Do you have concrete countertops that develop stains when you leave things on them? I’ll walk you through the process of how we took our kitchen countertops from stain-filled to food-safe and stain-resistant. This concrete countertop sealer will make all the difference in appearance and protect against penetrating stains!
The number one thing people ask me about in our house is our concrete countertops. We built, installed, and sealed them ourselves almost two years ago.
When people ask us why we went with a concrete surface instead of granite or something else, we always tell them a fun little story. I mentioned it in this post if you want to catch it there, but now the story is even more fun to tell.
Check out how small the world actually is!
Concrete Countertop Inspiration
Scott and I were on vacation in Asheville, NC the week before we were supposed to close on our house. We were doing lots of exciting daydreaming and planning and looking for ideas and inspiration absolutely everywhere.
After some lively debating of countertop ideas, we were enjoying lunch at an awesome place called Corner Kitchen. We sat at a bar and couldn’t help but notice the amazing thick, gorgeous concrete countertop. The natural look and appearance of the concrete surface won us over!
So, naturally, we installed them in our new home.
A Chance Run-In
Fast forward to the summer… Scott and I went to Atlanta for a DIY blogger conference and were chatting with Jeremy from Buddy Rhodes Concrete during some downtime. He asked about my blog. I told him we did our own concrete countertops. He mentioned that I looked familiar, and together we figured out he had seen our concrete countertop post. So cool, right?
Believe it or not, it gets even cooler!
Then he asked why we decided to do concrete countertops. We told him the dreamy story of our romantic lunch in Asheville where we held hands, sipped wine, and planned out our remodel.
He asked the name of the restaurant. When we told him, he said, “I built those concrete countertops.”
Wait, what????? How random and cool!
A Concrete Countertop Sealer Offer
Needless to say, we formed a fun connection. Then Jeremy told us he would be in Dallas for a conference and would enjoy coming by to help us with re-sealing our countertops.
We were super excited because our beautiful, scratch-resistant, heat-resistant, and stain-resistant countertops were… stained.
Even though we were fairly faithful with resealing them every 6 months, we couldn’t leave any water or liquid on our countertop for any amount of time. If we did, a stain would appear.
Not very practical for a kitchen, right? 😁 In addition to the penetrating stain problem, the countertops had gone from a dark gray to a strange light cloudy gray that I didn’t love.
Do concrete countertops need to be sealed?
Concrete offers many advantages as a countertop material, including being resistant to scratches and heat while offering a beautiful sheen. However, it’s also a highly porous material which makes it prone to spots and staining.
To prevent that from happening, you’ll want to plan on sealing your concrete countertops.
What can stain concrete countertops?
If your concrete countertop isn’t sealed with a high-performing sealer, most things can stain the surface. As with our experience, even simple water on the unprotected counter can cause spots. Additional staining items can include:
- lemon juice
- red wine
In order to make your countertop truly food safe and stain-resistant, you need to apply a high-quality countertop sealer.
How do you prepare concrete countertops for sealing?
Never fear though, Jeremy had a plan. We needed to remove the old, ineffective concrete sealers and seal the concrete countertop with a better one.
I won’t lie to you – it was a messy process and a lot of work, but (spoiler!) also totally worth it!
NOTE: You can grab the handy printable recipe instruction card at the bottom of this post to have the entire process nearby as you do your own countertops!
Removing Old Countertop Sealers
We started by removing the old sealer.
To prep the area, we cleaned it and used tape around the edges to keep the water from splashing on the floor (or at least attempt to).
To do this, you need to add lots of water to your countertops. TIP: only sand a concrete countertop when it’s wet! This is the messy part. Be prepared for mud to fly around everywhere! (at least it cleans off easily, though).
Diagnosing The Countertop Stain Problem
After sanding, Jeremy pointed out the root issue of our countertop penetrating stains. We had tiny little holes in the concrete that were retaining the water and other liquids and causing stains.
Concrete is a naturally porous material that needs to be sealed thoroughly to create full stain prevention. Evidently, our previous concrete countertop sealer wasn’t able to do a thorough enough job.
To fix this problem and add the necessary protection, we did an easy-to-apply skim coat using unsanded tile grout and water.
Simply mix them together and then apply a thin coating to the countertop surface. We used a putty knife to make sure the holes were filled and then wiped the excess off the counters.
