liquid or powder color pigment to the mix. Start with small amounts and add as needed.
  • Pour concrete into the form, slightly overfilling. Work out air pockets using a dowel rod. Vibrate or tap form to settle concrete.
  • Strike off excess concrete with a straight 2×4 using a sawing motion. This leaves a flat, level surface.
  • Mist surface lightly with water spray to prevent premature drying.

Proper mixing, pouring, consolidating, and leveling ensures you achieve maximum strength and a flawless surface texture for easier finishing later on.

Step 4: Cure and Finish Edges

After the pour, the concrete will need proper time to cure before continuing:

  • Cover surface with damp burlap or plastic sheeting and allow concrete to cure for 24-48 hours until hardened.
  • Keep concrete moist during curing by misting with water to prevent cracking.
  • Unwrap surface, then sand and finish all exposed edges using diamond pads or sandpaper.
  • Clean away dust and debris before moving on to final finishing steps.

With the concrete fully cured and hardened, you can complete the polished finish.

Step 5: Grind and Polish Surface

Achieving a smooth, glossy finish involves grinding and polishing with diamond abrasives:

  • Start with a 50-60 grit metal bond diamond pad to flatten and level the surface.
  • Vacuum away all concrete dust before progressing through finer grit pads.
  • Continue grinding at 100, 200, 400, 800, 1500, and 3000 grits using both metal and resin bond pads.
  • Focus pressure on low spots to level. Keep the surface flush with countertop edges.
  • Finish polishing with a 3000-6000 grit sponge pad and concrete polishing compound.
  • Rinse surface and allow to fully dry. Inspect for any remaining low spots to correct.

Take your time with each progressive grit to eliminate scratches before moving to the next finer polishing pad. Thorough cleaning between each step prevents contamination.

Step 6: Seal and Protect

The final step is applying sealers to lock in durability and create your desired finish:

  • First, apply a penetrating sealer following product directions. This bonds deep into the concrete for moisture and stain protection.
  • Optional gloss coat: Apply a topical wet-look acrylic sealer using a microfiber applicator. Use thin, even coats buffing in between.
  • Remove any excess sealer with a soft cloth before drying. Allow proper drying time before use.
  • Avoid abrasive cleaners. Mild soap and water is best for routine cleaning. Reapply sealers periodically for optimal protection.

With sealing completed, you can install your stunning new handcrafted concrete countertops and enjoy them for decades to come.

FAQs about Making Concrete Countertops

If you are tackling concrete countertops for the first time, chances are you have plenty of questions about the process. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions:

How long does it take to make concrete countertops?

From building the forms to final polished finish, expect the entire process to take 2-3 weeks. Concrete needs proper cure times between steps and finishing is a multi-day grind and polish regimen.

What color options work with concrete countertops?

Integral color pigments can produce any hue you desire. From bold colors to neutral earth tones, the options are endless. Topical stains can also be applied after polishing for unique mottled effects.

How thick should concrete countertops be?

A thickness of 1.5 inches is standard to support the weight of the concrete once hardened. Thinner profiles under 1 inch can crack or sag over time.

Can you polish concrete without industrial tools?

Smaller handheld grinders paired with diamond pads allow DIYers to achieve high-gloss polished concrete. It just requires more time and elbow grease. Renting equipment can also be an option.

Do you need prior experience working with concrete?

No prior experience is required! As long as you follow the steps carefully and have help pouring and leveling the concrete, beginners can create pro-level results.

What edge styles work best for concrete countertops?

A standard eased edge is common, but you can imprint decorative textures into the front edge form. Bullnose, chamfered, ogee, and laminated edges are also great options.

How do you prevent cracks in concrete countertops?

Reinforcement such as rebar or wire mesh prevents cracking by adding tensile strength within the concrete. Slow curing and proper sealing also helps avoid hairline cracks over time.

Can you repair chips or stains in a concrete countertop?

Minor chips can be patched with concrete epoxy filler. Stains may require re-grinding and resealing affected areas. Prevention through sealing is the best medicine.

Tips for Success Making DIY Concrete Countertops

Concrete countertops allow tons of room for creativity and customization for your unique style. Here are some top tips to help you achieve stunning, professional-quality results:

  • Build sturdy formwork from quality materials. This prevents leaks and deformation during pouring.
  • Precisely template sink cutouts, faucet holes, and cooktop openings before pouring.
  • Always pre-seal concrete surfaces before each pour to prevent sticking and tears.
  • Carefully measure water amounts and add color pigment slowly to achieve the perfect hue.
  • Utilize help for pouring and immediate concrete finishing steps which require extra hands.
  • Allow longer cure times before finishing for hardest surface resistance during polishing.
  • Work through polishing grits patiently and thoroughly before proceeding to avoid deep scratches.
  • Apply sealers in thin coats, buffing between each layer for maximum adherence.

While concrete requires time and labor to perfect, the results are well worth it. Take care in each step, and you will love your handmade concrete countertops for life.


Creating your own concrete countertops provides limitless options for achieving the exact color, finish, and style you want at a fraction of the cost of custom fabricated concrete. With the right materials, tools, and techniques outlined above, you can achieve jaw-dropping concrete counters rivaling high-end installations. While it requires careful planning and diligent finishing work, the personal satisfaction of crafting your own concrete countertops is well worth the effort. Not only will you save on installation costs, you’ll gain invaluable skills and enjoy a one-of-a-kind focal point in your kitchen or bathroom. With this complete step-by-step guide, you have everything you need to feel confident tackling this DIY project. Just take it slow, embrace the process, and your stunning concrete countertops will be the envy of everyone who sees them.