How to make a concrete-look bench

This D.I.Y. concrete-look bench boasts the look of solid cement without the weight, creating a great furniture piece in your backyard!

Bunnings magazine, September 2020

Tools and materials

1.2m level

20mm galvanised button-head screws x 8

30mm galvanised fibre cement nails

6m 90mm x 35mm treated pine outdoor timber framing

60mm galvanised countersunk timber screws

8G countersinking bit

Caulking gun

Clean cloth

Coloured caulk filler

Concrete sealer (we used Betta TileCare natural look sealer)

Construction adhesive

Drill with driver bit

Fibre cement knife

Hammer

Mini roller with tray

Mitre saw or handsaw

Nail punch

One sheet of James Hardie ’Villaboard’ 2400mm x 1200mm x 6mm fibre cement lining

Plastic and rubber feet x 8

Quick-grip clamps x 4

Random orbital sander with 120-grit abrasive disc

Safety equipment including eye protection and mask

Tape measure and pencil

Treated timber sealer (we used TWA Woodcare ‘Ecoseal Tanalised’ timber preservative) 

Project Overview

A concrete bench is an industrial-inspired piece that looks wonderful in any setting, but weighs a tonne! Using fibre cement (FC) sheeting instead gives the look of the real thing without requiring the skills of working with concrete – and makes a lighter bench that can be moved undercover in poor weather. We chose the reverse side of the FC sheeting to be the face as it has a more textured surface than the front. Avoid rust by using galvanised screws, and seal gaps with filler to avoid moisture damage.

1. Cut the pieces

From the treated pine, use a mitre saw or handsaw to cut two side rails to 1185mm, a centre rail to 1115mm, four legs to 350mm and four cross rails to 230mm.

How To Make A Concrete-look Bench

2. Secure the frame base

To make the frame base, position the legs flush against either end of a cross rail, countersink and secure with two 60mm screws, checking the heads are below the surface.

How To Make A Concrete-look Bench

3. Screw in the frame top

To make the frame top, position the cross rails against the ends of the side rails. At each join, countersink and secure with two 60mm screws, then position the centre rail and secure through the cross rails.

How To Make A Concrete-look Bench

4. Sand and apply sealer

Position the bases flush on either end of the top, secure with 60mm screws into the cross rails and the centre rail. Sand over all the screws to remove any breakout. Apply treated timber sealer to the exposed cut ends of the legs and cross rails.

How To Make A Concrete-look Bench

5. Cut the FC panels

Working widthways on the FC sheet to make strips 1200mm long (see steps ‘How to cut FC sheeting’ below), cut a 315mm-wide top panel and two 90mm-wide side strips. Then cut two 300mm-wide strips and cut them into two outside end panels, 440mm high, and two inside panels, 350mm high. Cut a 350mm-wide strip into four 105mm-high leg panels.

How To Make A Concrete-look Bench

6. Adhere the panels to the frame

Apply construction adhesive to the outside and inside end panels, position and clamp them to the frame, then tap nails into the corners with a hammer. Position, clamp and nail the side strips, leg panels and the top.

How To Make A Concrete-look Bench

7. Apply filler to the joins

Tap nails under the surface with a nail punch and hammer. With a caulking gun, apply filler into the joins, running a wet finger over to remove excess. Dab filler into the nail heads, leaving to dry.

How To Make A Concrete-look Bench

8. Sand the rough areas and apply sealer

Sand over the filler, edges and corners, then wipe all over with a damp cloth to remove dust. Use a mini roller to apply three coats of sealer over the FC, following the manufacturer’s instructions for dry times.

How To Make A Concrete-look Bench

9. Add feet to the base

Add two feet to the base of each leg, replacing the supplied screws with 20mm galvanised button-head screws. Tip: The feet raise the bench to help prevent water absorption.

How To Make A Concrete-look Bench

How to cut FC sheeting

Working with fibre-cement sheeting creates a lot of dust, so make the lowest number of cuts possible and reduce sanding by using factory edges for smooth sides. The dust particles can irritate skin, so always wear a mask, protective eyewear, gloves and long sleeves when working with it.

1. Prepare sheet for cutting

Lay the sheet on a flat surface and position the straight edge of a level along the cut line, clamping the level at either side.

2. Run the knife along the level

Run a specialty fibre-cement knife lightly along the edge of the level to score the line. 

3. Create a 2mm groove

Remove the clamps and level and run over the line repeatedly with the knife, making an even groove about 2mm deep.

4. Snap the sheet

Position the sheet so the cut is over the edge of the work surface and clamp, then pull up to snap.

5. Clean up any breakout

Hold the knife at an angle to run the curved shaving blade along the back to clean up any breakout.

More D.I.Y. inspiration

Check out our step-by-step guide to making a timber dowel herb planter

 

Photo Credit: Sue Stubbs

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Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.
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