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DIY: How to create custom countertops that look like real stone

Houston – From granite to marble to poured concrete, the countertops in your home can take your look to a whole new level. But stone is expensive, and that’s before you pay someone to install it. You can get gorgeous counters for a fraction of the cost of real stone, and no one will know the difference.

Epoxy countertops

Epoxy has been around for years, but now people are using it to cover countertops. You can pour epoxy over any material from MDF to Formica to granite or even glass. It is super easy to do (if you do it correctly). To get a lesson, we went to RK3 Designs in Seguin where owner Rhonda Dracoulis showed us how to create a beautiful countertop from an old piece of laminate.

The process

“Prepping is 99% of your success,” Dracoulis said. She said most DIYers don’t give themselves enough time for this and it is the most important part of the project.

“Epoxy is very sticky,” she explained. “It will find any little crack that it can and get through there.”

That’s why she said you should account for at least half a day to a full prep day.

  • Start by covering your floors in the area where you will pour the epoxy with plastic. Then put brown paper on top. Tape those down so that no epoxy will get on your floor.
  • Tape underneath the counter you plan to cover. Then go over that taped area with plastic sheets, taping those on top so the epoxy can drip from the counter, slide down the plastic and onto the floor covering.
  • Use painter’s tape and more brown paper to protect your backsplash behind the countertop.
  • You have to make sure that you have no 90-degree angles on the edges of your counters. If you do, you can use a router to smooth those so that the epoxy will roll over the edge.
  • Before you pour the epoxy, you have to paint the counter surface with a bonding primer that will allow the epoxy to adhere to the counter. Use two coats; and wait at least four hours for the primer to dry.
  • Next, use two coats of Behr Paint and Primer. Let your countertop dry overnight.

You are now ready to pour the epoxy.

Dracoulis prefers and sells the brand Stonecoat Countertops. You can buy all of the ingredients based on what you want your counters to look like. Some options include the epoxy, tinting, diamond dust and other materials to make veining and other features.

She says you should be careful when you buy epoxy that you know its properties. Some are flammable.

Dracoulis mixed all of the materials, putting everything in individual solo cups that we then just poured on the countertop. We put on latex gloves and smoothed the epoxy across the counter with our hands. Because epoxy is self-leveling, it will run over the edges of your countertop, lay flat and dry.

Unlike real stone, where you may have to live with a variation or imperfection, epoxy countertops can be customized exactly how you want them. If you’re buying the products to do it yourself, you’ll pay about $5 per square foot. Rhonda also makes them for customers who want the savings, but don’t want to do it themselves. She measures and does the install for about half of what you would pay for real stone.

Want to learn more?

Rhonda posts thorough training videos so you can see all of the steps involved in pouring epoxy countertops. She also holds training workshops in Seguin. Pro classes are for people who want to start their own business creating countertops for customers. Epoxy 101 is for the home DIYer who wants to learn the techniques to create their own countertops.