I couldn’t wait to share the process of building this potting bench with you guys! It was so fun and I’m swooning over it! I am so excited to share it with you so you can build one for yourself. The plans should be super easy to customize. I built this potting bench when I was taking a break from Instagram so unfortunately I don’t have a story highlight for it. However I did take some pictures so I decided to create this blog post for you!
I spent a few days looking up potting bench ideas from Pinterest. I took things from each potting bench that I liked and created one unique potting bench to fit all my needs! I wanted some extra counter space outside to decorate, a place to plant flowers and a spot to put drinks and food out when we have little get-togethers. Let me show you all the inspiration photos I found first and then we will get to the plans!
Inspiration from Pinterest
I drew my design and picked measurements based on where I planned to put this new potting bench. I also wanted something wide because out of all the inspo pictures I looked at I really liked the look of the longer benches!
Finished measurements: 60″ T x 61 1/2″ W x 19 1/2″ D and 37 3/4″ from floor to top of countertop.
The first part of the bench I built was the back piece! I cut (5) 2 x 4’s at 60″ and assembled them with 2.5″ wood screws + liquid nails. I added the bottom board first to the two side pieces. The gap on the bottom is 5 inches. Once the bottom board was attached I measured for my next gap which is 10 3/4 inches. Placed my next board down and attached it. Then I did the same gap 10 3/4 inches again and attached my last board. A little trick I like to do (which I didn’t take a picture of) is I hold a speed square inside the corner of where my boards come together while I’m screwing to make sure everything is square when it’s put together. Last tip is make sure the boards are flush with the outside of your two posts. I usually just put my finger on the edge to feel if it’s flush when I’m attaching the boards.
After the first piece of the structure was built I built then front piece. My 2 side 2 x 4’s I cut at 37 inches. The 3 center 2 x 4’s are the same as the other piece which is 60″ wide. Do the same spacing. 5″ gap on the bottom and 10 3/4″ spacing in the middle of the other boards. The top board should be flush at the top of the left and right side.
I brought each piece to the back deck where I wanted to assemble the entire potting bench. I knew this thing was going to be heavy so I wanted to assemble it where it was going to be living so I wouldn’t have to move it.
Now to attach the front and back piece I just made I cut a few of my center planks and clamped them flush on the ends. When you’re doing this you’re kind of juggling everything but once everything is clamped your front and back piece should be standing up by themselves. Stand back and make sure nothing is wonky. You want everything to look straight.
I cut 30 planks at 16″ long. This gave me 15 planks for the top and bottom shelf. This gives you a 1/2″ space between each plank. I used liquid nails + my nail gun and finish nails to attach all the planks. You really want to make sure your front and back structure are aligned perfectly before you start nailing in your planks. Start on one side where your plank was clamped and work your way across the bench.
I found a 1/2″ piece of MDF trim in our garage which turned out to be so helpful in spacing my planks. If you don’t have that you might do yourself a favor and get yourself a 1/2″ thick piece of wood or MDF. Put your spacer board in, add liquid nails to the bench, place your plank in it’s spot, then nail on both sides. Make sure the front of your plank is flush with the front board.
This was so exciting to see it all come together so quickly. I just love the look of the planks! After I was done attaching the planks I wanted to add some extra character! I cut and attached some 1 x 2’s to the sides. I cut them to 19″ long and attached them 2″ above the planked shelves. This will help keep things from falling off the shelves and I also thought it would look cute!
I added a temporary top we had sitting in our garage. Just to see what it would look like. All in a days work!
The next day I added the wood on the back part. I looked at several inspo pics again and this is the look I decided on. I started on the very top with some 1 x 4’s cut to 60 inches. I made my first piece flush to the very top and used my 1/2″ MDF spacer again for the gaps. I worked my way down to the bottom piece and had to rip the last piece on my table saw making the last gap the same as the others. I can’t remember what the measurement was for that piece I ripped. You will have to place your spacer in the last gap and measure down to find your measurement. Attach the 1 x 4’s using liquid nails + finish nails.
My little man woke up from his nap and wanted to help me so I taught him how to fill some nail holes with wood filler. He is the sweetest! Teach ’em young right!
I slipped another piece of plywood into the top part just to see what it would look like and then I got ahead of myself and made some side pieces out of 1 x 4’s. I recommend waiting to make and attach these pieces. They are not needed yet if you are going to be making a faux concrete countertop like I chose to do!
Little man was back in action ready to help his mama paint! He argued with me a few times wanting me to paint my potting bench bright red. He loves his red. I couldn’t do it though! I stuck with my favorite new paint color “Moss” which is a nice green color from a chalk paint I randomly found at Walmart. It’s in their craft section if you’re wondering!
Now for the top! I used a 3/4″ thick sanded plywood top. Double check measurements before cutting your plywood. I believe it was 16 3/4″ x 60″ which made it flush to the sides of the potting bench and flush to the two front 2 x 4 posts. It’s something we had extra hanging out in our garage we decided to use. I sunk some screws into the plywood making sure it was attached good to the front and back 2 x 4’s underneath. You can see some of my screw placement in this photo.
You can see here how the plywood is flush with the sides and front 2 x 4’s. Next I added a 1 x 2 to the very front of the plywood. Try your best to get it completely flush with the top of your plywood. This gives you an overhang in the front and making sure it’s flush with the top is important for when you make your concrete top. I predrilled my holes for the screws. This helps prevent your thin piece of wood from splitting. For the front 1 x 2 you can use smaller wood screws. Just make sure it’s super secure.
