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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Building a Kitchenette (Part 2)

I shared with you Part 1 of my son's redo and now for the rest of his story. My favorite part
The concrete Counter Top! 

Front facing put on and screw holes filled with a somewhat heavy coat of wood filler.

Time to build a mold! I cut out a piece of blondewood that was the exact dimension of the countertop (with a couple of inches of overhang). I then used my scrap 1x3 and 1x4 to build walls up from the sides. Everything had to be predrilled and carefully screwed together for easy removal later. I wasn't sure at this stage whether or not I'd have to reuse the mold for a recast. I traced out the sink template and applied the same wall-building method for the straight lines, and used quarter round pieces to make the curved corners.

While messing with the corner round I had an idea. I decided to put quarter round on the edge of the mold to make a more finished look like you'd see in granite. Everything had to be sealed with waterproof silicone (which prevents sticking and also creates a “rounded” edge instead of sharp corners. Everything was then coated in vegetable oil (again so it didn't stick). I could wait no longer. Off to Lowes for 3 bags of concrete, steel mesh, and some concrete coloring!

A word to the wise... concrete dye (not acid stain, the powdered color stuff) will not come out of your skin for days... Wear gloves (common sense for most, I'm sure, but I was excited and in a hurry). I cut out the inside shape from the steel mesh to use as reinforcement, and mixed the concrete and coloring together. Before I poured it in, I had the idea to sprinkle some of the coloring powder and raw concrete on the base of the mold to create a sort of “marbled” effect on the top. I had no idea what I was doing, but experimentation seemed to be paying off so far. Concrete, then mesh, then concrete on top. Finally smoothing everything out and using a hammer drill with a flat bit to vibrate all of the bubbles out. I let it set overnight to cure, even though it was supposedly cured in 6 hours.

It took a while to break apart the mold, but everything came apart nicely, and this is what I was left with. A little more gray than I had hoped, and kind of bland looking. But it worked! It really worked!

I was very pleased with how the quarter round effect came out. It looks like a finished-edge countertop. I was still worried about the color, but I hadn't cleaned it yet and there was a lot of dust on the surface, so I set about other projects while my girlfriend scrubbed the countertop with concrete cleaner and sprayed off the surface.

I built a box, now time to cut out some holes for the doors and drawers. I set the doors from the old cabinets against the wood and traced them out, then subtracted an inch all the way around to get the size perfect. I wanted the hinges to go into the framing wherever possible, so I moved the door in the front all the way to the right rather than placing it in the middle.

Holes cut out for the drawers, and the first test fit of the day! Seems to line up beautifully. I used the smaller drawer up top, hoping it would clear the sink. And then the larger silverware drawer underneath.

After cleaning and the first epoxy coating, this is what the countertop looked like. I was much more pleased with how it was turning out! The color, the marbling, the edge, everything was coming out great.

I set in the drawer slides and leveled them to figure out where to drop the back support. I started to worry that the plumbing might not fit, but it seemed to be just enough to work.

I installed all of the doors and drawers to test everything out and make sure it all aligned correctly. It's starting to look like a cabinet!

Countertop was brought in (all 200lbs of it!) and very carefully placed on top of the frame. It took three people to get it up there and slid back into place. I started shimming anywhere I saw it was not meeting the 2x4's perfectly. I placed adhesive liberally along all of the framing to make sure this thing stayed where it was put! I was so nervous testing the fit of the sink, but it dropped in like it was a factory fit!

I cleaned off the epoxy a little bit and the color is really starting to come out. So happy with the result.

I decided the cabinet could use a little more organizational options.

Plumbing! Water lines strapped to the frame to keep them out of harm's way and somehow nothing got in the way of the drain line!

Here I was testing some of the cut pieces I made for the two ends of the countertop. I wanted to trim it with something nice, rather than just caulking against the concrete where it met the front of the cabinet.

Running water, and a real sink!

I used 1x4 pine to give a more finished look to the kickplate and cover up the 2x4 framing.Began sanding the wood putty and applied a second coat to fill in all the cracks and holes. 

The trim came out nice and really covered up some of the gaps and shims I used to support and level the concrete.
...while I worked on the drawers and doors. I used a special “bonding” primer that was made for laminated cabinets. It definitely seemed to do the trick.

A piece of quarter round painted black to make the transition from concrete countertop to backsplash and help seal everything water tight with silicone. There is a slight forward slope in the countertop which is perfect for keeping water out of the back corner. 

5 coats of the best white paint I could buy later, and we have a finished product! I put the hardware back on the drawers and bought a white towel ring and hook. The ring will hold our dish towels and the hook will hold a cutting board which will keep the towels away from the cabinet.

 All of the drawers work great and slide nice and smooth. The color was just perfect and I was glad I decided on white cabinets to compliment the darker countertop and backsplash.

Yes, that is a 5lb jar of Runts candy to celebrate!

Now to clean up the mess I made everywhere else while building this!

And there you have it.....a chip off the old block eh? Not really! He is way better at the building and configuration. My forte is color and design. If we ever get our brains together on a project...Watch out!

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4 comments: said...

Awesome project! Would love for you to link up tonight to Friday Favorites at

Danni@SiloHillFarm said...

How fabulous! That turned out really great and you sure got a lot of storage into that cabinet. I bet you breathed a sigh of relief when that sink dropped in perfectly! Nicely done and I'd say your candy is well-deserved!

Sarah Scherrer said...

Wow! This is very cool! The new sink is much bigger. Nice space!

Suzan Sweatman said...

Oh it's gorgeous!!!
Would have loved that in my new kitchen - and actually asked the contractor about it but he didn't seem too enthused - I shouldn't have backed down - LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!