Kitchen

Kitchen Countertop Update

I finally met with the guy about my countertops yesterday, and while I don’t have any actual progress to share with you (he said he’s booked until mid-December or so), I was so unbelievably excited that I had to share what I learned.

Now if you’re confused about what I’m talking about, I’m referring to the local company called Garage Force (it’s a franchise, so there might be one in your area) that applies polyurea coatings to garage floors and interior floors (concrete, tile, etc.). The one here in Waco has never done a countertop before, but evidently that’s just because no one has ever asked. Interestingly, just within the last two weeks, I’m the second person needing concrete countertop help to contact him, so now he’ll have two countertop projects to add to his portolio.

Anyway, you can read more of what I had to say about polyurea here.

Two more countertop options - epoxy and polyurea

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So I was incredibly anxious for him to see my countertops and tell me what could be done. As I shared the other day, my countertops are not only stained in areas (because I didn’t use a very good sealer)…

two-years-later-stained-concrete-countertops

But because I was a complete concrete novice,  there are areas on my countertops that didn’t get thoroughly floated and were I was left with rough areas with pits and divots where gunk can settle. You can see what I’m talking about in this next picture. See those bright white spots?

two-years-later-stained-concrete-countertops-2

That’s from concrete stain remover that I used. It goes on as a liquid, and you let it dry completely until it’s all white, and then it brushes off as a powder. I generally use a razor blade or scraper to get the powder off, and you can see how it settled in the pits and divots. And unfortunately, the two roughest surfaces just happen to be the two next to the stove since those are two countertops that we poured first.

I’m also not fond of the color variations in the concrete. See the ogee edge? To me it just looks filthy, but that’s just the variations of color in the concrete. It seems to have become more pronounced over time.

Anyway, he brought samples, and I wish to goodness I had thought to take pictures. But I was too excited and distracted to remember to snap pictures. But here are the questions I asked:

Q: What are the color options? I only see a few on the brochure, and none of those will work in my kitchen?

A: They can mix their product in any Sherwin Williams color. All I have to do is give him the the color name/number, and he can order those colors.

Q: What about all of those pits and divots in the countertop? I’d like the countertop to be very smooth when finished, so do they have a way to fill those areas before applying their product?

A: They actually grind the surface of the concrete before they add their products, so the grinding process should level out the uneven surfaces.

Q: Will he let me try to scratch his sample with a knife?

A: “You can try.” 🙂 And try I did. I got my sharpest knife, and with quite a bit of pressure, I tried to cut into the clear coat. While it did leave a barely visible mark, I was unsuccessful at cutting through the material.

Q: Can I put hot pots and pans directly from the stove onto the countertop?

Nope. It can handle pretty high heat, but it’s just better to use a hot pad under pots and pans from the stove.

Q: What is the process?

First they prep the surface by grinding the concrete to a smooth finish. Then the actual coating is three different steps — a base coat (which I assumed was a type of primer), a color coat, and then a clear topcoat. The clear topcoat can actually be used over regular latex paint, and in fact, his sample boards were done with regular latex paints.

The product dries pretty fast. All three coats — base, color, and topcoat — can gerenally be applied in one day.

Q: What different sheens are available for the topcoat? Will I be stuck with a super shiny countertop?

A: The sheen of the topcoat depends on an additive they add to the topcoat, so it can pretty much be as shiny or as flat I want based on how much of the additive they use. The satin finish felt very smooth, but the flatter the finish, the rougher the surface felt. So a super flat finish with their product is probably not appropriate for kitchen countertops.

Q: What if, after a couple of years, I do see some scratches in the countertop?

A: They can just recoat with the clear coat, and those scratches will disappear.

I’m telling you, I am so excited!! Now I just have to make a decision about color/design.

The option remains for me to do my own painted design, which would allow me to paint a marble look on my countertops if I want to. I have watched all of the “how to paint faux marble” videos I can possible find on YouTube, and this video by Danika Herrick is by far the best with the most realistic result, in my humble opinion. I’ve watched this particular video about 15 times, at least. Here’s a screenshot of the not-quite-finished product from that video…

faux-carrera-marble-paint-technique-by-danika-herrick

But here’s the deal. I’ve wanted to try my hand at painting faux marble for a very long time now, but I just don’t think that my countertops are the right place for me to experiment with that. There’s such a fine line between faux marble that looks real, and faux marble that looks like cheap faux marble. I’m so scared that I’d end up with the second. I think I’d be better off saving that DIY experiment for something like a coffee table.

Plus, I have a feeling that I’ll have the absolute best results on my countertop (as far as the strength and durability of the coatings) if I just let him use his products 100%. They’ve clearly got a good thing going, and I think if I mess with that layered system at all, by substituting their products for a layer of latex paint, I probably risk reducing the strength and durability of the finished product. I don’t know that for sure, and I didn’t even ask, because by the time he got to my house I was already about 80% sure that I didn’t want to paint my own design.

