Concrete Countertop - questions/advice

Howdy folks:
I'm biting the bullet and buying my first house (cheers) but the kitchen needs fairly extensive work (boos). It's a 50's house with nasty cabinets, floors, etc. My plan is to rip out the floor, install new laminate hardwoods, and if need be, replace the cabinets (I'm going to first see if they can be saved by sanding and redooring, but I'm thinking this might not be feasible).
The current countertop looks like Formica. I've looked at various types of counters, and am currently leaning towards a concrete countertop that I'll make and install myself. Having no idea what I'm doing, this seems like it might be insane, but I believe it's cheap enough to try and see how it turns out. Any advice? If I get new cabinets, do they need to be reinforced to handle the weight? Any ideas about casting in place vs. pre-cast? I'd like an undermount sink, but I believe a top mount would be much easier to install, so I'll probably go with that. Are the holes for the faucets formed or drilled? Do these counters need to be attached to the cabinets or are they pretty much held in place by weight and a lite epoxy?
Lots of questions I know, but more than anything, I'm just wandering if anyone has any experiences they'd like to share. Hindsight. That sort of stuff.
Thanks for any help. Mike
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I worked on a site a few years ago where someone made a concrete counter top for both the bathroom and kitchen. It worked failry well except for the 'L' formation intended as one piece for the kitchen... it snapped and had to be repaired. If I were to do this, I would use something along the lines of a 6000psi cement that's reinforced with an epoxy (less chance in cracking I would think). The guys I saw make this one thought maybe 2-3 of them could carry it in (it was cast outside on plywood and 2x4s) but it ended up needing about 6 guys... these are heavy don't be fooled. I **think** they used a mold release agent on it but I don't know for sure. If you do this, please post your results as I was considering it also. Either way, wait 90d before making any kind of a finishing coat on it.
Andrew.
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<snip>

It is, but since when's that stopped any of us?

Get and read _Concrete Countertops: Design, Form, and Finishes for the New Kitchen and Bath_ by Fu-Tung Cheng, Eric Olsen. All questions will be answered.
John
--
Remove the dead poet to e-mail, tho CC'd posts are unwelcome.
Ask me about joining the NRA.
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I casted my own countertops from concrete. Its pretty easy if once you know the steps involved. I highly recommend the book mentioned in the previous post. I did mine before the book was published, and was suprised at how similar my method was.
In general, make a template of your countertop and transfer it upside down on melamine coated particle board or plywood.
Build 2" walls of wood to create a mold. Try not to go much thinner than that as it may be prone to cracking. Caulk and fingersmooth all the edges that you want to be rounded over. Reinforce with rebar and or some sort of wire mesh (ideally the 6 " grid type). Wire all the reinforcement into one rigid structure and suspend it about an inch off the bottom. Wipe on old cooking oil as a release agent,
Mix 5000 psi concrete with as little water as you can while still having it workable. This ensures a stronger slab. Dump it in the mold, pack it in well in all the tight spots , screed the top with a striaght edge and let it cure. No need to trowel or float to a smooth finish since its the bottom anyway. once it turns hard, you might want to cover it with a tarp to retard evaporation since keeping the water in the slab ensures it will be as strong as possible. I kept the slab wrapped for weeks for a granite hardness
Once you release it from the mold you will no doubt have countless air bubble holes on the finished side. Simply wet the slab down with water and fill the holes with portland cement, water and some acrylic admixture. Add some concrete pigment in the mixture for a nice patina. once cured, sand the whole surface and further round the edged by sanding.
The holes where the faucet pokes through are made of dowel or pvc sections. Wrap them once around with 1/8 inch packing foam sheet so that they will pop out without effort. Sink cutouts are molded right in. My sink is undermounted for the coolest results. It was actually an overmount sink that I mounted underneath since I was too cheap to buy a new sink. No need to attach it to the countertop, just suspend it level with the cabinet and lay the countertop over it. A bead of caulk or silicone seals the seam.
Seal it with 3 coats penetrating masonry sealer, and polish the surface with neutral color Kiwi shoe polish. The surface will shine like glass and resist water and stains.
You really should do a small test slab to get a sense of the color and get experience working the material.
I struck a test piece full force with a hammer blow and barely chipped the concrete. If you form the slab properly, it will be nearly indestrutabe and crack free for the life of the countertop.
Good luck!
-Sean
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<< am currently leaning towards a concrete countertop >>
Check out page 040 of the Feb. '04 WIRED magazine and you will see:
Wired...colored concrete Tired...granite Expired...Corian
So all you trendy folks out there, get rid of all those ugly rock topped counters. Makes your kitchen look like the Laboratory of Dr. Doom. Cheers...
Joe
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responding to http://www.homeownershub.com/maintenance/Concrete-Countertop-questions-advice-506349-.htm diymyhome wrote: I realize this post is old...but for anyone else looking into it. We poured our concrete countertops in place with a bullnose edge and resurfaced the rough 'practice areas'. Here's a link to the details: http://diy-my-home.com/concrete-projects /
------------------------------------- Kelly From concrete to wood - we are trying it all at our new house: www.diy-my-home.com
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