Updated: Nov 29, 2020
Hi guys! I'm back this week with another fun DIY project - a bohemian take on a concrete desk. When most people think of concrete, they think of a cold gray look or an industrial vibe. However, if combined with warm hues, it can be a perfect accent for a bohemian room. In this DIY, I decided to bring in the boho feel by using white concrete rather than the traditional gray.
So let's take a look at what the desk looked like before I started messing around with it. We had 2 thrifted desks setup into a corner desk configuration. My goals when I started this project were to convert this single workstation into two workstations and also to update the tired laminate look.
Step #1: Sand, sand, and sand some more!
One golden rule for long-lasting furniture makeovers is to always start by scaling down to the original surface of the furniture. For instance, if the wood is stained or painted, bring it down to its original finish by sanding or using chemical strippers like Citristrip. In this case, the laminate had a glossy surface, which required sanding so that a new finish would adhere to the surface. As you can see in the second picture, sanding will lead to a lot of dust. Make sure to clean this dust with a wet rag before proceeding further.
Step #2: Prime
Since I was going to be using white concrete, I decided to put a coat of white primer on the desk so that any gaps in the concrete would not be obvious. The primer I used was the Fresh start primer from Benjamin Moore since I had it at home, but I have used more affordable primers like Kilz and Zinsser in past projects with similar results.
Step #3: Concrete
So now the most important step. Picking out the concrete you want to use for your project. This depends solely on the texture you want to achieve and the price you are willing to pay. I wanted to create a rough textured look to go with the bohemian theme. I imagine that a lot of people read that last sentence and were appalled that I wanted a rough, textured surface for a desk since it is not suitable to write on. I get it, but I was able to find a solution to retain the textured look and still make the desk functional. Read on!
So if you are going for a textured look, I recommend cheap outdoor cement like this one. It is usually used to make paving stones, it gives texture and it's cheap. If you like the smooth finish, opt for a good feather finish concrete like this one. This is pricier and might need two coats, for complete coverage but it will give you a very smooth finish.
Irrespective of which concrete you pick, the mixing procedure remains the same. Add the concrete to a bucket and add water slowly while mixing it till you get a thick paste texture. I used a paint stick to mix it but if you would rather skip the manual labor, use a concrete-mixing drill attachment to make your life easier.
The next step was the most fun part of this entire DIY - slathering the concrete onto the desk. You could use a spatula to flatten it out. Since I needed a rough textured finish, I just used my hand to spread it out in an even layer on the desks and left it overnight to set.
Step #4: Protecting the finish from wear and tear
After letting the concrete set overnight, I lightly sanded it down with a sanding block to remove any overly rough patches of concrete. This surface by itself would not be resistant to wear and tear from regular use and would also be prone to staining in case of spills. So I coated it in a thin layer of water-based polyurethane using a foam brush.
Step #5: Acrylic table-top
So now back to the question of using a textured surface for a desk. How do we make a textured surface functional? .....Add a table-top! If you want to splurge, you could put a glass table-top. In this case, I went with a cheaper alternative, a clear acrylic sheet. A word of caution if using the acrylic sheet, get it cut from the hardware store. Most of them do not charge for cutting it. My husband and I cut it ourselves using a utility knife - the struggle was real! 😒 The acrylic sheet comes with a plastic backing, which makes it look white but once you peel that layer off, it will be clear like glass. However, if you do not have the option to buy it from the hardware store, there are sellers on Amazon who sell acrylic sheets too.
So here is the desk in the home-office! I love how the concrete complements the boho vibe of the room!
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