Concrete is a versatile material for DIY projects, both inside and out. It’s cost-effective and gives you endless creative opportunities. One of my favorite concrete projects that’s fairly simple for the average DIY homeowner is concrete stools. The materials are easy to source, and making stools isn’t too complicated if you follow the steps in the below guide. Here’s everything you need to know about creating colorful DIY concrete stools for your backyard patio.

Get an overview ofworking with concrete to understand the fundamentals before taking on a project like concrete stools. 

1. Gather Materials

Start your DIY stool project by gathering the right supplies. Having these materials on hand will make the process smooth from start to finish. Here’s what you’ll need to get:

  • Quikrete countertop mix
  • Quik-tubes
  • 5-gallon buckets
  • Drill with mixing paddle
  • Chemical-resistant gloves
  • Rubber mallet
  • Safety glasses
  • Small masonry trowel
  • 60- or 80-grit sandpaper
  • Utility knife with a sharp blade
  • Tape measure
  • Painter’s tape
  • Paintbrush
  • Wooden dowels (5/16 inch)
  • Drill bit (5/16 inch or ⅜ inch)
  • Stain or paint

2. Measure Quik-Tubes

Once you’ve gathered your tools, it’s time to measure the Quik-Tube Building Forms. These are lightweight, convenient, single-use, rigid-fiber forms that make projects like this easier than building custom wood forms. Additionally, these building forms are perfect for pouring concrete into a cylinder shape — the foundation for your stools. 

rigid-fiber forms
Image Credit: Canva

It’s important to get just the right measurement to achieve the desired height of your stool. This tip has never failed me: Measure twice and cut once

I recommend using 8-inch diameter tubes, but they also come in 10-inch and 12-inch sizes. Measure and mark 2-foot sections on each 4-foot tube in a few spots before connecting the marks with the painter’s tape. Then, carefully cut along the tape with a sharp utility knife to cut the tubes in half.

3. Prep the Forms

Giving the wet concrete a proper support system to maintain its shape during the drying process is key. To create empty space underneath the stools, add dowels to hold up the tubes. Mark 12 inches from one end of each halved Quik-Tube and drill four equidistant holes around the tube circumference at each mark. The holes should accommodate 5/16-inch dowels — a 3/8-inch bit will work.

Snap the dowels in half to get the 2-foot segments needed for each stool. Drive two dowels through each tube in a crossed formation, leaving at least 6 inches protruding from all sides. The dowels will support the concrete’s weight while it cures.

Before mixing, completely cover the bottom opening of each tube to prevent concrete seepage. In my experience, duct tape works best for this step. Finally, spray the insides of two 5-gallon buckets with cooking spray. This prevents the concrete from sticking as it cures.

4. Mix and Pour Concrete

Using a concrete countertop mix is ideal for a project like this. It cures quickly, finishes smoothly, and takes colorants and stains well. Mix it with water per the instructions while wearing protective gear — gloves, eye protection, and a particle mask to avoid skin irritation or inhalation hazards.

pour concrete
Image Credit: Canva

Working one at a time, stand a Quik-Tube upright in a bucket. Use a rubber mallet to pound the dowels into the bucket bottom, securing the tube in place. The tube should be about 2 inches from the bottom.

Pour the mixed concrete into the form, slightly overfilling. Tap the sides with the mallet to eliminate air pockets. Insert a dowel into the center, then saw back and forth to release air bubbles.

5. Shape and Finish Concrete

Once hardened enough, gently tug on the tube form to remove it. Use a trowel to slice off any rough edges around the lip. When concrete is still soft, etch the surface for better stain absorption. First smooth with 60-grit, then 80-grit sandpaper. Rinse debris and let dry before applying stain.

Multiple coats of stain build a richer color. Apply with a paintbrush, letting dry between coats until you’ve achieved the desired look. Finally, seal the finish.

6. Cure and Protect

Allow stools to cure in a dry spot for 1 to 2 weeks before exposure to moisture. Rotate periodically while curing. Absorbent sealers also help protect finished concrete from weathering. Reapply sealers annually.

So, Is Making Concrete Stools Worth It?

If you want sturdy, decorative concrete accents in your backyard without the high cost of hiring a professional, making your own stools is absolutely worth it. This beginner DIY concrete project uses materials that are simple to source and basic techniques like mixing, pouring, and finishing. The finishing work creates a high-end, artisanal look. With simple maintenance to protect the concrete, these stools can enhance your outdoor living space for years.

FAQs About Concrete Stools

What size Quik-Tube should I use?

The 8-inch diameter tubes work well for standard stool height. Opt for 10- or 12-inch diameters if you prefer taller stools.

How long does the concrete take to cure?

Most curing happens in the first week as moisture evaporates, but allow a full two weeks before exposing stools to elements.

What if I don't want to stain the concrete?

You can leave the natural gray color for an industrial, minimalist look. Just seal it properly.

Can I make concrete stools in cold weather?

Freezing temperatures inhibit proper curing. Only make stools when highs will be above 40°F for several days. Cover with insulation while curing.

How do I get rid of air bubbles in the concrete?

Tapping the sides while pouring helps. Moving a dowel in the wet concrete releases more bubbles. For a smooth surface, etch and sand when partially cured.

Can I make round stools without a form?

Yes, hand-sculpt round stools over an upside-down bucket or bowl. Work quickly before the concrete hardens for this shaping method.

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Lauren Greene

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