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DIY ARDEX Concrete Countertops | Kara Paslay Design

DIY ARDEX Concrete Countertops

DIY ARDEX Concrete Countertops
** UPDATE:  We have had lots of readers asking where to find ARDEX products.  The first place you should check is the ARDEX Preferred Partners Site.  You will be able to search for distributors and contractors in your area.  If you can’t find one near you, you can contact our local distributor.  We have talked with them and they are willing to ship ARDEX.  **
Professional Flooring Supply
3751 South 73rd East Avenue
Tulsa OK 74145
Phone: 918-301-4737

Happy Friday Friends!  I hope you have exciting plans for this weekend, maybe you’re even hoping to get a project in!  If you’re looking for a way to spruce up your house, Tim and I have a great suggestion for you today!

IMG_0876It’s no secret that Tim and I are concrete lovers. Sidenote- Our next DIY Concrete Class in coming up on August 11th.  You can find more information here if you’re interested.  Anyway, Tim and I have been using concrete products for a long time.  Many of those products have come from a company called ARDEX, which just recently became a blog sponsor of ours!  Yay!

ardex

ARDEX has a number of products, most of which are centered around concrete flooring and refinishing.  However, if you like to think out of the box and be a little more creative, there is so much more you can do with AREDEX’s amazing products!  We figured if the ARDEX overlays were meant to withstand the wear and tear that floors receive, it could certainly hold up for a countertop installation.  And when we were creating a plan for Heather’s bar area, it seemed like the perfect place to use ARDEX’s Feather Finish product.

As you can see in the photos below, there were 2 countertops in Heather’s bar area:  wood, laminate, and a wood/marble combo.

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Here’s the great thing about ARDEX- you can apply it over the top of almost any surface. You just have to make sure to prepare the surface correctly.  Any smooth finish will need to be roughed up to provide a surface that the ARDEX can grip onto.  You also want to make sure the surface you are covering is structurally sound.  If there are cracks in the surface, this indicates that movement is occurring and your concrete may crack if the problem is not addressed before hand.

For this particular project, we sanded the wood and marble surfaces and opted to remove the laminate layer from the main countertop.  When we removed the laminate,  particleboard was revealed underneath.  Because of its rough texture the particleboard provided a great surface for us to overlay onto.  Tim lightly sanded to remove any remaining adhesive.

Here are the materials you will need:

– ARDEX Feather Finish
– a bucket for mixing
– A drill attachment mixer (or you can mix by hand with a small trowel
– a drywall “knife”
– a drywall mud tray (if desired, not essential)
– a trowel (not pictured below)

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First, mix up the concrete by simply adding water to the Feather Finish product.  Add water and continue to stir until you get to a thin pancake batter consistency. Next you will want to allow the mixture to “flash set.”  That means once it is mixed, allow the product to sit for 5 minutes, then stir again for a minute or two.  This helps the product to stay workable for longer.

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Now you can apply the concrete to your roughed up countertop. Simply trowel it on in sweeping strokes.  You will do a couple of coats, so don’t try to put too much on in the first coat.

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Use a drywall knife when you are up against a wall, in a corner, or doing edges.  It is easier to control in these areas than the trowel.

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Edges and curves can be tricky. Tim and I have found the best way to cover them is to trowel on what you can for the first coat, but on the second and possibly third coat, let your mixture dry just a bit to almost a clay like consistency and then use you fingers to “sculpt” your edge.  You can also use a plastic bag to help smooth a round over edge.

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It is better to put too much on the edge at this point.  The feather finish sands really well and the added thickness will allow you to refine your edge shape by sanding.
After each coat, you will want to lightly sanding the surface to knock down any rough spots that could mess up your finish on the next coat.  The surface should be smooth to the touch after each sanding.

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I really like the artisan look of hand troweled concrete so I like to see the trowel marks in the surface. However, if you prefer a smooth surface, you can achieve that look with more sanding.

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You may find that some product makes it’s way up onto the wall surrounding your surface as the photo below shows.

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To remove this simply wrap a small putty knife in a towel (to give you a strong edge) and wipe along the surface to give you that nice clean edge!

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Once you are happy with the coverage of the product (usually 3 coats) and have completed your last sanding you’ll have countertops that look something like this. . .

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If you would like to stain the countertops, you can do 2 coats of the Feather Finish product and then 2 coats of ARDEX’s SD-M product.  The Feather Finish will not accept stain evenly, but the SD-M will.

