I haven’t posted anything in a while. A lot has gone on in the last year – a new house, a wedding (yes, mine!), a promotion and I’ve fallen behind on the blog. So what’s causing me to post again? This DIY was too good not to share.
I’m being completely transparent with you here. This will be the facts and the experience exactly how it happened for me. Read it, take what applies, and hopefully if you are unhappy with your current countertops and are dying for a redo this blog will help you out.
I read dozens of blogs on countertop redos before choosing and completing my own (the benefit of waiting a year to finally bite the bullet and dive in to the renovation – by that time there was already a wealth of information online and several had lived with their countertops for long periods of time and could attest to the durability). After all the research here’s a quick overview of what the project is going to entail:
1. $100-$300 depending on the square feet of countertop you’re looking to cover, and depending on the amount of supplies you are going to need to buy (some of you may already have brushes, craft paint, and/or buckets).
2. A full weekend or split the project into a few hours per day for about a week 🙂
3. Skill with taping and prepping your work area
4. Some sort of primer ( all surface)
5. Your design paints/tools (we’ll get more into this later)
6. Your high gloss sealant of choice. We went with Envirotex Lite which is a water clear reactive polymer compound. It cures to a thick, glossy coating in about 8 hours at 70°F, and reaches full strength and toughness in about 48 hours. As the company states, it’s a durable, resilient material and requires no polishing to produce a high gloss. What’s even better is that it usually only takes one coat to achieve your finish!
7. PATIENCE. You have to let the beautiful shiny top coat cure for quite some time… I read all different advice on the appropriate time to let it cure. In my experience it was dry to touch in 24-48 hours, but I didn’t actually set anything back on the countertops for about a week to ensure it was hardened and leveled. After a week I even set my Kitchen Aid Mixer on the countertops (which is heavy) and had no problems.
Still with me?? Do you want to see this afterwards?!
Okay, then here’s the supplies I chose to achieve the gorgeous white granite look I was going for:
1. Sandpaper to rough up the existing countertop before applying the primer. Honestly, I didn’t use it too much just a light ‘roughing’ – so you may be able to skip it depending on the type of countertop you’re starting with, I think ours was some lame linoleum in cream/white.
2. Plastic Tarp. Buy it in bulk. Even if you’re an expert at painting and don’t get paint outside your project area you will need the tarps to catch the dripping Envirotex off the sides of the countertops — and the whole point is to let it drip over. That’s how it self levels and covers the edges.
3. Cheap work gloves – you don’t want the Envirotex Lite on your hands.
4. Metallic Leaf – optional, but I’d suggest it. Do research on the type of granite you’re shooting for – a lot of the high end granites have metallic flakes in them and some glitter.
5. Fine Glitter – see above. I went with a pearlescent sheen white glitter – please use a fine glitter and not a course chunky one which may make your countertops look more like a 2nd grade art project.
6. Foam brushes. I’d read on a few blogs that you can use these to spread the Envirotex or to paint your edges but they were so cheap I really stuck to options # and wouldn’t recommend them. Actually my favorite spreading tools ended up being the 99cent plastic spreader things in the paint section so scoop up a few of these if you see them!
7. Natural Sponges. Buy a bunch! These are what you’re going to use to create the granite patterns – look for different shapes and sizes.
8. Painters Tape. Keeps your edges clean and holds your plastic tarps in place.
9. Paint brushes and tray for the primer. Really use whatever type you like – I wanted a very smooth look so I got cabinet/door foam rollers in two sizes and used a Purdy small angle brush for edges and corners.
10. Plastic containers/pitchers. This is to mix your Envirotex Lite and then to pour over your counter tops. You’re going to need a couple so you can keep mixing while one person is pouring! Unless you’re working with a very small area… which we were not.
11. Craft Paints. Seriously — that’s what you use. Cheap, Acryllic craft paints from your local craft store like a Michaels or Hobby Lobby. Try to pick colors that match the example granite you’re going for! We used White, metallic silver, black, and a tan.
12. Some sort of primer ( all surface). I used a warm gray color, and honestly it’s smart to go a little dark on this first layer it’ll just spot through and add depth to your granite pattern.
13. Envirotex Lite. We bought 8 of the two bottle 2sq. ft. kits and used 6 for our kitchen, looking back at it I wished I’d used a little more up front but I was so nervous we’d run out! It covers pretty much exactly like the bottle and website say so just trust the Professional Tips.
14. A Partner (not pictured). The beginning and prep work you can tackle yourself but a friend really comes in handy for the Envirotex part at the end!
Okay, still with me? You’re going to start by prepping your work area. Clear everything off the countertops!! And snap a nice ‘Before’ photo – so you can do the comparison once you’re done and give yourself an amazing pat on the back. Or three. Here are our before shots:
THIS island is what drove me to try a DIY countertop. Besides that nasty little burn spot in the middle that I used to cover with a slate cutting board, any time people would set down their glasses it would stain the countertop. Even water. I mean, the water ring wouldn’t wipe right off – you’d literally need to break out lifesaver Mr. Eraser every. single. time. LAME!
And now, tape it off like you would any paint project… make sure you have plastic tarps EVERYWHERE. Like a Dexter kill room. I didn’t take any photos right after tarping, but here’s after tarping and the layer of primer:
We even decided to do the little coffee nook that had white tile just to see how it would take the treatment – so here’s a peak at that area primed and ready to go!
Alright… now comes the artistic part.
