How to Improve Your Countertop With a Concrete Overlay

How to Improve Your Countertop With a Concrete Overlay

Are you looking for ways to modernize and refresh your old countertops without completely replacing them? Try concrete overlays. Most countertops, including plywood, laminate, tile, granite, and marble, can all be overlaid, provided they are strong, smooth, and free of significant defects. Additionally, applying countertop overlays (sometimes called resurfacing) is a straightforward process that’s easy to turn into a do-it-yourself project.

In addition to resurfacing, re-sealing is another way you can affordably upgrade the look and color of your countertop. Let’s take a closer look at how to choose between re-sealing and resurfacing.

Re-sealing Versus Resurfacing

Concrete countertop sealers are chemical solutions that create a protective stain-resistant barrier while eliminating existing scratches. Sealers come in various forms and may mildly alter the color of your countertops, although not as severely as concrete stains will. Compared to resurfacing, re-sealing involves fewer steps. With sealing, you apply the solution to the countertop according to the manufacturer’s instructions and then allow it to thoroughly dry.

While re-sealing helps hide some defects and may alter the color of a countertop, concrete countertop overlays totally transform the existing surface. They eliminate the need to tear out and remove existing countertops. As long as your countertops are structurally solid, they can be overlaid or resurfaced. The microcement you choose for an overlay can be customized with stain, pigment, dye, or other additives to achieve the right color, texture, and finish.

Re-sealing and dying the countertop may be the most cost-effective option if you are just looking to hide some defects and change the color of your countertops. But, if you want to change your countertop’s color, texture, and finish, resurfacing/applying overlay is the better choice.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Applying Overlay

The resurfacing process typically takes two to three days to complete but could take longer, depending on the surface preparation needed.

The application procedure is straightforward, even if you have little or no relatable experience. As long as you’re equipped with the proper tools and concrete countertop supplies, you need only perform the following steps.

1. Prepare the Surface

Minor defects should always be corrected before beginning an overlay. You want the surface to be as close to perfect as possible before applying the overlay microcement mixture. Your goal is to achieve a subsurface completely void of wax, sealers, grease, oil, or anything else that will inhibit the overlay concrete’s adherence level.

This will typically involve:

  • Sanding
  • Grinding
  • Acid Etching
  • Sandblasting
  • Damp Honing

The technique you use depends on the surface you’re preparing. The key is to make the surface level, ultra-clean, and slightly rough so that the overlay adheres to it strongly.

2. Fill Cracks or Holes

Although this is technically part of the surface preparation phase, you’ll also want to be sure that you:

  • Sand or Grind Away Spalling or Flaking Concrete
  • Remove or Secure Loosely Glued Lamination
  • Smooth Joints in Plywood Countertop Base With Wood Filler
  • Acid Etch Glossy Sealant Off Ceramic Tile Countertops

If you’re filling cracks or holes, be sure to sand down and smooth out the epoxy or filler. And before you apply the countertop overlay, give the entire surface a thorough, gentle sanding, using 80 to 120 grit sandpaper. Then, use a lint-free, dry rag to wipe down the rough surface.

3. Apply Concrete Overlay

When your countertop is fully prepped, clean, and dry, you’ll need to add the overlay into a 5-gallon bucket. If you’re coloring your countertop, add any pigments or stains to the overlay per label instructions. Then, add water until the mix achieves a pancake-like consistency. Finally, mix everything together with a “birdcage” mixer on your hand drill. Note that the workable lifespan of the overlay mix is about 45 minutes. You can extend this some by using ice-cold water when creating the mix.


Additionally, if you are adding pigments to your mix and will be mixing more than one batch, keeping the recipe identical with each batch is crucial. Not doing so can cause color anomalies.

Typically, a 55-lb bag of BUTTERFIELD T-1000 Fine Overlay will yield about 96 square feet of coverage with a one-eighth-inch application. And you’ll achieve about 32 square feet of coverage with a three-sixteenths-inch surface skim. Coverage will always depend on the thickness of the application.

4. Seal

After the countertop overlay cures, use a paintbrush to apply a high-quality sealer according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once the sealant dries, your countertop is ready to use!

Do You Need Help Finding the Right Concrete Overlay? Ask Our Pros Today!

Start your countertop overlay project with help from Stamped Concrete. Founded in 2009, we’re a trusted supplier of high-quality decorative concrete supplies, including overlays and colorants for countertops. If you need help selecting the right overlay for your project, contact us today to speak with one of our pros.