Introduction: DIY Resin Countertops Using Clear Epoxy Coating Resin and Pigments
Epoxy resin countertops or worktops are becoming incredibly popular as they are a relatively quick and cost effective way of completely transforming your kitchen!
These transformations are being undertaken by contractors installing kitchens into client homes and businesses, right to the other end of the scale with customers giving their own kitchens a makeover with the WOW factor. We've been receiving high volumes of calls asking how to go about creating resin countertops, so we're back with our latest main project tutorial and accompanying free downloadable eBook and of course this Instructable!
We've also put together 4 short 'effect videos' which detail how to achieve the colour effects we stock as complete kits: Rose Quartz, Carrara White Marble, Cosmic Black Granite and Jaded Copper and their corresponding 'Colour Cards' which detail how much resin and pigment to use at each stage of the process.- you can of course create any colour combination worktops using the same techniques to create your own colour scheme and personal taste and purchase the project materials separately.
This Instructable covers all the information you'll need to transform your worktops, bar-tops or even table-tops, in fact any existing smooth surface into a super glossy, authentic, attractive and hygienic surface.
Hope you enjoy our latest offering and we look forward to hearing from you if you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to get in touch ...
Step 1: What You'll Need
The Products and Materials used in the project:
If you are using a pre-packed resin countertop kit:
Your choice of Countertop Kit
The relevant Ancillary Kit
A hair dryer (ideally one you're not too worried about!)
If you are gathering the materials together for the project you will need:
Countertop Epoxy Resin
Your choice of epoxy colour pigments
Your choice of metallic effect powder pigments
A hair dryer (ideally one you're not too worried about getting covered in resin!)
120 grit abrasive paper
At least two clean mixing buckets/pots large enough to hold all of the resin you'll be mixing in one go
Several smaller mixing cups
Large and small mixing sticks
2 disposable paint brushes
50mm (2”) masking tape
Nitrile gloves, glasses/goggles and a vapour mask (in case of insufficient ventilation)
Finishing or Polishing (Optional) If you find yourself with any marks or blemishes to correct, you may also require: Additional abrasive papers (240, 400, 800, 1200)
Polishing rag (such a microfibre cloth)
It's very important that the environment you are working in is a dry, heated space with an ambient temperature of around 20°C throughout the process.
The Resin also needs to be at room temperature - so if it's delivered cold or it's been in the garage you will need to raise the temperature to 20°C before use. Any damp or cold conditions will affect the end result and the room needs to be as dust & dirt free as possible.
Step 2: Planning the Job & Safety
Your first step will be to work out the area of the surface(s) of your project, this will inform your decision of how much you will need of all the materials. You will also need to decide on your colour scheme and if you will be working with your own colours, you'll be able to work out quantities required.
To work out the area of your counters:
You need to work out the area in square metres (m²) as follows:
Length (in metres) multiplied by the depth (in metres)
If your surfaces are 'L' or 'U' shaped, it makes life easier if you divide the sections of the worktop into rectangles as demonstrated in the diagram and add the totals together.
For example, a counter measuring 120cm (1.2m) x 60cm (0.60m) + 190cm (1.9m) x 60cm (0.60m) = 1.86sqm
For this counter area the 2sqm kit is perfect for this size project. We will be working with the Carrara White Marble Kit but you can see the other options in the images for inspiration.
The next step is to order the correct sized kit or the correct quantity of materials for your project.
Once you have your grand total, you can order the relevant kit or kits. If however you are ordering resin and pigments separately - you will need to do your own calculations if you are creating a completely different colour combination.
You can find a breakdown of quantities for the resin and pigments dependent upon the size of your worktop in the 'Ordering Resin and Pigments Separately' section here.
Don't forget that when working with epoxy resin you will need to consider the pot-life (once the hardener is added to the resin) and working time. We use the guide of coating 2sqm at a time (approx 4 metre length worktop) to avoid running out of time and exceeding the working time. It may be worth asking someone to help you if you have a larger surface to cover in a single pour - for example an island worktop.
GlassCast 3 is a chemical product. Before storage or use you must download and read the accompanying safety datasheet.
A summary of the most important information is as follows:
- Always wear nitrile gloves when handling the resin or hardener
- Never touch uncured or partially cured resin with your bare skin.
- Wear suitable eye protection when handling the resin or hardener.
- Although GlassCast 3 is solvent free and has almost no odour you should still work in a well-ventilated area or wear a vapour mask.
Step 3: Correctly Weighing, Mixing and Pigmenting the Resin
You've got all your materials and are ready to start your resin countertop project - it's time to get started!
Weigh out your clear epoxy coating resin following the manufacturers instructions and ensure that you follow the correct procedure for mixing to avoid sticky patches, uncured resin issues or surface imperfections.
- GlassCast 3 has a 2:1 mix ratio (by weight) e.g. 100g resin to 50g hardener.
- It's important to be accurate to ensure the best possible outcome. It's also imperative that you don't attempt to add more hardener for a faster cure, or mix different products.