By now you should’ve already researched the type of granite you were looking for and know what you’re trying for. Take out your natural sponges, acrylic paint colors, and paper plates. I squirted out my paints on the paper plates and got going with my first coat!
For the first (major) coat I used a white and a metallic light silver. Honestly, the hubs picked the light silver and I was shocked. I’m usually the glitter fiend… and he was so right! The one metallic paint pick thrown in with the other acrylic paint on the sponge added depth. He nailed it.
Here’s what the first layer should look like as you go across the primer….
Can you already see the metallic paint glisten a little?
And this is going to be the difficult part for you. If you did the first coat right it’s going to look pretty good at this point, and your husband may even try to talk you out of the next step “don’t push your luck!!” but push your luck. The next few layers are what make it so realistic. I won’t lie to you, it’s going to look WORSE next before it gets better. That’s because the next step is to add your accent colors. It kinda ends up looking spotted, like a funky Dalmatian… I really don’t know else how to explain so… here’s kinda what mine started looking like:
OMG I know — but I warned you!!!! Just be patient…. you still have another layer to go!
Alright, then once it dries you continue with the FINAL LAYER of acrylic paint. We ended up spanning this work over several nights during the week. I’d get home from work, do a quick layer of acrylic, and we’d eat dinner etc. It dries pretty quickly so you could probably knock it all out in a few hours but I was doing my best not to rush the project. The final layer should be a majority of the color you want to be your main color of granite. I went back to the white and metallic light silver combo.
When applying your natural sponge some tips are 1) Make sure the sponge doesn’t get too lubricated with the paint because it will stop making a pattern!! You can always rinse it out and dry it with paper towels 2) Leave some of the DARK colors peaking through… in random sections. You’ll use these to create depth and interest in the granite! Note: while the last layer of paint is still a bit damp lightly tap your super fine glitter in certain areas so that it’ll stick.
I ended up using the ‘depth’ spots to decide where to apply my silver leaf. After the final layer of paint is dry, take some tweezers and apply flakes of the silver leaf down in various areas of the granite. There’s not really a right or wrong way to do this, go back to the photos you saved of your ‘wish list’ granite and see how the metallic flake shows through. I tried to focus on adding 1-2 small leafs of silver in the ‘deep’ areas of my pattern.
Once you finish laying out all the metallic leaf pieces to your liking you’re ready to go with the BEST step – the shiny sealant!
After reading about several options to seal your countertops I was sold on the Envirotex Lite even though its application sounded a little demanding because let’s just be honest – the results are unreal y’all. Make sure both you and your partner have read the tips on the website for how to apply and that you’ve read through a couple of blog tutorials and watched a YouTube video or two and you should be good to go! I really liked this tutorial where they even detail using a blow torch to knock out any air bubbles that may form during application. I did not use a blow torch myself, but we did invest it a little Crème Brule torch like this:
It did the trick perfectly and I wasn’t worried about burning/scalding anything.
I also liked the detail in this post and they used Envirotex Lite as well.
When you pour it on and spread it over the countertop you should see something like THIS:
Incredible, right?! That’s when we knew we had made the right choice! The hardest thing is not to touch the top while it’s drying. Well, actually, the hardest thing may be pacing around all the countertop edges in your kitchen after you pour and spread the Envirotex to ensure there are no hardening ‘droplets’ on the edges. Remember, you want the Envirotex to drip over the sides of the countertops because A: this is how it self-levels and B: you need the edges covered as well. The best tip I can give for the edges is to wait ~5min or more until the coating starts to feel tacky and slightly hardened, then go back over the edges with your plastic spreader tool. If you do this too early you’ll have to make a second and possibly third trip around the countertops to ensure you got all the drips, but I promise the end result is worth ALL this work.
Now, remember when I walked you through the major steps at the beginning of the post and we ended with having PATIENCE?? You have to let the beautiful shiny top coat cure for quite some time… Once again, I read all different advice on the appropriate time to let it cure. In my experience it was dry to touch in 24-48 hours, but I didn’t actually set anything back on the countertops for about a week to ensure it was hardened and leveled. After a week I even set my Kitchen Aid Mixer on the countertops (which is heavy) and had no problems.
I’ve seen plenty of faux granite makeover blogs with black/dark granite as well as some earthy tans but I hadn’t seen a white version yet so if you have any questions on how I got the color I was going for feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you!!
Overall I’m even happier than I could’ve imagined with the result. When I first began this project, I had ideas of white granite to compliment my back cabinets similar to these pins:
And I ended up with this:
And a few close ups near the sink so you can check out the detail and edges…
We did decide to re-caulk along our back splash after the epoxy fully dried to give it a nice clean line. Now I just need to get up the guts to replace my backsplash one day!!
And if you were wondering how the treatment looks over plain white tile here’s some snap shots of the little coffee nook we did with the same technique:
Basically you can still see the lines of the tile but you cannot feel the ridges because the Envirotex Lite self levels over the indentions. It looks like granite subway tiles to me!
And just to remind you of the difference it made in the total transformation of our kitchen!
**Update: We’ve lived with these countertops for four months now and no sign of wear and tear! They wipe down great with a simple Clorox disinfecting wipe, way easier to maintain than the sucky laminate we had before.
**Update: 2 years later – see what they look like NOW here.
I’ve shared a lot in this post, but I want to hear from you!
So tell me…. after reading all this, would you try faux granite tops yourself?!
In your dream kitchen, what type of countertops would you pick if cost wasn’t an issue??
What’s the biggest remodel you’ve tackled in your house so far?
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