I can’t believe the transformation!! I’ve watched the kitchen change slowly and piece by piece, but when I look at the overall before and after so far, I’m amazed!
Here’s a look back at my original kitchen inspiration blog post. This is still a DIY holdover update until I bring in the pros to really overhaul things later, but we have made so much progress. AND just so we are all on the same page: here's the official before photo from the house listing and what it looked like 2 months ago!)
Yikes. Let's take a moment for that before photo. Ugh. Ok, to get you up to speed, when we moved in, we had cabinets painted and ripped out the upper cabinets on the sink side, so here's that progress photo. This photo is *after* I repaired the walls/textured, etc.; blue tape shows shelves and sconces to be added. This photo also shows a great view of the ugly gray laminate countertops.
So now you're up-to-date and ready to epoxy these countertops! Today I’m breaking it down and sharing the countertop epoxy process with you. Epoxy in itself is a large project..it’s very simple, but there are some keys to success that are important, so I’ll share those as well. Watch my Insta Highlight.
Transforming your kitchen countertops with epoxy is the perfect project for you if you have an old countertop that is functional but no longer your style. Whether it’s laminate or an older granite style that you don’t like, epoxy could be a great fit for you. This process applies to any color or stone you want to imitate. I originally thought I would do a white Carrara marble look, but ended up going with a faux soapstone to see if I might actually want soapstone when it comes time to install a new kitchen down the road. Leaning in to the "moody" vibes in some of my inspo photos.
Here is how I upgraded my kitchen laminate countertops to a faux soapstone using just paint and epoxy… and a little elbow grease! ;) This project cost me around $300 and I have a lot of counter space. I ended up having to order more epoxy to finish one corner but am planning on using it for another project.
I recommend breaking this project up into three parts: supply gathering + prep, painting, and epoxy.
Here are the supplies I used. If you’re doing a different “stone” you’ll need different colors. Your quantities will depend on how many sections of countertop you are doing.
Painters tape -enough to tape off above and below counters (attach tarp below counter with tape to catch all drips)
Brushes (for paint and you need a fresh brush for each coat and section of epoxy)
Rollers (one for paint, and you need a fresh roller for each coat and section of epoxy)
Plastic putty knife or trowel
Buckets (you need 3 buckets for each coat of epoxy)
Paint stir sticks (1 stick for each coat of epoxy + a few extra!)
All the tarps (I recommend covering your entire floor in tarps)
Gloves (buy this pack because you might want fresh gloves for each epoxy coat
Heat gun (I bought this one for $23 and did curbside pickup!)
Epoxy (I used Stonecoat Countertops and Total Boat...both great)
Respirator Mask (epoxy has some serious warning labels; do not use epoxy if pregnant)
Paint: black matte, black semi gloss, black acrylic, white spray paint, white paint sample from old project. (used different paints to add depth)
Here are each of my steps. I'll be making a video tutorial as well, but need more time to edit it down! Coming soon :)
Gather your supplies and get your items ordered. You’ll most likely need to order your epoxy directly from a supplier. Home Depot didn’t have what I needed in a large enough quantity.
Tape everything and cover with plastic. Epoxy is not a joke - it’s so sticky and since it’s clear, it’s tough to see/cleanup spills! I made a huge mess on Day 1 and learned my lesson the hard way. I took time to prep more on day 2 and it was way better.
2. PRIME & PAINT
I was working with an old laminate countertop and I actually had to fill in a joint where the countertop was uneven. After doing that, I lightly sanded and used a bonding primer so the paint would stick.
I painted one coat of bonding primer and two coats of matte black paint. One day for primer, one day for black, then one day for texture. After the first coat of black, it already looked sooo much better.
Then I “added depth” with some additional black paint and white paint to mix in and create lighter and darker areas in the black. I used plastic grocery bags dipped in my paint to achieve this faux stone texture. I just double fisted the grocery bags and pounded on my counters! I create faint white/gray veins and then added a fine white line *in* the epoxy to make my full vein effect. If you want a solid color, you wouldn't have to add any texture/depth before moving on to the epoxy step. I wanted my stone to look as close to real soapstone as possible.
