Concrete is no longer just for heavy duty construction projects. These DIY textured concrete bookends are a cool way to add an industrial element to your decor. The best part is that you can customize them by pouring the concrete mixture into any shape or size mold and create texture with netting, lace or just about anything you can find around the house!
Note: The concrete needs at least 48 hours to cure and dry completely, so make sure you have a few days to complete this project. To build your own DIY textured concrete bookends, follow the step-by-step instructions below.
How to Build the Concrete Bookends
- Small paint brush
- Small jar
- Utility knife
- Tape measure
- Heavy duty work gloves
- Plastic painters’ sheeting
- Zip tie
- Safety glasses
- Dust mask
- Water pitcher
- 5 gallon bucket
- Small shovel
- White chalk
- Masonry trowel
- Hand pruner
- Sanding block
- Old sifter or colander (cannot be used with food after project)
- Vegetable oil
- All-purpose caulk
- Quikrete concrete mix
- 1/2 gallon water
- Small piece of cardboard
- Duct tape
- 2 Leftover plastic half pie containers
- 2 Self-adhesive felt blankets
- Door mat
Step 1: Prep the Pie Containers
Wash and dry each container. Cut each in half along the fold. Discard the tops and keep the bottoms.
Step 2: Measure and Mark
Measure and mark two inches up on the backs of the pie containers. These lines denote the bottoms of the bookends. Be sure to mark all the way around the edges of pie mold.
Step 3: Pattern Placement
Lay the door mat out and assess what parts of the pattern you want to use for your texture. Be sure to pick a section that will have a symmetrical opposite. This step will vary with different door mat designs, so find one that fits your taste!
Measure and mark the pie container outline with white chalk for each.
Step 4: Cut Out the Shapes
Carefully and slowly, cut out the shapes with hand pruners. The doormat will be thick so you may have to squeeze the pruner handles with both hands at certain points.
Start by cutting out pieces that are slightly larger than your chalk marks indicate and then cut them smaller, refining their shapes as you go. Remember you can always subtract but you can’t add back again once the cuts are made. Hold them up to your pie molds and make sure they will fit.
Step 5: Sand the Door Mat Pieces
Sand down the texture on door mat making it as smooth as possible. Most doormats will be textured to remove dirt from people’s feet but for our purposes we want it to be very smooth so that it peels away from the concrete easily once it’s dry.
Step 6: Cut Out the Cardboard Barrier
Fold a piece of thin, sturdy cardboard in half. We used cardboard from a box of trash bags. Measure, mark and cut a two-inch-wide section.
Cut angles in your cardboard section so that it fits perfectly in your pie container at your pre-labeled two-inch mark. Repeat this step for the other mold. These will create the barriers for the concrete at the bottom of the molds so that the bookends can sit flat.
Step 7: Secure the Barrier into Place
Put the cardboard barriers into the molds and secure them with duct tape. Be sure to seal as many of the gaps with duct tape as possible.
Step 8: Caulk the Gaps
Use all-purpose caulk or sealant to fill in the gaps where the concrete mixture could slip through.
Allow the caulk to dry completely. We hit ours with a hair dryer to speed up the drying process.
Step 9: Find Reinforcements
Find something heavy and bulky to put in the non-concrete side to reinforce it so the concrete doesn’t spill over. We used pieces of brick, but heavy garden rocks will work too.
Step 10: Brush the Mold and Doormat with Oil
Brush the door mat pieces and the insides of the molds generously with vegetable oil. Some people prefer to use cooking spray, but since we had so much detail in our door mat we wanted to make sure all the small crevices were well lubricated so the concrete didn’t stick.
Step 11: Pour Out the Concrete Mix
Safety warning: When mixing concrete, always wear gloves, a particle mask and goggles to avoid concrete poisoning.
Position the Quikrete bag over your five-gallon bucket, make a small incision with the utility knife, and pour half of the bag into the bucket. Be careful, this will happen very fast!
Step 12: Sift Out the Large Gravel
Using your old strainer or colander, sift through the concrete to get as many of the stones out as possible. The finer the grit of your concrete, the smoother the finished product will be and the less the chance there will be for breakage. Discard the larger gravel.
Step 13: Add Water and Mix
Form a depression in the middle of the dry concrete with the shovel. For half a 60 lb. bag of mix, Quikrete recommends using five to six cups of water. Start by pouring ⅔ of the recommended amount of water (less than four cups) into the depression.
Mix the concrete with a shovel until the concrete becomes a uniform, workable consistency.
Continue to add water in small amounts and work until the mix is the proper consistency. Take care not to add too much water because the more you add, the weaker the concrete becomes. Properly mixed concrete should look like thick oatmeal and hold its shape when squeezed with a gloved hand.
Step 14: Fill the Molds
Fill the molds ⅔ full with handfuls of concrete mix.
Thoroughly and quickly jiggle the molds, almost as if vibrating. This will help settle the concrete and ensure that it fills all the crevices of the pie container while preventing bubbles from forming.
Step 15: Add Concrete to the Cutouts
Working quickly, smear concrete onto the door mat cutouts, pressing firmly and filling all the small crevices and holes. Keep adding concrete until the cutout is completely covered with a thick, even layer and none of the design shows through.
Step 16: Add the Two Parts Together
Place the concrete side of the mat cutout onto the mold, and press firmly. Repeat the jiggling process for several full minutes so that the two parts fuse together as seamlessly as possible.
Step 17: Clean Up the Edges
Use your masonry trowel to remove any overflow concrete and to create clean edges.
Step 18: Seal and Store
Place both filled molds in a shallow cardboard box.
Wrap the box in plastic painter’s sheeting, and seal it with a zip tie.
Store the box indoors and away from sun for a minimum of 48 hours. This step is imperative because it will allow the concrete to cure slowly and properly. Drying too quickly means cracking and nobody wants that!
Step 1: Remove the Molds
After removing your molds from the storage box, slowly and carefully peel away the door mat from the concrete. This may be difficult in areas, so be gentle and patient! If you pull too hard, the small detail pieces could break off and your pattern will be harder to see.
Step 2: Sand the Rough Edges
Be sure to wear the particle mask when sanding. Sand down any rough edges with the sanding block. The point is not to make it look perfect, but sand it so that it’s smooth then rinse with water so that all dust is gone.
If you want a slick, semi-gloss finish to your project you can use a sealer, but we like the rough, textured look.
Step 3: Add Felt Pads
Cut out your self-adhesive felt pad to custom fit the bottom, peel and stick it on. This will protect your bookcase or whatever you sit the piece on from getting scratched.
Step 4: Decorate!
These bookends can add an interesting textural element to your decor. If you use a pie container with ridges and scalloped edges like we did, you can flip them around for a completely different look. Whatever floats your boat!