So after finishing tiling the bathroom floor, I was on a tiling high and thought it’d be a good idea to keep up the momentum and get going on the kitchen. We have a great kitchen – I like the blue, but don’t LOVE it. And I LOVE the subway tile in the shower. Unfortunately I can’t spend that much time in the shower looking at it longingly. BUT if it were in the kitchen I probably could.
I’ve been stalling on the backsplash for a while now because I figured it made the most sense to focus first on the counter top. And unfortunately we don’t have a budget for the kitchen right now. I’d LOVE carrara marble, which would be GORGEOUS, but it ain’t going to happen!! So what’s left? (I know, there are a lot of options) I like the look of butcher block, but the thought of tearing everything out sounded exhausting and much more of a big scale project. And I’d kind of like to keep my options open for doing something I truly love down the road. My friend just mentioned porcelain counter tops – I’m intrigued! But will have to revisit that idea later.
I was thrilled when I saw Kara Paslay‘s tutorial on DIY concrete countertops. This seemed like the absolute perfect solution! It was cheap, and I like the look of concrete counter tops. My fate was sealed with Jenny followed suite and refinished her laundry room counter top.
It’s slightly experimental, but figured if this didn’t work, I always had IKEA butch block to fall back on.
So like most of my projects, it started at nap time. I knew before I did any tiling, I’d have to prime the walls…that happened first.
Then with Lucy still asleep, I thought to myself, “I wonder how easily the checkered tiles will come off the wall.” And then within 30 minutes they were all down. And more surprisingly, Lucy didn’t wake up, even when I was hammering a crowbar down on the tiles. I guess I must have to hammering gently.
That was finished by noon and once Lucy was up, it was time for an outing. I figured I might as well go buy the concrete material.
Kara recommended Ardex Feather Finish, but when I called Ardex to find out where I could buy it locally they told me that it wasn’t available at retails stores and I would have to buy it through a construction company. Then I found that Home Depot carried a brand, Henry, (has been discontinued) with Ardex technology. The specs guy at Ardex said that that would work just fine, so I picked up a few boxes…and then crossed my fingers and got started!
It’s pretty easy…as long as you aren’t a perfectionist. To start I sanded down all the laminate using a pretty rough low grit sand paper, then once all the dust was cleaned off, I spread a thin layer of feather finish over the surface.
It was basically layer on, sand smooth, layer on, sand smooth, etc. I did about 3 coats, and then left if over night.
Then I went over it with a fine sanding pad and did one more thin layer to get a few of the unlevel spots, edges, or where the white counter was peaking through.
I say that you can’t be a perfectionist because this will make you absolutely crazy trying to make it perfect! I keep trying to level everything so that there were absolutely no seams or visible lines between trowel sweeps. Finally I just say, “this is concrete, it’s not supposed to be 100% consistent and smooth, it’s rough, embrace it.”
Next step – sealing.I
You can definitely see here what I mean about the visibility between layers. I think if once a layer was partially dry and the next went on, they’d end up slightly different. A few little air bubbles, lower right of photo, appeared where it went on thicker. It’s more along the edges, so I decided to be ok with it.
Jesse came home after I sealed the counter tops. I told him they weren’t quite dry, and to be super careful. He cooked some potstickers on the stove and this is what I found the next morning.
Oil splatters!! These counters aren’t looking good for us. They might not fit our “lifestyle.” The protected very well against everything else – water, coffee, red wine…but not oil. I even dropped a bit of peanut butter, and it sucked right in the oils.
I left them for now because I need to move on to tiling. I’m borrowing a saw that I’ve had for too long, so on to the backsplash, and then I’ll come back to the counters. I’ll probably do a light sanding, new feather finish, seal, and then try waxing them as well. I’ve been researching! :)
(JANUARY 2014 – UPDATE ON THE COUNTER TOPS)
PS – I’m a little behind on posting. You might notice in my instagram feed I’ve already finished the backsplash – but I swear it takes just as long to put a post together! I’ll have the subway tile back splash up next week!