Day 3 after installing the countertops
The final day. The day we find out if all the prep work was worth it, or if this is a total disaster. If you're just joining me here, make sure to go back and read the Backstory, Day 1 and Day 2 to catch up.
After letting the counters dry for 24 hrs from applying the Levelquik, everything looked pretty good! There were some slight irregularities, but I've been told the epoxy can cover those. Here's hoping!
The first step is to sand the dry Levelquik with 150 grit sand paper, then wipe clean with a damp rag. After this, you can paint the counters with the white primer that comes in the Stone Coat Carrera Marble kit. Let this dry, then you're ready for the epoxy.
Here is what you should know before moving into the epoxy process:
1) Mix in small batches. You have to keep the epoxy moving so it doesn't harden. It can harden quickly. I used a 1 gallon bucket and mixed 16oz of B (hardener) with 16 oz of A (resin).
2) Warm the materials. You can do this by putting them in a warm room overnight, or using a small space heater for a few minutes. The materials will pour more easily and mix more readily if they are warm instead of cool.
3) Add the hardener first, then the resin, because the resin will naturally sink. This makes mixing easier. Also, be very precise. You need an exact 1:1 measurement for this to work well.
4) Don't let the epoxy stop moving. Go straight from pouring to mixing to emptying the entire batch onto your counters and troweling. If you stop it moving, it will begin to harden almost immediately.
5) Use a drill paddle and mix for a full two minutes. It should go milky, then clear again. Once mixed, add your white powder, mix, then dump the entire batch onto your counter. Use a large wooden popsicle stick to completely scrape out the bucket, then the trowel to mix the scraped materials with the already poured out epoxy before spreading for an even coat.
6) Keep Isopropyl Alcohol and rags readily accessible. If for some reason this gets on your skin, it will cause a chemical burn quite quickly. Immediately stop what you're doing and use some Isopropyl Alcohol on a rag to clean your skin thoroughly.
The final thing to know is that this is MESSY. I mean, unbelievably so. I am a relatively clean, precise individual and I had to throw out literally everything I had been wearing, including my shoes and undergarments. You've been warned.
My favorite part of the process was definitely the final application step: the chopping in of the black lines. That's when the counters began to actually look like marble. A few notes here: first, don't be afraid to go heavy with the lines. a lot of the color runs off, and darker will be better in the long run. Second, you only need a small amount of black epoxy. It goes a really long way. I'd say 12 oz total would be plenty.
My final tip is invest in a good heat gun. I started off by trying to use a blow torch because it was more affordable, but they can't adequately reach all the spots on your counter to get out the bubbles. I ended up making a mad dash to my local hardware store for a heat gun, and sadly had some bubbles I couldn't get out in time. I'm sure my countertops would have been much more uniform if I had started with a heat gun.
For detailed instructions and a supply list, read below! I've also got my Shop the Post set up for easy online shopping. I'm absolutely in love with the end result, and would do it again. Although maybe I'd hire a professional next time! What do you think?
Paper, Masking Tap and Masking plastic for covering surfaces
64 oz bucket with measuring lines, and 24 oz bucket with measuring lines
150 grit sand paper
Power sander (optional)
Paint tray with liner
Low nap microfiber paint roller
Drill with paddle mixer attachment
1/8 notched trowel
2" Chop Brush
Sand tile using a 150 grit sand paper
Wipe clean with a damp rag
Using a roller, paint entire surface with a thin coat of white epoxy base from the Stone Coat Kit
Allow to dry for 30 minutes, or longer if needed, until dry to the touch
Mix 16 oz of B (hardener) with 16oz of A (resin), adding B first. Use the paddle mixer and blend for a full two minutes. The mixture should go milky then clear again
Add some metallic white powder from the kit, then blend again briefly until distributed uniformly
Immediately pour out onto the countertop. Scrape remainder of product in the bucket out onto the epoxy you just poured, then use your trowel to remix before spreading evenly over the surface
Repeat Mixing steps until you've covered the entire surface of your countertops (usually 4-5 times total). Allow the product to run over the edges, creating a smooth, continuous surface
Next, mix 6 oz B with 6 oz A, then add the black powder
Pull all loose bristles from your chop brush, then begin creating marble veins by getting some black epoxy on the brush, then chopping it in. See the Stone Coat videos linked in the Backstory post for detailed instructions.
Go back and remove any bristles that got into the epoxy with a small nail
Use the heat gun to bring any bubbles to the surface so they pop. Repeat 3x at 5 minutes intervals
Babysit your epoxy over the next few hours, removing any dust or debris that get into it
Countertops will be dry to the touch within 24 hours, and able to withstand light use by 72 hrs. Don't leave anything on the countertops until they've had a chance to harden and cure for a full week. Then you can use your kitchen as usual!
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