The Ardex plunge, that is. This product has taken the DIY world by storm lately. For those of you that don’t know, Ardex- Feather Finish is a concrete substrate traditionally used in subflooring. It has been getting increasingly popular as a low-cost way to resurface laminate counter tops. In my continued quest to update our 80’s kitchen on a tight budget, I thought it was worth a try.
The über fake looking wood grain formica counter never jived well with the true wood backsplash we installed a couple of years back.
Counters Before Ardex
Last you saw the space we installed chrome hardware, about a year ago. At that time, I had searched for Ardex- Feather Finish planning to move right into the counter project. The product is difficult to find although I tracked it down at a local tile shop and now it is readily available on Amazon.
I delayed the counter installation because I couldn’t make a decision on what sealer to use. It is very much personal preference however you must choose a food safe sealer considering this is a kitchen counter after all. Some concrete sealers have a fungicide in them which make sense in a shower or on a patio but on a counter I prefer not to have any pesticides as food may come in direct contact. You also have the aesthetic choice of sealers with a matte finish, more of a sheen and even stains.
We went with a sealer we had all along…Miss Mustard Seed’s hemp oil. It stained and sealed the concrete, plus it is food safe. I applied three coats back to back because the porous surface kept soaking it up. I plan to apply another coat or two this week until it reaches total saturation.
Mixing Ardex is very similar to mixing milk paint. It comes in a powder form and mixes easily with water. (1 part Ardex to 1/2 part water) To prep, we first sanded the countertop to rough it up a bit for best adhesion. Then we carefully and quickly applied one thin coat right over the formica using a trowel. It was much like icing a cake. Ardex dries very quickly and turns to a clay like consistency.
Twenty four hours later, it was dry and ready to be sanded down to a smooth finish. I used 60 grit sandpaper and then 150.
After vacuuming up the dust, I applied another slightly thicker coat. And then repeated the above steps again the following day to make for a third coat. As you can see, we did not remove the sink. We simply took the Ardex right up to the edge.
On the third and final coat, I was more deliberate in my application and trowel marks as I realized these would be seen on the finished surface.
The process went pretty quickly. Actual application only took about 30 minutes each time as we didn’t have much counter space to cover.
The final step was sealing the concrete finish. As I mentioned, we chose hemp oil since it is all natural and food safe. I simply brushed on the hemp oil. This will need to be applied annually as will most sealers on a porous counter. I am also considering applying a coat of furniture wax for a little luster.
It soaked into the surface right before our eyes and we continued on with the next coat.
Overall I love the final finish. It has a natural rustic feel vs. the fake plastic look we had previously. I am not convinced that it has the look of a poured concrete counter but I am happy with this low-budget transformation.
Here’s where this space started and where it has progressed over the past few years. You can review the transformation starting with painting laminate cabinets, installing a wood backsplash, adding hardware and now resurfacing the counters…
Next up, the floors! Then maybe a fancy range hood?