Concrete Feather Finish Countertops

Counter tops before and afterOver a year ago Laura did a countertop feather finish . The results were such a success and they’ve held up well, so we decided to use a similar method in our HFHS kitchen. Plus we wanted to keep the counters as neutral and inexpensive as possible since we don’t know who the lucky new owners will be (and we don’t know their tastes). The gray finish provides that neutrality and the whole thing cost less than $200!

Concrete feather finishI used a couple different methods, tools, and products than Laura, so I’m going to share those with you. 

Supplies to skim coat a counter topSupplies:
–––-trowel and spackle knives (varying sizes)
-throwaway buckets
-sandpaper 100-2000 grit (3M prograde)
-sander
-terry cloths
-waxing sponge
-painter’s tape

For the HFHS counter, we had our contractor replace the old worn out formica counter with two layers of 3/4″ plywood. Since the feather finish drys so quickly and uses such a minimal amount of water, I didn’t worry about putting down any seal or backing layer. The two layers of ply provided ample stability. Although I did add some bracing to the front lip where the sink was going for added strength. I taped off the backsplash about half an inch up from the counter surface.

How to skim coat a counter topThen, I used basically the same process as Laura. Instead of using the Ardex brand feather finish which had to be ordered, I used the Henry’s brand feather finish found at our local hardware store. It mixes the same, with the ratio of 1:2 (water to powder.) At first I thought using a mudding pan would work for mixing, but I quickly switched to the temporary buckets. (Should have just followed Laura’s directions there.) I applied about five coats of the feather finish, making sure to keep the surface as smooth as possible. In the previous post, the counters have a satin, textured look, but I was hoping to achieve a smooth glossy surface. After I had about five coats applied and it was all set, it was sanding time.

Sanding the counter topTo achieve the reflective surface, I went through a bunch of sandpaper. I used a prograde product, and I could tell the difference in sanding instantly. The paper was more durable (almost rubbery) and held its grit longer which produced a better sand. Invest in the good sandpaper! I started with 80 grit and moved through the ranks after going over the entire surface— 80, 120, 200, 500, 1500 and ended with 2000. Observing the surface transform from gray to reflective was worth all the dust and elbow grease.

We wanted a food-safe seal, so a I applied a product by Ghostshield called Countertop Seal 660 (real catchy name.) It’s a bit pricey at $70 for 16oz, but it works great. I applied four coats, using only about 10 oz. I mixed as directed, then covered the container after each use. I tested the finish by dripping some water over some areas and letting it sit for about 5 minutes. The water just beaded up on the surface, no penetration at all! Sweet.

Then it was time to wax. I applied a concrete wax by CHENG using a $5 drill mounted wax kit. It can be applied by hand as well. I’m not sure if I like how the wax ended up as I don’t have anything to compare it to. I wasn’t impressed with the results, which were a bit streaky and sticky. Steel wool did help with the streakiness (0000#). Ghostshield does have a wax that you can buy in conjunction with their sealer. I’m curious how that goes on in comparison. 

Overall, I am happy with how the counters turned out. They look good, are durable, and didn’t break the bank. If you don’t want to go through the process of pouring a concrete slab, this is the next best thing! -Josh

Credits // Author: Josh Rhodes, Photography: Didier Li and Josh Rhodes. Photos edited with .

  • Gorgeous! I can’t wait to see what you do to the front of the bar area. Palette wood? Colorful paint? Decorative stone? Stencil “wallpaper”? Watching this progress is so much fun!

  • I did these countertops for an ikea desk hack and I really love it! So fun and I love the way it looks. You can see mine here:

  • Amazing job! I wish my home wasn’t a rental, the countertops desperately need a treatment like this!

  • I did concrete in my kitchen and loved it for the first 3 months then they started staining and now they look terrible!!!! Trying to figure out what to do to save them, I love the look but not the awful stains!

    • Hey Tracy….hearing your comment is making me rethink doing this now. Do you recall what products/steps you did? Was it the same as how they did this? Did you use a sealer over yours too?

  • This turned out SO GORGEOUS! I almost want to attempt this on our countertops, but I’m kinda scared!

  • Why was the wax necessary? We just did a poured concrete countertop for our bathroom vanity and only used a sealer. I hadn’t heard of using a wax before.

  • I love the look of concrete counter tops! Thats what I want to do if we ever buy a house someday!
    Paige

  • Hey Julie, the whole thing only took about 3 or 4 days. Most of that time was waiting between coats of sealer to dry.

    -Josh

  • Awesome! I did my concrete countertops almost a year and a half ago and was not at all happy with the sealer.
    Going to re-do with the Ghostshield.

    Thanks!
    Gretchen

  • We did this to our UGLY engineered marble bathroom vanity tops and it looks awesome! Hubby treated them with muriatic acid before sealing them and it created really cool variations in tone. We did not use the wax since it does not matter that the water soaks through to the engineered marble underneath. We get a lot of compliments on them!

  • Do you think this could be a project for a begginer?
    I would love to do it in my old counter top !

  • Great project!! And so inexpensive. But I was wondering how long do you think the project will last while still looking good? 5 years?

    Thank you:)

  • It sure has the concrete effect! It’s amazing how you manage to polish it to such a nice sheen. I can imagine the same technique applied to table tops, or even on a large wooden canvas so you can hang it as art.

    Juju Sprinkles

  • i wish you would have showed a close up of the countertop only to see the texture

  • Hi Josh,

    Does that mean that if I do this project I will have to apply the wax periodically or was it just that once?

  • I’ve been obsessed with concrete countertops after seeing the project that Laura did in the AMB house. I can’t wait to own a home, so I can do this! Thanks so much for the tutorial!

    Laura

  • I love the new tips in this post! This is a DIY I’m dying to do as soon as we own our own home, so I’ll be returning to these posts multiple times!

  • I love how this turned out. I’ve never seen concrete counter tops before. They are really beautiful. I like the modern feel they give the room.

  • Try sanding and reapplying a layer of concrete and then re-seal using a different sealer.

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