3. EPOXY TIME!
You will work one section of countertop at a time and mix enough epoxy for that section only.
After your paint is dry, it's time to mix, pour, and smooth your epoxy top coat. I won't include detailed instructions about how to mix it because each epoxy brand is different. Overall, you mix one part of A with one part of B. I poured equal parts of A & B into separate buckets. Make sure they are equal or you epoxy may not harden correctly. Once you are sure the buckets are level/even with the same amount of each, combine parts A & B into a third (clean) bucket. DO NOT try to reuse a bucket. Trust me on this one! Mix well for about 5 minutes with a stir stick.
Empty ALL of the epoxy out of your bucket onto the countertop. This is where it's important to only mix the amount you need for that section. Once mixed, the epoxy will start to cure. If left in the bucket, it will harden in 5 minutes, but when you pour it onto your countertop, you'll have about 40 minutes to work it before it hardens.
Use a plastic trowel, a cake spatula, or a plastic putty knife to spread your epoxy around the center of the countertop. Edges and vertical surfaces are last! Slowly continue to work your epoxy out from the middle towards the edge all the way around the perimeter of the countertop. Slowly start to push epoxy over the countertop edge. I used my paint roller to spread out the "drips" to evenly coat the edge. The epoxy will continue to drip for a couple hours, so this is where your tarps come in handy.
Paint the Vein:
Now that your countertop is evenly covered with your clear epoxy, you can add your vein. This adds another layer of depth because the color is *in* the epoxy, not under it. I painted my base layer of blacks/grays with lines running the same direction. After adding my epoxy, I could still see those lines of paint; I wanted to add my final vein of white paint on top of those faint/blurry lines. Basically I drew myself a template so I knew where to put my final vein lines. Don't forget to extend your vein onto your edges.
Using my last bucket of epoxy with a few drips left in it, I used my white spray paint to spray a small puddle in the bucket. Mix it with the epoxy. Use a stir stick to then "drizzle" the vein into the epoxy. Start with very little to test it out.
Then you can use a paint brush to dab the vein and blur it a bit in some areas to make it not look perfect.
Get out the heat gun! I used mine on high and it had to warm up for a minute before it would actually start working on the epoxy. Spend the $23 and buy a heat gun - do not use a hairdryer because you will be left with air bubbles in your epoxy.
Slowly go over every inch of your countertop with your heat gun, held about 6-8 inches away from the surface. You'll see tons of air bubbles quickly rise to the surface and pop and then your epoxy will level out.
The heat makes your epoxy liquid again, so if you use too much heat on your edges, you'll just get more drips.
Using a paint stick, scrape the bottom edge of the countertops every 10 minutes to clear drips. If you don't, drips will harden like little icicles under your countertops and can damage your drawers when they open (trust me on this one!).
You're done! Now repeat these epoxy steps and add a second coat but do not paint a vein in this coat.
Again, video coming soon to help explain some of this. I wish I could have taken photos during the process, but you can't stop and do anything else while you're working with epoxy because of your limited working time. Keep this in mind if you have kids or pets!
I did this project by myself, but if you have large sections of uninterrupted countertop, it would be very helpful to have another set of hands mixing your next batch of epoxy for you or helping you smooth everything out if you mix one large batch.
remove your sink. (I didn't and I wishhhh I would have convinced my husband to help me with it) live and learn!
remove your painters tape immediately after applying each coat of epoxy or else it will harden with the tape in it!
do a small test batch on a scrap piece of wood before starting this project so you know what to expect.
wear old clothes and shoes that you will throw away after project (I needed new running shoes anyway, but still. Ha!)
See the epoxy journey on my Instagram and tag me if you try this project! @rhondajenkins Good Luck!