The Faux Concrete Countertop Hack That Looks Gorgeous And Won't Break The Bank

If industrial chic or somewhat minimalist aesthetics appeal to you and you're itching to sink your DIY hands into a new project, then your kitchen might be calling. If you like the look of concrete but not the expense and increased weight of pouring real concrete countertops, maybe it's time to create faux concrete layers with a simple powder mix, some sanding, and heavy-duty sealers! As long as you prepare and maintain everything properly, it can last for years, so it's an investment well spent. Note that this concrete countertop hack works better on properly prepared laminate than it does on some wood surfaces.

The cost of faux concrete is a fraction of the real thing. It's made from a type of powder that's mixed with water and is usually used to repair concrete floors. Real concrete averages out to about $65 to $135 per square foot, which doesn't include the average labor costs of $40 to $50 an hour per worker. By contrast, expect to spend approximately $150 for the main ingredients you need for this faux concrete countertop hack. 

Getting started with your new project

Allow yourself three to four days to complete this project, and for the best results, remove your stove and sink, if you can. Due to the immense dust generated from sanding, we recommend you tape off the areas around the countertop and cover your floors and cabinets. You will probably want to remove all your dishware from the cabinets, too. To get started, you'll need an electric palm sander and sandpaper pads — it's a good idea to have 80 (rough) and 220 (finer) grit. You'll also need a trowel and at least two boxes of Henry Floor Preparation & Repair 549 Feather Finish.

Sand your laminate countertop, and then score it with a knife to ensure the cement adheres. Mix one part water to two parts Feather Finish powder in a container until it's as thick as peanut butter. Using a metal putty knife or trowel, spread on the cement with the goal of completing two thin, smooth layers in one day. We recommend applying Feather Finish three to four times over a two-day period, allowing three hours of drying time between layers. Consider squaring off your countertop edge for a modern look. Once dry, sand your countertop using both grits, ensuring you wear a mask and vacuum up the dust each time.

Completing your faux concrete countertop

Concrete, even this demi-concrete variety, is super porous. After your last layer has dried and you've sanded it smooth, sealing your masterpiece really well to prevent stains is crucial. Apply 511 Impregnator Sealer with a brush, allow it to dry for an hour, and apply a second coat, which needs to cure for 24 hours. Next, apply three layers of a topcoat, such as Safecoat Acrylacq, waiting three hours between each application. If possible, apply it using an airless sprayer because a brush could make the topcoat look streaky. Finally, buff your sealed countertop with non-toxic, food-safe, and water-based wax — Cheng Concrete Wax is one, $28 at Concrete Exchange – and re-wax it every six months. 

For a different look, Ardex Feather Finish also comes in white, for $60 on Amazon, and Hemway carries Powder Pigment Cement Dye for $10. If your taste is on the quirkier side, you could add crystals or seashells to the last layer of concrete. The main ingredient is Henry Feather Finish, $20 per box at Ace Hardware. The 4.5/5 star rated 511 Impregnator Sealer is specifically formulated to seal concrete, for $20 at Amazon, and food-safe Safecoat Acrylacq is a topcoat option for $42 at Green Building Supply are both well-reviewed fan favorites. Another important maintenance tip is to never use an acidic cleaner on your faux concrete. Dishwashing liquid and water have a more neutral pH level, so that's preferable.