Sealing The Deal (And Our Concrete Counters)

Thanks for all the kind words on Teddy’s arrival last week. We’re home now and settling into life as parents to a newborn again (anyone have tips for getting one to sleep between the hours of 10pm and 4am?), so we’ll definitely be on a lighter schedule, but one project that we rushed to check off the to-do list around 48 hours before Teddy was born was finally sealing our kitchen’s recently Ardexed counters.

We’ve shared a few other “how to seal” tutorials (like this one about de-hazing & sealing tile, this one about sealing grout, and this one about sealing cork) so here’s what we settled on for protecting our Ardex counters.

We read a bunch of the-sealing-step-could-make-or-break-them posts when it comes to Adrex, so we resisted the urge to rush into anything, and we used some of your input on our March 24th post to help select which sealers to research a little more and eventually track down (we had to order one from Amazon). In the end, our method of choice was two coats of 511 Impregnator Sealer which we bought from Amazon followed by three coats of Safecoat Acrylacq which we had on hand from ordering it previously (those are affiliate links).

The Impregnator’s job was to seal the concrete – against staining and moisture absorption – and it was very easy to apply. The water-like consistency made it easy to spread, so I poured a bit in a bowl and then brushed it onto the clean concrete surface liberally.

The instructions say to wipe off any excess after a few minutes, but I found most of mine absorbed into the concrete pretty quickly. But as a shameless rule follower, I wiped nonetheless. It looks darker and splotchier than it did after it dried in this picture (since it was mid application) but after it all soaked in it was pretty much back to its original color.

We applied that twice (24 hours apart) and then gave that last coat 24 hours to cure before moving on to the last step, which was top-sealing with the Acrylacq. The great thing about using Safecoat as a top-coat in a kitchen environment is that it’s non-toxic and 100% food-safe. This would also seal the counter against stains and moisture (liquid would bead up on the surface instead of absorbing and making rings) and create a nice polished look that’s protective against chipping or scratching. I went rogue with this stuff and just poured a small puddle onto the surface and spread that thinly across the counters with a brush.

We use Acrylacq a lot, so we’re familiar with it (I’m no longer alarmed by the blue-ish tint that it puts on the surface while it’s still wet).

We applied a second and then a third coat of the Acrylacq, just to be safe (letting it dry about 12 hours between each one). Then we let it cure for three full days before putting anything on it, even though it was dry to the touch much sooner than that. Although the Acrylacq was just a “satin” finish, it made the surface significantly glossier than the chalky finish the original Ardex had left. I realize that sounds like I was disappointed, but it’s great.

Not only does the glossier finish make it feel more like a shiny stone countertop (and less like a chalky DIY job) it also protects the counters much more from spills/stains. No longer do drips leave longstanding discolorations on the surface (picture water soaking into a concrete walkway outside and looking dark for hours). Now spills and splatters just bead up and can be wiped away without any trace.

We also read that some sealers show a lot of scratches, but so far we haven’t had any show up, even after cooking some big family meals and sliding some heavy dishes around to serve things. So it seems as if this mix of sealers yields a nice stone-like look that’s food-safe, scratch-resistant, and makes liquids bead up instead penetrating – at least so far.

My only complaint about our sealing results is that the glossier finish makes it slightly easier to see imperfections in the counter’s surface, namely areas where I should’ve sanded things a bit smoother during the Ardex application step (just like how glossy paint will accentuate imperfections in walls, this follows the same principle). Sherry is quicker to embrace these imperfections as par for the concrete counter course (“they’re supposed to look like that”) but the perfectionist in me just sees areas that I could have smoothed out a little more before sealing. Either way we’re both ecstatic to finally have everything back on our counters and be able to use our kitchen again like normal people. And it’s definitely a huge step up from the old yellow laminate that we had before.

Note: There have been people who’ve asked if we’d like to paint those bottom cabinets now that the counters are done, which is always a possibility, but for now we’re a lot more distracted by things like that faux brick linoleum flooring – so that’s at the top of our list.

There are still some things I’d like to improve about my Ardex-ing technique (namely sanding more smoothly) but generally I’m really happy with how it all turned out. Especially how the sealing step turned it into a much more finished feeling surface.

