How to Install Concrete Countertops in a Manufactured Home
Water can make concrete stronger but too much of it will make it weaker.
Keeping concrete wet helps it become stronger because the tiny limestone crystals in it swell up and “interlock, binding the aggregate together and forming a rock-hard mass.” states the Nov ’18 issue of my Family Handyman. You can’t overwater concrete though, too much water will weaken the crystals and they’ll break apart from one another.
Luckily. installing a concrete countertop in a manufactured home doesn’t require a water hose until cleanup time.
Installing concrete countertops is a fairly intensive DIY home improvement project. It’s one of those projects that read and look easy but are tedious and slow which leaves a lot of room for mistakes.
Are Concrete Countertops too heavy for Manufactured Homes?
Installing concrete countertops in a manufactured home is kinda controversial. It’s not hard to find someone warning homeowners to skip the popular kitchen update because concrete weighs too much.
It’s a fair argument but it’s 2021.
New products and technology make a lot of things possible now that weren’t possible just a few years ago.
Concrete countertops that are 1.5″ thick and made of standard concrete weighs 18.76 pounds per square foot. Granite counters weigh in at 18 pounds per square foot so there isn’t much difference. I know for a fact that Clayton Homes offers granite countertops now but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find out if Clayton reinforces the home’s structure when granite is ordered.
Either way, there are ways to remedy the weight problem.
First, you can always add an additional pier or two below the counter or directly under it if possible.
Manufactured homes that have a concrete slab or ribbon foundation can install a new pier to reinforce the countertop a lot easier than a home with independent footers. Pouring a new footer under a home would be too difficult.
Better yet, you can use a special lightweight concrete made especially for countertops.
New Trends in Concrete Countertop Design
There have been a lot of technological improvements in the paint, tile, and mortar industries during the last decade or so. Paint is10X better nowadays!
Dyes and stains made for concrete offers a ton of different options and have become a lot more affordable.
Concrete can be stained to look just like wood and tile. You can use concrete to get the same colors and textures at a fraction of the price. A concrete staining company in San Jose states that staining new or old concrete is cheaper than tile, brick, and wood. It’s also fire retardant, long-lasting, and nearly indestructible which makes concrete countertops the clear winner.
Supply List for Concrete Countertops
To install concrete countertops in a manufactured home you will need quite a few things. I’m not going to list every tool needed. This project isn’t really for newbie DIYers and I assume that you have a well-stocked toolbox and know how to use every item in it.
Basic tools like a hammer, pliers, screwdrivers, wrenches, saws, screws, nails, tape measure, crowbar, a level, and sandpaper should be close during any DIY project.
To install a concrete countertop in a manufactured home you will also need supplies and containers to mix your concrete.
In addition, you will need the following;
Concrete Mix, Additives, and Sealer
Z Counterform Countertop Mix is a “high strength castable concrete mix’ that costs $29 per bag. Each bag covers 3 square feet.
There are a ton of sealers on the market. Ashley used Minwax Polycrylic in a clear matte finish.
Substrate: Plywood and Cement Board
Reinforcement (Wire, Mesh, Tape, etc) and Knockouts
I can’t give a personal opinion since I’ve never used it myself but the Z Counterform – Concrete Countertop system seems like a decent product line. I’m just going by the many articles I’ve read about it. It’s a bit pricey but I’ve learned that you usually get what you pay for when it comes to home improvement products (except new technologies, it’s usually a good idea to wait a year or two for companies to work all the kinks out of fresh inventions and technologies).
Edging Forms or Lumber to Create Your Own Edge Forms
Install Your Own Concrete Countertops
Ashley Beseda and her husband used what is called a ‘pour in place’ method of installing concrete countertops in their 2005 Clayton double wide. That means they formed and poured the concrete right on top of the kitchen cabinets instead of building a separate mold (usually from melamine) so the concrete can be poured and cured somewhere else and then just carried into the kitchen to install.
Either way is fine.
If watching a video is more your style this video goes over the exact same steps as Ashley and her husband used to install their concrete countertops.
Step 1 Measure your Old Countertop
Before tearing out your old countertop you should measure every inch and if possible use the old countertoop to create a life size stencil. This will make the next few steps easier.
Step 2 Remove the Old Countertop If Needed
After measuring the old countertop it’s time to remove it. Caution is needed here so that the cabinet framing and wall aren’t damaged. Patience and a crowbar come in handy here.
After the old countertop was removed, they started bracing the cabinetry with 1x4s to hold the weight of the new countertop better and create a level bed for the concrete.
Do You Have to Remove the Old Countertop When Installing New Concrete Countertops?
If the old counter has a straight edge and is level and sturdy you may be able to use it as your substrate or foundation, under the cement board and concrete. You will have to remove the backsplash whether you use the old countertop or not.
Step 3 Install Plywood
A new piece of plywood was laid over the cabinet to give the concrete stability and form.
Step 4 Lay the Cement Board
Next, they cut 1/2” cement board to fit over the top of the OSB, nailing it down with 1” Brad nails.
Step 4 Attach the Edge Strips or Molds Around the New Plywood and Cement Board
Next, they ripped 1″x4″s to form strips that get screwed onto the edges of the cement board. This creates a straight and smooth edge around the concrete.
Note: You can buy a complete edge kit to help form a more decorative edging. They run between $100-200, Thankfully, the perfectly square edge is fairly popular. The edge kits below ar called Z Counterform Concrete Countertop
Step 5 Lay the Feather Finish Underlayment Down and Then the Concrete
Once the form was built, they mixed the feather finish according to the directions on the box and spread the mixture onto the cement board in thin coats. The Feather Finish underlayment will help the
Once the first coat dried (it dried fairly quickly about 15-20 minutes) Ashley lightly sanded and then repeated the process two more times. So three coats total.
Step 6 Seal the Concrete
After that was done, Ashley applied three coats of Minwax Polycrylic in clear matte finish, sanding lightly between coats. You will want to seal several times so that the cement no longer absorbs water.
PreCast Concrete Countertops
You don’t have to do all the work to enjoy the beautiful warm look of concrete. You can buy pre-cast concrete countertops.
A big thanks to Ashley for letting me share her awesome manufactured home DIY projects.
And, thank you for reading Mobile Home Living®!