Tag Archives | concrete

Self Watering Concrete Planter

We can’t keep plants alive. So today we’re making a DIY concrete self-watering planter in the hopes that the plants will take care of themselves haha.

Just a heads up, our planter has some funky curves and angles so we used a 3D printer to make the mold form, which we know not everyone has access to. BUT you could take the same principle and make a form with straight edges/corners out of wood. The following steps would still apply.

Here’s what we used:

Step 1: The Design

This planter will be made of two parts: a water reservoir on the bottom, and a top pot for the plant (psst- top pot spelled backwards is top pot!) There’s a hole in the bottom of the top pot with a wick that goes through it and sips water from the reservoir, so your plant only takes the small amount of water it needs any any given time. This is especially awesome for plants that don’t require much water, like succulents.

DIY Concrete Self Watering Planter

The indented area in the top pot gives you space to pour a little water into the reservoir and lets you easily peek in and see if your water is low. It’s big enough that it should take a while for the plant to use up all the water, so you shouldn’t have to check on it very often! You can download our 3D file here if you’d like to make this same one! DIY Concrete Self Watering Planter

Step 2: The Form

There are a couple ways you can make a mold.

If you make one out of wood, you’ll essentially be creating a form to contain the concrete, pouring the concrete in, letting it harden, and removing the form. Ben Uyeda from Homemade Modern has a ton of great videos that go into detail about this on his channel here.

In order to get this very specific shape, we’re using 3D prints instead of wood. The difference is we aren’t pouring concrete directly into a 3D printed mold – we are pouring silicone into it, and then we’ll pour concrete into the silicone. So it’s one extra step, but it makes this weird shape possible AND the silicone mold is reusable, so we can make multiples (if we tried to remove concrete from a 3D printed form it would mess up the print)

3D prints aren’t inherently great as molds in terms of their surface roughness, so we smooth them out with a combination of automotive filler primer and lots of sanding. Definitely recommend a sanding sponge because they are flexible, and if you need something that can get into tight spaces our DIY flap sander is really easy to make. After a couple coats of primer and rounds of sanding, it should be smooth enough.

Step 3: The Mold

You’ll notice we have the two 3D printed models (the top pot and bottom water reservoir) and then a form that goes around each. The form is used to contain the silicone as you pour it over the 3D printed models. This leaves an empty space where the models are, so when the silicone is done, we’ll have model-shaped spaces to pour concrete into.

We glued our model down onto the base of our form, and used rubber bands and tape to hold the form around it. And tape. Lots and lots of tape.

For silicone we use two-part Smooth-On. Follow the instructions and mix equal parts together (the pink part and blue part blend together to make a purple), then pour it in. Luckily it’s really forgiving, since you’ll see in the video that we did not do this step right on our second go-round. Agitate the mold to get the silicone to settle and remove air bubbles. We tap it repeatedly on the sides and sometimes place it on a piece of scrap wood and pound a mallet onto the scrap wood.

We did these steps for our top piece and our bottom piece. After they dried, we removed the 3D printed parts but it took a little struggling: We discovered we had a hole in the mold and it was really stuck. For the hole, we mixed up a small batch of extra silicone and patched it. Worked like a charm! To remove it, we made a controlled zig zag cut (zig zags are easier to correctly placeback together than straight cuts) but it still ended up tearing. The good news is, we still got it to work (keep reading!)

Step 4: The Concrete

After figuring out the mold, this step was easy! If you’ve read/watched any concrete tutorials before, you may notice we’re using a sliiiightly different product from the norm: Quikrete Vinyl Concrete Patcher. We chose it because it has a fine grain (which gives you a nice surface finish and fills into more detailed shapes) and because you can buy a relatively small batch at a time.

Before you start, place some scrap wood over your work surface. This protects your table and helps you agitate the mold later. Grab a dust mask and some gloves (it’s not the end of the world if it gets on your hands BUT you don’t wanna breath in any concrete dust).