Aside from a few the-family-is-in-town-to-meet-a-new-baby meals, we haven’t used the kitchen like crazy yet, so we’ll definitely keep you posted on how it wears. Whether stains get through and we get scratches galore, or things stay pretty darn similar to how they look now, we’ll definitely share some updated detail shots in a few months time.

UPDATE: We shared how the counters are holding up here for ya!

Has anyone else used the same mix of sealers? Or had good (or bad) luck with another combo? Feel free to share those details here for anyone who might be tackling this soon. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a photo comparison that a bunch of you guys have requested. Here’s Teddy at four days old:

And here’s Clara’s when she was around three weeks old in the same pose. They seem to have identical (extra long) fingers and toes, the same invisible blonde eyebrows, and the same tiny little chin – but Clara had a lot less hair. This Clara picture and this Teddy picture are probably the closest comparison so far (in real life we think they look related – but not quite like twins).

Now about those tips for getting a newborn to sleep between the hours of 10pm and 4am. We’re all ears…

Comments

  1. says

    He is such a little cutey. No advice on getting the little guy to sleep better but I think you adjust better to less sleep and are more functional than the first time around. Take your naps!

  2. Brenna says

    The counters look great! Can’t believe how much hair Teddy has! Congratulations on the adorable new addition to your family!

  3. Diana Yarborough says

    I had been thinking about using Safecoat for a sealer on a dresser for our new baby (#5 born in January). Would you recommend it for a wood dresser and is it sold anywhere like Home Depot, etc? I was surprised by how expensive it was on Amazon!

    Congratulations on Teddy and enjoy that newborn time!

    • says

      Yes, we have used it for years on things like dressers (we sealed Clara’s dresser before she was born with it!) and it holds up really well. We love that it’s a non-toxic alternative to poly, and it’s really thin so a big container lasts a really long time (we use each one that we order for years and multiple projects before needing to reorder).

      xo
      s

  4. Mckenzie says

    Rock and play. I just had my second and this changed our lives. He started sleeping 4 hours at a time the second might home, which was when we bought the rock and play. 4 hours if sleep, eat, right back to sleep. Life changing!

    • Jeannette says

      I agree! I have a 3 week old and can confirm 4 hour stretches thanks to the rock and play.

    • Katie says

      Rock an play all the way! Our little girl slept in it right next to our bed and was sleeping 5-6 hour stretches. We by far had more success with this as opposed to her crib or a pack n play. We ended up transitioning her to her crib at 2 months.

    • Janis says

      Same!! We love the rock and play! our little lady is 4 months today and i’m dreading moving her to her crib because she is sleeping 11-12 hours every night!!

    • Danielle says

      my third baby slept through the night the earliest out of all of my kiddos and she was the only one i had the rock and play with. she slept awesome in that thing. i had a harder time transitioning her to the crib but we got there – it was worth it. also the dr’s always gave the advice to just make sure night time seems boring to them – lights off, quite time, no tv blaring, talking loud – that happens during the daytime so they can start to realize the difference btwn day and night and not want to party at night b/c they think you are way too boring :)

    • Alison says

      Agree – Rock and play is a MUST – changed our life with the second. Sounds too good to be true – but it really is a game changer for sleeping.

    • Amanda says

      Be careful about these ones though–there was a bunch of recalls for mold a while back, and a number of people complain that it can cause flat heads for some infants leading to helmets/lots of medical costs. Just do your research.

    • says

      I’m not kidding when I say the Rock N Play changed my life. My daughter was about three months old when we got it, at the recommendation of dozens of friends. It finally broke her wake-up-every-half-hour habit, with the added bonus of not posing a SIDS risk the way swings and car seats have reportedly done. (As far as I can tell, anyway – I did as much reasearch as I could.) She’s almost seven months now and is transitioning to her crib (the RNP is next to her crib in her room) – all of her naps are in the crib, and nighttime sleep is 50-50. I know that sounds old, but she hasn’t shown any signs of being able to bust out of it, and she just sleeps so much more soundly in it (4-hr stretches vs. up every 1-2). Clearly, she’s not an awesome sleeper despite everything we’ve tried, and the RNP is what finally allowed us to get more sleep, get things done, and (for me) sleep enough to move out of postpartum anxiety. Plus, I exclusively pump (unfortunately), and the RNP helped so much with that when she was younger and less apt to entertain herself for 15 minutes while I pumped. Good luck, Petersiks! (Also…don’t despair too much…getting days and nights mixed up is typical, and hopefully he’ll be done with that in a couple weeks! Which I know sounds like forever is postpartum-time-warp, but still. One day at a time. Or…one three-hour cycle of sleep-eat-play at a time!!)

