Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Kitchen Project - Faux Marble Counters Sort of How-To



 (For more before pics and full room pics of the kitchen, click here.  And I think I have one more post after this and then I'll stop yammering on about the kitchen.  Promise.)

I didn't think these counters would happen.  In fact, during the process, I may have shed tears and wailed dramatically to my husband that I just. can't. take it anymore with all the aplomb of someone suffering far greater things than being tired of painting their countertops.  Like oh, say, martyrdom.  
I may sometimes have a slight flair for the dramatic.
I don't really ever want to think about the project again.  (See?  Dramatic.)  BUT being the sacrificial person I am and it being almost Holy Week and all I will suffer through it for the sake of my readers and perhaps a Googler or two who may benefit from my pictures and random commentary.  What can I say?  It's who I am.  I'm sure there's a high place in heaven for such acts of love.

I won't say that it was a super fun project, but I'm pretty thrilled with how they came out.  Are they an exact replica of Carrera marble?  No.  But do they give the look of it without being too tacky?  I think so.  Does it look way better than before?  Definitely.  Did they cost about five gajillion times less than us installing real marble counter and backsplash?  Yes.  In fact, I'm estimating they cost me about $40 to do and that's with buying a few things I didn't end up using.  So I'm going to say it was worth the temporary wailing and gnashing of teeth.

We debated butcher block counters from Ikea.  We had them in our last home and they are extremely affordable, look great, and were of great quality.  But we had the backsplash issue.  Our counters were a seamless laminate all the way up the backsplash and I did. not. want to mess with tiling or figuring out a new backsplash.  I'm just not up for that kind of project right now...and the counters were in very good shape so I didn't feel like I could justify the expense anyway.  I didn't hate the countertops.  They were easy to clean and smooth.  They were just an ugly color.  I knew I could paint them with countertop paint and be done with it but I didn't think a solid white would look right and I was really hoping for the light and white kitchen look.

That was a long explanation to say that I started wondering if I could somehow faux marble the counters.  I love those all white kitchens with the marble counters and white cabinets and I figured if it was a complete flop I could always just paint over it in a solid charcoal black and live with it.  After a few searches I found this tutorial.  Exactly what I was looking for!  She even has a detailed video of how to do it which was super helpful and her post was my jumping off point.  I used many of her techniques but also had to change things up a little as I went.

I don't have detailed pics of the process because of the tears and teeth-gnashing and "I never ever ever ever want to think about this project again" and all.  (It's sort of like childbirth...the memories are just now beginning to fade.)  (I'm really selling this, aren't I?  Don't worry, you are probably more artistically inclined and perhaps you have a smaller space you are doing thus reducing the wailing time.)

It was REALLY helpful to have a few squares of marble tile to use as my inspiration.  They weren't real marble but a Carrera looking ceramic that I picked up at Lowe's from the clearance rack.  It really helped in eyeing the color and guiding my painting.  I also googled images of marble that I liked and used those to help guide me.  It helped me see that real Carrera doesn't have "perfect" veining and coloring and has all sorts of variance and weird fissures and things and that's part of what makes it beautiful. It helped keep me from getting too patterny and reminded me that I didn't want my veins to look too perfectly spaced and faded.  (Does that make sense?  Probably not.)  

Here's what I used:
Rustoleum Countertop Coating 
Untinted Kilz primer*
Black acrylic craft paint* 
Old 2" paint brush*
Various small artists brushes*
Variety of rags (old t-shirts, washcloths, flannel pieces)*
Small foam roller with several covers*
1 Qt. Minwax clear Polycrylic in Gloss finish
Sponge brush
Fine sandpaper*

(*already had these on hand)


Here we go:
-I painted the entire counter surface with untinted Rustoleum Countertop Coating.  I don't know if I needed to do this but I did not want to run the risk of completing the project and then having it chip and peel right off because the paint couldn't bond with the laminate.  The countertop paint is made to adhere to the laminate.  

-I then went over all of it with a coat of Kilz primer.  I probably could have just started the marbling on the countertop paint but I didn't have enough of it to give the second coat that it needed.  I figured the one coat was enough to bond to the laminate and it was.

-I mixed up my gray in a container (white primer and a few drops of black acrylic) and poured some white primer into another container.  Looking back, I wish I would've done something to make the gray a little less blue-hued but it's probably something only I would notice.

-Time to start marbling.  Here's where it gets fuzzy.  I followed her clouding and layering technique with the gray primer and the normal primer except that my feathering brush was just not giving the look that hers was.  Probably because it wasn't an actual feathering brush and an old brush from something we did years ago that I found in the garage that kind of sort of looked like the brush she was using.  (Tip:  If you're going to do this, don't be lazy.  Get an actual feathering brush.  You'll likely have way less teeth-gnashing.)  The sponge wasn't working either and just looked...sponged.  So after trying several different techniques I ended up doing some sort of weird combination of making the "cloud line" then using a soft rag in small circles to "cloud" it out and soften it.  Sometimes I would use an old paint brush and feather.  Then I would go over it with a foam roller and the white primer.  I did this many many times to build up a lot of layers and give it depth, being careful to make sure the edges of the cloud faded nicely and didn't have unnatural looking lines.  Honestly, with this whole process I just had to keep stepping back, asking myself if it looked okay, and if not just figure out how to fix it with what I had on hand.  Looking back, it's all a big blur on how I actually did it.  I don't know.  I think I blacked out.  Anyway, now that I look at it, I should've added more clouding but at the time it looked so dark that I got nervous.

