This DIY concrete shelf project will show you once and for all that working with cement is easy. It’s kind of fun, too. Whitney Jones of Whitney J Designs will be first to tell you that. She created this concrete shelf for her bathroom. Looking at the final result, you’d have no idea this was her first DIY project using cement.
You can make a stylish, industrial chic concrete shelf just like this for your own home. Just follow the step-by-step tutorial.
Concrete Shelf Project
When The Home Depot challenged me to create a DIY project using cement, I was a bit intimidated. I had never worked with concrete before.
I knew I wanted to have something functional, because I really hate making stuff that I’ll never use. My bathroom is in serious need of shelf space, so I jumped on the opportunity to make an over-the-toilet shelf out of concrete.
I went to The Home Depot and asked an associate for help. I told him about my DIY concrete shelf project, and he helped me get it together.
This concrete shelf was EXTREMELY easy to create. You don’t need any complicated tools or materials. And it doesn’t have to be for the bathroom. You can easily make this concrete shelf for your kitchen, living room, or bedroom.
- A 25-lb. bag of Cement All
- Drop cloth
- Melamine board
- Silicone sealant
- Sanding sponge
- Paint (if you want to paint your shelf, I purchased a sample of a gray color to use)
- Paint brush
- Shelf brackets
- Bucket to mix concrete
- Drill bits
- Cooking spray
Wait until you see how easy this is to make!
Start by making a mold for the concrete shelf.
I used the melamine board to make the mold . My shelf is 24-in. wide x 10-in. deep, so I had the lumber guy at The Home Depot cut my boards for the frame first. He cut one board at 24-in. x 10-in. and used a second board to cut smaller pieces for the sides of the frame.
Then, I simply screwed the sides to the big board like in the photos below. I placed a paint stirrer under the side pieces as I attached them to the frame so that the mold would be at least 1-in. deep.
Once the frame was completed, I used the silicone sealant to seal all the seams.
First, squeeze the sealant along all the seams, then use your finger to smooth it along the seams.
Now it’s time to mix the cement.
You first need to make sure your work surface is protected with a dropcloth. Then, use the directions from the Cement All package to mix your concrete in the bucket. The directions were simply to mix 4 parts cement with one part water.
I used an old mason jar for measuring. I measured the 4:1 ratio twice (and still didn’t end up with enough mixture – you’ll see what I mean later). Stir for about one minute or until all lumps are gone.
Next, pour concrete into the mold.
The hardest part about this step is making sure you pour the concrete before it starts to set. As soon as you finish mixing the concrete, you should start pouring it into your mold.
Make sure you push the concrete into your corners while pouring.
As you can see below, mine doesn’t look very neat – that’s because I didn’t have enough concrete to fill the mold and had to go back and mix some more. At this point, the first batch of concrete had already started settling.
Let concrete set. Now you’ll have to be patient as the concrete hardens. It’s a rapid set concrete, so it seriously was rock hard within an hour. I let it sit in the mold overnight, though.
Then, I removed the screws that held the mold together. I had to pry apart the concrete from the melamine boards, but that was super easy with a butter knife.
Next time, I’ll spray the inside of the mold with a light coat of cooking spray before I pour the cement. That will help keep it from sticking to the sides of the mold when it comes time to remove the concrete slab.
You may also notice the cracks in the concrete. I simply used a couple sanding blocks to smooth it out a bit. I wasn’t concerned about having a perfect finish, because I knew this side would be the bottom of the shelf. The top of the shelf (which was at the bottom side of the mold) is super smooth.
If you want to paint concrete shelf, now is the time. I really wanted a gray shelf, but the concrete was a beige color. So, I purchased a sample of Behr Marquee paint in Distant Star and painted it on the top and sides of the shelf. I love the character and industrial look of the concrete.
Now it’s time to install the brackets for the concrete shelf. This was easiest part for me, because I’m used to drilling hundreds of holes in my apartment walls (I know, sad, right?). I can pretty much install a bracket with my eyes closed.
Your brackets may come with instructions for hanging on the wall if you need help with it. The one thing you need to remember if you’re going to do a heavy shelf (especially with a concrete shelf) is to make sure to attach your shelf to your wall studs or use anchors – if not, your shelf WILL COME DOWN.
To attach the shelf to the brackets, set your shelf on your brackets. Then, use a marker to mark on the concrete (on the underside) the position of the holes in the brackets.
Take your shelf off the brackets and use a drill to make some pilot holes.
Put your shelf back onto your brackets and screw to secure your shelf.
The Finished Concrete Shelf
You can place this concrete shelf anywhere in your home, but I really wanted mine in my bathroom over my toilet. I’ve been debating getting an étagère over the toilet, but knew it would clutter and date the space too much. This shelf is extremely functional, as I’m able to place a few things on display that I really couldn’t display before, like plants and small toiletries.
I could have put the shelf up a bit higher, but I didn’t want to lose space that I could use for art. I had to borrow my pineapple print from my kitchen for these photos, but I really want to do an eclectic gallery of colorful art above the shelf.
Working with concrete was a great experience and I’m already thinking of other concrete projects to do. DIYing is most fun for me when I’m challenged to work with a material I’m not used to.
This concrete shelf project is part of our Cement DIY Challenge series here on The Home Depot Blog. We challenged some of our favorite DIY and decor bloggers to come up with a DIY projects using cement.
Whitney Jones is a New Orleans-based interior designer and the founder of Whitney J Decor. She specializes in “small spaces that are functional and glam with an eclectic twist.”