How To Easily And Inexpensively Convert Your Outdated Bath Countertop Into A Concrete-Surfaced Counter

If you are growing weary of a faux-marble, integrated bathroom countertop and sink basin unit and want to update the look to something contemporary, then an easy, low-cost option is to install a concrete finish. It is a simple project that requires a minimum amount of skill and time, and you can transform a ho-hum countertop into something eye catching. Below is what you need and how to make the transformation:

Tools and materials needed

  • Subfloor finishing cement - this is available in small ten-pound bags from home improvement and hardware stores and is designed to use when filling cracks or other imperfections in a concrete subfloor. The mix consists of mostly Portland cement with a few other non-aggregate materials included. It works well when used to cover countertops and is easy to work with.

  • Acrylic water-based concrete sealer

  • Disposable four-inch paint roller

  • Fine-grit foam sandpaper block

  • One-inch putty knife

  • Wooden spoon

  • Grout sponge

  • Liquid dish soap

  • Paper towels

  • Plastic bucket

  • Measuring cup

  • Water

Step-by-step procedure

1. Prepare the surface - shut off all water supply to the sink faucet and remove the sink hardware. The countertop will need to be prepared so the cement will adhere firmly to its surface. Thoroughly wash the counter and basin with a sponge soaked in warm water mixed with liquid dish soap; this will remove all oily residues and other substances from the counter. Rinse the counter using clean water and dry it with paper towels.

Once the counter has dried, use a fine-grit foam sandpaper block to roughen the surfaces including the inside of the sink basin. Be sure to remember the edges when sanding. Wipe away all the sanding dust with damp paper towels.

2. Mix the cement - measure and add one cup of dry finishing cement to a clean plastic bucket. Begin to pour in a few tablespoons of water at a time and mix the cement thoroughly using a wooden spoon. As soon as the cement reaches a consistency of peanut butter, stop adding water to the mix. If you accidentally add too much water, then just add a few tablespoons of dry cement to the bucket. Just be careful not to waste too much cement as you will need it for additional layers.

3. Apply the first layer of cement - scoop a small ball of cement with your putty knife and spread it in a thin layer on top of the countertop. Make the layer about 1/16th of an inch deep and don't worry if it appears uneven or if you have shallow spots; you will have an opportunity to smooth-out the next layer or two.

For corners, apply a little extra cement and push it into place with the putty knife. Dip your fingertip in warm water and run it along the top of the corner to make a smooth, concave surface.

Once you are finished applying the cement to the countertop, allow it to dry at least 8 hours before applying the next layer. Keep the humidity level inside the bathroom elevated by periodically running hot showers and avoiding the use of excessive heating; this will prevent premature curing and cracking.

4. Apply a second layer of cement - after the first layer has dried, you will need to mix a new batch of cement as noted in step 2 to use for the second layer. Use the putty knife to apply another layer about 1/16th of an inch deep, and try to fill in shallow areas or other spaces that you missed the first time. In addition, be sure to concentrate on any transition zones, such as between the countertop and basin or the countertop and its edges, so that there are no thin spots in those areas.

Once you have applied all the cement, lightly dampen a grout sponge so that no water drips from it without being squeezed. Carefully brush the sponge over the top of the damp cement to smooth out edges and eliminate any undesirable marks. Don't use a sponge that is too wet or you may accidentally wipe away the cement you just placed.

5. Sand the concrete - once the concrete has dried, use the sanding block to remove any blemishes and make the surface smooth. Wipe away sanding dust with a damp paper towel.

6. Apply a concrete sealer - after sanding and wiping down the concrete surface a final time, use a disposable paint roller to apply a coat of concrete sealer. Be sure to follow the directions on the container of sealer about applying subsequent coats.

7. Reinstall hardware - as soon as the sealer has dried for at least 24 hours, you can reinstall the sink's hardware and restore water service. You could also choose to replace the hardware at this time (in which case you should check out a kitchen and bathroom showroom).The countertop is now ready for use.