Updated on January 10, 2016
Concrete Dining Table
Hi and Welcome back!
We finally have a dining table! Woo-whoo! I’m so excited to share this with you all today. I made a concrete dining table and I’ve NEVER worked with concrete before. I wasn’t sure this would turn out, and I made LOTS of mistakes, but I’ll take you through how I did it and what not to do ;). Sorry, it’s a little lengthy!
It’s a weird thing to figure out your home style. I started here with a blank slate and just sort of added things as I built or made them. I thought I was going to go the farmhouse-style route, but as it turns out I’ve got more of an industrial vibe going on here. That’s actually pretty cool! I started seeing my projects described as “industrial”, so now I’m sort of embracing it and loving it. If you want some great tips on how to figure out your style, go check out THIS article by Lauren at Bless’er House. She’s turned her self-described “Cookie-Cutter” home into something that is so fabulously her own.
Anyway, I was originally going to build this table with a wooden top, much like I built my friend Jeni’s table HERE. But, since I was kind of on an industrial trip, I tried to think of what may fit in this room a little better. The dining area is open to the living/game room area, so I wanted it to look like it belonged. We were talking and talking and talking about filling a hole in the yard with concrete, and I started thinking. Concrete can be pretty, right?
So, after doing a bit of “research” I found that table on Restoration Hardware’s site for $2,500! It’s beautiful (just as I expected it would be), but I don’t have $2,500 for one piece of furniture, no matter how nice it is. So, I started looking around for how I could build a concrete dining table myself.
I found THIS tutorial by DIY Pete and it was fantastic. I love how easy his steps are to follow. I probably read through that article 10 times before I even attempted to start. I should have followed him to the tee, but I made a few mistakes. I won’t outline everything, if you are interested, go visit Pete, but I will go through the mistakes I made.
First thing was you have a build a mold. Again, I’ve NEVER worked with concrete, so I don’t know what I’m doing. Pete suggests getting plywood with a melamine coated side. The Lowe’s here in our little town didn’t have that, so I ran into my first problem.
Now, what I should have done was drive an hour to the city to find a piece that would work. But, because I’m impatient, I didn’t do that. Also, I don’t even know if they make it in a size this large. After talking it through with my newly-employed and thinks-I’m-crazy new BFF Lowe’s employee, I decided I would make my own melamine lined board. I bought a piece of plywood, and since I don’t have a table saw, I had my friend cut it at Lowes to the size I wanted. I wanted the top to be 84×40″, so that is what he made it. I used a piece of sturdy board, so it was about a $20 for that. I then found one of these thin sheets of melamine in the back and decided to grab it to line my board with.
So, since the board was already cut, I trace it around on the underside of this board, and used a razor blade to cut.
Lowes did have smaller sheets of the the melamine lined plywood, and I got my friend at Lowe’s to cut those down to four long strips at 2.25″ wide for the sides. I attached three sides before I put my melamine sheet on top. See Pete’s post for more detailed instructions on how to make the mold.
Once I had the 3 sides on, I slid the melamine sheet in, trimming as needed. When I got it to just the right size, I glued it down.
Then I clamped it and used some heavy stuff to mash it all down.
Side note – I should have been a little more careful here. I had one corner where it didn’t get pressed down all the way. I thought the weight of the concrete would press everything else down, but it didn’t and I have one corner that turns up just enough to drive me crazy, although everybody else says they can’t see it :).
Then I added the forth side and took some time to make sure it was nice and clean.
Pete suggests using reinforcement. Since my top was going to be way bigger than his, I added the mesh but also wanted to add some rebar to the sides to make it a little more sturdy and less likely to break off. I laid all my reinforcements out before I got started to make sure everything would fit.
Then I removed the reinforcements, caulked the sides, and cleaned it again. I used 100% silicone caulk and just followed Pete’s directions. Once the caulk is dry, it’s time to mix some concrete.
Now the mixing! Fun, fun :). I recommend some heavy duty gloves, the little disposable ones rip pretty evenly when you’re hand mixing. I also recommend practicing first to get the hang of the right consistency. I was able to make it work, but it’s a little uneven. It was also a bit of a workout.
Here is the mix I used, it’s supposed to be stronger than others. I figured it was worth it. The price was around $5 per bag and I used 5 bags. My table dimensions are 84x40x1.50″. Make sure you buy enough concrete, I had to make a super quick trip to Lowe’s, in my messy clothes, because I only bought 4 bags. That was not fun :).
I also added one bottle of this color for every two bags of concrete to get that dark grey color. I tried a couple of things. First, I added it to the water before pouring the concrete in, but that didn’t work very well because it separated and I had to try and pull the color off the bottom. For the next bag, I tried adding in at the same time I added the concrete, and that actually worked better. But the best way was to mix the water and concrete until it was the consistency I wanted and then added the color in and mix it around.
