Kitchen Redux Part Two -- The Countertop Edition
Even before our cabinets were painted, I knew the counters would be the next thing to go.
We have granite. I say have because it's still there, you just can't actually see the ugly Brazilian Brown anymore, thanks to this product: Stone Coat epoxy.
I know what you’re thinking because I see it on people’s faces every time I tell them what I’ve done, that “you did what to your granite?” look.
That’s right, I covered it with epoxy. And you know what? I’m not sorry. Our granite was outdated. It was dark. It was f-ugly.
I’ve been wanting to replace my counters for a long time, but coughing up upwards of ten thousand bucks to replace them with something comparable—marble, quartz, granite, soapstone—just wasn’t in the budget. So, I went to the interwebs in search of a budget-friendly solution. I saw paint, which, frankly, looked cheap, and didn’t seem like it would wear well. I saw concrete, which I actually liked…a lot. But there wasn’t a lot of versatility as far as I could tell. It was concrete or colored concrete.
Then, I found this blog post. This woman had done EXACTLY what I wanted to do, taken her ugly granite and beautified it, all for under $500! What?!?
So I began investigating. I watched a million hours of Stone Coat Countertop videos (this is a rabbit hole you can easily fall down—this guy makes soooo many videos) and you can use this stuff on virtually EVERYTHING (laminate, tile, MDF...I mean it, anything). But the great thing I discovered was that this epoxy was inexpensive, easy enough for an amateur, and versatile. I was sold!
Originally, I thought I wanted the white marble/quartz look. I mean, come on, it’s all the rage…why wouldn’t I want it? Except, that’s the thing. The more I looked on websites, magazine, and at kitchen trends, it really was everywhere. How long can that last? What I didn’t want was to have something that would be dated in two or three years. So I ordered an epoxy sample kit, bought some 2x2 MDF boards from Home Depot, and set to work practicing.
To be honest, my first pieces were good practice, but I’m glad that’s all they were…practice. They definitely weren’t anything I would want in my kitchen. I quickly learned that less is more when it comes to adding color. It’s easy to go overboard, and sometimes hard to know when to stop. I also figured out that both black and white go a long way. But, it was super fun learning playing with different techniques and discovering which ones I liked best.
Finally, I felt like I was ready.
First things first, we measured our countertops so we could place our order from Stone Coat. Thankfully, SCC has AMAZING customer service, and whenever I had a question, they were there to answer them, both by phone and by email…and, boy, did I have questions. We have about 78 square feet of countertop. According to their customer service, one 2 gallon kit of epoxy will coat 40 square feet, including the first (color) coat and the second (clear) top coat, which goes on 24 hours after the first coat. We ordered 2 two-gallon countertop kits.
(To estimate how much you need, the formula they use is 3 ounces mixed per square foot.)
Since we’d just finished painting our cabinets, we went a little overboard masking them off. And because a lot of our color came from spray paint, we masked our upper cabinets and walls as well as our lower cabinets and floors. We used SO MUCH plastic sheeting! We also laid a layer of plastic underneath the paper on the floor, which was a good thing because the epoxy soaks right through paper. If you like your floors and cabinets, be sure to protect them!
I’m not going to run through every step, but here is a video from Stone Coat Countertop about how to mix and use their product.
Following the directions we were given, we cleaned the counters with TSP then sanded the countertops with 60-grit sandpaper. The sandpaper, as far as we could tell, did virtually nothing to the granite, but we did it anyway because we’re nothing if not rule followers.
Next, we applied the SCC primer. According to their website, this stuff will adhere to anything…and from what I could tell, it really did. Then, we let that dry overnight.
The next morning, we applied the first coat of our base coat of paint. We used Behr paint and primer in one. We did a light gray base, but if you’re doing a white marble or quartz, you would probably use a white base. In between coats, you want to lightly sand with the Scotch Brite pads.
When it came time to pour the first coat of epoxy, I felt like I was going to puke. If I messed this up, we would have to tear out the counters and start all over! (Kidding…we could wait until they were dry, sand them down, and try again with the epoxy…but I still felt sick from the pressure that I would do something wrong.)
Turns out, if you stick to the steps, it’s not that tough.
Here’s the list of supplies we used:
From Stone Coat Countertops:
From Home Depot / Amazon:
· 60 grit sandpaper discs (I used my sander)
· Gloves (we went through a lot of these)
· Blue paper towels (also a lot more than we thought)
· Mica Powder (we mixed this with the alcohol solution to spray)
· Mixer https://amzn.to/2zuwHhn
· Brushes (we went through 4 of these—one for each of us, for each coat):
· Base Paint (oil-based preferred) in whatever color works for your project
· Spray paint (we used A LOT of spray paint, which we bought at Home Depot)
· Tape (we used so much tape!)
· Heavyweight Plastic Sheeting (we used this for floors and walls):
· Lighter weight (0.3 ml) plastic for everything else:
- SAND COUNTERTOPS, I USED MY ORBITAL SANDER AND 60 GRIT PAPER THIS WILL NOT ROUGH THEM UP (granite), BUT GETS ANY GUNK OR DEBRIS OFF THEM.
- CLEAN WITH A DEGREASER (TSP)
- PRIME WITH STONE COAT COUNTERTOP PRIMER
- PAINT ON A BASE COAT (I USED BEHR ENAMEL)
- MIX FLOOD COAT (WITH A BASE COAT, IF DESIRED), POUR, TROWEL, and CHOP
- ADD IN ANY ACCENT COLORS, MICCA POWDERS, AND/OR ALCOHOL OR WATER SPRAY MIXTURES (MAKE SURE TO USE OIL-BASED PAINTS) (optional)
- USE PAINT STICK TO SWIRL (optional)
- POP BUBBLES WITH BLOW TORCH
- WHEN READY POUR SECOND FLOOD COAT, CLEAR ONLY
- FINAL STEP... SAND AND WAX/BUFF
Again, I can’t stress this enough: There were times when I wanted to keep going with the color, and my husband was egging me on because he thought it seemed “too plain.” But I had to make myself step away, and I was glad I did. When you layer colors the way I had, it takes a while for the subtly of the colors beneath to rise to the surface. The final result was so much better than either of us could have imagined. We ended up with something unique with understated designs. It looks like it could have been mined from a quarry. It might not be for everyone, but we love it!
Again, I thought this would be where it all ended because my plan had been to leave the backsplash. You can see how it looks with the black. It was…okay…ish. But ultimately, we decided to spend the extra money to finish it with white tile. Honestly, the tile was the most expensive part of our project since we hired it out. So if you’re handy enough (and motivated) to do that on your own, then good on you. We were neither of those things.