Whether you are a contractor or a DIY enthusiast, installing concrete worktops or a concrete countertop poses certain challenges that can easily be overcome with the right know-how. These 10 tips for installing concrete worktops will give you the insight required to make the job go smoothly.
1. Prepare a template as you would with any other type of countertop. On the template, leave a 1/8 inch gap to accommodate the reality that all walls feature slight bows and dips. Gaps can be covered by the backsplash or filled with grout, an easier fix than trying to make a unit fit that is just too tight.
2. Where sections do fit too snugly, use a diamond-bladed angle grinder to gently reduce the concrete until it fits. Go slowly with this and recheck the fit after every minute or two of grinding. In cases of extreme misfit, the drywall may have to be blocked out. Be sure any drywall work occurs below or up to the level of the concrete countertop, especially where no backsplash is going to be installed.
3. Properly shim the sink before installing a concrete countertop. This will help to avoid gaps between the top of an undermount sink and any concrete worktops. If slight gaps still exist after installation, lifting clamps may be used to raise the sink to fit properly.
4. If you are casting the concrete worktops, have the plumbing fixtures with you. This allows you to leave the room the plumber will require to reach the tightening nut with fingers and tools. If a problem fit arises, crack out the grinder.
5. Be prepared to shim concrete worktops so that separate sections join evenly. No matter how carefully the separate pieces are prepared and cast, some imperfections will likely be found. Do not use wood shims since they may rot or compress. Plastic shims work well. Another option is to drill metal deck screws up from underneath, through the plywood deck, and turn them until the countertop is raised to the perfect height.
6. Avoid chips and breaks in the worktops by using foam and cardboard. The pieces of the worktop or the concrete countertop should be encased in foam during transportation to the job site. When attempting to shove these heavy pieces together, place cardboard strips between the pieces to cushion them. Then pull out the cardboard and gently coax the sections the rest of the way.
7. Use brackets or reinforcement rod to support cantilevered concrete worktops over 12 inches. Putting weight on an unsupported section can lead to a nasty crack. Proper supports will avoid this damage.
8. Add support to cheap base cabinets if you think they won't stand up to the weight of the concrete worktops. This can be done by installing a piece of ½-inch plywood to evenly distribute the weight or by adding vertical supports at the back of the cabinets to rest the rear edge of the concrete on.
9. Be prepared for minor patchwork that needs to be done. Always have sand, cement or epoxy filler and liquid pigment blend on hand for minor repairs to concrete worktops.
10. Avoid slow-downs on the installation by having every tool with you that you may possibly need. Prepare a thorough checklist of both tools and materials so you won't waste time running to the shop or store to get what you need.
Hardwearing concrete is seamless and can be formed in any shape to flow around other elements.
'We can make concrete in colours from antique white through reds to black using natural pigments, It also makes a fantastic in/out material, so you can run concrete sinks a top from a kitchen to your outside space.'