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Posted in Design
 
 

DIY Epoxy Countertops – The Perfect Solution for Resin Worktops

epoxy resin countertops
epoxy resin countertops

Are you ready to finally take the plunge and make some INCREDIBLE DIY epoxy countertops or resin worktops?

If so, you’ve come to the right place!

Before I made my own, I thought it would be a really difficult process. But it wasn’t.

With a little planning you can make your own amazing countertops at a fraction of the price.

The Cost of Resin Countertops DIY

epoxy countertops When I priced out the cost of getting 3 bathroom vanity countertops done in Quartz, it was close to $3000!!

So that was out.

Then I thought about doing them in concrete. But that would be incredibly heavy for me to move and I was worried they would crack when moving them. I didn’t want to pour them in place because it would be super messy. And I didn’t want to go the GFRC route to reduce weight because by the time I had everything priced out it would be about $1000 for the materials.

Not too bad for 3 vanities, but to be honest I wasn’t sure I wanted to have to keep sealing the concrete every year or so.

And what about laminate countertops? Well, I don’t like them, and I really wanted to use an undermount sink as I think it really adds a nice design element to the room.

The solution? Some amazing resin countertops DIY!

By the time I got the resin, wood and primer, I figure I’m into this project for about $500. And I’ll have enough material to do 3 vanities. (I’ve done 2 at this point, and I’ve got one more to do.)

And I think the first 2 turned out pretty well. And we’ve had a lot of compliments on them so far, so I think I’m ok to say that the project was a success.

What You’ll Need  to Learn How to Epoxy Countertops

diy epoxy countertopsSo, here is my basic list of supplies that you’ll need to create your own custom countertops. Many of the things listed here you probably already have (or you might be able to borrow!), but if not, I’ve included links to them on Amazon if you need to buy them.

And as I’m a member of the Amazon affiliate program, if you purchase anything through these links I might make a small commission from it.

Oh and for me, I use the terms worktop & countertop interchangeably as you can use epoxy resin to make a counter surface for virtually any application. Workbench, bathroom vanity, kitchen countertops, laundry room countertop and so on.

Epoxy Resin Worktop Tools & Supply List

epoxy countertop kit* Tape Measure
* Saw
* Zero Clearance Jig. This is completely optional. I made my own to ensure precise cuts for the countertops, but if you’ve got a steady hand you can probably just mark and cut it. If you don’t, you may want to consider getting one or asking the hardware store to cut your plywood to size for you.
* Small Router. I found this little tool to be super valuable when it came to making a small radius around the sink edges and outside edges of the counter. This was important because I wanted to use  an undermount sink. If you aren’t using an undermount sink, you can probably get away with just sanding the outside edges of the countertop so they aren’t sharp.
*1/8″-1/4″ Roundover bit for the router.
* Screws
* Primer
* Spray paint.  For coloring  your countertop and adding effects as needed.
* Clear Mixing containers. Make sure that the ones you use have the measurements shown on the outside of the container.
* Paint brushes
* Hand held propane torch. This is important. You will need this in order to bring some heat to the epoxy to help remove some of the bubbles so you get a clear finish.
*Epoxy. You will need enough epoxy to do 2 coats, so make sure you measure your countertop and then check the coverage of the epoxy you’re wanting to buy. Typically each coat is 1/8″ or so – you don’t want it much thicker.
* Drill
* Mixing Paddle
* Saw Horses or some other surface that you can elevate your countertop on.
* Plastic to catch all of the drips. Epoxy is cool stuff but it’s super sticky and will harden into an almost impossible to break or remove product once dry. So be sure to section off your working area to ensure you don’t have any drips where you don’t want them.
* Nitrile Gloves. These keep your hands from becoming a sticky gross mess.
*3/4″ MDF Plywood. The amount will depend on how big a worktop you need to make.
* Sink. I used this undermount sink, but you can use something else if you’d like.
* Sink Faucet. I used the Zarina faucet by Moen and I love the look of it.
* Glue for the wood. I use this instabond stuff and it’s amazing.
*Jigsaw. You’ll need this for cutting the sink hole.
*Palm Sander. You might be able to just use sandpaper, but I found the palm sander to be super-helpful.
*Holesaw for cutting the hole for the faucet. You may have to drill 3 holes, or just one like me depending on the faucet style you use.
*Paint stir sticks.
*Square notched trowel
*Isopropyl Alcohol. Optional, depending on the style and effects you want to create.
* Spray Bottle. Only required if you end up using the isopropyl alcohol.

So that’s the list. Some of this stuff is one time use only like the plastic, the mixing containers, & stir sticks.

For me, I was saving so much money doing it myself I felt it justified me buying a couple new tools (the small router and palm sander).

Step 1 – Planning

This is the most important step. As always. And I’m sure you already know it.

So take some time and make a list of what you’ll need, and then go and measure the size, orientation & sink location (if applicable) of the countertop you need to build.

Now is a good time to decide if you’re going to make matching backsplashes as well, or if you’re going to do something else. (I ended up doing tile.)