Now it’s time for sealing.  The process is super simple.  You simply wipe the product on with a sponge, allow to dry, and repeat a number of times. We used this concrete sealer (below), but where ever you buy your ARDEX should supply a product that works the same way.

photo

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And here’s how the countertops will look when you’re finished. . .

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You can find your local ARDEX distributor right here!

Now, this process is doable, but there are some things that you just learn better with hands-on experience.  To get some of the that experience and  individual instruction, you can attend our next concrete class on August 11th!  Click here to learn more!!

concrete101

*Disclaimer- We choose to do projects that we believe will enhance homes and be lasting.  However, sometimes our applications are not specifically suggested by Ardex. If you are concerned with warranty policies, please refer to the ARDEX Feather Finish technical data sheet for instructions and warranty information. ARDEX only guarantees recommended and approved applications outlined in the ARDEX Feather Finish technical data sheet. For more information, visit www.ardexamericas.com.

This article has 83 comments

  1. Nate

    Looks awesome! Have you had any issues with it cracking since it’s a thin surface? I could see a can or hard object fall on it and cracking the concrete since it’s pretty thin. The existing surface would have to be very secure with little give.

  2. Jill Flory of Sew a Fine Seam

    that is awesome! I have a countertop that needs this! did you use stain on this one? I like the color variation I’m seeing on yours and wondering how you achieved that? also – my countertop is a piece of wood that has never been attached. can I remove it to do this technique and then set it back on the cupboard or would it best to nail it down first?
    thanks so much – i can’t wait to hear from you!

  3. Jessica

    I used to work in the stone countertop industry, and have been wanting concrete countertops for a long time. Do the counters with this finish still have the heat resistant and stain resistant properties? I just wanted to make sure it is still as durable as regular concrete. Thank you for the step by step instructions, they are BEAUTIFUL! How much did this cost?

    Jessicarwarfield at gmail dot com

    http://www.warfieldfamily.com

  4. Tim Paslay

    Kim, you have to send us a photo when you do! Just make sure the surface you are overlaying on is sturdy and not cracking before you start to apply the ARDEX! 🙂

  5. Tim Paslay

    Thanks Nate! The ARDEX will only crack if the surface you apply it to is experiencing movement. Basically your foundation needs to be secure or Ardex isn’t the best option. As far as chipping, you’d be very surprised at how durable the surface is. This product was made for floors in commercial spaces, so it can withstand a lot of wear and tear.

  6. Tim Paslay

    Hey Jill! We did not use stain on this countertop. The color variation you see is due to the trowel marks we created when applying the product. But you can stain ARDEX. The stain should be available wherever you buy your ARDEX. As long as your piece of wood is nice and thick (so it won’t bend when you’re installing it) It would be easier to take the piece of wood off and apply the ARDEX and then attach it, but you could absolutely do it either way! 🙂

  7. Tim Paslay

    Hey Jessica! The sealer you apply to the countertops will keep the surface from staining. You know it’s time to reapply the sealer when you get water on the surface and it immediately gets dark. As far as heat, it should be fine. I wouldn’t place a pan directly from the oven on top of the surface though just to be sure. We’d love to see pictures if you take the project on! 🙂

  8. Heidi

    How thick do you apply each layer? And would you recommend uninstalling the sink (or any other cutouts) first and reinstalling it after the Ardex is dry? Does it end up raising the sink?

  9. Lili Tankersley

    LOVE THIS!!! Just in time, too, because we were about to buy boring countertops! I love the color you used. It looks like it has beige in it, but it’s the gray Ardex product, right? I want to be sure I buy the right one. Any chance they look grayer in person than they do in the pictures? Thank you!

  10. Lili Tankersley

    Also (sorry for so many questions!) what size bag did you use for this kitchen? I wish I lived in OK so I could come to your class. Thanks for the help!

  11. Autumn

    I am going to attempt this as an alternative to buying new countertops, my concern is the sealer, I want something that will hold up to acid or oil stains but I am not able to obtain what you used above nor did my Ardex distributor offer anything. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  12. Kara Paslay

    Thin layers are best and yes it is easier to uninstall the sink than to go around it. The ARDEX won’t raise the sink much (less than 1/4 of an inch.

