Make Concrete Look Like “Granite”

The bare concrete foundation wall of our renovated mudroom made a stark contrast to the beautiful natural granite blocks that have solidly supported our farmhouse for 115 years.

concrete next to real granite I had thought about parging it just to spruce it up a bit and then my partner suggested we try resurfacing the concrete with the Beauti-Tone (Tech Stone) “Granite”© from Home Hardware.

Having seen the TV ads and after a bit of Googling to check out other people’s experience with “Granite” and other “spreadable stone” decorative finishes we decided that the TechStone product was worth a shot.

Three Step Process

As with most of these “stone-like” coatings Granite is applied in 3 steps – Primer. Texture. Sealer. The textured primer and sealer are applied with a roller and brush but the “Granite” texture is applied with a steel trowel.

Step 1 – Prep & Prime

I was pretty confident that I knew what I needed and how to do this – until I read the instructions. While the Prepare & Prime section was very thorough on surface preparation it never actually instructed you to apply the textured primer before the “application of Granite”. Being a literal kind of guy I feel that step-by-step instructions by definition should include ALL the steps.

primedI emailed Tech Stone with my query and quickly received a pleasant response that the primer actually being applied is “implied”.
(A two-minute edit on the instructions would clarify the process for future users.)

So I proceeded to ignore the “fairly smooth finish” part of prep, washed the wall with TSP and applied the primer over the rough wall with 15mm roller and brush to get the primer into the divots.

Step 2 – Texture (Make Mine a Double)

The instructions suggest a 1/16″ thick coat. Yeah, right – although this is probably the only way to actually achieve the colour shown on the swatch since it seems to rely on the primer being partially visible through the texture. It’s a given that you’re going to use more of the texture than they specify so save yourself a trip and get twice as much as recommended. If you don’t need it you can always take it back or use it to tart up that old birdbath. My wall area (33 sq ft) was right at the upper limit of the suggested coverage on the can – so I got two.

By the way, no “real” stone is harmed in making this product. The “Granite” consists of little coloured spheres of poly-something-or-other, suspended in a gruel-like substance. The effect isn’t bad if you don’t get too close.

Gravity and Vertical Surfaces

Don’t even begin to think that you can get the texture from the can to the wall without dropping some on the ground. application cuBefore you start, grab a board or cut a piece of plywood to catch the drops so you can scoop them up and get them on the wall where they belong. I cut a 6″ x 20″ piece of 1/8″ wall panelling and placed it on the ground against the wall where I was working. I scooped some of the texture out of the can with a stir stick onto a “pallet” made from a small piece of 1/4″ plywood so I could load up my trowel easily.Start at the top of the wall and work your way down but apply it using an upward stroke to press it firmly on to the wall surface.

granite applicationThe stuff that falls off your trowel and lands on the board can easily be trowelled right onto the lower part of the wall and blended with the surface above it.Scrape the boards clean each time you reload the pallet to keep the material from drying and getting rough. I would have lost about 20% of the material in the rocks if I hadn’t used the board to catch it.

Extra Texture

first coatSince I was was applying this to a foundation wall, a smooth finish wasn’t necessary and I wanted the surface to be as varied as possible to blend with our natural granite walls which are far from smooth.I started using a 3″ x 9″ steel trowel but quickly switched to my favourite small triangular trowel because the concrete surface was rough and I wanted to adjust the texture as I went.

I applied a generous first coat making sure I covered the whole surface and filling in the divots in theconcrete and then knocked down the high points with the plastic smoother that’s included with the product. The initial coat was still too smooth for my taste and the colour variation was significant due to the differing thickness allowing the primer to show through in the thin spots.

Even More Extra Texture

I still had more than three-quarters of the second can left so I applied a second coat concentrating on the areas where the primer was still showing through. I threw caution to the wind and randomly trowelled it on while trying to gauge how much material I had so I could get a second coat on the whole area before I ran out. The total variation in thickness is still only about 1/8″ – 3/16″. The final effect is much more dramatic than a flat surface especially in direct sunlight when it creates some shadows.

Step 3 – Sealer

The final step of applying the sealer couldn’t be easier. My main concern was that it might be too glossy and take away the natural rock effect. While they do make different types of sealers for this product the standard acrylic sealer leaves no visible sheen.

Since my wall area was fairly small I didn’t bother messing up a roller and tray. I applied it with abandon using a 4″ brush in about 20 minutes. It went on milky like any urethane coating and almost instantly turned clear and virtually invisible before I could tell where I had just applied it.

Looking Good

final resultI’m quite pleased with the results even though the colour is darker than I wanted – but that’s no fault of the product – and it really doesn’t look anything like our real granite.

I don’t know how this will stand the test of time (considering I slathered it on heavier than the manufacturer suggests) but right now the effect is head and shoulders over that old concrete wall.

And if I need to patch it up in a few years I’ll just be enhancing the texture.

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