Do it Yourself Concrete

Making your own concrete successfully is possible with enough knowledge, practice, and luck. Is it the most efficient way to get a countertop? Probably not, but if you are willing to try, we are here to help.

I've spent countless hours stalking Instagram’s, wading through Facebook discussions, and navigating forums to learn as much about concrete as possible. Even so, all of my first projects were cast at least twice, and still I have pours that don’t turn out for reasons that remain a mystery. Below are a few resources and materials that will better your chances of making quality concrete.

Materials: You will be making GFRC concrete. The basic materials (sand and cement) can be purchased locally. For additional ingredients I strongly recommend Trinic, or BuddyRhodes products. They may cost more, but using Quikrete countertop mix versus using Trinic or BR products is like making a dining table out of pine rather than walnut. Yes you may have a table, but the quality just is not there.

Recipes, techniques, and instructional videos can be found here and here.

For a basic mix, you’ll need:

Sand, Cement, GFRC admix, fiber, plasticizer, and water.

  • Mixer: Order the mortar mixer from Harbor Freight. For $90 you’ll be able to properly mix GFRC concrete. A shovel and wheel barrow won’t work, nor will a typical concrete mixer.
  • Buckets: Any bucket will work, The Home Depot buckets are higher quality then the Lowes buckets.  Sometimes a small piece of plastic will end up in your mix, I try to match my bucket color to my concrete color whenever possible just in case this happens.
  • Scale: To properly measure ingredients, accurate scales are necessary. I started with a cheap hanging scale, and a cheap kitchen scale (for smaller weights). Eventually I upgraded to this. 
  • Trowels: A margin trowel is my most used trowel in the shop. If you are going for a troweled finish on your tops, you will need a few more.
  • Casting surface: Find the flattest surface you have, lay down some plastic, and lay your melamine on this. I started on a living room floor.  A strong, flat table is nice but not necessary.
  • Sealer: I use the ICT system from BuddyRhodes. It’s expensive, can be intimating (because of the heat requirements and torch wielding involved) but it is the best on the market.   

There are countless youtube videos and how-to articles on DIY concrete. Spend some time learning the process, and don’t skimp on materials. Feel free to reach out with any questions.

There are classes taught by a number of concrete artisans. Although I can’t speak from experience, I can speak from a lack of experience. I should have done this early on.  If you are looking at getting into artisan concrete, or will be doing more than one project for your home, these classes are probably worth it.