1. Prepare your surface. For my kitchen island I used a piece of plywood and framed it out with furring strips on the bottom. My countertops started with a tiled surface, so I sanded them a bit with some rough sandpaper. (kitchen island pictured)
2. Whenever working with concrete, I’d recommend using rubber gloves and a dust mask. Using the power drill and cement mixing drill bit, I mixed up 2 parts water to 1 part of the Henry’s Feather Finish as indicated on the instructions. It’s a great idea to first test a small amount of the Feather Finish (about a quart sized container) to get a sense of how it mixes and density of spreading to get a sense of how to work with the material.
3. Using the cement spreader, I spread a thin layer of the cement, about ¼” thick, onto the surface of the table. Try to get an even layer of cement across the entire table. (kitchen island pictured)
4. Let dry overnight. When fully dry use a medium grit sandpaper with palm sander or sanding block and sand the top surface.
Repeat steps 2-4 spreading another thin layer of cement onto the surface, letting dry, and sanding.
If any parts of the table shows through, do a third layer. I only needed two layers for this surface, but it depends on how thick well the cement coats your surface to determine number of layers needed.
5. To put a stencil on your surface, apply plastic-based stickers in the pattern you’d like. Use a head gun to make sure the sticker is adhered well. I used my tester piece to test my stain. It’s a good idea to do that first to get an idea of how your stain will apply to confirm that’s how you’d like it. (kitchen island pictured)
6. Apply your stain using a sponge and rubber gloves. I tested multiple stain colors and natural materials. For my kitchen island I ended up using a red <check color> concrete stain. For my countertop, I simply used spent coffee grounds by taking a bowl of them and rubbing them gently onto the surface. Once I achieved my desired color, I wiped off the remaining coffee grounds with water and a sponge.
(kitchen island and countertops pictured)
7. If you used stencils, remove the stickers, once the surface is fully dry. I wanted a more distressed look, rather than such a solid finish, so I sanded the surface a bit more to achieve that look.
(kitchen island pictured)
8. If you’re going to be using this surface near food, the best sealer that I found was Cheng Concrete Sealer. If food is not a concern there are other cement finishings out there like this.
If you’re using Cheng's, apply as the instructions indicate using a watered down mix of the coating, wiping it onto the surface and allowing to dry. You can test the surface with water to ensure that your surface is fully sealed. If not, you can apply a second and third coating, allowing time to fully dry between coats.
Enjoy your new countertop!
How to: Cement countertop overlay
I love the look of cement countertops so, when I was planning my own home kitchen renovation, I looked into poured concrete options and realized that I didn’t love the price. After some crafty research I found a cement overlay product that gave the look of poured concrete, but was basically an overlay to an existing surface. And when I realized that not only would I be able to retain my existing counters that I was going to scrap anyway, I would also be able to come in at about one tenth the price, that cemented the job.
A poured cement countertop for my 40 square foot countertops, would’ve come in around $2,000 or about $100 a square foot, not including installation. My cement overlay ended up costing less than $100 in materials for about 20 square feet.
Before taking on the countertop, I started on my kitchen island. It needed a size increase, so I cut a piece of ½” plywood to 3' x 5'. I framed out the bottom with furring strips, to give it the dimension of added depth, while keeping it relatively lightweight and sturdy.
After the island went pretty smoothly I was confident to take on the countertop redux. This renovation was part of my kitchen Renovation Realities episode on DIY network that I took on with my friend, Kat. You can catch the full episode during a regular re-airing of the show. I used a mix of photos from both projects below to fully capture steps for each.
There were several countertop pieces that were custom cut to my space, so the fact that I could put the overlay directly onto the surface saved me from measuring and recreating the shapes. The finishing coating that I used on these surfaces is a product called Cheng Concrete Sealer. This was the only cement finish that I could find that was also food safe. I've been using these countertops for over a year and they've held up great so far! It appears to be a real concrete solution to countertops!
Plastic sticker pattern (optional)
Heat gun (optional)
Concrete dye or natural stain (optional)
2 one-quart measuring cups (one for water, the other for dry concrete mix)
5 gallon bucket
palm sander and sandpaper
Examples of my finished countertop and kitchen island