We go into more detail about getting your concrete to be the right mix in our concrete letter tutorial, but we will cover the basics here.

Add a small amount of water and a few big scoops of concrete to a mixing container or bucket. A little water goes a long way, so keep adding a little more water and few more concrete scoops until it gets to be the consistency of sandy pancake batter (delicious)! It’s easy to accidentally add too much water. To check if you have too much, agitate the mixing container, and excess water will rise to the surface. If you see water pooling a little at the top, add a little more concrete mix.

In total, you’ll need to mix for 2-3 minutes to make sure everything is incorporated. Then pour it into your silicone mold, overfilling it a little because it will settle down into the nooks and crannies. Agitating the mold by tapping on the sides of it repeatedly or banging the scrap wood it’s sitting on with a mallet. Once there are no more bubbles and it doesn’t seem to be settling any lower, you’re good to go. (though honestly, we kinda like the look of a few bubbles… it adds some interest. But you don’t want a ton or it’ll be a weaker end product.)

After the concrete dries (we give it about 24 hours), carefully peel back the silicone and you have yourself a planter! If they are still moist, keep them on a surface that can be messy, like your scrap wood from earlier. If you put these on something absorbent, they’ll leave moisture spots.

Step 5: Sanding, Drilling, Sealing

When our concrete was full dry, we smoothed it out with one last light sanding. Again, the sanding sponge and DIY flap sander were our best friends.

The next step is to make this planter self watering. We chose poly rope to make the wick. We used a masonry bit on our drill that was just a little bigger than the rope to drill two holes through the bottom of the top part of the planter.

Before threading the rope through our holes, we applied two coats of concrete sealer. Since these planters will be containing water and dirt, we don’t want anything soaking into the concrete. We brushed on a light coat and let it dry for about an hour, then applied a second. After 72 hours dry time you can place water in it (I know, lots of dry time in this tutorial!)

Then we strung the rope through it, and burnt the ends so it wouldn’t fray. Note: we don’t know if burning the ends was a good idea or not. Some folks have said letting them fray will allow more water to be soaked up, which makes sense. But we can easily go back and cut off the ends or cut a new piece.

Enjoy!

We put a little dirt under our rope so it had more surface contact, then we potted our plants. Black thumbs = hopefully defeated! Loving our self watering planter and have plans to make a few more with our mold. Let us know if you have any questions about this project! DIY Concrete Self Watering Planter DIY Concrete Self Watering Planter

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DIY Self Watering Concrete Planter

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DIY easy concrete letters

We are kinda sorta obsessed with these little concrete letters. Mainly because a) they’re really easy to DIY because there’s no mold-making required, and b) leaving messages around the house is kinda awesome.

DIY easy concrete letters using baking molds! evanandkatelyn.com DIY easy concrete letters using baking molds! evanandkatelyn.com DIY easy concrete letters using baking molds! evanandkatelyn.com Hehehehehe.

So today we’re gonna walk through this quick tutorial. And after this you’ll be looking around your house for other stuff you can pour concrete into (it’s kind of addicting).

You can watch the video that covers everything below, or keep scrolling for all our choices, steps, and tips in blog-format.

[Before we keep going, I want to pause and say if you have a second it would mean SO much to us if you’d like our video or subscribe to our channel. Since we’re brand new to YouTube, every view, like, and subscription makes a huge difference for us. Click here to see the whole channel. Thank youuuuu! We’re doing a big goofy happy dance right now!]

