When we bought our house back in 2011 it was only 10 months old. The couple who had built it ended up having to move back north due to work, so even though many of the finishes were not what I would’ve chosen, it was the best option on the market at the time. The downside of it being so new was that the ol’ hubbs did not always agree with my many ideas for home improvements. After all, why would we tear up a perfectly good, new kitchen, right? Ugh.
After a couple years of living with this dark cave (also known as our kitchen) that you see below, my husband FINALLY agreed to let me paint our cabinets white. He helped with the paint project, which took up about three weekends of our life that we’ll never get back, but the end result was totally worth it.
Our ‘new’ white cabinets were a great start and held me over for a few years, but eventually I just could not live with these brown granite countertops any longer (I know, I know….first world problems). I love cool, clean tones, so they’re just not my thing.
So for about a good year I would intermittently go down the Google rabbit hole looking for solutions to cover our existing granite. I was mainly looking for ways to paint over the granite, which I’ve learned is nearly impossible, as paint just doesn’t really stick to this surface. In a perfect world my husband would’ve allowed me to call in a profesh to install marble countertops, or really anything with a white base…..I just wanted something, anything that was more bright/clean looking.
I must’ve been using the wrong search terms during my year of intermittent google research, because nothing useful ever popped up. But one day….one magical day in the fall of 2017….my google search results finally delivered something that restored my faith in my kitchen. Something popped up and gave me hope. Something popped up and showed me I really could have my dream kitchen. And I could have my dream kitchen without spending thousands on new countertops. Something popped up that was even better than new countertops (at least in my opinion;)).
That magical fall day was the day I stumbled upon Stone Coat Countertops and my DIY world was officially rocked forever.
I suggest visiting their website for a wealth of info about the product (make sure you scroll down for my discount code before you make any purchases;)..and please note this post is NOT SPONSORED! In a nutshell, Stone Coat Countertops is a food grade epoxy that can be applied to any type of countertop surface, OR you can even construct your own countertops out of MDF (they do a detailed tutorial on that here). It’s incredibly durable, so this is definitely a good permanent solution. There’s a video where they put a pot of boiling water directly on the surface, as well as a hot frying pan, and there’s no damage. I think there’s another one where he even pours out some alcohol on the countertop and lights it on fire to demonstrate that it’s heat resistant. It’s also scratch resistant, but obviously you don’t want to use the surface as a cutting board, as it will scratch like any other solid surface when abused.
So armed with inspiration, I spent the next month pouring over their website and youtube videos showing allllll the different techniques to recreate different finishes. They even have a technique that mimics concrete countertops. Seriously, the sky’s the limit with this product, but I figured I’d go with a classic marble look.
After doing a hefty amount of research, I still had a few lingering questions, so I sent off an email through the contact page on the SCC website, and within a day I got a friendly reply from the founder himself, Mike Quist. He is just as chipper via email as he is in his YouTube tutorials, and answered all my questions thoroughly. He even welcomed more questions should I have any, which put me at ease a bit since I knew there was great customer support in case I ran into any issues.
To prep for this DIY undertaking, outside of watching hours and hours of Mike’s youtube tutorials, I also googled marble slabs to see what look I gravitated towards. I had no idea just how many different types of marble there are, but holy balls…..there are A LOT. I saw soooo many cool looking slabs, but in the end I decided I really wanted something that was primarily white, versus the typical carrara marble that’s commonly used in kitchens. Even if that meant it may end up not looking as natural, that’s the look I wanted. Honestly, I’d be cool with plain white countertops, but why not add a bit of flair?
Once you watch a few of Mike’s video tutorials, you’ll understand that you have to work kinda quick with this product. After a batch of the product is mixed up and poured out onto the surface, you’ve got about an hour to work with it before it starts the process of firming up (so it gets more tacky). In light of this fact, I didn’t want to ‘choke’ as soon as I poured the epoxy on the counter, so I wanted to make sure I had a clear plan in place of how I wanted my design to go. That’s when I decided to do a little rough sketch of our kitchen lay out so I could plan out which direction(s) I wanted my marble veining to run. I know it may not seem like a big deal, but this small step helped tremendously. I wanted long veins to make it appear that each piece of countertop was part of a large slab, while also having the veining on each separate section of the kitchen flow in a slightly different direction. I felt this would make the whole look more natural and cohesive. Hopefully this will all make sense once you see my sketch below (I’m not an artist, so please bear with my drawing skills;)).