-Once I was happy with the marble "background" I would use a smaller brush (taken from my five year old's painting supplies) and work in the first layer of veins, following the basic movement of the cloud.  Then lightly go over that with the roller, just enough to soften it without completely covering it.  I did this a whole lot of times as well, sometimes getting frustrated and redoing whole sections because I didn't think it looked right.  There were several times during the whole process when I would look at a section and LOVE how it was turning out...then five minutes later I would look at it and think it looked awful.  It was a weird experience.  I think when you're looking so closely at it you see every single line and variance and analyze it to death when really, you're not going to be doing that when it's all said and done.

-Once I had a section I was happy with, I would use the real feather that was really cut off of one of our hen's wings (useful for more than eggs!  Score!) and pull out tighter darker veins using her veining technique.  If I wasn't happy with it, I would fade it out with the roller and try again.

-When it was totally done and I felt that it looked as good as it was going to, I gave it a once over with the fine sandpaper.

-To finish it off, I sealed it with the Polycrylic.  It currently has two coats on it but I'm planning on doing one more.  It's been a challenge to get the Polycrylic to lay right.  I wanted a smooth glass like finish but it just isn't at glossy as I was hoping and it is very hard to not have brush lines show (using the foam roller looked even worse).  Wet sanding in between coats has helped a lot but still not as smooth a look as I wanted.  That said, I think the somewhat glossy finish played a huge part in making it look like real marble.

So there it is!  Please ask questions if you happen to have them after this kind of lame pseudo-tutorial.  Also, if you are thinking of doing something similar, definitely check out that other site because it is way better than my explanation.  

Now, pictures!

See?  I didn't do a horrible job at matching it!




I think this shot shows how up close you can definitely tell it's not marble!





You can see in this picture what I mean by the sheen and how that takes away from the marble look.  Short of drastic measures, I can't figure out how to get something to have a perfectly glossy glass finish.


You can also see that I should've done more clouding on some parts.

One of the parts that I think looks fake.  This was also the last section I did and I think I was just losing patience with the whole thing.  I'm over it.

Larger view (that you've seen before)

The end!

**UPDATE**
How are they doing?
Two plus years later and I've decided we will be replacing the countertops as soon as we can.  I love how they looked but I definitely should've found something that could seal them better.  The three coats of polycrylic weren't enough to protect highly used areas.  Areas that are most used and wiped now have small peels and the paint on the edges have worn.  There's also a place where a guest accidentally put something hot directly on the counter and it began to peel the paint.  In hindsight I would definitely find a stronger epoxy product to seal them better and I should've reapplied it after a year or so.  But they did look great and they were worth the money saved for the two years we got out of them.  




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10 comments:

  1. It turned out great! When working closely on DIY projects you are looking at every inch and see it in a different light than anyone else ever will. Looking at it the first time as a finished project, you did a wonderful job creating the marble look. Without a piece of marble next to it, the different in finish wouldn't even be noticeable. $40 for this fabulous counter top is amazing. The size of your kitchen compared to what most people have means that you have just refinished about 3 or 4 kitchens worth of cabinets and countertops. Sit back and enjoy the finished project.
    Grandma & Grumpy

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  2. WOW! You did an amazing job! It looks just fabulous, and I love how light and airy it feels in your kitchen! And it also makes my day to know I was able to help someone else with that tutorial. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Best,
    Danika

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  3. I just came across your post and the counters look great! I painted my counters a while ago (although not in the amazing faux marble you accomplished!) and used a product called EnviroTex Lite to give them a really glossy finish. If you are looking for a super shiny smooth texture, this is the best stuff I've found. It is a little messy, and I don't think it would work well on your vertical backsplash, but might be worth checking out. Here is a link to my project if you want to see how the finished result looks. http://bit.ly/12ExdQh :) Hope it helps!!

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    1. Thank you for the tip! Definitely going to look into that!

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  4. did you use an epoxy like product for the top?? i am thinking of taking this on and epoxy is what everyone is saying gives the glass look? i was wondering if thats what you used?? great tips! and it looks amazing!!!

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    Replies
    1. I didn't. I couldn't seem to find anything that was what I was looking for which was weird because I feel like that should be easy to find but maybe I was just looking in the wrong places... I looked into the product mentioned above but it was really expensive for the amount of counter we have. Do you have a product you've been seeing and know where to find it? I SO wish we had because it's definitely showing wear and some chips now and there's even a spot where someone accidentally put something hot down on it and the paint peeled :(

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  5. How awesome is this. I just love this diy project. Great Job!!!

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  6. I merely ran into your current write-up and also the surfaces look fantastic! My partner and i colored the surfaces not long ago (although certainly not inside the awesome synthetic marbled people attained! ) in addition to utilized a product or service termed EnviroTex Lite to offer these individuals an incredibly glossy complete. In the event that you want a super bright easy feel, here is the very best stuff There really is. It is a very little messy, in addition to My partner and i do not think it could work nicely on your up and down backsplash, although may very well be worthy of looking over. This is the connection to the undertaking if you need to observe how the complete result appears. marble countertops seattle

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  7. I was trying to figure out if I could fix the badly-executed (and now badly stained) "granite" countertops that the previous owners had tried in the bathrooms, and a little googling brought me to an article [http://www.thekitchn.com/10-ways-weve-disguised-ugly-rental-kitchen-countertops-224439#_ ] which brought me to you! I was like hey, I recognize that name! ;) Figured I'd let you know that you're still internet famous three years later. These counters look absolutely lovely! But I hope you've found a better solution recently based on your update!

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    1. Haha! Yes, this is still one of my most popular posts, funny enough :) I recently repainted them to look like a soapstone! http://www.betterthaneden.com/2016/03/a-faux-soapstone-painted-countertop.html
      That was a lot easier, though I still prefer the look of the "marble"!

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