Concrete countertops have been a hot trend in kitchens for a while now. It only makes sense the idea would migrate to the outdoors. And it’s not just for outdoor kitchens either. It is becoming a popular choice for building a DIY propane fire pit table.
Concrete is a non-flammable material that holds up well in outdoor conditions. Plus, it offers a lot of flexibility in terms of size, shape, and color options. You can create whatever size opening you need to easily place your drop-in burner pan or CSA certified burner pan kit.
To get a rough idea of cost, consider that a DIY concrete kitchen countertop runs about $8 to $15 a square foot, according to HomeAdvisor.com. But keep in mind, that estimate does not include materials you will need to complete the project such as items to build a wooden form, metal mesh (or rebar) for support, tarps for protecting surfaces, and sealants for the finished product.
Fire Pit Tabletop Design
Creating a concrete tabletop is no doubt a messy DIY project, and not everyone will have the type of space you’ll need to complete it. However, if you do, concrete provides a lot of options for expressing your creativity.
First, think about how you will use this table? Will people stand around it and use it to hold their drinks and a small appetizer plate? Will it be a coffee table anchoring cozy chairs and conversation? Or, will your guests be sitting down to a full meal?
A STANDARD countertop (1 ½” thick) weighs about 18 lbs. per square foot.
If you have a tight space, consider a round table. A circle cuts off the corners and gives you more room to maneuver around it.
What kind of vibe do you want? A standard countertop is 1 ½-inches thick, and this looks nice for fire tables, as well. However, you could go as thick as 3 inches if you prefer a more robust look. As you consider your design, keep in mind that concrete is heavy.
If your plan features a large expanse of tabletop or if it’s more than 2 inches deep, you’ll need to make sure the base can accommodate the added weight. Concrete is durable, but it may not be the best choice if you want a fire table that’s easy to move around.
And on that note, you might want to put wheels on the legs of your table so you can move it around more easily.
Reinforcement of Your Concrete Fire Pit Tabletop
Any concrete tabletop or countertop must have wire mesh or rebar embedded in the concrete for proper reinforcement. If you desire a little overhang to more easily accommodate seating around the table, you can have a maximum of 12 inches with a 1 ½-inch thick tabletop. Any design that cantilevers beyond 12 inches or if it features a thicker countertop, it will require additional supports such as brackets.
Forms for Your Concrete Tabletop
NEW TECHNOLOGY reinforces concrete with fiberglass particles making it possible to create strong countertops as thin as 3/4 inches.
Experienced DIYers will tell you to ditch that surplus lumber you were planning to use as your concrete form and spring for the cost of a melamine board. It has a smooth surface that prevents the concrete from sticking to it.
You’ll need to seal the joints with silicone caulk, allow them to cure, and then coat them with something (such as cooking spray) to prevent the concrete from sticking.
Concrete Type for Your Gas Fire Pit Tabletop
There are all types of concrete mixes to meet a variety of needs. You will definitely want to use the concrete mix blended especially for countertops because it includes additives that help to prevent shrinking, cracking, and bubbles. In short, it helps those new to concrete achieve better results.
Be sure to read all of the instructions before beginning, particularly if you are adding coloring or plan on using a stain. You’ll need to be aware if the mix you are using should be wet cured, (covered with plastic sheeting) or not. Sanding is typically done after the concrete has sufficiently set, and before it is completely cured.
CEMENT AND CONCRETE are not the same thing. Cement is a singular item. Concrete is more durable because it is a mixture of cement, water, and an aggregate such as sand.
Finishes for Your Concrete Tabletop
There are many ways to get creative with your concrete project. There are color additives, stains, and stamping. To mimic wood, you can use scoring and painting techniques. Some have also used products such as “HardiePlank” (a simulated wood siding made of concrete) as the inside of their concrete form as a way to create wood texture.
Protection of Your Fire Pit Concrete Tabletop
After all that work, you’re going to want to protect it. Concrete is porous, so it will need a barrier against the weather and potential staining. See the instructions for the concrete product you used for direction on how long to wait before sealing for the first time.
There are various types of sealants including those that penetrate the surface and are absorbed, and those that sit on top and create a film to repel the elements.
WAX IS OFTEN used as a sealant on indoor countertops, but it’s a bad idea for the outside as heat causes it to melt.
Urethanes and epoxies are good repellants, but they are very shiny and tend to look like plastic, which often looks out of place in an outdoor setting. Epoxy is also sensitive to UV light and prone to scratching.
Cheng’s food-safe concrete countertop sealer is well regarded by experts in the field. Not only does it do a good job of protecting the surface, but it also becomes almost invisible when dry.
Still, acidic items like lemon, red wine, and salad dressings can leave stains on concrete if not cleaned up quickly. Never use bleach on your concrete countertops.
How often you need to reapply the sealant will depend on the product, the severity of your outdoor environment, and usage.
Research Your Concrete Tabletop
If you decide you want to take on the challenge of creating a concrete countertop, be sure to take the time to do your research. There are lots of videos out there with advice, but some are more helpful than others.
Plus, you’ll want to see all of the options available to you. It may just inspire you to a design style you had never considered.
Base of Operations for Celestial Fire Glass
The Celestial Fire Glass Tech Team is not positioned to guide you on the basics of working with concrete, but we sure can teach you how to plan for your DIY propane fire table.
We’re based in Frederick, Maryland, and always happy to talk with you about your projects—Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET. Contact us!