I should mention that my intention with this post isn’t to do a full tutorial, as there’s nobody better to guide you through the process than Mike Quist himself, but here’s a quick run down of the basic steps.
- Clean, Degrease, Sand existing countertops
- Prime existing countertops with Stone Coat Countertops Bonding Primer
- Lightly sand, clean off dust, then apply your base paint (This step is optional, but I used their white base paint on ours since I really wanted a solid white foundation. I also used this paint to tint the color coat of epoxy)
- Lightly sand, clean dust, then you’re ready for your color coat of epoxy….this is when the fun really begins;)
- After about 4-6ish hours scrape off drips with a credit card (there is a magic window when this is super easy….I’m going off memory, but I believe 4-6 hours after application worked pretty well)
- After 24 hours, lightly sand the dried first coat of epoxy, then clean dust
- Apply clear “flood coat’ of epoxy to seal in your beautiful work.:)
- Sand and polish to desired sheen (it’s been almost a year and we STILL haven’t done this step bc they look so gorgeous so we haven’t felt the need to, but we will eventually;))
***Please note that there are so many details you must know in addition to these steps to make sure your project is a success (which you can find here), so DO NOT refer to this post this when tackling the project yourself.
Regarding the paint supplies, Mike advises in his videos that you can purchase base paints and tints at your local hardware store, but you have to be sure you get the proper formula (ex. you cannot use latex paint to tint the epoxy!). Outside of some mica powders I purchased on amazon, and some spray paints, I ended up just using Stone Coat Countertop products to make sure everything I used was compatible.
I can’t tell you all how excited I was just to be covering the granite with primer. This girl was positively giddy to be saying goodbye to alllll this brown and gold. It just doesn’t match anything else in my house.
After the primer went on. Already like a million times better, right??
After applying my white base color. It’s gettin real now!
It’s super important to make sure you sand between each coat to help give it some teeth for bonding. Granite is not the best surface to paint or bond anything to, so it needs all the help it can get.
Tip of what NOT to do…..don’t leave your kitchen faucet halfway attached and propped up like I did. Michael didn’t really want any part of this project, so I had done everything myself up to this point of needing to remove the faucet, but plumbing is not my strong suit. He was busy and in a bit of ‘a mood’ when I needed help removing it, so I called my dad for plumbing advice, which is when Michael finally decided to “help.” I didn’t want to push my luck, so I told him he didn’t need to remove it completely, but that proved to be a stupid decision. What a giant pain in the arse it ended up being trying to work around it. Made it harder to prep and tape off the sink, trowel the epoxy, AND because I wasn’t able to do a great job of smoothing out the epoxy around the faucet, when we went to replace the faucet a few months ago we had to retrofit rings around the base of our new faucet and soap dispenser pump to cover up my flawed finish (our original faucet had a wider base that covered the flaws).
Of course I had The Office crew keeping me company;)
The least fun part of the project. Prepping everything for a whole mess of epoxy. I’m pretty thorough and layered up, but still had a few breaches. I caught all of them as they happened, as they were mainly due to stepping on the draped plastic causing it to come untaped. This stuff will be in little pools all over your flooring, so you have to do a great job protecting it. I used a combination of plastic drop cloths with old sheets and blankets over top so that the fabric would absorb some of the epoxy, rather than it running freely across a plastic surface. The sheets and blankets made it more pleasant to walk on too, instead of having plastic sticking to my feet and tripping me up.
