Concrete Coffee Table Can Take A Beating

A good coffee table should have a hard-wearing surface and some serious heft to it. This build from [designcoyxe] hits both those criteria with its concrete-based design.

To create the table surface, the first step was to create a form. Melamine was used for the job, thanks to its smooth surface. A rectangular form was readily fabbed up, sealed internally and waxed, and then the concrete was poured. For added strength, the form was only half-filled, and a mesh was added for reinforcement. The rest of the concrete was then poured in to complete the tabletop. The table legs themselves were crafted out of maple, formerly used as a butcher’s block. The light wood makes a great contrast to the dark grey concrete. Plus, the stout, thick, wooden legs are a great combination with the strength of the tabletop itself.

It’s hard to overstate how good concrete is as a coffee table material. It’s difficult to damage and difficult to stain. Plus, if you really need to drive a point home, you can be certain slamming down your mug will get everyone’s attention (just be wary of injury). We’ve seen some other great concrete furniture before, too.

30 thoughts on “Concrete Coffee Table Can Take A Beating

  1. I cast my own concrete countertops for my kitchen 3 years ago, turned out pretty well considering it was my first time using concrete. It’s stood up great and gets lots of compliments and was cheaper than even the most budget friendly options from Ikea. I definitely learned a few things that I’d improve next time. More agitation to get out the air bubbles and build your casting table level to gravity, not level to the floor! Oops.

    1. when i first read this article and your comment i didn’t like either one…but i haven’t been able to stop thinking about this countertop! what kind of surface finish or coatings does it have?

      1. It’s sealed with a matte epoxy specifically made for concrete countertops, I mixed two batches of concrete with different amounts of black dye in them and distributed them around the form so it’s fairly mottled.

        It looks darker in person than in the photo. The pitting is because I didn’t agitate it enough. Next time!

      2. Use a concrete sealer admixture. That goes into the concrete when it’s mixed so it has waterproofing all the way through the slab. Finishing steps include screeding to level the surface. When it gets partially set, there’s floating. When it’s set enough that the surface can still be dented, it gets troweled. Troweled concrete is smooth enough for roads, sidewalks, and other uses where traction is wanted. Troweled concrete may be broomed to give it a nice looking roughened surface for more traction.

        But for a countertop you’ll want to go to a polishing step after troweling. When it is almost set to the point of not being able to put marks in it, a trowel is used to smooth the surface even more. A quick setting concrete may set too fast to do this sort of polishing. Look up polishing concrete on the web and you’ll find a ton of info on grinding and using abrasives and polishing compounds on fully cured concrete.

        Professional concrete countertop installers know what sort of concrete and additives to use, and have the experience to get it polished without needing to grind it after it’s set.

        1. You eliminate the need for almost any of that by casting inverted on melamine. I realize my counter is a /very/ amateur job but there was zero polishing done, other than the sealer that’s exactly how it came out of the form. If I’d done a better job agitating I’m pretty sure it would have been as smooth as the melamine. As it is it’s smooth enough that it wipes clean with a cloth, and the total cost for 40 square feet of countertop was under $300 CAD

  2. Till I looked ahead I questioned the stability of this. Great minimalist design the sturdy truss is hidden under the top. No cast in place bolts needed.

    For years I used a garden supply “flagstone” for a sleek turntable support that was dance proof. For those not wanting to pour out the effort to make one, check your local garden and exterior supplies sources.

  3. It’s pretty hefty wood, but he’s putting a lot of faith in those dominos / biscuits. Or at least that’s what my woodworking teacher would have said.

    A simple proper joint, even like a half-lap / cross-lap, would be a lot stronger when someone tries to push the tabletop sideways, especially in the long direction where all it has is end-grain glue, a single biscuit, and hope. Vs the weight of a concrete top.

    What would Matthias Wandel do?

    1. There’s enough glued surface there to lift an elephant. The biscuits are just a handy locating feature that keep the joint from slipping when clamping. People stress too much about joinery when the actual feature will never be stressed that much.

      If there is one problem with the design, it’s placing the rebar in half-way through the pour. That’s placing the mesh at the neutral axis of bending where it does exactly nothing to prevent the concrete from cracking when someone leans on the slab. That’s because there’s no tension there when the tabletop starts to bow down under load – it’s exactly at the point where the load changes from tension to compression, becoming zero.

      The rebar should actually be just under the surface, so it ends up at the bottom when the top is inverted right side up.

  4. How much is the reinforcement contributing? Can one stand on it? It can be handy to be able to do so at times. My own coffee table is a kit piece (not IKEA) 25-something years old, I glued it together with some hidden reinforcement when assembling and it’s still extremely solid and fine for climbing on.

  5. There’s a great book called, oddly enough, “Concrete Countertops” by Fu-Tung Cheng and it goes over EVERYTHING. A lot of fun can be had with different aggregate, polishing, embedding objects, marbles, etc, dying, mixing, curing, maintenance, you name it. It’s an excellent book.

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