My journey to faux marble kitchen counters . . .
See what I did there with the title? I know, funny stuff. Let’s start at the beginning. This is the kitchen when we first looked at this house. It’s a huge kitchen and the layout is great but it’s very brown – even the ceiling! Most reasonable people live in a house for a while before making changes. I tried that. I lasted about a week.
I painted the walls. Then I painted the island. Next came the cabinets. And, still the fake wood counters. I cannot even explain my irrational hatred of the counters. The way the pattern repeated every 13″. Yuck! So I googled and discovered the Giani kit for refinishing counter tops. It was on sale at Amazon so I bought a kit and started in the bathroom. The downstairs powder room came out pretty well and moved up to the boys’ bathroom. The end result was fine but, I really struggled with the process and realized that to do the master bath and the kitchen I was going to need 3-4 more kits. To be fair to Giani, their paint and the topcoat are definitely high quality and I think I would have been happier using one of the granite kits. Maybe in our bathroom. And, in case you are new to my blog, I have issues with following instructions. I just can’t do it the way someone tells me even though I know adding my own touch is likely to screw things up. Ask my kids about my complete lack of baking skills.
I went back to Google to see what my options might be. I love people who figure things out and then explain what they’ve done. I did a combination of this, this and this (I especially love the video in the last link – her accent is adorable!). Here is what I did step-by-step:
Okay, kit abandoned, I went out to the garage to see what I had. I have a bit of a paint addiction so I had plenty to choose from.
- Primer. The kit uses a black base. It all depends on the effect you’re looking for. If you want more veining or are going for a granite look, I would use a flat black for primer. I wanted a lighter look. I didn’t have flat white paint but I did have Kilz. Worked great – remember to open a window if you go this route.
- Variety of Paint – New house, so I am drowning in those little paint sample jars. I also recently did the kitchen cabinets so I grabbed that can too. I wrote the colors on the brown paper. But, they are: Battleship Gray (Behr), Frothy Surf (SW) – kind of aqua/gray, Sea Salt (SW) – blue/gray/white, and a black antiquing glaze (Valspar) because I could not find a can of black paint (I know it’s out there).
- Wood Filler – fill in any chips or cracks in your counter before you sand them.
- Gloves – I think the pack in the picture is about 10 years old. I never remember to put them on and my hands show it.
- Sea Sponges -I found a nice assortment at Hobby Lobby for about $2.50 (after coupon).
- Feathers – I had an old bag of craft feathers. Don’t make a huge investment.
- Rollers and paintbrushes – have a small foam roller (I think I ended up going through 4 foam rollers) and an assortment of paintbrushes.
- Small paint tray and paper plates – figure it out.
- Spray Bottle – filled with water
- Glitter – No, not the glitter that gives every mom who has ever done a craft project with their kids hives – fine, sand-like glitter. Sometimes you can find it at the big hardware stores. I ended up using dollar store glitter glue. The glitter is super fine, they had a variety of colors (I used silver) and it cost $1.
- Sealer – Two options here. Since I was painting with the hope of getting a year or so out of these counters, I did not invest in Super Glaze or Envirotex Lit which are pour and spread epoxies. If I need to after using these counters for a while, I will go back and do it. I already had a can of Polycrylic (not polyurethane unless you are going for a yellow-y look) so I used that to protect the finish. I’ll keep you posted.
- Adult Beverage – in the course of my research, a talented woman named Danika – at Gorgeous Shiny Things – suggested a glass of wine when you start the veining process. (Why are none of these bloggers my neighbors?) If you’re stressed about “getting it right,” a glass of wine actually helps. Well, duh, a glass of wine always helps.
- Practice board – grab a piece of scrap wood. After you read through the instructions, go ahead and give it a shot on your board. Worst that happens, you paint over it and try again. This is mine, after three attempts.
- Clean your counters. Now clean them again. One more time.
- If there is a sink in the mix, it’s honestly easier to just take it out. You can scrape off any sealant at this time too. We pulled ours out because it was disgusting and I found a really pretty porcelain one for $100. If you have no interest in plumbing, use painter’s tape to protect the edges of your sink.
- Use a medium grit sandpaper and go over your counters lightly. Some people skip this step. I was nervous about it so I sanded. Be sure to wipe the dust up completely with a damp, lint-free cloth.
- Next, tape around the counters. You should go at least two or three layers of tape high. I’m messy, so I did three on the walls and added paper to protect the cabinets. I have an old drop cloth I dragged around to protect the floors.
- Now go ahead and roll on your primer. It doesn’t have to be perfect or super-thick. Just a basic coat will work great. (Remember if you’re using Kilz like I did, open a window! That stuff will make you stoopid. Ask me how I know. Mike came in the kitchen, flashed a peace sign at me and started opening windows. :::sigh:::
- Once your primer is good and dry, pick a white/grey shade of paint and sponge it on the surface of the counter. Use a variety of sponges so you don’t end up with a regular pattern. Let it dry. Do it again using a variety of your paints. This is kind of tedious but it is worth it.
- When you’re doing your third or fourth coat, squirt some of that glitter glue into your paint (I used white for my last sponge coat) and mix it up. The glitter will not show up as “glitter” but, it will give the paint some depth. Play with it to get the right amount. (see practice board, above)
- Now, it’s time to get your black or dark gray paint and your feather. Wine is optional. I do not have good pictures of how I did this but any of the links above will give you an idea. Just keep in mind, it does not have to be perfect. In fact, it’s better to just go for it. I found it helpful to have a picture of real marble on my phone while I worked. The tip I found to be most helpful was to dip the feather (lightly) in the paint and push it forward rather than drag it. On my first try (with the kit), I wimped out and got my mom (an actual real artist) to do the veins – she used a brush. That’s my mom’s hand – hi Mom! Don’t worry if it’s blobby or looks too black.Work in small, 2′ sections. Remember mistakes can be painted over. Paint is so awesome.
- While your veins are still wet, squirt lightly with water (be about 12″ away) and then dab with a sponge with white paint. Go ahead and be random. Keep looking at a picture of real marble to remind you that even real marble isn’t perfect. Move to a new section of your counter and repeat the process.
- Once you’re all done – look at it and decide what you hate and go ahead and edit with paint. I found it helpful to take a night off and come back fresh. Keep in mind it’s going to look like you had a break with reality and painted your counters until you put the glossy sealant on. That is what finishes the transformation.
- Happy? Happy-ish? Break out the sealer you’ve chosen to use. Once again, check the label and open a window if you need to. Take your time, whichever type of sealer you choose. Like I said, I was not looking for a long term counter solution so I cheaped out and used the Polycrylic. If you are hoping to get more life, consider taking the epoxy route.
Okay – that’s all I’ve got, I think. This is a disruptive project. I worked in sections so we always had usable counter space – Mike, Tim and Andy insist on being able to eat. If you can, break it into sections so you’re not kitchenless for too long.
This is soooo long. If you have questions, let me know in the comments and I’ll try to help. Here are two pictures of the kitchen tonight – still a work in progress but so much brighter and happier.