I promise this will be the last countertop post for a very long time! I’ll probably do a follow-up at some point because I know some of you will want to know how the polyurea clear coat is holding up over time. But for now, this will be the last.
You can click here if you missed Part 1 of this project (the grinding, sanding, and priming steps)…
And you can click here for Part 2 of this project (more sanding, Bondo-ing and painting)…
I had originally planned to just update yesterday’s post with pictures of the final countertops with the clear coat, but I had also expected him to be here much earlier in the day to do the clear coat. Like perhaps around noon, or possibly before then. To be fair, he didn’t actually tell me what time he would be here. That was a complete assumption on my part.
As it turns out, they had a big flooring job scheduled for yesterday, and had just planned to come and finish up my tiny countertop job at the end of the day. So he didn’t actually get here until about 7:30 in the evening, and didn’t finish up until around 8:30. Then I had to babysit the countertops for the next hour (more on that in a minute) and then we ate a very late dinner. By that time, it was around 10:15, and it just seemed pointless to update yesterday’s post with new pictures.
So here I am today with the final pictures. 🙂 And y’all, I couldn’t be happier with the results! I took these this morning after the countertops had all night to dry.
I ended up going with a shinier finish than I had originally planned. Polyurea is naturally very shiny — somewhere between a gloss and high gloss finish, I would say. In order to create duller finishes they have to mix in an additive that’s like a super fine whitish sand. The more of this additive they mix in, the duller the finish.
But again, it’s like super fine sand. And when you add super fine sand to a surface, what do you get? The feeling of sandpaper.
So the matte finish feels something like a 220-grit sandpaper. That’s probably fine for garage floors, which is what these products were actually made for, but it’s not really good for kitchen countertops.
So I had him mix in a little of the additive just to dull the shine a little bit, but not so much that I would end up with a sandpaper-feeling countertop, and therefore, not a matte finish.
I think the trade off was a good one. I was hesitant about the sheen at first, but when I got up this morning and saw the sheen in the morning light — somewhere between a semi-gloss and satin finish — I really liked it.
I mean, these countertops look brand new now. Actually, they look much better than they did two-and-a-half years ago when they were actually brand new.
I wish I had done this a long time ago.
As you can see, the finish has a bit of a slight orange peel texture to it, but it’s not bad at all.
It’s a very subtle texture that won’t affect the ease of cleaning at all.
But I feel like you really have to be looking for it to notice it. From a short distance away, it’s not really noticeable.
And I’m so glad that I went to the extra effort to fix all of the ogee edges with Bondo and sand them smooth, filling all of the air bubble holes, cracks, etc. But I did miss a few, like this air bubble hole right on the bottom edge of the countertop.
But that’s okay. 🙂 I got all of the major ones that were really noticeable and bothersome to me.
So to answer a few questions…
What is polyurea?
Honestly, I have no idea. I looked it up and got 16 words into the Wikipedia definition before I had to start looking up additional words to understand, and finally gave up. I’ll just say it’s really, really strong stuff. It’s what they use for spray-on bed liners in trucks. If you can spare a few minutes, go to YouTube, search “polyurea” and just watch a few videos. You’ll be both entertained and amazed at this stuff.
Until I learned about polyurea, I had planned to refinish and reseal my countertops with the strongest sealer I had found during my two or so months of research on the topic. That sealer was the Stonelok E3/2K2 Countertop, which is an epoxy and urethane sealer.
Polyurea is about 20 times stronger than epoxy. Yeah. It’s super strong stuff.
It’s also really thin and kind of runny, which surprised me. How could something that goes on so thin be so strong? It just takes one coat, and it takes about four hours before it’s dry to the touch. But after he applied it and left, I had to babysit those darned countertops for about an hour, catching and wiping away the polyurea as it gathered on the bottom edge of the countertop and formed drips. It took an hour of doing that before it started setting up enough so that it wasn’t so runny and drippy.
I also had to be on dust/bug duty until it was set up enough so that things couldn’t get trapped in it. I had to fish out two fruit flies, one tiny little moth, and three fruit fly-sized pieces of green lint that came from who-knows-where and got trapped in the clear coat. During that first hour, getting those things out was easy because the clear coat is pretty self-healing when it’s still really wet, leaving no visible marks where I dug them out with my fingernail because those small areas just filled right back in with polyurea.
