Effektiv concretehack

Published on October 19th, 2011 | by Jules IKEAHacker


Effektiv cabinet concrete hack

- 4 IKEA Effektiv cabinets. We used 85 x 43 x 94 sized frames
- 4 Effektiv series doors. We used high gloss white doors
- 4 sets of handles
- 3 25 kg sacks of concrete
- Board and screws for the mould
- Some steel for rebaring the concrete. We used old fashion chicken wire.

- drill and mixer
- Plastic or tape if you want to protect the surfaces of the cabinets

Description: We launched our home building company LivingStone Kodit Oy and we started to decorate the office space. We build houses from concrete and we wanted our office to have a modern look with a rugged twist, something that would express our houses. We were wondering how we could achieve that and then it came to us, we must use concrete in our office. We decided to hack our Effectiv cabinets.

Start by attaching all four of the cabinets together. Try and get them as close together as possible.

Attach the edges of the mould. You can decide the height of the concrete cover but remember that concrete is extremely heavy. We made the cover 2 cm high and the weight is approximately 80 kg. Every centimetre is about 40 kg so be careful.

Mix the concrete and apply a thin layer on to the table. Spread it evenly and try to make it as dense as possible especially around the edges. It the concrete is not tight enough the edge will not be smooth and even.

Place the steel on top of the concrete. Time for a few tips about chicken wire: it is very flexible and it caused us a lot of problems. When we got one end covered with concrete the other end stuck out of it. Our advice is to cut the wire in to smaller pieces for example the size of a sheet of paper. This step will be much easier and quicker than it was for us.

Add the rest of the concrete and even the surface with a board.

Cover up with a piece of plastic so that the concrete won’t dry too fast. If you want an extremely smooth top, rub down after about 2 hours. If you want the cover to have some character and be slightly jagged just let it dry.

Let the concrete surface dry for at least a couple of days preferably for a week, then remove the mould. Sand the cement off and polish the cover. Attach the doors and your brand new cabinet with a beautiful concrete cover is ready!

See more of the Effektiv in concrete.

~ Karl Filtness, Jyväskylä, Finland

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The Author

Jules IKEAHacker

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

9 Responses to Effektiv cabinet concrete hack

  1. I’d love to get one of that cabinet. It looks sturdy and well constructed. It looks lighter though I believe it’s heavy.

  2. cement mixer says:

    Well done on this great looking cabinet with a concrete surface. What I like is that the top concrete is lighter than it looks and sounds.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Keter for your kind words.

    We did not put a separate base under the slab because of a few reasons. It could have been slightly hazardous if the slab fell from the top (not likely but anyway). The cover looks thicker than it does because of the edges that hang over the top. This is good for aestethical reasons but it also holds the cover done and prevents the original top of being revealed. When the concrete dries the corners are going to slightly rise up. The base would become visible and we didn’t want that. Even if the cover had a separate base, moving would be risky because it is so thin.

    The debate about concretes environmental impact is an ongoing argument. In Finland the assumption to all calculations is that a concrete houses lifespan is a 100 years and a wood houses lifespan is 50 years. Both assumptions are wrong as you have already pointed out. Concrete does last much longer than 100 years and a wood house lasts for 50 years if you only count the frame, most if the house will be renovated after 15-20 years. This is a result of politics, Finland is packed with forests and it used to be the most important industry. Times have changed, but politicians have not.


  4. Anonymous says:

    Didn’t you put a separate base underneath the concrete slab? You can just pick it up and move it separately like the Ikea slab counter tops. It should be OK with the reinforcement, although it would be better if you had used hardware cloth instead of chicken wire. BTW, concrete must be more eco friendly than we think, as a concrete building will last far more than 100 years. The Roman coliseum is 2,000 some years old and would not be in the shape it is in now, had the steel reinforcements not been looted over the years after they stopped using it. There are also many other Roman buildings still standing that are made of concrete centuries ago.

  5. Keter says:

    I love the chicken wire idea…I was just getting my ideas together for building a custom concrete tub and shower pan, and was thinking of using pieces of hardware cloth to reinforce the poured parts (will be using a combination of preformed and poured in place concrete) since I will need to mold the shapes to drain properly, so this confirms that idea will work.

    Regarding eco-friendliness: you have to include all of the environmental impacts, such as fuel and pollution costs for transporting, milling, and distributing wood vs. concrete, which can be made from local materials in almost all areas. I own a 35 year old concrete home – block and pre-stressed beams like a parking garage. All of the materials came from a local concrete and stone operation that makes concrete beams and panels. I had an engineer survey the structure before purchase because I had no idea what to look for in such construction, and he told me that it could be expected to last a minimum of 300 years. The average lifespan of a wood frame house in this area is less than a century due to mold, termites, water damage, and fire, none of which will affect this structure. At the end of its useful life, all of the concrete can be rendered down into smaller chunks and reused (instead of mined gravel) to make more concrete. If you’ve ever lived near large tree farming and logging operations, you’ll know that mass-scale wood construction is ecologically unsustainable, and wood frame houses leach toxic chemicals from wood preservatives and termite treatments into the soil. Concrete doesn’t require chemical preservatives. So it is absolutely true that even old concrete has less negative ecological impact than new wood construction.

    Karl, I took a look at your web site and your designs are lovely. I wish you a lot of luck with your business!

  6. Anonymous says:

    You can move the cabinet a bit around but nobody is going to steel it. If we ever move we have to break the cover and smash it to little pieces. Perhaps we will sell the bits to fanatic IKEA Hackers just like moon rocks or pieces of the Berlin wall!

    We build concrete houses so we are aware of the benefits of vibrating. We thought that it would be a bit of a overkill in this project. Denser means heavier and we were trying to avoid this. The structure and denseness is enough for this cover it does not have to take any weight to we used our arms as vibrators.

    The concrete used is a sort of light concrete that is more eco friendly than regular concrete. Normal construction concretes eco unfriendliness is mainly because of cement. Making cement needs a ton of energy and this is why it is not so sustainable than lets say wood. When concrete is used in construction, the buildings last usually for a minimum of 100 years. When the initial energy is distributed over 100 years, it actually is eco friendly!

    Thanks to Jules for publishing our hack and for running a great site!

    Karl Filtness, a proud IKEA Hacker

  7. Anonymous says:

    this is normal eco unfriendly concrete, or did you use some eco friendly(as far as it’s possible) concrete?
    ikea try to project an eco approach, this just cancels out their effort i feel.

  8. Anonymous says:

    a cheap concrete vibrator would give you denser concrete – can normally pick them up off ebay new pretty cheap..

  9. Anonymous says:

    now trying to move that thing around must not be that easy…

    but it’s gorgeous

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