Concrete has become a commonly used countertop material; if properly colored and finished, it can look like natural stone or higher-priced solid surface materials. You can use it for kitchen surfaces and bathroom vanities. You can have concrete molded into any shape and customized using embedded tile or mosaic features. For a natural appeal, incorporate botanical imprints or items such as seashells and stones into your concrete countertop.
The Best Concrete Mix for Countertops
Concrete countertop mix consists of Type Ill cement, lightweight aggregates and a combination of latex additives, liquid pigment and water. Type Ill cement is a high-early-strength cement with a lower rate of shrinkage potential with less chance for cracking. Ground more finely than Type I, it also reacts more quickly. It comes in white or gray varieties. You can't purchase white in small quantities, so you'll likely have to make a special order. Help contain the cost by measuring the dimensions of your countertops carefully before ordering the cement.
Additives for Concrete Mix
For the best possible results, add fiber reinforcement, acrylic and silica fume pozzolan, which has high strength and durability. You can also add color to the mix. To assure you achieve your desired color and finish, form a 1-square-foot sample, which you can also use to test decorative items you might like to use. Let the sample dry completely to show the actual color of the finished product.
Reinforcement to Concrete Mix
You must add reinforcement such as structural steel, wire mesh or fiberglass to your concrete mixture. Have all your reinforcement material ready and close at hand before you begin to mix the concrete. Your concrete countertop's durability will depend on how you prepare the concrete mixture, so follow instructions carefully. Experiment with the proper technique using small amounts of cement. Make another square-foot sample using items you have chosen to see whether they allow you to achieve the look you want. You can add designs or objects to the cement once you have poured it. Have the items you have chosen organized and ready to place in the cement.
Grinding and Polishing
Once your successful concrete mix has dried and cured properly, you will grind and polish the surface adding beauty and durability. Remove sharp edges and corners by sanding with a random-orbit sander and 100-grit sandpaper. To avoid inhaling silica particles, wear a respirator. Polish the surface with an orbital sander and 180-grit disks until you've made it smooth. Countertops are always sealed with epoxy, which is harder than the concrete. Use two coats to assure a quality surface. The only maintenance you will need is a good waxing every nine months.
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