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deejayoh 08-29-2012 12:41 PM

Need some countertop advice
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I have a bit of a dilemma about what I want to do for the countertops in my BBQ/kitchen area. I have the area framed in and sheathed, and am still undecided about what material I want to use
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My goal is to have something attractive, but not to break the bank putting it in. I am considering three options

The first two options are using granite. I have access to two pieces of granite slab that I am 99% sure I can make work for the space. A friend built a house and because of timing issues ended up having to double order granite. So this piece is now sitting on the side of his house under his trash cans (!) and he wants to get rid of it.
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I can make it work if I go with a 4 piece approach:

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1a) is to have a contractor pick it up, cut and deliver/install the granite. Advantage: that I make a call, write a check, and it's done right. Disadvantage: Best quote I have is over $900.

1b) is to get a wet saw and polishing pads and cut it myself. Advantage: Pretty cheap - probably less than $200. Disadvantage: I have no idea what I am doing, and I could screw it up. Especially given the corner seam cut.

The other option is concrete
2) Pour in place concrete - 1 1/2 thick. Advantage: Cheap - probably about the same as DIY granite, and no seams. Disadvantage: more work, unknown factor (haven't done before) and I am not 100% sure how to configure the back edge where the countertop meets the existing concrete wall

One other factor I am considering is that I still want to pour concrete for my oven landing - so there may be some economy of effort there if I go with concrete everywhere.

Any advice?

texman 08-29-2012 01:57 PM

Re: Need some countertop advice
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I can relate my concrete experience on the bar. 1st off-I think mine was harder than what you need for your pour. Mine was more complicated because of the cantilever that i wanted. A straight pour without that is much easier and doesn't require the reinforcement that i needed. The actual mix was easy and the pour/placement easy. The form took some work, but there again mine was a radius w/ cantilever that had to be supporteded, not straight like yours.
The challenge for me was the edges. You will have a leading edge and an end edge to worry about. If you want a bullnose or something like that, special forms are needed or can be made with molding. I dont think us rookies can get the edges that the pros can. So, if you want the edge perfect, go with something else besides concrete. Mine turned out ok and no regrets, but not perfect and wouldn't pass inside the house. I have sanded mine surface with an orbital sander and regular paper and it is as smooth as silk with just hints of exposed aggregate. I used plain old stuff from HD/Lowes except for 1/4" rebar that you don't need. If you aren't in too big a hurry, i will seal mine this weekend and you can have that to look at. i didn't want a shiny, sparkling surface, so the concrete was ok for me and fits my kitchen. I think that is your decision really-what fits your preference and kitchen. I used flagstone for the kitchen counters and am happy with those too.
Having said all that, if i had "free" granite that i think is un-polished looks like, i might give it a shot. You work for free remember? (starvin bricklayer) You have cut enough rock at this point to know the routine. HTH and good luck.
The pic is how it looks before i seal it.

Neil2 08-29-2012 03:53 PM

Re: Need some countertop advice
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"unknown factor (haven't done before) "

Don't let that stop you. If you can mix, pour and level concrete, you can make concrete countertops. Look how great Tracy's turned on on the first try.

Cost: $25 worth of premix and rebar.

It will go faster and easier with a 5 inch angle grinder, but I never figure in the cost of tools which I will use for other projects.

Plus: you will learn a new skill. One tip - don't cast them in place. Cast them somewhere you can contain the mess. And get one of these:

deejayoh 08-29-2012 09:15 PM

Re: Need some countertop advice
Neil -
thanks for the advice. I am leaning towards the concrete. I like all the options in terms of colors, aggregate, etc. However, I think I would need to cast it in place. I have that thin section behind the BBQ which I think would make it tough move without risking breakage. Also my backyard is 50 steps up from the street, so if I don't cast in place I am going to do it about 5 feet away, which doesnt help the mess. No way I am carrying a 200 pound counter up the stairs!

I was definitely thinking I would get one of those. I read up a lot on pouring countertops today so I am feeling more comfortable with the idea.

Spinal 08-29-2012 10:36 PM

Re: Need some countertop advice
Why don't you go for the DIY granite option...

If you screw up the granite - the polishing pads will be the same as those you need to do the concrete; so you can then do the concrete....


victornicholas 09-21-2012 12:41 AM

Re: Need some countertop advice
I would suggest granite because the color options are unlimited. When you decide on a granite counter top color that you would like to use on your kitchen counter top, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. First, ask your local fabricator for granite counter tops pricing. Granite, being a natural stone, has many variations in it. Natural granite rock is perhaps one of the most durable and resilient materials on the planet. Regardless of how much use your counter top receives, the granite surface will remain solid and strong. High quality granite will not crack, scratch or stain from daily use.

1willisrobbins 09-28-2012 09:35 AM

Re: Need some countertop advice
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"The other option is concrete"

Check out I bought their beginner project book and formulas ($180ish) and mine turned out great. Materials were like $100 includding most of the special tools and I learned so much about concrete, concrete forming, concrete curing etc. It was a lot of work, but super rewarding. see attached photo of my slab tops on my outdoor kitchen. Quickrete sells a countertop premix that is the wave of the concrete DIYer future. Blue bag. My biggest hurdle was sourcing the obscure ingridients for the formulas given by the concrete institute, but they made an unbelievably strong slab.

billwil 09-28-2012 01:46 PM

Re: Need some countertop advice
Very unique. I don't think I've ever seen an outdoor kitchen like that. Great job on the counter tops, too. They look great. I'll be doing my own concrete counters in the near future, too. Wish me luck. :)

jeeppiper 09-28-2012 02:29 PM

Re: Need some countertop advice
I used porcelain tile with epoxy grout for my hearth. Looks and works fantastic! And it was dirt-cheap!

Tscarborough 09-28-2012 08:12 PM

Re: Need some countertop advice
Very clean, WillisRobbins, I like that a lot.

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