Wednesday, May 11, 2016

From Laminate to Granite ...with PAINT!

As a new homeowner, and of a place in need of some updating, my opportunities for projects are endless. First on my list: change out those vanilla, laminate, kitchen counter-tops.  I decided granite would of course be the best choice, however, money definitely doesn't grow on trees, so I needed a cheap but stunning fix.  And here is how I did it! (and under 100$):

As most of you may have discovered, Pinterest is one of the best centers to fuel inspiration - or to just browse projects.  After a lot of research and reading multiple blogs and their tips, I decided to give craft paint granite a try.  And let me tell you, it works!  You honestly cannot tell the difference.  Every time I tell someone it's paint, I have to whip out the project pictures to prove it.  So, what do you need?

  • Small bottles of craft paint - craft smart brand, folkart, apple barrel. etc.  -anything you can get at a local craft store (just make sure it is multi-surface, these also go on sale occasionally)
  • Sea sponges - the more variety of textures, the better.  You can also find these at Michaels by the paint.  Martha Stewart brand has a pack too
  • Kilz primer (small size) - not all home improvement stores carry this, and I would not recommend the off-brand.  I got mine at Home Depot (Menards does not carry this)
  • A throw-away roller cover - Kilz cannot be washed down the drain
  • Epoxy or auto compound (I have not tried acrylic) - you can get the epoxy at Michaels and use a 50% off coupon per box
  • If using epoxy: 
    • mixing cups that also measure
    • Popsicle sticks or plastic utensils to stir
  • Craft foam brush - 49 cents at Michaels
  • Optional - granite samples from a home improvement store to inspire your color scheme

What to do First/Preparing/Priming
Once you have decided your color scheme, make sure to buy 3-5 different colors of paint.  Depending on the size of your project, you will need 2-3 bottles of each color.  I included one metallic paint in my collection to use sparingly for a more realistic effect.  The first step is to clear everything off of your counter-tops.  Next, you will want to wipe down your counters with any household cleaner.  Once you have cleared the surface completely, you are ready to start priming.  You may need 1-3 coats of primer.  Sometimes the primer may also separate as you roll it on - don't worry, it happens, and will eventually take the primer or paint once you start sponging.  Take your roller and roll on the Kilz primer.  When you do this, make sure to leave enough time to work on this project.  When priming, you need to wait 1 hour between each coat, and because it can't be washed down the drain, it may be best to prime all of your coats within the same time frame.  For the trim, you can use the foam brush - even if you only get a light coat, this is ok, just make sure to prime as much as possible.

Embracing the Sea Sponges
Once your work-space has been primed, be sure to still wait another hour before beginning to sponge paint.  You also want to make sure that you complete the sponging stage in the same time frame - taking a day away from sponging before finishing, can cause your project to lack the same consistency you had with the colors you already sponged (unless of course it is not turning out how you would like or you are becoming frustrated, in this case always take a little break or time away from it! :) ) Before you start sponging, focus on the paint colors you picked and decide which color is going to be your base, which color may be more secondary, and which colors you would like to have more as undertones.  You can decide whatever order to sponge your colors, but I will include how I did mine.  The colors I used were mostly FolkArt or Americana brand, and were honey comb, buttermilk, espresso, black, and metallic gold.  When sponging, it is important to sponge that color across your whole work-space before adding another color.  You will make mistakes, but the beauty of sponging is it can always be blended or fixed!  The first color you want to sponge it your base color - this color should be sponged onto your work-space more than any of your other colors, and should cover most of your priming, especially if you are not going for a lighter color scheme which would blend with the white primer.  Your base color should also be the color you want to see the most of.  When sponging this color, I would recommend using a bigger sea sponge in your collection, and as the same for every other color, try as much as possible to randomize how you sponge - turn it different ways, use different sides, change up the amount of pressure you use, etc.  HOWEVER, do not over think it.  A huge part of what makes this project look like granite, is that it should not look predictable like a sponge mark would, or too planned.  With that said, still be sure to try not to smear your sponge marks, because it does take away from the natural look we are trying to achieve.

After you have added your base color, you can begin adding the next color you would like to be prominent in your counter-top (you should not have near as much of this color as you sponged with the first color - remember, you still have to sponge at least 2 more colors, and you want your base color to show).  Now, there are two options - you can wait to sponge the second color after the first one dries, or you can start sponging which may blend with the base color where it is still wet.  It really has to do with your preference - I tried it both ways - just mess around with it until you figure out what you like better.  If you make a mistake that you think you can't fix by blending, you can always sponge back over it with the base color.  Once you have completed sponging your second color, you are ready to start your accent colors!  This is when you can try to master the magical art of veining.  Veining is the look granite has that almost makes it look like it has lines, cracks, or wider streams through it - so-to-speak.  This also helps to give your project a more realistic granite look.  BUT, you have to be very careful not to make it look too uniform!!  Again, granite is all about randomization, so don't define it too much when you highlight with your accent colors.  When considering your accent colors, you should also sponge your most contrasted color that you don't want to see very much of pretty early on - because it will need to be a little covered up by your other colors as to not look too prominent (for example, my most contrasted color was black - notice the technique in the pictures.

Continue adding the rest of your color selection.  Try to couple the colors together as well, you don't want every color to be everywhere necessarily.  I also tried to use a different textured sponge for each color.  If you add metallic paint, only had a little here and there - after you seal it, this the metallic is more prominent.  After you have finished adding your colors, it is time to go back and add the base color again.  This will calm your other colors down.  Sponge until you are pleased with look; it may take more base paint than you think.  Still don't like how it looks?  Don't worry.  As long as you are mostly satisfied with it, just remember that the gloss changes the appearance.  It gives it depth, and draws out the colors.  Check out what might looked like before sealing:

I used Envirotex Lite, epoxy on my counter-tops - however, unless you are familiar with epoxy, want a high gloss, or just like a challenge, I would recommend trying to use auto compound.  You can find it online and in stores.  It also cures faster, and does not require measuring.  The auto compound should be rolled on, yet again with a throw away roller cover, but research it first before making that decision.  Epoxy has to be poured on.  It is also very tricky to deal with, and you want to make sure that when you follow the directions on the box, you follow them PERFECTLY.  Tip - don't use the directions on the bottle as measuring lines, or even just eyeballing it - each liquid needs to be measured in a measuring cup.  Also, do not spread the epoxy, although it says you can - this can throw off the balance of the hardener and the resin.  Each box of epoxy will give you an area of space it will cover - I strongly suggest getting extra epoxy.  Keep the receipt, you can always return it, but unless you try spreading it (which DID NOT end well for me), the measurements given are larger than the area your epoxy will actually be able to cover when poured on.  For example, the size epoxy I bought, read that it would cover a 9x9 square foot area.  However, it only covered about half of that poured on without spreading.  Make sure to use those Michaels coupons!  Continue to follow the directions given on the box for the epoxy.  I would also suggest reading through completely before beginning to pour.  Once poured, do not let anyone touch the space.  It will take about 24-48 hours to lightly cure slightly from liquid form, and 72 to fully cure.  If you are placing heavy objects on the counter such as a microwave, I would recommend waiting about a week before doing so.  If your epoxy does not hard cure after 72 hours, or is sticky or tacky, do not place any objects on the surface.  Unfortunately you will need to remove it and re-pour. -check back for a post of how to do this!  It becomes a sticky mess.  If it does hard cure after 72 hours, you are in the clear!  Just make sure to care for your counters like you would regular counter tops.  Make sure to use hot pads for items when placing hot items or cold items on your counters, like you normally would.  Clean with a bleach free cleaner or soap and water :)  Enjoy!

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