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How To's Interior Projects

DIY Concrete Countertop Guide – The Easy Way

The following is a guide to create your own concrete countertop.  The nice part about this tutorial is that you don’t need to order expensive product and build your own form.  This is an additive process that is often referred to as “faux crete” since it is a cement top layer and not a counter that is complete concrete.  The process allows you to essentially build your counter with a wood frame along with some plywood and cement board. Once that portion is built, you can layer on a cement based product called “Feather Finish” from Ardex.  When I needed a bag of this product for a project that I had, my local flooring installation supply store had it in stock and it was reasonably priced at around $12/bag.  I used this product to skim coat / encapsulate a floor adhesive in the past. It is a fantastic product to use.

faux-concrete-counter-top

This tutorial comes from Sarah’s Big Idea and is described well with plenty of photos along the way. Each step of the project is very logical and the final steps give you the opportunity to bring in some customization with finishes and texture.  The terrific part is that you could experiment, decide you don’t like it, and then simply add another layer to cover the prior.  When building a “true” concrete countertop, the material is expensive and your form work results in a lot of wasted material.  Let’s not even talk about what you would be  faced with should you make a mistake when measuring/reversing your form (trust me, I mean my brother, it happens!).

skim-coated-Ardex-countertop

If you are looking to build some custom concrete countertops on your own, take a look at this how to.  Good luck.

http://www.sarahsbigidea.com/2013/09/faux-crete-counters-from-scratch/

 

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Exterior Projects How To's

How to Prep Before Laying New Concrete Pavement

concrete preparation

If you’re about to have new concrete poured, it’s important to carefully prepare the ground beforehand. A smooth, compact surface under the new concrete will help to prevent cracking of the new pavement due to unstable soil underneath. Follow these steps to prepare the ground surface before your new concrete is poured.

  1. Make sure the ground surface is the proper depth, and dig it out if it’s not. Generally speaking, concrete will sit about 1 to 2 inches higher than the dirt around it, and 2 to 3 inches of the concrete will sit below the surface of the ground, so the depth of the ground should be anywhere from 3 to 5 inches deep.
  2. Using a rake or a hoe, smooth out the dirt surface. Dig out any high spots and fill in low areas. Make the ground as even as possible.
  3. Using a hand tamper or a mechanical tamper, tamp the ground to pack down the soil. A mechanical tamper is much less work than doing it by hand. You should be able to rent one at a home improvement center or rental store. The finished, tamped soil should be completely smooth and firm.
  4. Spread a 2-inch layer of tiny rounded gravel on top of the tamped soil. This will provide for adequate drainage underneath the surface of the concrete. Tamp the gravel until that surface is as smooth as possible.
  5. Finally, spread a very thin layer of cement sand on top of the gravel. Slightly dampen the sand with water, then let it dry for at least one hour before pouring the concrete.

Making adequate preparations before your concrete is poured may take a little time, but it’s one of the most important steps in making sure that your new concrete pavement is stable and remains free of cracks for as long as possible.

Photo credit: Jessica Merz