We had four dogs and two cats in the house at the time, so I joined together two of these 8 panel coated metal dog pens that I had laying around (I have tons of dog paraphernalia in this house;)) to block off the kitchen. The last thing I needed was a dog running through a pool of epoxy in my kitchen and tracking it all over the house and furniture. I also made sure I moved the sofa far enough away so that our kitties couldn’t leap onto my beautiful epoxy finish before it cured. Additionally, for basically three days we tried to take the ‘long way’ when walking through our house so that we didn’t kick up dust and fur that could potentially stick to the surface. Even if a piece of fur or hair does get dried into your beautiful finish, or if a bug flies into it…..have no fear, because this can all be fixed during the very last step of sanding and polishing (YAY!).
Per Mike’s YouTube tutorials, I “fogged on” some dark charcoal gray spray paint to add some depth and a more natural element to the finish.
Removing the drips once the epoxy started to get tacky.
This was the last section that I did, and naturally this was my favorite since I had finally figured out what the heck I was doing. In this section I used more of Mike’s “chopping” technique to blend the veining. I wasn’t 100% satisfied with how my veining was turning out on the sections by my stove and fridge, where I was mainly just sort of swirling the colors through the epoxy with a paint stick (I’m a major perfectionist, so I tend to be overly critical), but my husband thinks the sections by the stove and fridge are the neatest looking, so……¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Here’s one of the ‘swirly’ areas by my fridge. It definitely looks more dramatic, but I feel like it looks less natural (even though there are soooo many types of marble and I’m pretty certain there’s a marble slab somewhere on this earth that probably looks just like this;)).
P.S. I apologize for the photo quality! We shot with a Nikon DSLR and with my iPhone, and I think all of these pics are my iPhone pics. My house is soooooo hard to photograph in natural light bc it stays quite dark in here. I also took some snaps at night under artificial light where you can see the beautiful shimmer of the mica powders (keep scrolling for those;)).
As you can see, we’ve since changed our cabinet hardware, faucet, and I painted our existing light fixtures gold. And right before we did the counters, we added moulding to bring our cabinets up to the ceiling. It looks so much brighter with the moulding reflecting light, vs when we had a huge shadow looming along the top of the cabinets. What a difference, right??
One of the areas that I really wish I would have “chopped” to blend in the veins in a bit, but at least Michael thinks it looks cool;)
I had to work strategically, so the first piece that I poured epoxy on was this bar area. Of course I had the lower level all covered up with plastic while I worked on the bar, as part of the process involves troweling the epoxy to the edges until in runs over. By the time I completed the other two sections of countertops by the stove and fridge, and was ready to work on this lower level, the bar area had stopped dripping and started to tack up. So it worked out perfectly and I was able to remove the plastic barrier and finish this lower section.
**All of the pics below were taken at night under artificial kitchen lighting.
These two pics (one above and one below this) show the difference between me “chopping” the veining with a brush (as seen below) vs just swirling the colors into the epoxy (as seen above). I personally prefer the below look. It’s more subtle and natural IMHO, and kinda wish I had done the whole project like that, but it’s not a huge deal that they look different since they’re on separate slabs of countertop, on opposite sides of the kitchen.
Mike recommends practicing on a scrap of wood or granite first so you can perfect your technique, which is great advice. Unfortunately I’m an ‘all in’ kinda girl, so I just went for it. Plus I figured once I get tired of the marble look, I can always completely change things up in a few years and refinish the counters with a totally different look:)
I randomly added a few hints of this champagne gold spray paint and this slightly gold iridescent mica powder throughout the project, since most natural marble does have a gold effect. You can see it in the pic above, and the one below as well. Photos seriously do not do it justice though.
It’s soooooo hard to capture on camera, but below you can see the faint shimmer of one of the pearl iridescent mica powders I used. When the light hits it right, it really is just stunning.
I’ll link everything I used below, but note that I probably went a bit overboard with all the paints and mica powders I purchased….oops.
