“Let’s be honest, as soon as we paint the cabinets white, you are going to want to replace the countertops” – a quote from my husband a day before we started painting the kitchen. My reply was, “I will keep them as they are for a while – I promise”. I lied. I fully intended to keep that promise but after we painted, my husband actually stood back and said, “okay, I think we need to change the counters now”. I had been researching different options for resurfacing our brown arborite counters because as much as I wanted a white counter, I did not like the $7,000 price tag that went with quartz or granite.
I came across epoxy resin the day before we finished painting the kitchen. Basically, without getting too geeky, it is a liquid concoction you make with two different parts, plus the colour, and it is extremely adhesive. What I loved about this product was that it sets up very shiny and looks so much like natural stone. It is fairly durable, and the best part – CHEAP! There are a lot of companies that offer epoxy countertop kits and to be honest, if we were doing this project over, I think I would buy a kit. We spent a good 2 days looking at youtube videos and doing our research on how to do this, but let me just say, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into! Because I had such a specific design in my head of what I wanted the counters to look like – it made things pretty difficult.
We started by lightly sanding counters, and then primed them using an all surface primer. We ended up using the same primer we had just used for the cabinets since we had some left over. Side note: Lets be real, whenever I say we, I mean my husband and our construction company employees. I watched, stress snacked, and pointed and said “missed a spot”. Okay, glad I got that off my chest! Next, we masked everything beneath the counters with plastic. This is an extremely important step in the process and you do not want to rush it because this stuff is messy. If you don’t plastic properly, the epoxy will leak into every orifice that is not covered, and you may or may not be scrubbing your floors for 3 hours trying to remove it (I speak from experience if you can’t tell).
Now it was time to mix the epoxy! There is a “part A”(the epoxy resin) and a “part B” (the hardener), plus the colouring of your choice. The amazing thing about epoxy is that the sky is the limit to what you can make it look like since it comes in a large variety of colours. We knew we wanted our countertops to have more of a marble look so we went with a white base, and black accent colour. Now, we poured these counters two (and a half) times because I was not happy with the way they turned out the first one and a half times. I will explain what we did different each time so you can learn from our mistakes.
The first time we poured (let’s call this the what not to do pour), we mixed with a one to one ratio of part A and part B. This is what the bottle recommended but that ratio is better when you are pouring a floor, as it sets up a lot faster so it becomes difficult to maneuver once it’s hard. Once we mixed part A and B together, we added the white colouring. After everything was mixed, we started pouring the base coat.
You literally dump the mixture out of the bucket onto the countertop. We poured a generous amount to make sure they were completely covered and the rest just drips off the edge (hence the importance of the plastic). We then rolled the white mixture out evenly around the counters using paint rollers, squirted isopropyl alcohol out of a spray bottle over it to remove any bubbles and that was that. This stuff pretty much self levels.
Alright, here is the stressful, emotional, I want to rip-my-hair-out part. Pouring and designing the veins. Let me start by saying we watched a LOT of youtube videos of guys doing these veins and they kept saying “it’s so easy, you can’t really mess this up”. LIES! You can, and we did! The first pour, we used the black epoxy colouring and added white paint to it to make it grey. I used a paint stir stick to make the grey lines on top of the white. Because we did a 1 to 1 ratio of the epoxy and hardener, the white base coat was setting up so fast that when I went to do the veins, the grey basically just sat on top instead of mixing in to look natural. We tried to salvage it by grabbing paint sponges and spreading the veins out a bit, and let’s just say there was no salvaging.
Needless to say, we ended the first pour knowing we would need to re pour in the morning. The next day, we decided to do a two to one ratio (two parts epoxy, one part hardener) which is what all of the countertop kits recommend. This was much easier to work with because the mixture stayed wet and pliable for longer. We also made sure to have all of our grey mixed before we started pouring anything so we weren’t wasting time while the counters hardened on us. With the new two to one ratio, we did the same process of pouring the white base. When it came time to add the grey veins, I decided to use a turkey baster to apply the paint, and that made it easier to control. While I went around and added the veins, our employee would spray the alcohol over the lines to make them expand and look more natural. This helped, but also made the veins a little too thick for my taste, so I wouldn’t recommend doing this.
After this pour, I still wasn’t totally happy with the counters. I felt like the veins were thicker than I wanted and it wasn’t as natural as I wanted it to look. 24 hours after pouring the base you are supposed to pour a top clear coat that seals the counters and makes them more durable. After looking up many more videos, my husband and I decided we were officially mentally insane and we should take one more shot at the veins, because, third time’s a charm. So while we poured the top clear coat, we added more skinny veins and also added the grey mixture into a spray bottle and sprayed some spots to give it some speckles.
To make a long story even longer, the clear coat plan did not go “as planned”, we scraped all of the top coat off the counters, the clear coat leaked through the paper onto the floors creating a glue that took 3 hours to scrape off, I went to my room and cried, and we were ready to put a “for sale” sign up on our house. BUT, I pulled myself together and when I emerged out of my room after taking a breather, the countertops looked so much better after scraping the clear coat off. They looked like natural stone now that everything kind of blended together! We decided to leave the counters and do one final clear coat the next day, and after 4 days, literal blood, sweat and tears, we were finally done. So…would I recommend this product? Now that it’s done, absolutely! I love the shine and modern look of them. Even after all of our re pours and do overs, these counters ended up costing us $750. If you do it right, and like them the first time, you could attain this shiny quartz look for as little as $300!
Now, on to the next one!