I have never tried the faux concrete look so I thought I would give it a go! I’ve wanted to for a long time now! I followed this tutorial, this one and this one. This DIY is pretty inexpensive, easy, quick and fun. After trying this out and reading blogger reviews I wouldn’t recommend doing this in a kitchen on your countertops because it’s really hard to get a perfect end result. However I do feel like it’s an easy way to get a concrete look on outdoor furniture or small pieces of furniture in your home. The concrete turns out very imperfect but in a way I love that. I’m sure you could practice a few times and figure out how to get a flawless look but I don’t have that much extra time! This counter will be outside and have dirt and plants all over it. I love the contrast with the color of this potting bench and I’m really happy with how this all went down! All of these items I found at Home Depot. You can find them in my Amazon storefront as well.
I used a corded drill and the paddle mixer to mix my concoction. The directions on the box are pretty easy to follow. When you’re done mixing the mixture consistency should be pretty close to chocolate pudding.
You want to work pretty quickly because it dries fast. Make sure you apply in one direction to avoid making marks in it. You also want to try and get a nice even coat. I think the hardest part was trying to cover the top edge of the 1 x 2 in the front. I didn’t do it too perfectly because I thought I would lightly sand it after it was all dry. I really recommend trying to get it as perfect as you can because it’s hard to sand out the imperfections.
Since I had never done this before it was so fun seeing it start to dry. You think it looks cool when it’s the darker gray but when it starts to dry and turn light gray it looks amazing!
When it’s fully dry it will turn a light gray which I loved. Sadly when you seal the counter it will turn darker. So keep that in mind. If you’re wanting it to be the lighter gray don’t seal it. Which is a hard choice to make because if you’re going to have your countertop outside or have liquids on it frequently you’ll want to seal it good.
I brought the bench outside to give the top a good sanding so I could add the second coat of concrete. I sanded by hand with a medium grit sand paper. Careful with the 1 x 2 edge. You don’t want to sand too much off and make the wood show through. Another little FIY is if you’re wanting that nice light gray finish don’t sand the top. After sanding the top it looked horrible in my opinion. It needed to be done though so I could do my top coat of concrete. Not that it would adhere better. I was sanding to get some of the bumps/lines out.
I never took a picture of the second coat of cement. Once it was dried I did a light sanding again. Not heavy at all so I didn’t get a bunch of lines everywhere. Then I sealed the top with my favorite sealer. I do want to say that I thought about using an outdoor sealer so you might think about doing that if you have your countertop outside. I chose not to because I’ve used outdoor sealer before and the smell is super strong. So far I’ve been keeping my potting bench covered when it rains just in case.
These items are also in my Amazon Storefront! Here’s some photos of it applied and in the middle of drying.
As the countertop was drying I sprayed some flat black spray paint into a cup and touched up the silver screws I used to attach my shelf brackets. The shelf brackets I had extra from a different project. They hold a 1 x 8 piece of wood which is actually 7 3/4″ deep. So if you decide to get this shelf bracket make sure you get the small size if you’re wanting the same look as me!
I also sealed my piece of wood underneath it and on top of it to protect it. The stain I used is Dark Walnut by Minwax and then I went back over top with my favorite white wash pickling stain from Minwax. It gives it that weathered look!
If you’re wondering the top of the shelf is 9″ down from the top of the potting bench. I felt like it looked the best in this spot.
The last thing I did was paint the side pieces I added next to the countertop. This is a look I loved from a picture I found on Pinterest. The side pieces ended up being 19 3/4″ long and I cut a 45 degree angle 2″ from the bottom of the edge. I matched up the front of the pieces flush with the front of the countertop and I matched up the top back part with the top of my ripped 1 x 4 that was already on the potting bench. I again used liquid nails + finish nails.
One of the last things I want to share is you can kind of see a two toned color look to the top of the cement counter. I’m not letting it bother me because everything is done and I don’t want to mess with it. Plus the top will end up getting dirty from planting flowers and what not. The reason the left side is lighter than the dark side is because I had mixed just a little bit of the cement, applied what I could to the left side and ran out. It started drying super fast and as it was drying I had to mix up more cement. I think the thickness of the mixture I made the second time was a little different. Therefor both sides look different. If you can learn from my mistake make sure you make enough to cover your entire countertop so you’re using the same batch to cover your counter. Another thing I forgot to mention is I did about 5 coats of sealer on top. I wanted to make sure this counter would be super durable!
It’s seriously the best thing ever creating whatever you want! This potting bench turned out better than I imagined and I hope you can make one for yourself so you can also enjoy it! If you have any questions feel free to ask. I kind of threw this blog post together with the photos and notes I had saved. Since I was taking a break from Instagram I didn’t really plan on sharing all the details of how I made the potting bench. I had so many messages about it though so I felt I needed to share! If you decide to make this or do the concrete counter top please tag me or send me a picture! I would love to see it and share you!
Little update: I purchased some little wooden pegs to put in the front of the bench to hang my potting tools. I will share an updated photo when I can!
Disclaimer: Make sure you draw up your potting bench plans and double check all measurements. I’m pretty sure I shared all the correct measurements but I don’t want to be responsible if something was goofed up somewhere. This is also why I don’t have a wood list for you guys. I’m sorry! I purchased wood for my potting bench and ended up using more scrap wood from our garage so I don’t know exactly how much wood I used. Again, I’m so sorry! I hope this post and my details I could remember are helpful enough. I’m always here to answer any questions!