So that leaves me with two other options. Well, three, actually. The the third option is a marbled metallic look, and while it does come in white, and it is very beautiful, I think that’s best left for garage floors.

So the first of the two real options is just a solid white. Plain white. Solid, plain white. When I look at pictures of solid white counteretops online, I actually really like the look. It’s just so bright and clean, and I’m ready for bright and clean countertops.

 

 

 

I like those. I mean, I really like those. My hesitation with solid bright white is that I feel like they’ll show every crumb and smudge left behind. Also, in the event that the surface does get a few scratches here and there, there’s nothing to camouflage it with a solid white surface. Of course, three of the four countertops above are way glossier than what I will have (I’m going for a satin finish), and the glossier the finish, the more it shows imperfections as well.

The other option is to do a two-color finish. While he can’t and won’t replicate a specific granite or marble look, the final look might actually be a granite-ish look. And he can make the two colors stand out or subtly blend as much as I want them to. I told him if I go that direction, I definitely want a VERY subtle look. I imagine something like this…

 

I mean, it’s super subtle, but enough variation to give it some interest. That photo above is Mystery White granite (or is it marble?), which looks like this…

And again, while I don’t think he can actually replicate that look, the subtlety of the variation of color could be quite similar, or I could even have him blend it more. For example, I could select the Sherwin Williams equivalent of the Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter that I’m using on my upper cabinets, and then a much brighter white as the main color.

Right now, I’m leaning towards the two-color option. I think it just gives a bit more visual interest than a solid white slab of concrete. But he offered to make up some samples for me, so I’ll probably have him do one that’s just solid white so I can get a better idea of how that will look.

I’m so excited! 😀

In not-so-exciting news, the grasscloth wallpaper for my breakfast room is on backorder until December 9th. 🙁 I’m bummed about that.

UPDATE:

My concrete countertops have been refinished! Click here to read more about the process and see how they turned out

My finished refinished concrete countertops (top coated with polyurea)



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29 Comments

  • Reply To This Comment
    Brenda Pawloski
    November 16, 2016 at 9:31 am

    Hi Kristie, like you, we have cats and while we always shoo them off during food prep, we know they covet the high vantage and they do get up there sometimes. We temporarily have two houses (until one sells) and I much prefer the white solid surface counters in one of them over the colored and butcher block in the other because my 50 something eyes can see debris much better on the solid white and keep up with cleaning. I also like how they keep the whole atmosphere lighter and brighter in the center of the house away from windows. Incidentally, these white solid counters were original to the 26 year old home and we kept them through a remodel because I found counter folks willing to sand and buff them and they came out looking new!

  • Reply To This Comment
    froot loop
    November 16, 2016 at 9:32 am

    Love the two-color finish!

  • Reply To This Comment
    Rebecca B
    November 16, 2016 at 9:39 am

    Wow, I can’t believe how stained the concrete got in a year and a half! Whether you go marble or white, it will sure look alot better. My countertops are just boring old formica “butcher block” style. But they have held up well.

  • Reply To This Comment
    C MacDuff
    November 16, 2016 at 10:00 am

    TWO color for sure!! I love how it gets you close to your coveted marble!

  • Reply To This Comment
    Lexi
    November 16, 2016 at 10:05 am

    What about the marbled look for the breakfast room table it may look nice with either option for the counters

  • Reply To This Comment
    Linda
    November 16, 2016 at 10:27 am

    AB-SO-LUTELY LOVE the idea of the two color finish!! Would do exactly what you say – look good and not show imperfections so much. Wow for sure.

  • Reply To This Comment
    Tammy (Pa.)
    November 16, 2016 at 10:30 am

    Kristi, I’m sure you didn’t want to try your technique on your counters while the garage man was there either..
    That’s a shame your counters got like that after the great job you’ve done on them but hopefully this will help out the situation. Can’t wait to see how it turns out..!!

  • Reply To This Comment
    Charlene
    November 16, 2016 at 10:48 am

    I WOULD PROBABLY PICK THE ONE THAT EMBRACES THE CONCRETE FEEL MORE. I BELIEVE YOU CHOSE THE CONCRETE INITIALLY FOR A REASON. I’m WITH YOU REGARDING TRYING TO MAKE CONCRETE LOOK LIKE MARBLE HMM…RISKY THAT IT WOULD JUST LOOK FAUX. AND WHEN YOU HAVE A CONVETED COUNTER TYPE ALREADY, I WOULDN’T TRY TO MAKE IT LOOK LIKE SOMETHING ELSE.

  • Reply To This Comment
    Ishtar
    November 16, 2016 at 11:01 am

    Two color for sure.