    • says

      Follow up to this – my model (purchased a few months ago) was not included in the recall for mold, but I make sure to clean it regularly anyway. Super easy to do – throw the fabric parts in the wash and wipe down the plastic parts. As for the plagiocephaly issue, that could also happen in a crib, and I believe the newer versions of the RNP have an extra pad to help prevent this. My babe has no issues with a flat head, but then, she’s never really slept for long enough to make it an issue. ;)

    • Danielle says

      also you can take it apart to clean (wash the machine – and wipe down the inside. and make sure you rotate the way they lay (like you would in a crib) facing left, facing right for the flat head issue and also lots of tummy time, same as for crib sleeping…

    • Carolyn says

      The Rock and Play was the *only* place my daughter would sleep for the first three months – aside from our arms! Something about the elevation was very soothing to her. Good luck!

    • Malissa says

      Our daughter loved the rock n play too! If you use it be sure to transition to the crib before 4 months when they hit the four month sleep regression or you’ll have a harder time making the move.

      Also, cluster feedings before bed helped me tremendously. Starting around 7 or so I would feed my daughter every hour, quick feedings like 5-1IMG_2312.JPG0 min per side and that helped fill her up and signal that sleep was coming. That only lasted a few weeks (maybe 3 but helped so much).

      Lastly, I don’t know what he is doing during that time but if he is just crying inconsolably, he might have a dairy sensitivity. My daughter would scream from 11pm-2am every night and when I finally cut out dairy (it took about 3 days to see results and a week for the full effect) she was like a different child. She went down at 11 and would go 4-5 hours. Good luck! You’ll figure it out. It looks like you’ve got lots of good ideas to try.

    • Barbara says

      Yup – the Rock in Play saved our life with #2 and now have used it with #3 and #4 (who is just 6 weeks today). I really wish we’d had it with #1 as well. #4 is already sleeping 8-9hrs at night! We swaddle (only at night to help differentiate sleeptime) and then put in the rock in play with white noise! Good luck #2 was our trouble sleeper and it was rough!

    • Jilly says

      Another one chiming in here for the Rock n Play. My babe is 4 months old and we used it for naps, not night sleeping, but it made napping a breeze. Nowadays he tends to prefer his swing, but it’s still so useful, because it’s so portable (like bringing it into the bathroom or kitchen). However, I think I remember reading that Clara was an exceptionally good night sleeper – in general, I still consider it a good night if I only get up twice, so it might just take Teddy a little longer to find his rhythm.

    • says

      I agree with the rock n play by Fischer Price. We used this with our second, and it helped tremendously with his acid reflux as well.

      The only think I would like to add is BE SURE TO GET ONE WITH A PILLOW (like the monkey or sheep model). I bought the old model, because I didn’t want something animal-ish in my house! haa! Well, my son got a “flat head” from it, and he had to wear a helmet for a few months to make it nice and round again. Just be careful! :)And congratulations!

      Love the countertops! Thinking of doing them in the basement of our home.

    • Rebecca says

      I will add my Rock and Play love to the list! My now 6 month old slept great in it until she was 3 months. Then we transitioned her to the crib.

    • Angela says

      No experience with the Rock and play, but I do not think it should be used for long nighttime sleeps. It seems to me the baby is forced into a position comparable to a carseat and they always tell you not to use the carseat for more than 30 minutes at a time because it may cause permanent damage to babies back. (I did a lot of research on that and talked to several specialists.) You may want to look into that before deciding to use a Rock and Play during the night.

