Concrete is a very versatile material that can be used for a lot more than just sidewalks and driveways. Take for instance this chic three-tier cupcake stand made from cement and wooden millwork corbels.
It’s a very cool DIY project by Natalie Frank of Relentless at Heart. She created it especially for our DIY Challenge here on The Home Depot Blog. We asked her to come up with a fun, useful and very doable project. Our only requirement was that she use concrete in the project.
This concrete craft project is a great way to get a feel for how to use cement in unexpected ways. It also results in a fun and fashionable way to serve cupcakes, pastry, fruit or holiday displays. Just follow Natalie’s step-by-step tutorial.
DIY Concrete Cupcake Stand
- Rapid Set 25 lb. Cement All Purpose Construction Material
- 10 in. Clear Plastic Saucer
- 12 in. Clear Plastic Saucer
- 14 in. Clear Plastic Saucer
- 9 in. Spirit Level
- Permanent Marker
- Tape Measure
- 5-Gallon Bucket
- (4) Ekena Millwork Corbels 1¾ in. x 4 in. x 6 in.
- Americana Chalky Finish Paint in Everlasting
- Foam Brush
- Lint-Free Rag
- All-Purpose Construction Adhesive
Step 1: Prep the Concrete Molds
The clear plastic saucers will serve as the molds for the tiers on the three-tier cupcake stand.
Decide how thick you want your tiers to be because creating dashes around the edge will help when pouring cement into the molds. I decided to go with ¼ in.
Since the bottom of the clear plastic saucers are curved, measure from the top to get an accurate marking all the way around. Basically, subtract the thickness desired for the tier from the depth of the entire saucer, and that will be the measurement to mark.
These saucers are 1 in. tall so my dashes are at the ¾ in. mark from the top. Make at least three dashes at the desired “fill line” evenly around the saucer. Repeat for each saucer with the same measurements.
Step 2: Level Out the Molds
Find a level surface to set your mold on before you mix and pour any cement.
Make sure it is a spot the mold can stay awhile during the drying process – about 1 hour at least. Try to make sure this spot is not directly in hot sunlight.
Step 3: Mix and Pour the Concrete
Let’s mix up the star of the show…the cement!
Begin with 1 part water
And 2 parts of that same size container of cement.
Start mixing in the 5-gal. bucket with the trowel immediately.
This is a rapid-set cement, but with a lighter ratio it won’t firm up quite as fast.
Get a feel for the texture and consistency and slowly add in about ½ the container full of cement at a time until it reaches a runny pancake batter consistency.
Quick note for those new to working with concrete/cement: It doesn’t matter the size of the container used, just make sure the ratio is the same along the way for consistency in the look of the final dried product.
Let’s get to pouring the cement.
Basically, pour the cement into the saucer until you reach your dash marks.
Do not pick up the saucer, but lightly shake-shimmy the saucer to make sure all the cement is evenly distributed.
In order to get that smooth texture, no tools can be used to smooth it out – hence my recommendation for a lighter consistency. The level surface determined in Step 2 will help with this but the light shaking motion will ensure it is all even and smooth too.
Step 4: Let the Cement Set
Let it dry for about an hour – the box says it will set in 15 minutes, but that is with the thicker consistency recommended per the typical 1 part water to 4 parts cement is for heavy duty use. So with the runnier consistency in this project, closer to an hour dry time is required depending on humidity.
Once it is completely firm to touch, gently crack away the edges of the saucer all the way around to loosen and then just remove the saucer. It should slide right out!
Once each tier is complete and dry, use a fine grain sandpaper to clean up the edges where they may be rough or rigid edges from drying in the mold.
There are so many creative possibilities with cement! I poured the cement in a couple of my tiers in a swirling manner at the end to create a neat design – most noticeable in the largest tier.
Step 5: Paint, Distress, and Wax the Corbels
The corbels for this project were chosen with stability and size in mind. There are tons of beautiful ornate corbels on The Home Depot’s website, but this project needed a corbel with a stout base that could withstand heavy cement tiers.
Using a foam brush, apply the chalk paint lightly and evenly on all sides of the corbel.
It is better to do several light coats rather than one thick coat of paint.
Allow the corbel to dry about one hour or more, and when it is dry to touch, use a fine grain sandpaper to distress the detailed joints of the corbel.
Once the corbels have been distressed enough, it is time to wax them.
For chalk-finish paint, wax is essentially the polyurethane – a.k.a. the sealer. I like that it allows the paint to keep its chalky texture, which complements the chalky texture of cement. Using a lint-free cloth of any kind, wipe on the wax in one light coat and allow to dry for about one hour.
Step 6: Secure the Corbels Together
First the corbels need to be secured together in pairs, which will serve as the supports between each tier.
Using my new favorite product – Power Grab construction adhesive – dollop on pea size amounts down the center of one corbel and a few extra across the larger top portion of the corbel too.
There’s no need for adhesive on both corbels that are being connected – just one side will be sufficient.
Slowly and precisely place the corbel with adhesive and the corbel with no adhesive together keeping the top, bottom, and each side even.
Hold the two corbels together firm for a few minutes until the adhesive stiffens up and then let it sit on a level flat surface to dry the rest of the way.
I would recommend letting the corbel supports dry for about an hour before moving on to Step 7.
Step 7: Attach Corbels to Tiers
Locate the center point of the 14 in. and 12 in. tiers.
Apply the same construction adhesive in pea size dollops along the center of the corbel bases.
Hold firmly in the center for a few minutes until it stiffens up, and then let it sit on a level flat surface to dry the rest of the way.
Let it dry about one hour, and then secure the middle tier onto the base and the top tier onto the middle corbels in the same manner as previously instructed with the construction adhesive.
Let the overall piece dry for one or two hours to ensure complete stability before moving or picking it up.
Step 8: Attach Bumpers to the Cupcake Stand Base
To keep the cement from scratching any surface and to ensure stability, apply three self adhesive vinyl bumpers evenly around the 14 in. cement base about ½ in. from the edge.
Step 9: Styling the Three-Tier Cupcake Stand
The project is now a success and there are so many creative ways to use it!
I chose to style this project as a cupcake stand for a party!
Cupcakes are always a “sweet” necessary treat at any gathering in my opinion, and displaying them on this bold tiered stand makes for a showstopper!!
A cupcake bar with unique toppings makes each tier pop!
Loving this close up on the gorgeous texture of the cement…oh and the cupcake icing too!
This three-tier cupcake stand is so fun and colorful, but the possibilities are endless with this concrete project! Enjoy, and get creative with it!
Natalie Frank loves to be creative in any form, and is the founder, writer and photographer of the blog, Relentless at Heart. Natalie lives with her husband and baby girl right outside St. Louis, Missouri.