I’m excited to share my DIY Decorative Concrete Art tutorial with you today. Do you remember when I told you about the thrift store challenge that I was participating in with 15 other bloggers? In the challenge, we each received a few random thrift store items and were challenged to upcycle one of the items in a creative way.
My thrift store package came from the very talented Paula who blogs over at Virginia Sweet Pea.
Among the items in my mystery box from Paula was some dated wooden art /signs. The minute I pulled the old signs out of the box, I knew I wanted to upcycle them into something very modern. I chose to make them over with concrete and I’m really happy with the result. . I hope you like it as much as I do!
Before the Upcycle
Here is the thrift store art I started with…
The wooden wall art was simply a board with printed paper of reproduction art adhered to the front. The top of the board had a metal loop hook to hang the plaque on the wall. I removed the hanger first. It unscrewed out easily. Next, the paper art had to go. I sanded the top of the board with my orbital palm sander. After the paper was removed I was ready to begin the concrete sign art project.
Concrete Sign Art Supplies
Wooden board – to use as the base
Portland Cement – for cement mix
Play Sand — for cement mix
Water — for cement mix
Cement Bonding Agent — for cement mix ( Most of the supplies can be found at your local home/ hardware store but the bonding agent, I had to order online. I ordered mine off Amazon. I will put the affiliate link for this product at the bottom for those of you who are interested)
Small plastic tub to mix the concrete
paint stir stick to mix concrete
Transfer paper to transfer design
Paint pen or acrylic paint for decretive design
Frame – complete the look!
Start with a basic Board
This is what my sign looked like after I sanded off the fancy fruit
art paper. I know, it was such a shame to get rid of the low quality reproduction art print. But, it had to be done to get the concrete to adhere.
Next I mixed up my cement…
I used one part sand to two parts Portland cement . I mixed the dry ingredients together first and then in a separate cup I mixed one cup water and one cup bonding agent together. Once I had my liquid mix I slowly added the water & additive mix to my dry ingredients. You do not want to add too much liquid. Your mix should be thick like peanut butter. I used a stir stick to mix the concoction together. You will want to use gloves to protect your hands too. I have learned this the hard way in the past. Trust me, concrete can irritate the skin.
A note on concrete, Portland cement is different than a ready mix bag of concrete. Bagged concrete mixes are full of gravel and the mix is very chunky and rocky. Sometimes you can get fine concrete mixes suitable for projects like these at craft stores but I prefer to mix my own.
Adding the cement skim coat…
With a putty knife add a thin skim coat to your board. I tried to make it as smooth as possible so it would be easy to paint my design on. It’s pretty straight forward. Because the sign is going in a frame, you don’t need to skim coat the sides. I wiped off any cement that got on the sides with an old rag. Set aside your board and let dry for several hours.
Originally, I put some mesh tape over the board thinking it would help the cement to adhere better. It turns out this was a bad idea so I ended up pulling it off and starting over because when I had the mesh tape on the board, I had to use a thick coat of cement to fully cover the tape and it didn’t look good. Starting over, I applied the cement directly to the board. The bonding additive I used in my concrete mix worked so well that I didn’t have any problems with the cement sticking to the board after all.
Transfer Your Design…
To get the letters, I typed out the text on the computer and printed it and then used white transfer paper to trace my design onto my board. Once I had my letters traced I painted over them with a some white acrylic paint. No worries if you are not a painter, just use a paint maker and trace over the transferred letters. Easy breezy!
After the sign is painted, all that is left to do is fame the new art. And in case you are wondering, the new sign is very light weight because it is simply a piece of wood with a light skim coat of concrete. This makes it easy to hang.
Finished Decorative Concrete Sign Art…
What do you think? I am also remaking one of the other items that Paula sent me and I’ll share that project later this week.
Don’t forget there are 14 other amazing upcycle projects. Check out what the other bloggers in this challenge came up with…
Shepherds and Chardonnay
One More Time Events
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