January 08, 2019

Completing the Epoxy Countertop!


Today starts the second week of January, and I'm still doing good with my goals. Giving up the alcohol is still challenging, but I haven't had any. Yesterday, we went out to dinner for Eli's birthday, and it was hard not to order a beer, especially when other people do. I had a tonic with lime, and focused on conversation.

Eli turned 13 years old yesterday, can you believe it? When I started this blog, he was only five. And when I started losing weight, he was only three! It blows my mind that I have two teenagers now. I really don't feel old enough to have two teens. Who are both taller than I am now.

Jerry and I bought a couple of balloons and made a happy birthday sign, then we went to the school and decorated Eli's locker while he was in class. I remember my mom doing that for me one time in junior high, and I thought it was so cool. When he got home, he was carrying the balloons, and he said that he knew it was from us because he recognized my handwriting.

Jerry was off work yesterday, so we used the day to finally work on finishing the island countertop. I can't believe I hadn't thought of it sooner, but the bathroom off of our bedroom is big enough to fit the countertop in there--so it made an easy way to control the temperature by using a space heater. The air temp MUST be at LEAST 75 degrees for 72 hours to cure the epoxy. This was stressed enormously on the instructions for the epoxy.

So, remember I said we decided not to use the nickels for the countertop, because it would have taken a few hundred dollars worth of nickels to cover it? I came up with the another solution when I was sitting in the living room, and I set my water down on one of the funny coasters that I'd bought when I was in Kansas City:


They always get a laugh when people come over and use them, and I thought, "Those would be so cool to put in epoxy on the countertop!" I searched online, and it would have been crazy expensive as well--the coasters are $5 each. And magnets (2x3 inches) weren't much cheaper. Since we didn't really need them to be coasters or magnets (they were just going to be covered with epoxy anyway), I simply printed out a TON of them onto card stock--well, 86, anyway. It felt like a ton.

After printing, I had to cut each one out carefully. The most tedious part was that I then coated each side of them with Mod Podge to seal them (so that the epoxy wouldn't make the ink bleed). With 86 of them, and hand painting each front and back with the Mod Podge, it took me the length of two and a half Lifetime movies to get them prepared, haha.



The epoxy was the scary part. The instructions were so specific, and had to be followed right to the letter--and we only had one shot, so I didn't want to screw it up. We brought the countertop into our bathroom, and set it on some 2x4's (to protect the trim on the sides).


Finally, I glued each of the cards down to the countertop. We made sure it was level, and then we got our supplies ready.


We turned on the space heater, and the bathroom got very warm very quickly. I don't know the temp in there, but I would guess about 85. As long as it's over 75, then we're good. I stripped down to almost nothing, because I didn't want to have any pet hair get carried in on my clothes and get on the countertop (forever sealed in the epoxy).

First, I had to mix up a small batch of epoxy to use as a "seal" coat--you paint it on with a paint brush to seal the surface and make sure there aren't air bubbles. The epoxy comes in two separate containers (two quarts per container, for a total for one gallon when mixed). One container contains the "hardener" and the other contains the "resin".

To mix it, you pour one part hardener into a plastic measuring container and then add one part resin. Then, I had to mix it really well with a stir stick for exactly four minutes (too little and it won't be mixed enough, too much and it will start to cure in the container). If making a whole gallon batch at once, you have to use a specific stirring bit on a drill.


Each time you mix a batch, it has to be in a brand new measuring container with a brand new stick. Like I said, this is so specific! I was so worried I was going to screw it up. Meanwhile, I was dripping with sweat in the sauna bathroom as I mixed the epoxy. As soon as I started painting on the seal coat, I felt a little panicked. It didn't feel the way I thought it would--it was much stickier--but I did the best I could, and it started looking really cool!


After the seal coat, you pour on a "flood coat", which automatically levels itself to 1/8 of an inch. Our countertop edge goes 1/4 inch over the countertop itself, so we would need to do two separate flood coats, 4-6 hours between them. After pouring on the first flood coat, I was really worried that we wouldn't have enough epoxy to fill the entire area with the second.