If you are using a GlassCast Countertop Kit then all resin and hardener measurements are done for you; simply weigh out the amounts listed on your kit's 'Colour Card' at each stage of the process.
- It's fine to add pigments into the resin before or after you add the hardener.
- However, because the resin starts curing as soon as you add the hardener, if you want to take your time adding different pigments or effects to the resin, it's better to do this before you add the hardener.
We recommend mixing epoxy resin by hand. We strongly advise against using jiffy mixers or similar as these tend to add air into the mixture and the more air present the harder it is for the resin to degas itself.
- Mix for 3 minutes before pouring into a second bucket and mixing again - this is called 'double potting' and is a really important step to ensure a thorough mix.
- These steps need to be repeated if you are working with multiple batches on a larger project.
- Regularly scrape the sides, bottom and corners of the mixing bucket, as well as the mixing stick, to ensure the resin and hardener are thoroughly combined.
- This is particularly important when doing the 'main pour' of resin for your countertop as any unmixed resin will not cure and will leave sticky patches or streaks on your otherwise perfect countertop.
Ensure that you are working in an environment that is clean, dry and heated. Ideally in a room temperature of 20°C. GlassCast 3 can be used in temperatures from 15 to 25°C but higher temperatures will reduce the pot-life of the resin significantly.
Airborne Dust and Contamination can land on the resin and cause surface blemishes on the surface so it is important to keep contamination to a minimum. Before you begin you should ensure that the area you’re working in is as free as possible from dust and dirt. Although you need good ventilation whilst you’re working, it's a good job to seal the room during the cure.
Step 4: Prepare Work Surfaces & Protect the Surrounding Area
You can pour onto pretty much any existing surface using the techniques in this Instructable, but you may need to prepare a little differently depending on the substrate.
If you are pouring onto an existing traditional laminate worktop you will need to:
- Key the entire surface using a coarse abrasive paper - we used 120 grit. This is to make sure that the resin pour can bond properly to it.
- If you have a power sander you can use it, just make sure you get to all edges and over the front rolled edge.
If you are pouring over wooden worktops, MDF or traditional Plywood - these may have been treated with oils or varnishes and will require the same treatment as above.
If you are pouring on to virgin wood then you can move on to the next stage.
Make sure that you thoroughly clean the surface and wider room after this stage before starting the next step.
Protecting the Surrounding Area
Epoxy resin will stick to anything and everything so protecting the surrounding area is paramount!
Our accessory kits include everything you'll need for protecting your working area including masking tape and film.
Mask off tiles, splashbacks and any built in equipment that can not be removed. You will mask off for the primer coat then remove and reapply to give crisp edges where the resin meets the back wall. Then mask off the underside of the front edge. When you do this make sure that you position it a couple of millimetres back from the front edge so it doesn't result in a build up of resin right on the edge which can create a lip.
Step 5: Mix and Apply the Primer Coat
You are now ready to apply the primer coat. This layer is designed to do a few things;
- Block out underlying colour or pattern from the existing countertop
- Provide a smooth, bondable base for the main pour
- Prime the existing surface to make it strong and non-porous
In the case of the Carrara White Marble kit the primer coat is a single colour but this may differ with different colour combinations.
If you’re using a Countertop Kit, mix the primer coat following the resin, hardener and pigment quantities listed on your kit’s colour card, you may need to adjust your colours and quantities for alternative looks.
For this project we'll be using:
667g Resin (part A) and 333g Hardener (Part B) and pigmenting it with 100g CULR Super White Epoxy Pigment
- Correctly measure, mix and pigment your materials for the primer-coat (using the double-potting method)
- Pour out the mixture over the prepared countertop
- Using a brush, spread out the mixture to leave a smooth, consistent surface including the front edge
- You can remove the masking tape from the back wall/ splashback straight away to leave the crisp edge
- During the next couple of hours, you will need to revisit the front edge and remove any drips that may form - this will usually stop after a couple of hours and you can then remove the tape from the underside
- Leave the resin to cure for the next 24 hours - check the surface has cured by using a gloved finger, once it is hard and dry key the surface again using 120 grit abrasive paper*
*We don't advise using a power sander this time as it needs to be a thorough job but it's important not to abrade through the primer coat.
Once you’re done, thoroughly wipe away all the dust with a clean, dry cloth, checking the room is nice and clean.
Step 6: Replace Masking Tape and Create a Resin Barrier for the Edge
The next step is to replace the masking tape you removed previously (on the back wall and the underside of the counter) it's important to get the tape back in the same position it was in previously.
Then using masking tape create a 'Resin Barrier' along the front edge of the worktop - where the rolled edge is. The best way to do this is to stick it on to the front edge leaving is sticking up higher than the rounded edge - a seen in the image. This will allow some excess resin including the effects to collect on the front edge which will be explained in Step 9.
Make sure to double-up the masking tape so that it’s two layers thick; this will make it more sturdy in holding the resin back.
Step 7: Pigment and Mix the Resin for the Main Pour
It's a good idea to set a timer at this stage so you can keep an eye on your working time.
Following the colour card (or not if you're working to your own colour scheme) you will need to follow the same procedure from Step 5. It's good practise to pigment the resin with the main colour before adding the hardener to give you more working time.