  13. Kara Paslay

    Hi Lili! I’m pretty sure the bag only comes in one size and we only used one bag for this application. The photos are a good representation of the true color. There is a some browny beige areas (due to our troweling technique). We did not use stain on this particular countertop, but there are a lot of stain colors available for the product if that’s the look you want. Just remember to use the SD-M product if you are wanting to stain it.

  14. Kara Paslay

    Yes, you just really have to scuff up the surface so that the ARDEX has something to adhere to. And remember, it’s not a good idea to do this if your tile is cracking. If you apply ARDEX to a cracked surface, it will eventually crack as well.

  15. Kara Paslay

    Yes, you just really have to scuff up the surface so that the ARDEX has something to adhere to. We’d love to see a photo if you take it on! 🙂

  16. Kara Paslay

    Yes, you just really have to scuff up the surface so that the ARDEX has something to adhere to. If the paint is chipping or peeling, it is a good idea to try and use a paint remover of some sort rather than go over the top of it. We’d love to see a photo if you take it on! 🙂

  17. Tim Paslay

    This product has been designed to overlay commercial flooring. I have used it for a couple of years and haven’t had any adhesion issues. As far as staining goes, it is like any other porous surface (traditional concrete, granite, marble, and other natural stones) and it is only good as the sealer you put on it. You should have any problems if you clean up spills in a somewhat timely manner and maintain your sealer coat. I like this sealer because it is really easy to sponge on a new coat of sealer with a sponge and clean up with water.

    Sorry that you have had an experience with concrete that has made you skeptical, but ARDEX really is a great product.

  18. Tim Paslay

    ARDEX does offer a white product. I can’t remember if it is available in the Feather Finish or the SD-M product. I haven’t ever used it or seen it applied, but I have heard of contractors needing to use it to achieve certain colors.

  19. Autumn

    Thank you! Also it seems Home Depot doesn’t have a good sense of what to use to sand the Ardex product, do I need a certain grit or sander? Ia appreciate your help, we’re in process of taking the laminate off this week, so hopefully this project will be finished sometime soon

  20. Tim Paslay

    Hey Autumn- You don’t need a special sandpaper for the ARDEX. Anything at Home Depot or Lowe’s should work. As far as grit goes, to smooth out your first coat you could use 80 grit, but for the final coat (as long as it is already fairly smooth) I suggest 220. Can’t wait to see how it turns out.

  21. Anonymous

    Hi there! This is such a great solution to my ugly tie countertops! My question is, can I add concrete pigment to the feather finish product? I can’t get the sdm where I live (I have to buy the feather finish at amazon!) but I want beige countertops. It was recommended that I use a powdered pigment…is that compatible with this project? Thanks!

  22. Tim Paslay

    If I remember correctly I used a little more than one bag of ARDEX Feather Finish and one bag of ARDEX SD-M. The Feahter Finish bag says it will cover 33 sqft at 1/8″ thickness and 16 soft at 1/4″. I generally don’t let my coats get that thick so I think those estimates are a little low. The SD-M bag says it can cover 80 to 100 soft in two coats. The place I buy sells the feather finish for about $18 a bag and $24 or $25 for a bag of SD-M. Depending on the size of your countertops you couldn’t out for less than $100.

  23. Jl Rice

    How much additional weight does this process add to the counter top? I have concerns about the foundation of my current countertop and am not sure how to “shore up” the countertop before using ARDEX.

  24. Maranda Blumenthal

    Awesome! Thanks so much! Can’t wait to give this a shot when we move into our new home at the end of the month….. where very ugly countertops await us in the kitchen. 🙂

  25. Tim Paslay

    I used around two bags of product on this entire project. Each bag weighs 10 lbs each, so no more than 20 lbs total spread over about 50 soft. It really isn’t much at all. As long as the counter is currently stable, I wouldn’t worry about the additional weight of this product.

  26. Amy

    Absoultely LOVE this! I have an ugly island countertop and really want to redo it, and LOVE this option! Does it come in a different color or can you do a stain? I really want countertops like this, but I like the acid stain to them or a colored stain.

  27. Tim Paslay

    Yes it is possible. The base coat, ARDEX Feather Finish, does not accept the stain evenly so you will need to add multiple layers of ARDEX SD-M. I believe you can color that with either method, acid stain or a water based stain, but you should check with your local distributor.

  28. Tim Paslay

    It can be. It all depends on the adhesive that was used. Try using a torch to heat the adhesive. Be careful not to light anything else on fire, but we have had good luck with this method.

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