Here’s what you’ll need for the project

  • Quikrete Vinyl Concrete Patcher
  • Small mixing container (you could use something like this or even a solo cup works if you’re just doing a few letters)
  • Stirring and scooping devices (we use an old ladle to scoop dry concrete mix, a metal rod to mix it, and a plastic spoon to scoop it into the letters. But chances are, you’ve got something on hand already that will work)
  • Silicone letter baking mold
  • Gloves (we really like the thick 9 mil gloves)
  • Mask
  • Plywood or some sort of board (it protects your work surface and makes it easier to get concrete to settle into your mold – we’ll get into that later)
  • Concrete sealer (optional)
  • Paint or spray paint (optional, but we used gold Krylon)

DIY easy concrete letters using baking molds! evanandkatelyn.com If you’ve watched any concrete tutorials before, you may notice we’re using a sliiiightly different product from the norm. This was a choice we made for a few reasons:

  1. It has a really fine grain so the ending surface finish is really nice – no big lumps or rocks
  2. It fills into more detailed shapes more easily than some concretes
  3. Bonus – it comes in a smaller batch than most concrete mixes, which is nice

DIY easy concrete letters using baking molds! evanandkatelyn.com Before you start, place plywood (or anything else similarly stiff and board-like) over your work surface. This not only protects your table from the potential mess, but it’s also gonna help you agitate the mold too (don’t worry, we’ll get into that later).

Make sure you have your PPE (personal protective equipment on) before you start handling the concrete mix. Portland cement is very basic (opposite of acidic), and has crystalline silica dust (which is really bad for your lungs). If you get cement on your hands and leave it there it can cause minor chemical burns and draws out moisture from your skin. If you do get cement on your hands, no worries. Wash with water, then pour common white vinegar over the area to neutralize any alkalinity, then wash with water again.

Start by adding a small amount of water to your mixing container. It’s important to add water to the container first before adding any mix. We started with about 50 ml but ended up adding more later.

DIY easy concrete letters using baking molds! evanandkatelyn.com Then add a few ladles of mix. The Quikrete instructions say to use 7 parts concrete mix to 1 part water, but for this project we found that to be too dry. We added a splash or two more water (a little goes a long way!) and kept mixing.

DIY easy concrete letters using baking molds! evanandkatelyn.com DIY easy concrete letters using baking molds! evanandkatelyn.com DIY easy concrete letters using baking molds! evanandkatelyn.com Side note, adding more water DOES weaken the concrete slightly. Which you definitely wouldn’t want if you were making anything that needed to be structurally sound or hold weight. But for this small decorative items, the slightly wetter concrete is so much easier to work with so we think it’s worth it (we’ve made a ton of these by the way – no breaks so far)

It’s easy to add too much water though. So here’s a tip to check and see if you have too much. Agitate the mixing container, and excess water will rise to the surface. We do this by quickly hitting the insides of the walls of the container back and forth with our stirring stick (you can see this better in the video).

DIY easy concrete letters using baking molds! evanandkatelyn.com This should cause extra water, if there is any, to rise to the surface. If you see water pooling a little at the top, add a little more concrete mix, stir it around, and agitate the container again to test for more water.

DIY easy concrete letters using baking molds! evanandkatelyn.com Once there’s not more excess water and your concrete is about the consistency of a sandy milkshake (I know, sounds so appetizing), you’re good to go. (In total, you’ll need to mix for 2-3 minutes to make sure everything is incorporated).

DIY easy concrete letters using baking molds! evanandkatelyn.com Once your mixed concrete is ready, spoon it into the letters of the mold that you want to make. Heads up – some letters don’t stand up on their own too well (like P and F for example, which are asymmetrical and top heavy) but that doesn’t mean you can’t still use them (see our “POOP” example above…. hmm that’s something I never foresaw myself saying).

DIY easy concrete letters using baking molds! evanandkatelyn.com You’ll want to overfill the letters a little. The concrete will settle down into the mold.

DIY easy concrete letters using baking molds! evanandkatelyn.com Now you need to agitate the mold to get out any air bubbles. This is where the plywood comes in handy. We like to shake and drop the plywood with the mold on top of it, since the plywood is a lot sturdier to grab onto than a silicone mold full of wet concrete. You can still agitate the mold itself by scooting it quickly side to side, but I wouldn’t pick it up or anything. Again, this is easier to visualize in video format.