      My son was a bad sleeper right from the start. At almost 2 years he still is. We tried everything. Still no solution. All the best! Hope your precious little boy turns out to be a great sleeper after a few weeks. Wouldn’t wish the “bad sleeper” curse on anyone.

      A few tips for Mum & Dad though:

      Heard good things about the Born Free Nighty Night Nursing Light. Helps with breastfeeding or bottle feeding during the night. Has an optional vibration alarm. Helps to track feeding time or gently wakes Mom/Dad in case he/she falls asleep while feeding.

      We love the Cloud-B Tranquil Turtle Night Light Ocean. It has very soothing light and sound effects. You can adjust the volume seamlessly. I found it helps ME a great deal to go back to sleep after nighttime feedings :-)

      I also loved the Chicco Magic Lantern. Has 5 different soothing sounds and a very relaxing melody option. And soothing light effects of course. Volume adjusts seamlessly. We used it for nearly 2 years. Then the melody got a bit old so we bought the Tranquil Turtle.

  5. Lindsey says

    Swaddle! We followed the steps in The Happiest Baby on the Block to a T and it worked for both of our kids. Both started sleeping through the night at 8 weeks. He’s gorgeous!!

    • says

      I was going to say the same thing. Although every child is different and our third took much longer to sleep through the night than our first two. Swaddling is awesome and if you use the velcro ones from the summer brand (sold at target and babies r us) you can leave their arms swaddled and still change their diaper. It also helps to turn on as little light as possible when you do wake to feed or change him during the night so that he doesn’t get roused and then to make sure that during the day you have more light going on when you are wanting him to be awake to help his little rhythms get established. good luck!!! And the book mentioned above was our life saver with the 5 s’s to help sooth baby!

    • Ellen says

      I wondered if anyone was going to mention Happiest Baby on the Block. I’m the grandmother, but I concur. It’s much more than just swaddling. It is available in video format which is helpful with technique. My youngest son was the swaddler expert. We decided it was his big hands. :-)

      My family will probably have another baby or two before I come to the end of counting grands, so I’ll be giving Rock and Play as a gift, for sure. I noticed that not one person said it didn’t help their baby.

    • JenB says

      I loved the Happiest Baby on the Block book. It was so great. My kids were never great with the swaddling. It seemed to tick them off after they were about 2 weeks old. But all of the techniques including the shhhing and swinging were awesome.

      Also, love the side-by-side pics of the babies. So cute! We’ve made many pics with our two in similar poses or wearing the same outfit (having 2 boys makes that easier), etc. It’s fun to see how similar or different they look.

  6. amanda says

    Congrats to your family on Teddy’s arrival. He’s a cutie. The countertops look fab.

    My 2nd baby (a boy, first was a girl) was not a great sleeper either. I was spoiled by my first who slept through the night starting at 8 weeks (I was nursing too). He’s now 13 months and looking back, I think he was just growing so darn fast. Men are larger than women (generally, right?) and I think the speedy growth starts early. He would go right back to sleep but he just wanted to eat every 3 hours. By 8 months when he was eating more solids he started sleeping through the night but those first 8 months were a blur! It’s tiring but enjoy it – you already know how fast they grow :-) Congrats again, guys.

  7. Sarah says

    Ahh Teddy is so cute!!! Random question, what is that yellow box in the photo with the honeycomb vase? Is it a radio or ipod player??

  8. Kim says

    Our second, a boy and first was a girl, who’s two, is five months old and we’re STILL struggling with sleep! Once he puts some weight on him I’m sure you’ll get longer stretches :) Fingers crossed! Teddy looks so sweet and love the photo comparison with Clara! Congratulations to you both!

  9. Bethany says

    Baby Teddy is adorable – congrats to your sweet family! Swaddle that little guy and help him sleep as much as possible and long as possible – sleep begets sleep! Also, have a lights off quiet policy starting the same time every evening but keep it nice and bright during the day.

  10. Crystal says

    Wow it looks fantastic! Contemplating doing ardex as well and have been waiting for this post. I love the identical pictures you took with Clara and Teddy, so adorable and I must say I’m digging the scruffy look woot woot #illbackoffhesyours. Congratulations again on your sweet boy!