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How to Build a Concrete Countertop for Exterior Structures: Part 3 - Staining and Sealing

Estimated Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Applying stain and sealer adds color depth as well as protection from spills and stains.

This is part 3 of a 3-part series. If you haven't read the first two parts, they can be found at:
Part 1: Building Forms and Part 2: Mixing and Pouring the Concrete

Here's what you'll need:

  • Citric Acid Wash
  • Concrete Countertop Stain
  • Concrete Countertop Sealer
  • Spacers
  • Sponge
  • 5-Gallon Bucket
  • Foam Roller
  • Foam Brush
  • Acid Wash Brush
  • Bristle Brush
  • Paint Tray
  • Paint Pail
For Your Safety
  • Safety Goggles
  • Gloves

Concrete countertops are durable and stylish, but they require special treatment to keep them in top condition. Concrete is a porous material. When left unprotected it can get stained and dirty from food, spills, and weather-related dirt and grime.

Adding a stain will deepen the color of the concrete, and sealer will provide a glossy sheen.

Stain And Sealer

There are plenty of stains available, but make sure the one you choose is designed for concrete. Ours was an acrylic water-based stain with easy water cleanup. The finish we used was also an acrylic water-based finish that provides a durable scratch-resistant surface along with UV inhibitors for longevity.

Step 1: Before you apply the stain or sealer, the concrete will need to be prepped. First, wash the concrete with a citric acid wash, like CHO. Use a 5-gallon bucket, dilute the citric acid wash to the specified recommendations, and apply with an acid wash brush.


Pro Tip

Be sure not to skip over Step 2 or Step 3.  These are critical in neutralizing the acid from the surface.

Step 2: Rinse the tops thoroughly with water.


Step 3: Use a sponge and a mild cleanser mixed with water for the final cleaning. Rinse again with clean water. Let the concrete dry thoroughly after rinsing.


Step 4: Prepare an area to apply the stain. Place spacers down to make application easier.


Step 5: Apply the stain with a bristle brush. A paint pail makes it easy to move the stain around as you work. Apply it to all the edges and the top of the countertop keeping it as even as possible.

5a   5b   5c

Pro Tip

Plan Ahead! The stain we used required 28 days to fully dry before we could add the sealer.


Step 6: Once the stain is fully dry, apply the sealer. To keep the coverage even, first roll the sealer on. A paint tray and foam roller work best. Lightly top-off the sealer with a foam brush to remove any air bubbles or imperfections.

6a   6b   6c 

Once the sealer is dry you can set the L-shaped pieces into place and enjoy!


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