Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Thoughts on DIY Concrete Countertops

If you are interested in making your own concrete countertop, do a Google search: DIY Concrete Countertop for 1,450,000 links to read.  If that’s not enough, the same search on Bing nets over 2 million results.  Now in the interest of candor, I’ll admit to mixed feelings about how successfully do it yourselfers can advance the concrete countertop revolution, yet many professional concrete countertop fabricators got into the business by first fabricating a concrete countertop for their own home.

So if you are reading this, and are not a concrete countertop pro, chances are you are thinking . . . planning . . . dreaming of a concrete countertop fabricated with your own hands.  One bit of advice – the likelihood of making a great top in your first try is better than your chances of winning the lottery, but the odds are still against you.  One of the biggest proponents of DIY concrete counters is Fu Tung Cheng who wrote a book called Concrete Countertops Made Simple that includes a DVD guide.  The title of the book is an oxymoron – in my experience, fabricating concrete countertops is never a simple process, even when you do it every day.  There is an unending learning curve in any manufacturing business, and concrete tops are no exception.

Cheng enthusiastically advocates decorative concrete tops, but remember that the more interest in DIY tops that he generates, the more books, DVD’s and material move through his online store.  If you buy many of the suggested items needed to fabricate your first top, your bill could easily top $500 for grinding and polishing tools alone.  This does not include a mixer, vibrator, casting table, or mold making supplies.

After paying for all the supplies and tools you need to make your first top, you are likely looking at costs approaching what you would pay a countertop pro to fabricate the same item, and your result will be  . . . .  let’s just say . . .  “well, this was my first top”.  The cost of tools, of course, never discourages a dedicated do it yourselfer.  After all, adding tools to the portfolio is just one of the pleasures of the weekend warrior.

The point of this blog entry is:
1.       Making a do it yourself concrete top is far more technical and challenging than a DIY book will lead you to believe.
2.      Making your own top should not be undertaken as a way to save money unless you can be happy with a result that won’t look like top made by a company doing it as a “day job”.

In my next entries, I’ll spend more time discussing some of the steps involved in making a top.  Stay tuned if your interest is whetted.

Note: For an excellent article that details some of the hurdles for a successful DIY concrete top, see the link below.

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