Once you have your overall measurements taken, you will need to determine what size of hole(s) you need to make for the sink and the faucet.

If you’re re-using your existing sink and faucet, then you can just copy what you already have.

If you aren’t, you’ll need to account for the clearances needed for your backsplash for the faucet and then the faucet location in reference to the sink.

On top of this, you’ll have to measure and make sure that your sink location will fit inside your existing vanity.

I made my own vanity (you can see the process I took in the DIY Storage Cabinet – A Simple Cupboard Design article here) so I had to make sure that I located my sink in a spot where it not only looked centered on the countertop, but that the sink had enough room to be installed underneath and inside the cupboard vanity itself!

So 1) determine your countertop style and design, 2) order or get your faucet and sink, 3) take your measurements and then order your supplies as needed.

Step 2 – MDF Cuttin’ Time

Once you have your measurements, you can go and get your 3/4″ MDF plywood.

I recommend using MDF as it has an even, smooth surface and it’s straight and flat. Plywood can be uneven or warp a little.

For me, I wanted thick countertops, so I used 2 sheets of the 3/4″ MDF to get up to 1.5″ thick.

When making the smaller top, I simply stacked one sheet ontop of the other as it was pretty small.

But for the larger countertop, I cut strips about 3″ wide and put them all around the edges of the countertop and then one large one underneath where I was going to cut the hole for the sink.

By doing this, I didn’t have all the extra weight of 2 big pieces of MDF that I’d have to lug up the stairs when it came to installation time. MDF is dense and is much heavier than just a standard sheet of 3/4″ plywood. So you’ve been warned.

Once you’ve got your MDF, you can layout your countertop.

If you’re stacking 2 pieces of MDF together like I did, I recommend  gluing and screwing them together first and then cutting them to size. Screw the bottom onto the top piece. This ensures that you won’t have any screw holes in the top of your countertop.

Make sure that you don’t mix up your top and bottom pieces when you do this!

This ensures that your cuts will be the same for both pieces of MDF.

TIP: Use a drill bit and drill a hole in each of the 4 corners where you want to locate your sink. Use a bit large enough that you can insert the jigsaw blade inside of the hole.

This serves 2 purposes: 1 – the hole will give you a nice corner radius &, 2 – you will have a much easier time starting the jigsaw cut for your sink hole.

resin countertops

Once you’ve got your sink hole cut, you can cut the hole for the faucet.

You can see from the picture above just how you can lay out your countertop.

When everything is cut to size and you’ve got your holes in, you can use the palm sander to even out any rough edges.

Then use the small router with a 1/4″ roundover bit and give all the edges (other than the hole for the faucet) a nice little radius.

Just set the depth of the router and make sure you use a bit with a bearing on the top of it to guide it. If you aren’t sure about how to do this, test in on a scrap piece of wood first.

Step 3 – It’s Preppin’ Time!

Now that you’ve got your countertop made, give a light sand with some sandpaper.

Once you’ve done that, wipe off all the dust and give it a coat of primer.

When the primer is dry, give it another light sand and wipe and then give it a second coat of primer.

small vanity primed back

small vanity primed

I used a pretty standard white primer and made white countertops. You could also use a contrasting colored primer if you want to see where you might have missed a spot in your epoxy coverage.

But using white turned out fine for me.

We are sanding just to ensure we get good adhesion of the primer to the MDF as the MDF can be pretty slippery.

At this point we’re ready for epoxy, so make sure you’ve got what you need and that your work area is protected as needed.

Step 4 – Epoxy

Now, if you’ve never used epoxy before I would recommend trying it out on a scrap piece of MDF first in order to get a feel for how it works.

I didn’t do a test piece before I made my small vanity, but I did a few different samples before I did the large vanity.

If you do a couple of samples, use scraps and give them at least 1 coat of primer before doing the epoxy.

Once you’re ready to do your test piece or countertop, get your supplies together and  make sure you’ve got a large area covered with plastic.

Give yourself a little extra workspace around your project – it will make your life much easier.

Also, I found it very helpful to raise the countertops up off of the saw horses using scrap plywood. This will allow you to get at the underside edge of the countertop so you can deal with the drips as your resin countertops dry.

Try to level your countertops as best you can using a level.

Mine weren’t 100% level but they turned out fine.

If your countertops aren’t level, your effects will move and change as they dry as gravity will pull them around a little.

Personally I loved this and felt it really added a natural, organic look to the project.

At this point with your workstation ready, your supplies gathered and your countertop made, you’re ready to start as soon as you glove up.

Grab your disposable measuring buckets and pour out the hardener first into your mixing bucket. Do not use an old bucket – get new cheap buckets and throw them out after you’re done the project.

These products come as a 2 parts – a hardener and the epoxy itself. I found that it was easier to mix when I added the hardener first. So read the instructions and figure out how much of each you will need in order to produce one coat.