Then I just started mixing and packing it in. It was a LOT of work and hard to do, but I did it all by myself! I just worked fast and did one bag at a time.
So, the reason I have the form sitting up on the 2×4 stacks is that I don’t have a work table that I could set this on. I wanted to be able to tap the bottom, so I did this so I could get under the table and tap away with a hammer if that makes since. So, I did my tapping all around and underneath to release the air bubbles. Then the skimming and smoothing and it looked like so…
Then I let it dry for about a week, just to be safe. I seemed ready the next day, but I wanted it to be as solid as possible. Then I removed the sides and flipped it over (my husband had to help – it was crazy heavy).
When I pulled my melamine made board off, it didn’t look great :(. As it turns out, my tapping the bottom plan didn’t’ work so well. This was supposed to be the top, but the other side looked much better, so I decided that the part that was supposed to be the top was going to be the bottom. I still wanted it to be nice and sturdy, so while the bottom was faced up, I sanded and filled the holes with the Portland cement and let it dry. I also put a couple of coats of the sealant on to make it all nice and “together”.
See all those holes :(? It took forever, but again, this turned out to be the bottom, so it’s okay.
Then, I flipped it back over and worked on the top. I again, filled any holes with Portland cement and sanded it, filled and sanded it, and kept going until it was done.
At this point, my top still wasn’t as smooth as I wanted. It was very close, but since I didn’t want to keep sanding it, afraid I would knock more holes in it, I decided to stop. I sealed it with two coats of sealer, then used Polycrylic on the top, very lightly sanding between coats. I also made sure and let it completely cure between coats – maybe a day or so. I put about 4 coats and now it is nice and smooth.
It’s also way stronger than I thought. I was worried it was going to be sort of brittle, but all the sealant and poly did the trick!
Then I let it dry and that was pretty much it. The top probably cost around $110. I bought 5 bags of concrete and 1 bag of portland cement – $35. The board and melamine and sides cost about $50. I spent about $30 on Polycryclic, color and sandpaper. This is an estimate, but close to what I spent.
So, for the base. I used THESE plans from Ana White. I picked these, because I have built this base twice before and I knew I could make it strong enough to hold that top and that I could do it so that I wouldn’t have to drill into the top.
So, here are the modifications I made. First, I made it a foot shorter. So, all the measurements, subtract 12″ from the length if you want it to fit a top that is 84×40.
I then made the legs all one piece (steps 1-7). I just added all the boards on each side leg at one time, like this. Sorry about my thumb in the pic.
I always have a little trouble with the x in the middle, I usually have to shave little bits off here and there. My miter saw isn’t the most accurate and the ends were closer to 45 degrees (the plans say 50 degrees on the ends, but this needed a slight modification because it was a little shorter). I usually take a straight piece as a guide so I can see right where the shorter “x” boards would line up.
Then I clamp it a use the clamp to “pull” it together until it’s in the just right spot.
Then I added two more supports across the top, one on each side. Then I flipped it and made double sure it was going to fit the top :).
Now, time to sand and stain. I actually enjoy sanding. It’s kind of nice for me, for some weird reason. Anyway,after a lot of sanding, I painted on one coat of Minwax Special Walnut. It was nice, but I wanted it to be a little more “ash-y”. That’s a word, no? Anyway, I mixed an almost white, tannish wall paint with water. About half and half ratio. Then I took a rag a wiped it on, blending it in as I went. That gave me this finish, which is really full of depth.
Then I did 3 more coats of Polycrylic and added these levelers.
I’ve used them before and they are super heavy duty and work great. The only part is, they don’t come with instructions. Here is a pic of how to do it, just in case you need it.
At this point, I made sure it was level with the furniture levelers.
The top was a different story. We estimated that it weighs over 500 lbs. So, I had to bribe people over with burgers and beer. It took a lot of us, and some dog beds, but we eventually got it in.
The whole thing was quite comical, but we did it!
I put some double sided tape on the top of the legs, but as it turns out, I didn’t need it. So, I had the guys lift it back up and I ripped it off. In his article, Pete suggests using caulk where the legs meet the table, but it is so heavy it really doesn’t need anything. I tried to get it to slide off — nope! I still might add it, but it’s okay like so.
I’m guest hosting over on Old House to New Home this month and if you’d like to know how I made that hanging shelf out of reclaimed wood for about $10, go visit HERE.
So, it wasn’t easy, but it was doable. With minimal tools, and no concrete experience, I was still able to pull it off, so I’m convinced anyone could do it! With the wood, stain, poly and furniture levelers, the base was still under $100, making the whole project less than $200. Really! Score!
Please let me know if you have any questions, or if anything doesn’t make sense.
Thanks for stopping by!
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