I have spent the last
four five days working on my kitchen countertops, and last night at about 11:00, I finally got them just like I want them. They still need the clear coat, which is the main thing that I hired the guys to do for me since the polyurea coating they’ll be using isn’t really available to the general public. They’re supposed to come back today to do that for me. When that happens, I’ll update this post with new pictures at the end showing the countertops with the clear coat. I’m really hoping it doesn’t change the look of the counteretops much, because I have them just like I want them, and it took me four five days of hard work to get them just right.
So let me back up just a bit. Last Friday, I showed y’all the countertops with the gray, plastic-looking primer that they had used on them. If you missed the process up to that point, you can click here to read about it…
After they were primed, the countertops looked like this…
Before they left, I asked them what grit sandpaper I needed to use to sand that primer.
“You can start with 80-grit, but we sometimes use 60-grit,” they said.
60-grit?! 80-grit?! In my world where I’m generally dealing with finishes on wood, 60- and 80-grit sandpaper is what you use if you really want to tear into a finish and remove it quickly. If I want to smooth a surface, I generally start with 150-grit and finish with 220-grit. I just couldn’t imagine starting with 60-grit, so I assumed they didn’t know what they were talking about. And yes, I realize the foolishness of that seeing that they work with this product every single day, and I had never seen it before. 😀
So I started with 150-grit sanding discs on my rotary sander. It barely affected the primer at all. So I reluctantly went to 100-grit. Same thing. So I very reluctantly tried some 80-grit, and finally starting seeing some progress. Even with 80-grit sanding discs on my sander at high speed, it still took quite a while to sand it smooth.
Then I made a huge mistake. I thought to myself, “This primer really is a layer of plastic. I just can’t imagine latex paint sticking to it well, so I think I’ll use oil-based primer as my base coat.”
Sounds reasonable, right? After all, oil-based primer is way more durable than latex paint and will stick to way more surfaces. It also sands so beautifully when it’s completely dry, so I’d be able to get a super smooth base coat with it.
So on Friday evening, I put the primer on. A few hours later, right before I went to bed, I tried to sand it and it still felt cool to the touch, like it still had lots of moisture in it. It wouldn’t sand. But I was sure that it would be just fine by the next morning after a few more hours of drying.
Ummm…it wasn’t. I tried sanding by hand, expecting that fine chalk dust texture that oil-based primer has when it’s sanded off. That didn’t happen. I sanded harder. Nothing.
I got my electric sander out with 220-grit sandpaper on it. That did nothing.
I ended up having to sand that oil-based primer of with 80-grit sanding discs on my rotary sander at the highest speed, sanding about 8 square inches at a time before having to change to a new sanding disc because the primer was just gumming up those discs so quickly.
Y’all, it literally took me about eight hours and almost an entire pack of 50 sanding discs just to sand the peninsula and get back down to the gray primer coat. By the end of the day, my hands were aching, I was just about in tears but was way too tired to cry.
So after losing an entire day, I started over again. This time with latex paint.
Somewhere along the way, I also decided that I wanted all of their plastic primer removed completely from the ogee edges. I had told them before they even started grinding my countertops that I wanted some of the divots and really rough areas on the edges filled, and that I had purchased some Bondo specifically for that. They assured me that Bondo wasn’t needed because they had their own product for just that purpose.
Well, that would have been great except that they didn’t actually use their product or do anything about the divots, air holes or rough patches in the edges. They just primed right over them and went about their day. I tried to be okay with the edges, but I just wasn’t. So I sanded the edges down completely (that required 60-grit sanding discs and about three more hours), back to bare concrete, and then spent about another three hours filling any air holes, rough areas, uneven areas, etc., with Bondo and sanding them smooth. I did prime those with oil-based primer, which I knew would work since all of their gray primer had been removed.
By this time, I had completely ruled out doing any kind of marble paint treatment on my countertops. I didn’t want to take a chance at having to sand them down again if the faux marble effect looked a bit too…well…faux. I just wanted the project finished.
After three coats of Sherwin Williams High Reflective White (which is their base color) rolled on with a small roller labeled for “smooth surfaces,” I was thinking I might just like the solid white. It was light, bright, and white, which is exactly what I said I wanted. By late Saturday night, I had decided to just go with the solid white and be done with it. It wasn’t completely dry, but here’s how it looked…
I did test out a small patch of multi-colored sponged paint to see what that would look like.
I didn’t take a lot of time on that, though. And admittedly, it didn’t look so great. So again, I thought I’d just go with the solid white.
Then I got up Sunday morning and looked at the solid white again. I did a few Instagram stories about my countertops, asking opinions on the solid white vs. a multi-colored look, sharing the above two examples (in videos rather than still images).
The vote was overwhelmingly “solid white,” which is understandable. Compared to my poor attempt at a multi-toned sponged look, the solid white was clearly the obvious choice. But in the light of day, and up close, the solid white just looked so…blah. One dimensional. Lifeless. Fake. I knew that wasn’t showing on pictures and videos, but in person, something about it was just off. The sponged look in my sample was awful, but I was convinced that it was because I had used all the wrong colors, and had taken all of two minutes to do it.
So I actually decided to go with the multi-colored sponged look, because the solid white just wasn’t working for me.
I started by sponging on a layer of Benjamin Moore Classic Gray. And yes, I was seriously doubting my decision after this, because it just looked like a horrible 80’s sponge painting flashback.
It was awful, but I tried not to panic. I let it dry, sanded it lightly with 220-grit sandpaper (by hand), and then added a layer of Behr Polar Bear. It got a little better.
I let that dry, sanded it, and then did a layer of Sherwin Williams Snowbound.
On the layer of Snowbound, I mixed about 3 parts paint to 1 part Floetrol. Also on this layer, I sponged on a small section, and then went back over that section pouncing with a large, dry brush. The dry brush, which was the largest and softest brush I could find at Home Depot labeled for use on staining and finishing decks and fences) really softened the look. I made sure that I wiped off the bristles often so that they wouldn’t fill up with paint.
I did two more layers — one layer of Sherwin Williams High Reflective White and one last layer using Behr Bright White (which is their base coat).
After all five layers of sponging, with sanding in between each layer, I finally had it like I wanted it. And this is what it looked like this morning in the morning light.
Here’s a close up.
It’s the kind of subtle texture that I don’t really think anyone would even notice or focus on. It looks natural, like…well…like actual concrete. Or if I had to compare it to something, I might compare it to a really light limestone. It’s light and bright and white and clean, but in person, no one would look at it and think “sponge painted countertop.” In fact, I don’t think they’d think much of it at all. On the other hand, had I left it solid white, I do think people would look at it and think “painted countertop” because it just looked so one-dimensional and unnatural.
The multi-colored look also goes with my backsplash better. Those tiles aren’t a really bright white, so the solid white countertops made the tile look really dingy.
Here’s the long countertop with all five coats of sponged paint. You can see that it’s really not an obvious sponged look. It’s incredibly subtle.
And the counteretop to the right of the stove…
And to the left of the stove…
I’m just hoping and praying that the clear coat doesn’t change the color, because I have them exactly like I want them. If it changes the color, there WILL be tears. Lots of tears.
So let’s just take a stroll down memory lane, shall we? Here’s what the peninsula looked like right after my brother and I poured these countertops in 2014…
And two-and-a-half years later…
Here’s what the countertop to the right of the stove looked like just after we poured it…
And two-and-a-half years later…
And the long countertop after we poured it…
And two-and-a-half years later…
I’m very excited about how these look right now. Let’s just hope the clear coat doesn’t ruin them.