  • Reply To This Comment
    DAF
    November 16, 2016 at 11:16 am

    I’d wait to see what his samples look like before making a decision. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with. Thanks for exploring this unique option. I could see how readers would be interested in this service/product for counters in laundry rooms as well as concrete floors.

  • Reply To This Comment
    Betsy
    November 16, 2016 at 11:24 am

    Or hire a decorative artist whose marble technique you like and have them do the marbling. You do the base color for them, and have the garage people do the polyurea topcoat.

  • Reply To This Comment
    Alta Craig
    November 16, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    I like the idea of a subtle two-color design. The plain white finish is very pretty, but looks more contemporary imho. I think you would be happier with a ‘richer’ look, with a bit more depth. Don’tcha just love it when a plan starts coming together? 😊

    • Reply To This Comment
      Kristi C
      November 16, 2016 at 1:17 pm

      Yes, I think the white looks too contemporary too. The two tone, if done well, will give the marble look and some sophistication. Plus hide the imperfections that come with life.

  • Reply To This Comment
    Justin
    November 16, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    I wonder what he would charge if you went and got a couple of patio pavers from Home Depot, did some faux designs in paint, and then gave them to him to clear coat. Might be a good way to gauge whether you could live with a DIY solution or not.

    Another thing… Have you considered doing just a section (like the island, perhaps) in real Marble or Silestone (artificial stone)? I know it’s an expense, but it should be relatively simple to have someone (maybe your concrete guys from the floors) come in and slice the countertop at the cutoff and then chip it out. Or maybe even just remove it using the backerboard (I forget how you installed it).

  • Reply To This Comment
    Cindy
    November 16, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    Solid white, all the way. The two-color option looks like Formica to me.

  • Reply To This Comment
    JenC
    November 16, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    Definitely the solid white. The other just looks a bit cheap and grubby to me, like white that hasn’t been cleaned properly or has mottled with use. Solid white looks clean, and you have enough visual interest in your kitchen already with the two colours of cabinets.

  • Reply To This Comment
    Kim
    November 16, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    For me, I’d absolutely go solid shiny white. The next kitchen I have will have solid white countertops because right now I have black quartz that looks gorgeous – until you look closely and can see the hard water stains. I was told quartz would never show water stains but it certainly does. I’m constantly wiping water from where my husband splashes it when he washes his hands! Same thing happened before when I had black granite.

  • Reply To This Comment
    Sharon C
    November 16, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    So pleased to hear that the guy from Garage Force came to see your kitchen counters. IMHO, I think the 2 tone look would be best for your kitchen, and match the new kitchen cabinetry colors the best. While I like the solid white, I think it looks too contemporary for your home. Sorry to hear the grasscloth is on back order…….but at the same time, it does gives you the time for repainting the kitchen cabinets before it arrives…….but knowing you’re a superwoman, there’s your hallway too. All of this is super exciting for us followers!!!

  • Reply To This Comment
    Theresa
    November 16, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    Personally, I like both the solid white and the two-tone and I think either would work in your kitchen/breakfast room combo. The thing that sticks out to me MOST is that all of the inspiration pictures that you have do not have an ogee edge. The edge is square. Will you be keeping the ogee edge?

  • Reply To This Comment
    Mary Anne Looby
    November 16, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    The concrete looks awful, no offense. What a shame, but hey, live and learn. I would wait until he does some samples for you. You are doing the blue on the bottom and white on the top right? I would just wait and give your brain over to something else for now. I am anxious for the living room to finally get done. I never did get having it aas a dining room. I don’t know if you ever look at overstock.com, but right now they seem to have a whole new batch of curtains on their site. I spotted an add and started looking. I need to make some changes but nothing major, so I am going for the dining room windows and French doors. I want something white and light and airy, since they are just going to be dust catchers! I just feel I need to soften some of my woodwork. Then again, maybe not. We love the epoxy on the garage floor. It just looks so nice.

  • Reply To This Comment
    Connie
    November 16, 2016 at 9:24 pm

    Kristi, I would take him up on his offer of doing some samples for you. One thing that will really figure into your decision is your cabinet colors. How will you like a solid white with the light gray? You might find it is rather blah or you may love it. And the marbling might just look great since it will add more interest than plain white yet the color is still light and classy. I wouldn’t, were I in your shoes, use the same colors in the faux granite or marble that you are using on the cabinets. You may find it looks a little contrived, a little ‘less’ natural. Show him your cabinet colors so he will know what he has to work with. If he has your sample boards to refer to while he is doing the faux granite or marble sample boards, its bound to help.

