we took the plunge

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.

Rustic Industrial Kitchen - wood backsplash & Ardex concrete counters

The über fake looking wood grain formica counter never jived well with the true wood backsplash we installed a couple of years back.

Pallet Wood Backsplash
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.

Rustic Industrial Wood & Concrete Kitchen - applying Ardex Feather Finish

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.

applying Ardex Feather Finish to laminate kitchen counters

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.
hemp oil

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.

Rustic Industrial Wood & Concrete Kitchen - applying Ardex Feather Finish

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.

applying Ardex Feather Finish to laminate kitchen counters

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.

applying Ardex Feather Finish to laminate kitchen counters

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.

From laminate kitchen counters to concrete on a budget

The process went pretty quickly.  Actual application only took about 30 minutes each time as we didn’t have much counter space to cover.

Rustic Industrial Kitchen

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.

Using hemp oil has a sealer on concrete counters

It soaked into the surface right before our eyes and we continued on with the next coat.

Using hemp oil has a sealer on concrete counters

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.

Rustic Industrial Kitchen - wood backsplash & Ardex concrete counters

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…

From 80's Laminate to Rustic Kitchen

Next up, the floors!  Then maybe a fancy range hood?

Rustic Industrial Kitchen - wood backsplash & Ardex concrete counters

 

 

15 thoughts on “we took the plunge

  1. Hey Dana! We did the same thing to our kitchen: painting our cabinets, changing the hardware – the floors and range hood are next as well. I’m thinking of replacing the counter tops entirely however, I LOVE your treatment of the counter tops. Nicely done and very smart!

  2. I love the look of your wooden backsplash, but the two little piggies live at my house. How on earth do you keep it clean and how do you clean it?

    1. We’ve had it for a few years now and it hasn’t been an issue. I cook a lot and rarely have splatters but if we do, I wipe it right away. We use a natural vinegar cleaner. You could always seal it with a top coat like polyurethane.

  3. Love you makeover and really did to do something with our kitchen and might try something similar. I do have two questions. First, how are your counter-tops holding up? Second, looking at the pallet walls, it appears that from when you first did them to when you last posted about them they may have shrank some. Did they? Looks like the background is showing through from the pictures.

    Thanks, just found you on Pinterest. Nice blog!

      1. Hey! Any update on how the countertops are holding up? I am trying to convince my husband and he’s a bit nervous it won’t last, would love your view! Thanks!

  4. Hi, I’m looking into doing my countertops. Love your tutorial & want to use the hemp oil as well! Question, I can only find it for wood finish. So is this the same or do I need to find another company that has the same product?

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