At this point, we left them alone and allowed 24 hours of curing time.
Another Round Of Sanding
After the appropriate dry time, Scott and I went back to work. We used the wet sanding technique with the diamond pads to lightly sand the countertops down until they were flat and smooth.
Then we allowed another 24 hours of curing time.
Prepping The Concrete Countertops For The Food-Safe New Sealer
At this point, we had all the old sealer removed and were down to just the bare, dry concrete with the skim coat smoothed. Then it was time to prep the counters for the new concrete sealer.
We used ICT Counterhard Prep. To apply, we mixed a 1:1 ratio of water to the Counterhard Prep and applied it using a slightly damp microfiber cloth.
It’s important to keep a wet edge and to use big circular or S-shaped motions so the concrete surface is evenly covered. After the first coat, wait 20 minutes and then do a second coat with the 1:1 ratio again.
After drying for another 20 minutes, you can then apply 2 coats of full Counterhard (each 20 minutes apart). At this point, we let the countertops dry for another 24 hours.
I told you all this was a long process!
Applying Countertop Sealers To The Concrete Surface
Finally, we were ready to add the final piece: the actual concrete countertop sealer!
We used Buddy Rhodes’ Satin Concrete Sealer and again applied it using a microfiber cloth, making big swooping s-shaped patterns. Be sure to read all product instructions to provide more detailed and helpful information.
We added 5 coats of countertop sealer to the concrete countertop surface and allowed 20-30 minutes of dry time in between each coating.
Then we let the counters completely dry overnight.
Test For Penetration Protection
The next morning we did the water drop test. You basically put a few drops of water on various spots for 30 seconds and see if they leave a dark spot. If spots appear, you need to at least one more layer of concrete sealer. If not, they’re done!
We had one concrete countertop area that needed 2 additional layers of sealer, but everywhere else passed the drop test.
How often do you have to seal concrete countertops?
The answer to this question completely depends on the product you use to seal your countertops as well as how much you use (and abuse) the surface. Kitchen counters tend to be used a lot, so the general rule of thumb is to seal every 6 months to protect the surface.
Be sure to read the product instructions for information specific to the sealer you use.
What is the best sealer for concrete countertops?
Final Performance Review For This Project
I’m happy to report that several weeks later there is no sign of staining and our cups no longer leave water rings on our countertops! The countertop appearance was even restored to the original rich gray color.
We are so happy with how gorgeous they look and their high gloss finish! The final outcome and their beautiful sheen were totally worth all the time and effort.
I can say without reservation that we finally used the great product we needed and it protects our surfaces from scratches and prime staining materials such as lemon juice and red wine. Be sure to use this concrete countertop sealer as part of your regular countertop maintenance.
We have to give a huge thank you to Jeremy for all his help and to Buddy Rhodes for supplying all the products we needed! If you are even considering concrete countertops, check them out! The products were provided to me free of cost, but this review and my feedback are (as always!) 100% my own.
- Prep your work area by cleaning it and adding tape around the edges to prevent the water from splashing on the floor.
- Using the orbital sander with the diamond polishing pads and the hand polishing pads, sand down the countertops to remove the stains.
- Mix together polyblend non-sanded grout and water and use a putty knife to apply a thin coating and fill in micro holes in the concrete to create a solid surface.
- Use a microcloth to wipe off any excess grout. Allow 24 hours to completely dry.
- Using the sander and diamond polishing pads, sand the countertops one more time. Allow them to dry for 24 hours.
- Prep counters to seal by mixing together a 1:1 ratio of Counterhard Prep and water. Apply the mixture to the counters with a damp microfiber cloth using large circular or S-shaped motions. Allow to dry for 20 minutes, then repeat the process to apply another coat. Dry for 20 minutes again.
- Next, apply 1 coat of full Counterhard. Allow to dry for 20 minutes. Repeat the process and sllow to dry for 24 hours.
- Use a microcloth to apply Buddy Rhodes' Satin Concrete Sealer in large circular or S-shaped motions. Allow to dry 20-30 minutes then apply another coat. Repeat the process several times. We applied 5 coats. After the last coat, allow the sealer to dry overnight.
- The following morning, test the countertop seal by dropping a few drops of water around the counter. Leave them for 30 seconds and wipe away. If spots appear, you'll need to apply at least another coat of sealer. If no spots appear, the counters are sealed.