We’ve talked about doing interior countertops before, so we thought it would be fun to talk about a fun way to do exterior countertops this time. What more of a fun way to decorate outdoor countertops than by adding glass chips? Pieces of glass can be embedded into the countertops to create a unique piece. Glass chips could be added to indoor countertops as well, but this decorative style definitely works well for outdoor countertops. Just as well, there are loads of decorative options for outdoor countertops, this is just a super fun and unique one. While you could use just one or two colors for the glass chips, it’s a lot of fun to use lots of different colors for a really unique design. (Click here to see an example of a glass embedded exterior countertop.)
Following are the basic steps to cast in place countertops with glass embedded in it.
First, the mold needs to be made. You will also need a releasing agent applied in the forms. If you plan on having glass exposed in the edge details you will need to toss glass chips up against the edge forms prior to placing the concrete.
Second, you will need to pour the concrete and vibrate the forms. Pour the mixture of concrete in the molds and then vibrate the forms lightly to consolidate the concrete. Consolidating the concrete makes it more dense and less porous which results in less cracks, shrinkage, and improves resistance to stains. A tip is to add acrylic fortifier to the mix to help the glass stick to the concrete.
The third step is to do a rough finish. Bull float the concrete mix to help smooth the surface out, don’t rough trowel or finish trowel it yet though.
Fourth, you will spread the glass chips out over the surface evenly using the quantity, colors, and mixes desired. When using glass chips that vary in size, put the larger sizes down first, followed by medium chips, then the smallest ones.
Next, you will tamp and trowel. Tamp the glass down carefully into the surface of the concrete with a wood float. Trowel the glass into the concrete lightly pushing the glass into the wet concrete mixture gently until all of the glass is covered with the cream like cement. Make sure that the glass chips are not pressed too far into the concrete or the glass will be uneven and some may not be seen which will create more work by grinding, honing, and polishing until the glass appears evenly throughout.
Then comes time to cure the concrete. The concrete will need to cure for about 7 to 14 days depending on the weather. Don’t try to finish the surface too soon or it will cause damage sending the glass chips flying. However, finishing the concrete too late will add more time and put the finishing tools under more stress which can be avoided by finishing the concrete within 7 to 28 days.
Now you will be ready to grind, hone, and polish the concrete. A heavy duty polishing tool can be used to gradually grind down the surface using progressively finer grits of diamond discs until the desired level of sheen and the desired amount of visible glass is achieved. It is important to be patient with the grinding and polishing process so that you don’t go through the diamond polishing pads too fast. Also, it is recommended to do wet grinding, sanding, and polishing to avoid exposing yourself and others to large amounts of dust and debris.
Lastly, you will need to seal the surface. After the polishing process is complete you will want to apply a sealer or a combination of sealers that works best for the job. A side note is that if you seal the surface before the concrete has completely dried that a milk like cloudiness may appear.
A fun bonus tip is to try using glow in the dark glass chips mixed in with the other glass chips for a really cool look at night.
There are so many creative and custom options for finishing concrete, but first and foremost important is the concrete itself. At Custom Concrete Creations we have state of the art equipment and a properly trained team with years of experience. Custom Concrete Creations is a premier contractor serving the Omaha area as well at the Midwest. Give us a call or send us an email for your custom concrete finishing needs today!