DIY easy concrete letters using baking molds! evanandkatelyn.com You’ll see the bubbles rise to the surface. You can pop them with whatever stirrer or scooper you have on hand, then give the mold another good shake to see if any more come up.

DIY easy concrete letters using baking molds! evanandkatelyn.com Honestly, we kinda like the look of a few bubbles… it adds some interest. But you don’t want a ton or it’ll be a weaker end product.

Scrape off any excess concrete off the top (we used a popsicle stick, but again whatever you have around is fine, just something with a flat edge). You can give it one last shake which should smooth out your scraped-off surface.

DIY easy concrete letters using baking molds! evanandkatelyn.com Then… you just have to wait. These take about 24 hours to dry.

DIY easy concrete letters using baking molds! evanandkatelyn.com Before we take them out of the mold, you have the option to apply a concrete sealer to the backs of them (the side you can see when they’re still in the mold).

DIY easy concrete letters using baking molds! evanandkatelyn.com This step is totally optional, but this side of the letters tends to be a little dusty and the sealer will help lessen the dust. Since we do a lot of stuff in concrete, we already had the sealer, but if you don’t want to buy it just for this purpose your letters will be fine.

DIY easy concrete letters using baking molds! evanandkatelyn.com If you do want to use it, apply a thin coat and let it dry for about an hour (we’ve done half an hour… but if you want to play it safe, wait the full hour). Then you can remove your letters, yay!

DIY easy concrete letters using baking molds! evanandkatelyn.com The back edge might be a little rough, so chip off any rough edges with your finger.

DIY easy concrete letters using baking molds! evanandkatelyn.com I know the last thing you want to hear is that you need to do any more waiting… but you have to do a little more waiting. 24 more hours to be exact. They continue to cure once they’re out of the mold because air is able to reach areas that were previously encased. You can see the difference between a freshly de-molded set of letters and one that is fully cured in the photo below.

Keep them on a surface that can be messy, like your plywood from earlier or simply sitting on top of the molds. If you put these on something absorbent, they’ll leave moisture spots.

DIY easy concrete letters using baking molds! evanandkatelyn.com Ok… after your long week of waiting, you can finally use these suckers! They’re super cute as is but there are tons of creative ways to paint them too. I love love love giving them a metallic ombre look.

DIY easy concrete letters using baking molds! evanandkatelyn.com To do this, put on a glove (so you don’t spray your fingers) and hold the top of the letter, spraying the bottom half with your spray paint of choice. I try to spray about 8 inches away. The farther you spray, the more of a fade your ombre will have. Vice versa, the closer you spray the less fade you’ll have. You can test it on some scrap wood, cardboard, piece of junk mail, etc.

DIY easy concrete letters using baking molds! evanandkatelyn.com Other ideas we love are giving it a dipped look by painting the bottom third with gold leaf paint or crisp white acrylic, but I feel like you could experiment with lots of different techniques and styles. If you end up making these, take a photo of what you did and tag us @evanandkatelyn on Instagram because we would LOVE to see what y’all come up with!

And lastly, if you like the look of these but actually messing with concrete is not your thing, you can also buy these on our Etsy. We sell the LOVE as a set, but shoot us a message and we can make whatever letters you want. Like your home state…

DIY easy concrete letters using baking molds! evanandkatelyn.com Favorite food…

DIY easy concrete letters using baking molds! evanandkatelyn.com Or spirit animal.

DIY easy concrete letters using baking molds! evanandkatelyn.com ………………………………………………………………
You can also find us at:

YouTube (all our DIY videos)
Instagram (sneak peeks @evanandkatelyn)
Patreon (if you wanna support us, but no pressure!)
Pinterest (stuff that inspires us)
Twitter (us, in 140 character doses)
Facebook (be our friend)
Instructables (straight up tutorials)
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Note: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting us!

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