Kitchen Makeover: Our New Counters

Have you been following me on Instagram? If so, you know that we have made major progress on our kitchen. Whew. That’s why I haven’t been showing up much here lately. But be prepared to see lots of updates soon!

counterI told you about our plans to use the Encore countertop kit in Onyx here. I ordered it online from Ace Hardware for $267 and used a 10% off coupon which covered the tax.

We started by removing the laminate backsplash and sink.

photo(14)Then the hubby cleaned the counters with a degreaser (TSP) while I taped off and put up the drop cloths around the counters and on the floor (we are messy folks).

We watched the video included in the kit and then jumped in!

However we were stopped short in our tracks to head to Lowe’s to buy several items we didn’t already have, like a 6” putty knife, mixing containers, sand paper, measuring cups, drop cloth, foam rollers, and foam brushes. So in addition to the $267 on the kit, we spent about $60 on supplies.

photo 2 (74)Then we jumped in. The box comes all organized to keep things separated by each day- 3 days total.

Day 1, step one was a little nerve-wrecking, because it looks awful. It’s all thin and doesn’t cover well. But it said “THIN” layer. Don’t quit there. Thankfully, Day 1 step 2 looked much better. It was so much easier to apply and turned out much smoother.

photo 1 (74)We sanded with a 100 grit sanding sponge after each application to get the ridges and globs. photo 2 (76)Thankfully, the Day 2 steps were a lot quicker and saw more progress toward what the end result would be. Remember how this was supposed to actually be a 3 Day project? Well, by the time we finished the Day 2 steps we had been working on it (or not working on it due to some puppy-related issues) for 5 days. Gulp. This was taking longer than we expected. But when we both have full-time jobs and don’t get started until the evening and things take longer to dry and you don’t want to stay up ‘til midnight to wait for it to dry… well, this is what happens.

Fortunately it doesn’t truly have to be a 3 day job, as long as you haven’t mixed anything. And, pretty much everything comes in individual bags to mix so it’s easy to drag it out as long as you don’t quit mid-step. Whew.

So Day 2 had us mixing the color stain, water, and cement. This consistency was much thinner than Day 1, like coffee creamer since it had some viscosity.

photo 4 (56)After sanding with 100 grit and wiping it off, we poured it onto the counter and spread it around with rounded movements with our 6” putty knife. We found that the best way to do the edges was with a foam brush. So the hubs (so kindly) would do that while I started on the tops and then he would jump back in.

photo 3 (67)After it dries, which is pretty fast,you can really see the variation. We were so excited! This time you sand lightly all over with 220 grit sponge. I also used a metal putty knife to get off globs and try to flatten ridges- especially on the edges.

Two more coats of the color stain with sanding in between and that’s it! We really enjoyed this part and loved to see how each coat brought more depth.

And we finally and actually did both Day 3 steps on the same day. The mixing was simple enough but it sure was smelly! Gloves at a minimum are a must for this step, but we wore them for each one, and I donned a mask and eye protection for this last one.

The process is the same for both Day 3 steps- you pour it on and use a foam brush to “cut in” and for the edges, and a foam roller for the top. Then roll back over lightly to make sure there are no bubbles, ridges, puddles, or drips. It dries 4 hours in between, and it’s ok if it’s a little tacky before doing the next coat. It looks milky when applied but dries clear, which reminds me of using Polycrylic sealer.

photo 5 (50)After drying overnight, you are done! It had to cure for a whole week but it was nice to clean up the kitchen. At first the finish was pretty glossy looking which I was not a fan of. But over time it has developed a matte finish which really brings out the dimension.

IMG_0668I think it really looks like soapstone which I LOVE.


IMG_0667We didn’t achieve a perfectly smooth finish, especially on the edges, but I think it makes it feel more like a poured cement or stone.

My overall thoughts:

– This is a great, relatively cheap way to completely transform your countertops, and use can use it on laminate (like us) or even over tile

– Remove your stove when doing the entire thing- we taped off but had a difficult job getting it off the stove since we had effectively cemented it on by that point. We scored it with a razor blade and were able to move the stove but when I pulled the tape off a little piece on the edge chipped off. But I was able to glue it back in place. Completely user error.

– The process is pretty simple. You could do it alone but doing it with someone else is easier of course. Especially with all the sanding.

– Be prepared to be without your counters for 10+ days. This was a bit of a hassle especially since we removed the sink, but we are glad we did it right! Thank goodness for our big ol’ laundry room sink.

Overall we LOVE LOVE LOVE it. Wanna see it again?

IMG_0667What do you think of it? You got a sneak peak of our backsplash too. More deets on that soon!

Linked up to Thrifty Decor Chick’s May Before and After Party

Linked up to Liz Marie Blog


29 thoughts on “Kitchen Makeover: Our New Counters

  1. Great option to new countertops which would have cost you thousands of dollars! Looks great! You two are an inspiration at researching and trying new things! Well done!!

  2. Wow, it looks fantastic! Thanks for the in depth and honest review of the whole process–will definitely be considering this when we’re ready to redo our laminate counters!

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  4. Would you buy a house if someone had done a good job of this to the countertops? I want to do this so badly, but we’ll be selling our house in 3 years so I’m nervous.

  5. I see it’s coming up on two years since your post. Any thoughts on the product – how are your counters holding up? Any chipping/scratching or discoloring that you’ve noticed? My family is in the midst of purchasing a home that’s really in need of a counter refresher, but we can’t put in new ones at this time. I’d love to get 5 years out of a re-do… do you think this process has the potential to hold up that long?

  6. Great job on the countertops! I see that you started with a stainless steel trim between the counters and backsplash. I am looking to remove mine and I was wondering how you did it!

  7. What were your countertops before – laminate? I wondered because you mention removing the laminate backspl
    ash, but not the counter surface. Was this because you were going to redo the backsplash as well

    • Sorry I didn’t specify! Yes they were laminate and in excellent shape except some scratches! Yes we removed the laminate backsplash because we did that as well. You could also do the counter treatment on the laminate backsplash but I think it would be difficult to get a smooth finish on a vertical surface.

      • Thanks! My backsplash is just wallpapered wall and is going to get repainted with maybe a few scattered accent tiles added. I don’t have enough money to replace the countertop and this looks like it would work very well!

  8. Hello – I love how the counter refinishing turned out, it certainly does resemble soap stone in the photos! I notice this post actually originated right about 3 years ago, in 2014, how have the counters held up with everyday use? Thank you!

      • Hi Christine,
        I wanted to write a quick note to say I decided to do my countertops one year ago with this kit after reading her post and I am so glad I did! They look wonderful and they have held up beautifully (and I have 6 children ages 1-12, so believe me, the durability has been tested!). They don’t leave water marks if water sits on them for a prolonged period. I always use a cutting board – cutting directly on them would leave marks. I also do not place direct heat on them – I use hot pads.
        If I had to do it over, I would in a heartbeat – I used the onyx color.

  9. We just used a Rustoleum kit to do our cabinets and will be moving on to a kit of some kind for our laminate counters. My fear is the tape! Did you find any issue in pulling up any of the mix when removing tape? Any uneven edging against the cabinets that you had to contend with?

    • Leslie, yes I would avoid using tape because it does dry very hard (it’s like cement) and so can pull some of it- we experienced this because we didn’t love our stove. Some unevenness alone the front edge but you do a lot of sanding and so you can help it there. It really didn’t bother me though. Try to catch the drips as you go instead of sanding down later though so they don’t chip off.

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