Oxymoron, you ask? No way. It's taken (of course) a bit longer than anticipated, but we finished the first two pieces of the kitchen countertops. They are a magical brick red color that blends beautifully with the redwood and fir in our cabinets, with a few interesting types of aggregate, and embedded antique watch parts (thank you, Creek!). The effect is nothing short of stunning...now a bit about the process.
First, we make a template out of thin fiberboard that conforms to the exact dimensions and angles, since walls are rarely as square as they should be. Then, Drew used the template to build the form out of melamine. This took a lot of fiddling for the longest section, since it includes the kitchen sink, and had to have a very precise cutout and holes for plumbing and such.
Drew and Aaron tape and caulk joints in the the form.
Once the form was built, he applied caulk to the joints of the form to create the desired round-over effect on the edges around the sink and the fronts of the counters. We also included an integral sloped area for the dish drainer. (No more water puddles, thank you!) We then added welded wire and rebar for reinforcement.
Welded wire and decorative aggregate in the form ready for pour.
Next was the fun part, placing the decorative aggregate and elements, exactly where we wanted them. We have collected shells and agates from the beach over the years with this project in mind, so it was nice to finally use some. We also used some black volcanic glass, and some red and yellow stones. Finally, we added watch gears, watch faces, and even some entire watch bodies, which when filled with epoxy leave all the gears and workings exposed in the surface of the counters. They came out beautifully!
Once all this is done, then finally the pour. After they sit for 10 days or so, then we grind with a water grinder with diamond discs. It's just like sanding wood, where you use progressively finer grits to get a glass-like shine. We revealed a minimum of aggregate, and then polished up the slabs.
Polished, sealed, and glossed, and ready for install!
After we were finally satisfied with the results, we finally brought them indoors and sealed them with more Ecoprocote concrete finishing products: AcriSoy as a penetrating sealer, and EcoFlorz as a glossy topcoat. They shine beautifully after this treatment. Then at last, the install, which was a day without a kitchen sink, but well worth the wait. After a year of plywood with plastic tablecloths over top, I'm loving the wipe-able surface, and most of all, the rich color that blends so well with our cabinets. Now there's just two more pieces to make before ALL the kitchen counters are done.