So I have this friend. Her name is Jesse. She’s really awesome. I might’ve mentioned her before…like here and here. Before we were “friends”, I used to see her at church and I thought “that girl is so pretty.” Case in point (don’t kill me Jesse!):
[This is around about when we first met...and this pic was totally stolen from Facebook.]
She has this amazing short hair that only a few people can pull off which automatically makes you really cool and a semi-shy person like me very in awe and slightly intimidated, not wanting to risk a “Hi, I’m Sheena!” for fear that I could creep her out. Thankfully, we started talking one night whilst our husbands had a meeting together and a budding friendship began. She’s an avid DIY-er like me and this is the story of her kitchen countertops, previously (and technically, still) laminate gone marble of the faux variety.
You can see her whole kitchen transformation here but today, we’re focusing on those gorgeous countertops. As you can see from the ‘before’ photo, her tops used to be a not-so-wonderful shade of boring cream with a matching backsplash. Before painting, Jesse ripped off the backsplash, saying hasta la vista for good. Then she gave the countertops a light sanding and rolled on two coats of Zinsser primer with a foam roller. When that was dry, she rolled on a dark charcoal latex paint as her base color.
To achieve the faux marble look, she followed this tutorial by Danika Herrick at Gorgeous Shiny Things. For the veining, Jesse used Folk Art acrylic paint (black, white, and a few shades of gray) she got at Walmart and added Floetrol to it to extend it’s drying time.
This was a really important step. Acrylic paint tends to dry really fast so by adding the Floetrol, she had more time to work with it, change parts she didn’t like, move it around more, etc…
After all the marbling was done and dry, Jesse poured EnviroTex Lite over all the counters to seal them and add that amazing shine.
Here’s Jesse to explain that part:
Let’s talk Envirotex Lite. This stuff is sticky & messy, kinda like tree sap, but oilier & more fluid. I recommend having a partner, a timer, lots of disposable stir sticks, foam brushes, latex gloves, disposable mixing containers, and lots of newspaper lying around to set sticky items on. The directions recommend using a small piece of stiff paper to facilitate the spreading of the epoxy once it is poured. I’d recommend a small piece of stiff plastic instead. Paper quickly soaks up the epoxy & becomes flimsy & useless.
First, I spread newspaper on the floor & taped it over the lower cabinets, under the countertop ledge to catch drips. I still got a couple of drips on the cabinets - do your prep work. It makes the process so much easier, especially once the stuff starts dripping everywhere!
What I did wrong: I started with the largest counter space (2x6) & didn’t mix enough epoxy to cover the whole thing. So, instead of letting it self-level, I was trying to stretch it too thin (which left it uneven & drying too fast), spreading with a piece of floppy paper (did not work), then mixing another batch as fast as I could to cover all the bad spots. When I poured the new mixture next to the partly dry mixture, it created striations in the final effect, and slight ridges. Also, since I was dealing with a limited amount of epoxy, it wasn’t dripping over the edges in abundance, so it was harder to coat them. I think one 32 oz. size of epoxy is good for a 2x4 space.
Lesson: Start with a small area (2x2) first, to get the feel of the stuff. Also—don’t panic! You have more working time than you think to push it where it needs to go - just make sure you’ve mixed enough!
To do it right, pour your epoxy on your space. I poured in a spiral, so it was already over the whole space. Hand off the empty container to your partner & get your spreader in one hand and a foam brush in the other. Then, just move it around with your plastic spreader until there are no dry spots. You want it thick so don’t scrape it across the counter - more like skim over the top. As it drips over the edges, try to catch the drips with the foam brush & spread it sideways to cover the counter edges. The edges will not be as thick & pretty as the top surface, just make sure there are no dry spots. As the epoxy dries, you can wipe/scrape off the drips from under the edge.
Ideally, I would have set up something over the counters to help keep dust from settling into the drying epoxy, but I didn’t want the hassle. As it got tacky, I got a straight pin & picked out some noticeable dust particles. I used a hair dryer on low to gently get trapped bubbles out. This part was like magic! And I blew my breath onto some particularly stubborn bubbles.
All in all, the epoxy is VERY Forgiving! It does level itself out over the 3-day drying period. And any striations/bubbles/dust particles that were left behind only added to the ‘real stone’ effect. A more mottled design helps hide these thing also.
Daily use: The epoxy scratches fairly easily - fine shallow scratches. So, don't slide heavy things around on it for fun (like full plastic pitchers of water). Again, my design is mottled enough that I think these scratches add to the charm. The directions say if you want a satin finish, you can sand the whole surface with superfine sandpaper. I may do that one day if I feel my surface is looking shabby. Or I could just pour a new coat on and voila, brand new shine! The epoxy is very hard & durable, yet also remains slightly moveable. Heavy or sharp items leave indentations in the surface, if left in one place too long. I keep a pad under my coffee maker, so its little feet don't sink in. If you get an indentation, don't fret, it will also settle out with time. And I think it's needless to say, but don't put hot things on it, or chop on it - same as with regular laminate.
So, last but not least, Jesse’s cost breakdown -->
Primer: $0 (had it)
Base color paint: $0 (had it)
Acrylic paint: $5 (Walmart)
Glaze: $0 (had it)
Floetrol: $0 (had it)
Brushes and rollers: $0 (had them)
EnviroTex: $45 (2 big and 1 small carton with a 40% coupon at Hobby Lobby)
Grand total Jesse spent: $50
Grand total you’d spend if you had to buy everything: about $105
If you have any questions about Jesse’s countertops or the process she used to paint them, feel free to leave them in the comments below and I’ll get with her and back to you asap! If you marble-ize your countertops or anything else, let us know! We’d love to see!
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