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I'm going to be totally honest. When my husband saw a method for creating faux marble countertops with epoxy and wanted me to try it, I shot that idea down real quick. "There is no way," I thought. It seemed really complicated, and working with epoxy was really intimidating to me. BUT I stand here today, as a survivor of this DIY, and I have to say...not only was it WAY easier than I anticipated, but I also really enjoyed it overall.
Before you start, you should know that this is definitely not a DIY-in-a-Day kind of project. It is a process, and allowing yourself a few days to complete this project is a key to success. This process can be performed on most surfaces, but if you have a particularly porous surface, more sanding and possibly sealing will be necessary than what I did. I have a complete supply list at the end of this post for anyone wanting to take their countertops from drab to fab, and you can find the videos of me completing this project on my Instagram page.
First and foremost, preparation is VITAL. Clean those countertops, and then clean them a couple more times. You want to make sure that your surface is clear of all grease and debris of any kind. In our case, preparation also included removing the cooktop and our drop-in sink. This step is not completely necessary, but I do think it made the process easier. Tarping everything off is extremely important, as you can imagine what getting epoxy on your countertops would be like. I used this pretaped plastic, and it was a lifesaver. I used painters tape just under the line of the countertops and then attached the plastic on top. At first, I had plastic covering all of my floor, but I learned that this was NOT the way to go, because it ended up being messier that way. Having a few inches from the cabinets covered on the floor was the best method for me.
Once everything is prepped (a necessary evil), painting can begin. I used this chalk paint for a variety of reasons. First off, chalk paint is the bomb because it adheres to almost anything, so minimal sanding, if any, is required. Second, it is thick and has great coverage. It also dries quickly, so you can get a lot of coats on in a small amount of time. I poured the paint right onto the countertop and used a foam roller to paint all the countertops. In our case, I ended up putting FIVE (yes, you read that correctly) coats onto our countertops. This will likely not be the case in every one else's homes. Our previous countertops had a piece of trim along the outside of them, and in order to make the faux marble appear seamless, I used joint compound to fill the crack. I sanded and repeated as necessary, so a couple of coats on top of the joint compound were required for our kitchen. In a normal situation, I would advise at least 3 coats.
After the white base coat was finished, it was time to create the veining. This was definitely a learning process, and it took me a couple of tries to get my method down. What's cool about this part of the project is that this is the part that allows you to totally customize your countertops to your taste. I recommend having an idea or inspiration picture to guide you, but I really just kind of let my brush go where it would. I did end up finding a method that I preferred, which is described as follows. First, I dipped my artist paint brush in grey chalk paint, and then blotted it on a damp sponge.
Once I had my line painted, I would go back with more grey paint and "dab" along the line to make it less stark. I then found a makeup blender sponge to be helpful in further blending the line edges. Once the grey was done, I took a soft paint brush and dipped into the white paint and very gently blotted along the outside of the vein to blend with the rest of the white countertop. Finally, I dipped a very fine artist paint brush into the grey paint and painted on some very thin lines sporadically along the veins. Trial and error is key here, and you an always paint over it if you don't like your results. I continued with this process until I was happy with the veining, and I am so happy with the way it turned out! Again, sometimes it is easier to see the process in video form, so you can find a profile highlight called "faux marble" on my Instagram page if you'd like
Once all the painting was finished, I took a fine sandpaper (220 grit) to all the white parts of the counter top, being very careful to not sand down the grey veining. This step ensured that the surface was as smooth as possible, since some texture does develop from the foam roller and veining process. I personally think that this step helps to make the countertop appear less hand painted.
And now, the moment we have all been waiting for! It's time to epoxy. If you're anything like me, and have never used this product before, you might be pretty nervous. I know I was. But looking back, I really did get myself all worked up for nothing. It is a little nerve wracking to know that once you create your epoxy mixture, you are on a bit of a time crunch, because the mixture does harden after some time. It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be, though. I needed multiple kits to cover all of our countertops. One mixed gallon will cover about 12 square feet, and we had roughly 42 square feet to cover. We had more than enough epoxy with 4 gallon kits. I mixed two different brands, and I found that I really liked this one. The kits will give instructions, but you will want to thoroughly mix the activator with the curing agent to form the epoxy mixture. I then poured a smaller amount of the mixed product into a smaller container so that it was easier to work with. And then... you just go for it! Pour on some epoxy, and working in sections, spread the epoxy with your squeegee so that it is covering the countertop and so that the mixture waterfalls off the sides of your counter on to the plastic. I also experimented with a couple different tools for this, and I found this squeegee to be my favorite. Again, this is a little bit of a learning process, but I promise that you will get used to it! And remember: THIS TABLETOP EPOXY IS SELF LEVELING. I found myself getting incredibly stressed about having the epoxy layer be completely smooth and even when I smoothed it. This is NOT necessary. It may take a couple of hours, but the epoxy will level out.
***THE MOST USEFUL TIP THAT I CAN GIVE YOU is to have any kind of antibacterial wipes on hand. Lots of them. Epoxy does NOT clean up well with soap and water, but antibacterial wipes have alcohol in them and they work really well. Figuring this out was a game changer for me, because let's be honest: this project is STICKY. Sticky, but oh so worth it, if you ask me!
Once all your epoxy is poured, you will find that it may have some air bubbles. Many will rise to the surface on their own, but a heat gun is recommended for the best results to get out any stubborn bubbles. I should say that I did not use a heat gun. I used a hair dryer and a blow torch. I DO NOT recommend either. The blow torch worked well, but ended up causing a slight yellow along some edges, and the blowdryer tended to cause a bit of rippling. After some research that I should have done before I attempted this project, I found that a heat gun is the way to go for bubble removal. Overall, though, I am incredibly happy with how smooth our counters turned out.
Lastly, it is important to remember that epoxy countertops are a TEMPORARY fix. They will likely yellow over the course of a handful of years, and eventually we will replace these with authentic stone countertops. However, for a small price, I now have beautiful, bright countertops that are such a step up from our previous laminate, and I would definitely try this DIY again! Next up? Backsplash!
What about you- would you give it a shot? If you want to get started, here is a supply list to make your life easier!
You've got this!