Pigmenting the Resin When Using a Countertop Kit you will start by creating a ‘base mix’ and then you’ll divide off some of this base mix to create the various other shades and accents for the effects.
Follow the instructions and measurements shown on your Countertop Kit’s Colour Card for quantities.
If you’re using your own combination of colours and effects then it would be best to test out some colour combinations and techniques on a sample board so you can work out the quantities required for the project.
For the Carrara White Marble kit we are using the following quantities for each mix:
- Base Mix - 2667g Resin (Part A) and 1333g Hardener (Part B) pigmented with 30g CULR Super White and 24g SHIMR Arctic Pearl
- We will then decant 3 small batches from the Base Mix as follows:
- 300g to make the Lighter Grey Shade - to this we added SHIMR Graphite Black as required
- 300g to make the Darker Grey Shade - to this we added SHIMR Graphite Black as required
- 40g to make the Bronze Accent - to this we added SHIMR Bronze as required
Now comes the creative part ...
Step 8: Applying and Blending the Resin to Create Stunning Effects
- Begin by pouring approximately 1/3 of the base mix onto the surface and spread it around, ideally using a notched resin spreader. This first layer will serve to create veining deep down in the pour which will help to create a feeling of depth. This step seeks to achieve a partial covering so we can create some of the shades and effects.
- Next drizzle small amounts of the shades over the worktops and using a brush use a stippling effect to disturb the accent colours and loose the 'harder' lines.
- Then use a hair dryer to move the resin around, this results in a feathery effect and a more natural appearance like stone.
TIP Use your hair dryer on it's coolest setting - if you apply heat it can elevate the temperature of the resin and speed up the cure.
With the initial layer down it's time to move on to the next layer:
- Pour out the majority of the remaining base mix - saving a small amount in case of any touch-up's
- Using the notched spreader (and brush if required) distribute the mix, this time aiming for complete coverage of the worktop
- Spread over the initial layer lightly and carefully so as not to disturb the existing pattern
- Then drizzle thin lines of the 'shades' to replicate veins
- Use jagged lines rather than sweeping curves for a more natural look
- Next use the hairdryer to create realistic effects
TIP when drizzling the shades and accents begin and end drizzling the veins off the countertop - this will help avoid big blobs of colour and ensure a more realistic effect
You can use the left over base mix at this stage of you need to dilute any dark areas and continue with the hair dryer to feather and blend the veins.
Now we leave the project for a couple of hours to begin to gel.
Step 9: Removing the Resin Barrier for the Rolled Edge and Leave to Reach Initial Cure
A couple of hours have passed and we can now remove the masking tape that we created a resin barrier with along the front edge. In an environment of around 20°C this will take approximately 2 hours from the initial mix of the resin and hardener.
We need the viscosity of the resin to have thickened enough to slowly roll over the front edge rather than run-off.
Starting at one end slowly peel the tape off and you will see the resin that was held against the barrier start to creep over the edge and down the front. This stage will take about 10 minutes so don't be alarmed if it doesn't seem to move much at first.
The great thing about this technique is the continuity of the pattern from the top onto the side, again adding to the authenticity. If you are worried that the resin isn't flowing enough you can tease it over with a brush.
If you get drips forming on the underside of the front edge you can easily remove them by swiping them off with a mixing stick - you may need to do this a few times over the next hour, so it's a good idea to keep checking it and remove any drips.
It's now the best time to remove the masking tape from the underside of the front edge and also along the back wall before leaving the countertop to cure.
The cure will take around 24hrs at 20°C. It’s important to maintain this temperature during this time. Colder temperatures will considerably slow down the cure and can even cause condensation to form on the resin, spoiling its glass-like appearance. Although the resin will continue to harden for several more days, after 24hrs it should be sufficiently cured to continue to the final tidy-up.
Step 10: Removing Drips and Finishing Off
The 24 hour point is a great time to do any last tidying up and finishing off.
Before starting on the final tidy-up, test a small area (using a gloved finger) to check the state of the resin - it should feel hard and dry. If at this stage it still feels a little soft leave it to cure further and consider turning the heat up a little.
If you have any drips remaining on the underside of the front edge these can be easily removed using a sheet of 120 grit paper - if you wrap it around a block it's easy to rub the drips off.
If you find that you have any more finishing you can use finer abrasives and polishing compound if needed.
Now leave the countertop to fully cure - leaving it as long as possible before putting it to use a a worktop. We recommend at least 5 days to allow the resin to continue to harden. This will also make it more hardwearing and less susceptible to marks and scratches.
Your Finished Epoxy Resin Countertop!!!
We love the finished project - the detail is stunning and so realistic, it really looks like Marble!
We would love to hear what you think of this project, be sure to let us know what you think and if you have any questions don't hesitate to ask.
Thanks for reading our Instructable :-)
Step 11: Alternative Design Epoxy Resin Worktops!
Here's a few images of the incredible countertops created using our pre-packed countertop kits - they really are amazing and we look forward to seeing yours!
Participated in the