    Speaking of BIG HELP! Before he begins work on your sample boards, get thee to ye olde granite and marble yard where dreams and visions begin and also where customers go to pick out the actual slabs to be used in their kitchens. Like the photo showing the big slab of Mystery White or whatever it is, you can see the veining colors, direction of flow and size of the veins. Definitely take your cabinet color samples with you. It may turn out to be an awakening experience but also fun, interesting, and educating day. I think when you are looking at the slabs now, with your other choices made for colors, grass-cloth you will be able to drill down to certain types pretty easily. With some slabs, it will be an immediate NO; color is off, veining is to wide, to faint, to busy, to splotch and looks like polka dots from a distance, etc. You have certain colors and styles in mind so you will be able to key in on colors pretty quickly but go in with an open mind. You may surprise yourself with your choices. Then, if its like most stone yards, after you have looked at the slabs and narrowed it down to those with the look you want, they should have samples you can take home. Also, take photos of those you like and make notes as to why you like each one. Do this even if there is only one feature in that slab you really like but you hate the rest of its look. I did that with one slab. It wasn’t a color I could use and parts of it were rather bland but the part I like was gorgeous. It was if sand had drifted diagonally and a river snaked through the “sand waves. It is still one of the most unique slabs of stone I have ever seen. I just wish I had a large island where the whole slab could be shown off to advantage but I would have to reconstruct my whole kitchen AND borrow space from some other room, and that would mean…Never mind, it would be easier to build a new house to go with that “reconstructed” kitchen.
    Once you have you samples, photos and notes, then you can show the man doing your counters (and Matt) exactly what you have in mind. Its okay to take a little idea from this slab, a little something different from another slab until you have exactly what works for you because one may have the perfect base color and it works wonderfully with your cabinet colors but then this other one has the exact type of veining that you adore. It actually has three colors of veining but they are all subtle and classic then there is the slab that had the beautiful iridescent color in part of it. I would love to be on this adventure with you but Atlanta to Waco is a little much for a day trip. I can’t wait to see what samples you choose and then to see his sample boards for your kitchen.

  • Reply To This Comment
    Rebecca B
    November 17, 2016 at 9:49 am

    Bummer, no new post today. But lots of good comments on the countertops. I think creating a sample of white vs a sample of bi color and then making your decision is very good advice.

  • Reply To This Comment
    Sue
    November 17, 2016 at 10:44 am

    This process sounds promising. If they use it on garage floors and people drive on it and leave their cars leaking and dripping elements on it, it should hold up to kitchen use. I truly like the idea of solid white countertops because they will go with any other color and you can change the color of your cabinets and the white will always work. So excited for you.

    Sorry about the grasscloth back order but you will probably be so busy with other projects between now and then, you won’t even notice.

  • Reply To This Comment
    KathyT
    November 17, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    You would be more useful helping me choose my countertops than I would be able to help you but I want to play along and weigh in on the question. I think white marble with brown veining would be pretty in your kitchen. Still in general I want expensive things to look like what they are, and concrete countertops are more expensive than marble- where we live at least. Concrete is a gorgeous handcrafted masonry product and I love concrete counters with chalky slightly molted look in neutral grays, browns and off white that look like concrete. I think chalky white with soft brown undertones settling in the texture of the concrete would be pretty in your kitchen especially if you are keeping the hardwood floors. I seem to remember a few changes in the kitchen flooring, but I can’t remember which way that went. I love how you keep changing things. I see your house as an experiment in what doesn’t work, what works and what works better. You have such a good attitude about changing what isn’t working. It will be interesting to see how you solve this problem with the DIY concrete countertop issues.

    • Reply To This Comment
      Rebecca B
      November 18, 2016 at 8:32 am

      Wow, who would have thought that concrete is more expensive than granite!

      • Reply To This Comment
        KathyT
        November 18, 2016 at 10:29 am

        I was surprised by that too. :)) In other areas custom concrete countertops might be less expensive than granite or marble, but it isn’t going to be cheap. A mason is a skilled laborer. I live in an area outside of Atlanta with many rock quarries and even we have a solid white marble public elementary school to celebrate that, and even imported rock from all over the world comes into Georgia before being distributed to the rest of the US. Of course, if you DYI, concrete is cheaper of course, but you can say that about anything. If you could DYI granite and marble it would be cheaper too. A piece of salvaged granite or marble is worth practically nothing, because the people who sell granite are the same people who cut it and they only want to cut their own rock. We are about to demolish and remodel, our kitchen and I would love to see someone take that old granite away and use it. Sadly it will all get throw away.

        • Reply To This Comment
          Rebecca B
          November 18, 2016 at 11:56 am

          Bummer! A bunch of granite being thrown out! What a shame.

  • Reply To This Comment
    Debb
    November 17, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    I’d encourage you to pick the paint colors you prefer (maybe you have more than one) and get samples made up. Compare these next to your appliances and new cabinet color.

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