Does the clear coat have any color to it?
NO!! Phew! I was so relieved. I woke up yesterday morning in a very slight panic thinking, “Oh my gosh! I worked so hard getting the color right, and what if the “clear” coat isn’t really clear?! What if it’s yellowish or has an amber tone to it like polyurethane?!”
So I sent off a quick text asking Mike if it’s truly clear. He assured me it was, but I was still nervous. I was anxious to see it with my own eyes. I even had my doubts as he mixed it up right in front of me and started pouring it onto the countertop, because it looked like a super light gray. But as he spread it out with the roller, it was clear. No gray, no yellow, no amber. Just clear.
It will bring out the color of whatever is underneath it just a bit (just like how water-based polyurethane, even though clear, will still bring out the color of the wood just a bit), but it’s clear with no yellow or amber or any other color to it at all.
Where can I buy it?
I searched and searched online and so far I’ve only found one source (this one) for polyurea sold in reasonable amounts (i.e., an amount that a DIYer would need for countertops, as opposed to industrial sized containers for commercial use), and it was only available in the glossy finish.
If you don’t want to DIY it, or want a sheen other than the high gloss, then I suggest contacting places that do garage floor coatings, and asking specifically if they use polyurea. If you’re in the Waco area, I used Garage Force. That’s actually a franchise, so there are locations throughout the country. There are a few different coatings that are used on garage floors these days. Some companies use epoxies. Some use polyurea. And some use something else altogether. So you’ll need to be specific.
How much does it cost?
I can tell you how much mine cost, but of course, that doesn’t mean that it’ll be the same price in your area.
For all of the labor and materials for about 50 square feet of countertops, I paid $275. That included the grinding of the countertops to make them smooth, priming with their special primer, and then the clear coat. But remember, I did all of the sanding and painting myself. If they had done that part for me, the price would have been around $400.
Is it food safe?
Once it’s fully cured (and I forgot to ask how long that takes) yes, it IS food safe!
Will it stand up to chemicals?
Yep. I asked him what would happen if I spilled mineral spirits on it. He said nothing would happen.
I asked him, “Hypothetically, if I wanted to strip these in a couple of years and refinish them another way, what would I use to remove the polyurea? What chemical would I use?”
After all, you can go to Home Depot and buy strippers that are specifically made to remove urethanes and epoxies, right? He said there’s not one that would remove polyurea. If I wanted this removed, it would have to be removed with a grinder — the type of grinder that he used to smooth my rough concrete countertops in the first place.
Can you cut on it?
I mean, technically, yes. After all, it’s food safe, and it’s super strong and durable. But if you’re really sawing away with your knife directly on the countertop, it might leave some small scratches behind. The good thing is that it can be recoated every few years if needed.
But I don’t cut food directly on my countertops. I’ve never done that. I have a cat who loves to sit on countertops, and even though I clean the countertops before cooking, and don’t allow her on the countertops when food is being prepared, the idea of putting food directly onto countertops kind of makes me cringe. Heck, I thought that before I had cats, though. I like cutting boards. I’ll always use cutting boards regardless of what material my counteretops are made of.
Can you put pots and pans directly from the stove onto the countertop?
He said he thinks that’s fine, but he’s going to double check for me. The Stonelok countertop sealer, which is epoxy/urethane, is safe up to 400 degrees. So if that can handle high heat, I’m almost certain that the polyurea can as well. But again, he’s verifying that info for me.
But again, that’s another thing I really never do. I have no problem using a trivet or hot pad under my pots and pans.
So I think those are all of the questions I got about the polyurea, but if I’ve missed one, please let me know! If I don’t have the info, I’ll certainly try to find out for you. And keep in mind that this can be used on garage floors, patios, interior floors (e.g., if you want to remove your carpet and just have them coat the concrete slab). It can be used over existing tile, concrete, and much more. And while different companies will have different products and colors available, the Garage Force locations can mix their colors in any Sherwin Williams paint colors, so the color choices are vast.
Anyway, let me know if you have any other questions, and I’ll do my best to find out the info!