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trockyh 09-06-2010 09:52 AM

Concrete counters poured in place
I haven't worked on the oven at all this summer, but we cook in it at least 3 times a week.
But it is time to get it finished and the next step is the concrete counter. I have seen some on here, but want to ask what others have done and what they would do different.
What materials did you use?
Did you add color, or stain after?
All help is greatly appreciated!


splatgirl 09-06-2010 11:10 AM

Re: Concrete counters poured in place
I always advise people to do at least a small test slab before tackling the real thing. You'll get a better feel for the process and have a guinea pig surface to play around with finishing techniques and products, all of which can become a nice stepping stone in your yard later :)
If you add stain or colorant, be aware that many or most products will fade if exposed to direct sunlight. A UV resistant sealer will help, but I'm not sure offhand whether any of the food-safe products are also UV resistant...

Are you going to cast it in place or build a form and set it into place later?

trockyh 09-06-2010 11:40 AM

Re: Concrete counters poured in place
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The plan is to cast in place. I will form all the way around the oven with a cantilever on the front and sides.

EricU 09-06-2010 06:44 PM

Re: Concrete counters poured in place
Concrete counter tops are GREAT if you have the correct expectations. In other words if you want a very uniform color or finish, then you dont want concrete. But if you like the varied look that will change then concrete is great.

Just remember, the concrete;
  1. Wont match the color in the catalog
  2. Wont match the photo in the magazine (they are usually taken at sunset with the interior lights on and the concrete slabs are watered down)
  3. The color will vary
  4. The color will age
  5. May require maintenance*
  6. Wont Burn

*I say "May require" maintenance as I generally seal my exterior concrete counter tops twice about 6 months apart and then do nothing. I like to use darker colors and let them stain or patina depending on how you look at it.

I will be installing three different styles in my backyard myself. One poured in place at my WFO. One poured upside down with ground wine bottle glass for the counter top next to the WFO and one "Buddy Rhodes Press" style for my BBQ area.

I say if you like the look and dont expect it to look like granite, go for it. You can always rip it out! And now I have to get back to creating some more glass for my counter top!

JRWQuattro 09-07-2010 05:23 PM

Re: Concrete counters poured in place
Having built a few counters inside, I would recommend good reinforcement and using a higher grade concrete with plenty of plasticisers to keep the counter from shrinking and cracking. If you are building on a masonary foundation (brick/stone/concrete) the counter may want to shrink a a different rate than the foundation. Molding the counter and then installing it with adhesives allow it to shrink independently and move as needed.
I have used Buddy Rhodes mix/system in the past with good success and find it easy to work with. Buddy Rhodes' pressed method is unique and leaves everyone guessing what our counters are made from.

RTflorida 09-07-2010 10:15 PM

Re: Concrete counters poured in place
JRW makes several good points.

Here is my experience earlier in the year: I did a 'remodel' of my 3 yr old Pompeii oven due to water infiltration. Long story short, covering my existing dome (finished mosaic over 5" of insulation) with another 1" blanket, a rubber pond liner toped sith SBC and tumbled river stone. THis aspect worked perfectly.
I then proceeded to cover my existing counter area with concrete. I chose the Cheng Pro Formula (color burgandy). I followed the instructions to the letter, every step correctly. I have had 4 hairline cracks (1 in the dead center of each side) . I can understand the one right in the middle of the oven entry do to the heat. Not sure of the cause, I did EVERYTHING per the instructions and still cracked during second firing. Used reinforced mesh and 1/4" rebar.
There must be a knack to getting them just right...and I just missed. Looks beautiful, just what I expected, but I have those damn cracks. I'm sure it must be something that I did or did not do.In any case, I plan to live with it since has onother complete finish under it, I dont foresee and issues. THe problem is pride - I had it well known that I was improving my oven (and I did) but now I'm left explaining the cracks.

OH Well!


trockyh 09-07-2010 10:37 PM

Re: Concrete counters poured in place
Thanks to everyone that responded.
Does anyone have pictures they would like to share?


splatgirl 09-08-2010 09:42 AM

Re: Concrete counters poured in place
I have a photo set of the formed countertop process and some finished slabs here:
Making Concrete Countertops - a set on Flickr
That project was about ~150 sq/ft.

I've not done as much cast in place stuff, but what I have done has been pretty insane...
Making a Concrete Ofuro - a set on Flickr
also my WFO countertop:

Cracking is 99% relative to the amount of water used in the mix. Always, always err on the side of less water and definitely use a plasticizer at the max rate indicated. As you will see from my photoset, that means you'll end up with more voids that require filling afterward but, at least to me, that means more interest. I'm still crack free after five years.

I've never used colorant or stain. I've also never seen a colored or stained surface that hadn't faded from exposure to light. I know the sealer market has expanded drastically in the last few years, so maybe there are better UV blocking sealers now, especially if you can live without it being food safe...

If you want something really perfect looking, be advised that you will probably NOT get that with your first, second or even tenth attempt. As others have already said, concrete counters ala DIY are best for those whose aesthetic isn't perfection, now or ever.
I've always used bagged quickcrete 5000 and added microfibers, plasticizer and carbon fiber grid reinforcement plus pencil rod or rebar in critical areas. What I did for my outdoor cantilever was to drill rod into my hearth slab and bend it it over to extended into the countertop form.

If your plan is to wrap the hearth stand with tops on more than one side, at the very least you'll need to put control joints at the corners because you absolutely WILL get cracks at any inside corner no matter what. Maybe even do separate castings for the front and sides.

DaveW 09-08-2010 08:52 PM

Re: Concrete counters poured in place
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If you click on my picassaphoto link below there are some pictures towards the end of the 400+ photos. We used the Cheng mix (chianti) with HomeDepot 5000psi concrete. You have to pre mix the cheng powder/fibers with the concrete and then add the water. This is a pain as the concrete sticks to the mixer because you can't add a little water first. It goes in the form very dry so we had a lot of holes to fill. I did accidentally add way too much water to the last pour but I can't tell the difference from the rest now that it is ground down. Cheng recommends using a vibrater in the concrete but we just pushed it down by hand and beat the forms with a hammer. I would recommend the vibrator if you can find one. When you go to fill the holes Cheng does not give you extra color so you will have to take a shot at mixing your own. We used the liquid color from Lowes (with portland and fortifier)and ended up with pink. We have just one small crack (so far) behind the grill where the counter is only 3 inches wide. I bought a wet grinder online but found it difficult to keep an even hand. As a result the surface ended up a little uneven. However I sloped the forms 1/2 inch back to front so water doesn't pool. We sealed it with Chengs foodsafe sealer which claims to be UV resistant. I am very happy with the sealer, no stains so far and easy to apply.


Pdiff 09-09-2010 11:24 AM

Re: Concrete counters poured in place

Sweet build and great pictures. Nice to see as I am working-planning on several similar items from the roof to the counters to the pavers. BTW: What time is dinner ? :)

If, I may, what info do you have on the roof tiles? I can't find anything like them around me. I really like the look.


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