The edges of the cards that I'd glued down kept wanting to float to the top, and it was hard to keep pushing them down long enough for the epoxy's weight to hold them in place. Meanwhile, as soon as you finish pouring a flood coat, you have to use a blow torch to sweep across the whole thing--this pops any bubbles that form. It was so satisfying to watch!


Then, we just had to wait 4-6 hours and pour on another flood coat. After four hours, I mixed up the rest of the epoxy, and carefully poured it as evenly as I could over the entire countertop. Just as I suspected, we were short by a very small amount (maybe a quart) to make the top flush with the edges.

I immediately ordered another gallon of epoxy, which will arrive as soon as this one is done curing--which means this will take six days instead of three! But the epoxy is expensive ($80 per gallon) so I didn't want to order too much. Since the paper takes up less space than the nickels would have, we were short by just a touch. To add more epoxy to what we have done, we'll have to lightly sand the top with very fine sandpaper, wipe off the dust, and then pour another flood coat.

BUT... I love love love how it's turning out! Thankfully, I didn't screw up the epoxy process, and I really like how it looks. I can't wait until it's totally finished so that I can put it back on the island.


That is what it looks like now. It needs to sit and cure in the heated bathroom until we get the final gallon of epoxy on Thursday.

Anyway, I like this so much more than the nickels! The epoxy was stressful and definitely a pain to use (especially considering the 72-hour cure time), but I think it's completely worth it. Next, it's time to work on replacing our flooring. I'm pretty sure we'll have the money this month to buy the materials. I'm excited to get working on it :)


14 comments:

  1. wow, that's so cool!

    i continue to be impressed by all your DIY skills!

    can't wait to hear about the floors... and yay for continuing to stay on budget! sounds like the year is off to a great start (apart from the bronchitis.) i have a lipoma too and probably need to get it out. mine is a lot bigger than yours so I am not excited about that!

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    1. Thank you! I'm just impressed that I didn't screw it up, with all the very specific instructions, haha.

      For what it's worth, removing the lipoma didn't hurt a bit. Although, like you said, mine was smaller; I'm glad I had it removed though, because now I don't have to worry about it. (Since I tend to worry about everything!)

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  2. Looks great, those pictures are awesome! Can't wait to see the finished project.

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    1. Thank you! They make me laugh every time I read them, so I figured it'd be a great display in the kitchen :)

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  3. Love the postcard idea. It's so cute. I was thinking you were going to use recycled beer bottle caps when you did not tell us. Good choice!

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    1. The beer bottle caps look really cool! I've seen some bar tops done with them. I wanted to choose something unique, so I'm glad I went with this. And thrilled that it actually worked! ha

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  4. AMAZING!! I have always wanted to do this for a table top or something!!! So cool!!!!

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  5. Whether its your skills or YOUR PATIENCE I am so impressed. I could never do this but what a great conversation piece when you have people over too.

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  6. My OCD thanks your tremendously for fixing that bottom right picture before pouring the epoxy :) :) . It looks terrific!

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    1. Hahaha! I thought the same thing when I was uploading the photo. The pic was actually before I glued it all down. That would have driven me crazy, too!

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  7. I am loving your kitchen over-haul! I started mine over the Summer and finally put up my last cabinet door last month; I used an epoxy kit for "new" counter tops and as much of a PITA it was to work with, the results are amazing and well worth all the curing time! I can't wait to hear about what you're doing with your floors, that is the one thing I haven't done. Self home reno's are exhausting and my mental capacity to figure out my flooring is at a zero :-)

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  8. You should be very proud of yourself- I can't believe you taught yourself how to do all of this. Very impressive!

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  9. That looks so cool! It's like a special countertop that would be produced to fit in with a themed bar or restaurant. You guys have done a really professional job.
    Steph

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  10. Hi Katie,
    I’ve been a silent reader for years now but the other day I thought of you while I was enjoying a glass of alcohol free wine! Have you heard of these?(they make sparkling wine too!) it’s not grape juice or anything like that but actual wine from which the alcohol is then removed! It’s delicious and relatively low in calories! I know of a couple of companies like Free and St. Regis that make them but I’d just ask at a big wine store (I buy mine at Total Wine but I don’t know if they exist in Michigan) or google where in your area you can find them..
    I thought this might help you with your goal of abstaining alcohol this year!
    Greetings from Virginia!

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