Then pour them into the bucket according to the correct ratio and begin stirring it. Depending on what type of resin you use, the manufacturer may recommend stirring it manually or using a drill.

For my application, I was able to use a drill with this special mixing bit and mixed it for a couple of minutes, making sure that it was mixed thoroughly as I got down into the bottom edges of the mixing container.

Once I had done that, the epoxy was a little cloudy and had bubbles in it which won’t matter as you’ll get them out later.

This batch will be your base coat.

For me, I wanted a white base coat so I added a little white paint right into the mixing bucket of epoxy and stirred it up. I used Rustoleum paint and it worked really well for me.

The more paint you add, the less translucent the epoxy becomes. So if you add just a little, you will have just a slight tinge of color in your epoxy and you’ll be able to see through to the primer. If you add more, you’ll be seeing just a flat color.

To test where you’re at, stick a paint stick into the mixture and pull it out on a 45 degree angle to see if you’re able to see through the epoxy to the stick underneath or not.

Once you’re happy with that pour your epoxy out onto the middle of your sample or countertop, keeping it away from the edges.

For the countertops, I poured a long rectangular strip of epoxy right down the middle of the countertop.

Now grab your notched trowel and begin lightly scraping the epoxy back and forth in a left to right and then up and down fashion, gradually getting it a little closer to the edges.

resin worktops

This helps mix the epoxy as you go and releases a few air bubbles.

Gradually work the epoxy back and forth and get it close to the edges. Soon the epoxy will start to settle out and will flow over the edges a bit.

As this starts to happen, grab a paintbrush (removing any loose bristles first) and paint these drips horizontally along the face of the countertop edge to even out the coverage.

Once you’ve done this you can fire up the little propane torch and lightly add some heat to the epoxy to release some of the bubbles. Make sure to keep the flame moving over the countertop (don’t stop in one place) and you’ll see little bubbles coming to the surface and pop. This will give you a nice smooth surface.

how to epoxy countertops

Now it’s time to add some artistic flair if you want.

custom vanity tops

For the blue countertop, I would grab a new paint stir stick for each color I wanted to add and just sprayed some spray paint onto one end of it. Then I took the stick at a 45 degree angle or so and dragged this edge into and through the white epoxy base coat in the rough design I wanted.

I would then repeat the process for the other colors I wanted to use.

epoxy resin worktop

For the grey countertop, I held the spray paint about 2 feet above the countertop at a 45 degree angle and kind of misted it in  a certain direction. Then I took a spray bottle filled with 90% Isopropyl alcohol  and did the same.

resin countertops diy

Spraying the alcohol ontop of the paint will cause the paint to pull away from the alcohol and make a bit of a granular effect.

epoxy worktop

how to do epoxy countertops

 

If you do spritz some of the alcohol ontop, go easy on the heat as it likes to ignite a litte 🙂

As I mentioned before, the epoxy will move on it’s own as it dries, but you can also add some heat to move it around as well.

Just use your little propane torch to lightly warm up a little section and it will move in response to the heat. Just make sure you don’t leave the torch in one area for too long or you could burn the epoxy and paint. Move it around a little keeping it about 1/2″-1″ off the epoxy.

This is where practicing with a test piece can come in handy so you get a feel for how the epoxy moves.

When you’re happy with your design then you want to lightly run the propane torch overtop of the entire countertops. The heat will allow the bubbles to come to the surface and pop, leaving a nice smooth surface.

Go easy with the heat around the edges of your counter or you may find the epoxy excessively spilling over the edge of it.

Once you’re happy with it, make sure you take the time to give everything a good look to make sure you don’t have any paintbrush bristles, bugs or major flaws in your epoxy.

Every once in a while, go ahead and use the paint brush to even out the edges of the countertops where the epoxy has dripped over to make sure you have a nice even coat.

I would run the brush underneath the countertop along the edge in order to take care of any major drips every once in a while for the first few hours.

Then all you need to do is wait about 24 hours or so before you do the final clear coat.

epoxy resin kitchen countertops

After about 24 hours or so, your base/artistic coat should be dry.

At this point, you’ll want to clean up the little drips on the edges by either sanding by hand or using a palm sander to make a nice smooth edge underneath the countertop.

Then you want to give the epoxy a light sand by hand with some fairly fine grit sandpaper (I used some 100 grit) just to help with adhesion just like with the primer.

Brush & wipe off the dust from the countertops and then you’ll be ready to mix up your final clear coat.

When doing the clear coat, you follow the same process as you did with the epoxy before but this time you just don’t add any paint.

Clean up the edges just as before and you should have a fabulous looking countertop ready to go!

diy bathroom countertop

Conclusion

Sometimes when you read the steps and instructions in a tutorial they can seem overwhelming, but the process is really quite easy.

Take your time, plan ahead and do a couple small practice samples maybe 12″x12″ and you’ll have the hang of it in no time.

I’d say the most critical part is getting your measurements correct when you’re making the countertop if you’re cutting holes for the sink & faucet.

Other than that, it’s really quite simple to do and the results are great!