How to Build a DIY Concrete Tabletop

Concrete Tabletop

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Project Overview
  • Working Time: 4 - 6 hrs
  • Total Time: 2 - 3 days
  • Yield: Concrete tabletop 38 inches by 26 inches
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Estimated Cost: $200 to $400

Imagine a concrete table with a rugged-looking yet smooth surface that brings an enduring casual style to outdoor entertaining. Now, instead of spending thousands on a store-bought table, imagine casting your own concrete table from simple, low-cost materials found at your local home center.

You can build your own DIY concrete table in a single pour in just a few hours. It's a fun, straightforward project that helps you develop your learning curve if you plan on more involved concrete projects like making a concrete countertop or a DIY concrete sink.

Before You Begin

Using the right materials makes this job go smoother and guarantees a durable tabletop for the long term.

  • Concrete Form: Medium-density fiberboard faced with melamine is used for the concrete form. Even though melamine is already quite slick, you'll add a release agent to aid with removing the form.
  • Remesh: Reinforcing mesh, or remesh, comes in rolls of 6-inch grid square, 10-gauge steel. The remesh is embedded in the concrete to give the tabletop more strength.
  • Table Base: You can mount the concrete tabletop on any existing table between 36 to 38 inches long by 24 to 26 inches wide. The table must have a solid top and a weight capacity of at least 140 pounds.

Safety Considerations

Wet concrete is a caustic material that can harm the skin. To prevent third-degree burns, avoid prolonged contact with fresh concrete. Wear eye protection.

Newly cast concrete has sharp edges. Wear thick gloves and long sleeves.

Concrete can weigh close to 20 pounds per square foot for a 1 1/2-inch-thick slab. Lift slabs with a capable assistant.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Caulking gun
  • Rubber mallet, hammer drill, or orbital sander
  • Hacksaw
  • Tape measure
  • Cordless drill
  • Garden hoe
  • Wheelbarrow or mixing tub
  • Orbital sander
  • Sandpaper
  • Circular saw
  • Speed Square
  • Beveling tool (marble or ball bearing)
  • Waterproof gloves
  • Breathing protection
  • Eye protection
  • Shop vacuum
  • Clean rags
  • Drill bits and drivers

Materials

  • Countertop concrete mix
  • 1 sheet melamine-faced medium-density fiberboard (MDF) panel, common thickness 3/4-inch
  • 1 roll 10-gauge remesh
  • 1 1/2-inch screws
  • Concrete sealer
  • Silicone caulk
  • Silicone adhesive
  • Mineral oil or spray release agent
  • 1 5-pound bag Portland cement
  • Acrylic cement fortifier

Instructions

  1. Cut Form Bottom and Sidewalls

    With the circular saw, cut the MDF into:

    • Form Bottom: 1 piece, 38 inches by 26 inches
    • Long Sidewalls: 2 pieces, each 38 inches by 2 1/4 inches
    • Short Sidewalls: 2 pieces, each 27 1/2 inches by 2 1/4 inches
  2. Attach Form's Long Sidewalls

    Lay the form bottom on a table. On one of the long sides of the form bottom, attach a long sidewall. Do this by first drilling six pilot holes in a line on the long sidewall. Space the pilot holes equally apart and 3/8 inches from the edge of the long sidewall.

    Then, attach the long sidewall to one of the long sides of the form bottom. Use a cordless drill and 1 1/2-inch screws to attach the board to the bottom. Check for square with the Speed Square. Repeat on the other side of the form bottom with the remaining long sidewall.

  3. Attach Form's Short Sidewalls

    Similar to the long sidewall, drill pilot holes in one of the short sidewalls and attach it to one of the form bottom's short sides. The only difference is that you will use four screws instead of six. Make sure that the ends of the short sidewall overlap the ends of the long sidewalls.

  4. Add Bevel

    With the caulking gun, inject the silicone caulk in all 90-degree joints. Bevel the caulk with any rounded item such as a marble, ball bearing, or glue stick. Parallel tracks of excess will develop. Leave the excess caulk in place for now.

  5. Remove Silicone Excess

    Once the caulk has dried, slice off the excess caulk with a straight razor blade or with your fingernail.

  6. Cut Remesh

    With the hacksaw, cut the remesh to 36 inches by 24 inches. If you are using remesh with a 6-inch grid pattern, you should have 24 full grid squares (6 on one side, 4 on the other side).

  7. Add Release Agent

    Clean the inside of the form with the shop vacuum. Spray the inside of the form with the release agent or, if using mineral oil, wipe on the oil with a clean cotton rag.

    Warning

    Make sure you use mineral oil, not mineral spirits (a flammable product).

  8. Pour Concrete

    Wearing rubber gloves and safety glasses, use the garden hoe to mix the concrete in a wheelbarrow or masonry mixing tub according to the manufacturer's instructions. Pour to the halfway point (3/4 inch).

  9. Add Remesh and Continue Pour

    At the halfway point, add the remesh. Press the remesh into the concrete. Make sure that you maintain a 1-inch border between the remesh and all sidewalls.

    Pour the rest of the concrete until it reaches the top of the sidewalls.

  10. Vibrate Concrete

    Vibrate the sidewalls with a hammer drill or orbital sander to settle the concrete and eliminate voids.

    Tip

    Alternatively, you can rap the sidewalls with a rubber mallet to create vibration.

  11. Trowel Concrete

    Add more concrete as needed, since vibrating will cause the concrete to settle. Trowel the concrete smooth.

  12. Remove Form

    Let the concrete cure for two to three days. Use the drill to unscrew the screws holding the sidewalls to the bottom of the form. Carefully pull the sidewalls off. With a helper, turn the concrete table over. Remove the bottom of the form.

  13. Sand Concrete

    Sand the tabletop with 220 grit sandpaper on an oscillating sander or by hand. Mix a small amount of Portland cement and acrylic fortifier to fill voids, then sand again. Round off sharp edges. Round the beveled edges, too.

  14. Seal Concrete

    Clean the tabletop with the shop vacuum. Apply three to four coats of concrete sealer. Each coat must thoroughly dry before you apply the next coat. Upon completion, apply countertop wax.

  15. Add Tabletop to Table Base

    Apply the concrete tabletop to the table base with silicone adhesive.

When to Call a Professional

This DIY concrete table is intended to be a basic table of limited size, used mainly for patios, decks, outdoor kitchens, or as an indoor side table. For a dining-room-grade concrete table, especially one that's larger than this project's table, speak to a professional concrete fabricator.

Article Sources
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  1. Working Safely With Concrete. Portland Cement Association.