November 3

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November 3, 2019

We do a lot of how to articles here, and this one is no less important. To complete our grill island project we will be adding a lamp post to the raised bar countertop.

In this post you will learn how to add a lamp post to your existing concrete countertop. I will show you exactly what I did so you can achieve a similar result. As far as electric codes go, be sure to check your local codes before you get started.

The scope of this article is for the construction of the lamp mount and adding the lamp itself. For wiring instructions, consult your local electrician.

Preparation  Is Key

Right now we have our conduit coming out of our polished concrete bar countertop. (link to our How To Make Professional Polished Concrete Countertops article). This should be an easy job, but one that will make a huge difference to the enjoyment of our outdoor space.

outdoor lamp

FYI, the lamp post in this project was added a year after the grill island and countertops were in place. I tried various grilling flashlights before installing this light post. They all worked ok. They were no replacement for an actual permanent lamp that would blanket the area with light. 

When building my grill island (link to our Build The Ultimate Outdoor Kitchen Grill Island article) I installed a GFCI protected outlet. . This box is under the concrete countertop in a weather-proof electrical box.

The plan was to have my grill light operate from my phone. Instead of using a smart bulb, I used a smart outlet that connected to my home network.

installing a lamp post on a cinder block grill island

This outdoor wifi outlet/switch can be plugged into any outlet. Using an app, turn on/off whatever you have plugged into it. Make sure the switch you use is compatible with the network you use.

The lamp on the grill island is nothing more than a lamp on an extension cord. The chord is then plugged into my smart switch (link to Amazon for the best price). In case your network goes down the smart switch also has a button to turn it on/off manually.

Looking Back

Ok enough with all that technical stuff, let’s move on and get our hands dirty again. I needed a way to anchor my lamp to the concrete countertop.

One method is to place my lamp post down in the cinder blocks when I was constructing the island itself. I didn’t have enough foresight to do that. During the construction of the grill island I didn’t know what kind of lighting I wanted, or needed. 

If I constructed it this way, it would have been very difficult to place my concrete bar top where I wanted it.

My next option was to somehow anchor it to the top of the concrete counter. I used 3 anchor bolts that I drilled into the concrete. This was a bit nerve racking, my fear was the drilling would cause the counter to crack and break.

The season after the island and counters were in was when we added this lamp. The concrete was completely cured at this point. Not sure if the concrete would have cracked if I hadn’t waited a season to do this. 

Finding an Anchor

I wanted an 8 x 8 cinder block covered with field stone. Filled with concrete having the light post coming out of the center. I needed to anchor this to the countertop somehow.

concrete countertop with conduit stick through it

As you can see from the picture we have a countertop with a piece of conduit running through it. I placed my 8x8 cinder block in place and then reached into it and traced the inside. 

measure placement of lamp anchor
making the lamp post even

I also marked the outside of the block after making sure it is placed in exactly the right position.

trace the cinder block outside
scribing inside the cinder block

Removing the block, I then laid out where I wanted to drill for my bolts. Be sure to check the size of the anchor bolts you use so the hole drilled is the right size.  

Using a cordless drill with a masonry bit (link to Amazon) set in the “hammer drill” setting I drilled the concrete. A drill with this setting will vibrate when you put downward pressure on it.

A hammer drill (Amazon link) works sort of like a jackhammer. The vibration makes easy work out of drilling through concrete.

The holes were then drilled the bolts were carefully tapped in with a hammer. They were then tightened and left sticking up in place.

These bolts are going to anchor our cinder block and light post to the smooth polished surface of the concrete countertop. Adhering concrete to something with a smooth finish is difficult to say the least. These bolts will keep everything in its place.

Always Mixing It Up

Time to get out our mortar mix and make up a small batch. Make enough to adhere the cinder block to the countertop. Mixed properly, the mortar should have the consistency of peanut butter. 

Place a bed of mortar inside the lines you traced for the outside of the 8 x 8 block. Now place the block over the conduit and secure it to the counter. Its ok if some mortar smooshes out the sides, this will all be covered by stone in the future. 

Let the mortar cure for a day or so before you continue. Trying to fill the block with concrete at this point may be troublesome. The liquid from the concrete will seep into your mortar weakening it.

Get Your Post Up

The lamp post itself is nothing more than an old piece of 2 inch black pipe that I had laying around. For your project you can buy a lamp post, and lamp together (link to Amazon). In my case I only needed the lamp.

conduit coming out of cinder block for outdoor lamp

The conduit protruding from the countertop was not very long. Using PVC glue, I added another section to extend it. The extended conduit will help support the pipe when it comes time to set the lamp post in place.

I ran all the wire through my conduit to where it was going to go before I set my post in place. Mix up a small batch of concrete, enough to fill an 8 x 8 cinder block. I placed my lamp post over my conduit so my wire was sticking out of the top.

Begin pouring concrete around the lamp post. Use a small stick and poke the concrete in a “churning” motion to remove as many air pockets as you can. Be sure the concrete is all the way to the bottom with no voids. This will be the only thing holding your pipe in place.

Over fill the cinder block so you can make the concrete slope down from the post to the outer edge of the cinder block. This will help keep rain from settling up against the metal post. 

Use a level and check the post in three different places to making sure it is true. Nothing worse than a permanent, crooked lamp post staring at you every time you go into the backyard. Be sure to get this right!

Another helpful tip: Don’t do this sort of thing on a windy day where the pipe could move before it sets. Once I was happy with the placement of the pipe, I used a wet towel and wrapped it around the whole thing.

curing concrete in the heat keep it moist
curing concrete in the heat keep it moist

It was a hot day, so to help the concrete cure, I kept it moist. If it dries out too fast it is likely to crack or not reach desired hardness. 

After a 48 hour or so wait it was time to finish it off. My large pile of field stone had taken quite a hit after making the grill island (link to build a grill island article).

I lost even more stone lining the inside of my new pond and waterfall (link to build a pond article). I had just enough to finish this 8 x 8 block off with. It is more challenging to get the stones to fit together “right” if you don’t have a lot to choose from, but I made it work.

field stone lamp post

Let your field stone cure for at least 24 hours, then go back and fill in the gaps. Follow the steps from the previous article when we built the grill island (link to how to grout field stone).

Last thing to do is hook up the lamp and test it out. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for installing whatever type of light you use. This is the light I used for this project (link to Amazon). You could use any light that will fit a 2 inch pipe post, which is a common size.

Conclusion

Putting up this lamp doubled the amount of time spent entertaining around my grill island bar. Something as simple as adding a lamp will maximize the use of your outdoor space.

I hope you will find some value in this brief tutorial. When you're ready to add a water feature like a pond or waterfall download your FREE Ultimate Guide To Building Your Backyard Water Garden. Until next time enjoy your backyard water garden.

~Jeff

About the author

Jeff

I love being outdoors and hands on DIY. If you share my passion, you are in the right place. If I can help one person surprise themselves with the success of a project, then this website is a success.

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