Concrete kitchen countertops

These are beautiful kahlua colored concrete kitchen countertops that we installed in a south Dallas, TX home. This was a cast in place project that took us about three days just to build the molds due to their size and layout. Generally, most folks don’t realize just how much work goes into the mold building, but it’s by far the most critical part of the entire job. If things are not aligned, squared up, or level, the final result leaves something to be desired.

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First, no cabinets are perfectly square or level. With precast concrete countertops, this is less of a problem. We build and pour them in our shop so we can square up the edges easily and if the cabinets aren’t level, well, that’s what shims are for. Cast in place kitchen countertops are trickier as we have to create a mold that both rests on the cabinets but is also independent of them. We do this by laying plywood sheets down to create the base upon which we are going to pour the countertop. The plywood is usually screwed to the top of the cabinets so the countertops won’t move around but if the cabinets are not level then the plywood base will rise and fall along the length of the countertop. As we then install the molding that creates the countertop edges directly on this plywood it also tends to do the same and consequently so do the finished kitchen countertops. All this requires careful attention to detail to prevent.

Once edges have been installed the last step is to install the knockouts (voids) for the sink and faucet. We certainly don’t want to cut these out after the pour so we often use foamboard to create these voids. We trace the shape of the sink into the foamboard, cut it out, and tape it to the plywood. For the faucet we use a cylindrical shape so that the threaded portion of the faucet can pass through though sometimes we drill this out instead.

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After wrapping up the mold build, we mix up the cement, pour it in and start the finishing process for our concrete kitchen countertops which uses a steel trowel (rectangular shaped tool). We repeatedly pass this trowel over the still drying concrete to smooth it out, but it requires a special touch. If you do it too soon or too much, you overwork the concrete and the surface can actually peel up. Do it too late or not enough, then it looks more like a sidewalk, rough and unappealing. Timing is everything in this step.

After letting it cure we strip off the molding, exposing our new concrete edges. For these we used an angled edge molding to create this unique look. Next we simply push out the foamboad leaving us with a perfectly shaped knockout to install the sink, whether from above (surface / rim mount) or below (undermount) as you see pictured here. We do any needed touchups and wrap up the project with a couple of sealer coats.

So why choose concrete kitchen countertops? In the end we think it really boils down to taste. Concrete just has a very unique look that stands out from everything else. Let’s be honest here, granite is usually our biggest competitor, it’s also a beautiful material, however, just about everyone has it. When you walk in, it just doesn’t draw your eye like it did years ago. With concrete, being less common but equally beautiful, that is not the case, people always notice, want to run their hands over it and ask what it is. It really stands out.

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