In addition to the items I’ve linked, I also purchased a charcoal gray spray paint, and a light gray one that I grabbed at wal-mart and no longer have the cans (and don’t recall the color names), but honestly I didn’t use them much during the project, as I soon realized the light gray paint had a blue tint I didn’t care for, and the dark charcoal one I only used to “fog” on as a base before I poured on the white tinted epoxy. I relied mostly on this dark gray mica powder for my marble veining. If an area got to be too dark for me, or if I didn’t like how it was turning out, I simply sprayed on some of this white spray paint and started over on that area. Keeping in mind I had to work fast, which is why it was actually better to just cover up the mistakes and start over.
I did not collaborate with Stone Coat Countertops on this project, and I wanted to be sure I was 100% satisfied with the product before I endorsed it. It’s now been almost a year since I completed my countertops, and they are still stunning and have held up extraordinarily well, so I definitely feel confident recommending SCC to others.
If you’re nervous about tackling a project like this, I just want you all to know that I did the entire thing on my own, with the exception of the faucet (semi) removal that I talked about earlier, and after seeing the incredible finished results of the first application (the color coat), my husband actually wanted to help with the clear coat (“flood” coat). I think he mostly wanted to play with the torch, but he helped nonetheless;) My point is, if I can tackle this product basically on my own, pretty much anyone can;)
I do have a video of me completing the first section of countertop. It’s not meant to be a detailed tutorial, but I do describe the steps I’m taking along the way. I also do a quick rundown of all the other changes we’ve made to our kitchen since moving in.
Here are a few things I learned during this project:
- If you’re not planning on sanding/polishing soon after completing your project, make sure you take every precaution to minimize dust/fur particles landing on your project before it dries. Make sure there aren’t any drafts in the room (turn off the HVAC and be careful with open windows). I also avoided wearing long sleeves or baggy clothing and pulled my hair up. When we did the clear coat, I actually made Michael go topless, and I wore a sports bra lol. Basically every article of clothing in our house has some level of dog and cat fur on it, so I guess we went a little extreme to try to prevent any fur from getting stuck on our beautiful new counters. Then while they dried, we tried to walk slowly if we needed to pass through the house near the kitchen so we didn’t kick up dust. Otherwise, we really tried to take the long way around the house to avoid walking near the counters until they dried completely.
- I used both these spray bottles, and these squirt bottles for my mica powder/alcohol mixture, but the squirt bottles worked best and got clogged up less.
- If you have pets, or kids (or a cranky husband who doesn’t like to be inconvenienced), I’d recommend doing the work overnight after everyone goes to bed. I started taping off everything one week night while Michael was winding down for the evening, and then after he and the dogs went to bed, I started working my magic;) By the time they got up in the morning, the messy part had been completed and cleaned up, and the drying process was in full effect (so I wasn’t as paranoid having them move about the house).
- It’s better to have too much product, than not enough. Technically, according to our square footage a single two gallon kit is sufficient for my counters; however, I used a little over half the product during the color coat, so when we went to apply the clear coat, we tried to use as little as possible to make sure we had enough to finish the job. By the time we got to the last section of countertop we had more than enough, but unfortunately the first section we did (the bar) didn’t level out to a perfectly smooth finish bc we had felt like we needed to be uber conservative and didn’t pour enough product on it. It’s only really noticeable to us, but still irksome since we ended up having more than enough product at the end, but there’s really nothing we could do at that point since the bar was already partially dry, and the remainder of the product was already mixed.
- You’ll want to avoid leaving heavy objects (or even bowls, glasses, etc) for long periods of time for the first few months while the product is fully curing, as glasses left over night can leave a slight ring/indentation. Although, it’s really hardly noticeable, and this is actually only a big deal if you never plan to polish the surface. Otherwise, any flaws or scratches can be buffed and polished back to a flawless finish, which is one of the miracles of this product. It’s truly is just as durable as most countertop materials on the market today.
- Don’t over-think it, and have fun being creative:)
We spent less than $400 re-doing our counters, and that includes alllll the paints, and me going overboard on mica powders, brushes, etc. That’s way less than brand new countertops, let alone actual MARBLE countertops, and I love that I had so much control over the overall look. I seriously LOVE our new countertops, and I’m sooooo sooooooo thankful I came across Stone Coat Countertops on that fateful fall day. I actually love cleaning my kitchen now!;)
As promised, I linked almost everything I used in the widget below, with the exception of the gray spray paint, the drop cloths and masking tape I used, and the products I ordered directly from SCC, which I linked earlier in this post. I also linked our new kitchen faucet, which I’m IN LOVE with, and it was such a great deal, as well as a few other recent practical purchases for our kitchen.
What projects would you like to tackle with Stone Coat Countertops? Let me know in the comments below, and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!
SCC now sells their epoxy kits on Amazon for even easier purchasing:)
If you like it, pin it!
**May 2023 UPDATE**
It’s been six years since I completed my countertops…..yes six! And they’re still going strong! I haven’t done a single thing to them, other than every day cleaning. So as far as durability goes, we’ve had no issues and they’ve been maintenance free. Keep in mind that I applied this product over granite, which might make a difference when compared to wood substrates.
Where it’s fallen a bit short, which likely won’t come as a surprise to most of you, is the fact that white epoxy finishes will eventually amber, which is a nicer way of saying they’ll start turning yellow. I’m almost embarrassed to say this now, but frankly when I completely this project back in 2017 I had zero clue that this was a risk with epoxy, but in hindsight it makes total sense. The dozen or so marble tutorials I watched on the SCC youtube channel back in 2017 made no mention of it. Nor did Mike Quist when I emailed with him about my project. Perhaps I overlooked a video where it was mentioned. I don’t know. But the good news is in 2023 there are now so many resources available for epoxy DIYers, that I think most people (even epoxy novices like myself) are aware of this issue with white or light colored finishes.
On that note, SCC has released some additional products in the six years since I completed my project (as well as their tape-dam technique, which wasn’t a ‘thing’ at SCC in 2017). One of those products is an epoxy called “art coat” which many claim will prevent the yellowing. I’m not completely sure of the entire basis for this claim, but art coat is supposed to be more UV resistant. Unfortunately, this product has still proven to turn yellow as well by many of its users. Honest professionals will attest to this fact, while some will either deny reality, or place blame on the person who completed the project by saying their was an error in their application. So many variables can cause epoxy to yellow….all epoxy, that is. Heat, sun, and chemical off-gassing, just to name a few. My kitchen gets zero sunlight, but that didn’t matter. It still yellowed. By far the worst spot is over the dishwasher…..yep, from the heat generated by the appliance. Thankfully not all areas are as severe, and truly most people wouldn’t notice or think twice about it. Really think about it, how often do you study other people’s countertops? Usually our attention is more focused on what’s on the countertops.
Two other areas where it’s significantly more discolored is where we stack our mail and other papers, so there must be some type of chemical reaction between the paper and the epoxy that accelerated the yellowing in those spots. So we keep stacking stuff there, and guess what? Nobody notices because they’re always covered with junk.
If we didn’t have white cabinets and a white backsplash (note: I simply painted over our existing builder grade tile backsplash), then it wouldn’t be quite so noticeable. Outside of the dishwasher and paper-stacking areas, the remaining surfaces don’t really look yellow per se. They’re just no longer as stark white as when I completed the project. I can happily live with them for the time being, as the overall look is still 1000x better than the dark brown granite.
In the future we would like to redesign our kitchen island, so when that time comes we’ll likely get new countertops just for the island, and I’ll probably re-do the perimeter countertops with SCC epoxy. Though honestly I would be perfectly happy to keep the perimeter countertops as they currently are (if they coordinate well with whatever we choose for the island), as they’re not as discolored as the island.
So to summarize, I still recommend this product if you’re DIYing on a budget. If you’re dead set on a marble finish, I would do a mix of gray tones, and note that any white used is unlikely to stay that way. It may not turn yellow, but over time it will not stay the same shade of white.
Hopefully this update has been useful, and I apologize if it’s come too late for some of you. If I had known this was an issue prior to taking on my own countertop project, I probably would have chosen a different color combo, but here we are….