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Sunday, November 29, 2015


When I bought my place there were three things about my kitchen I did not like. The fridge, stove and dishwasher were black. The cupboards were dark brown. And the countertop was a dark, dreary taupe laminate. Dark tones in a wide open combo of living room, dining room and kitchen I found oppressive. Funny that I should buy this place since that is how I felt. But the vaulted ceilings, unusual room arrangements, and a view of the mountains helped me see the potential beyond the darkness in the room.

Light and airy is what informs the peace in this home for me, so those three things had to change. The black stove, fridge and dishwasher were replaced by stainless steel. Next, chalk paint in off white changed the dark brown cupboards dramatically. And was left with the dreary taupe laminate countertop and wondered if I could live with it  since it would be a major thing to actually change it. Two years later, my sentiments had not changed and I braced myself for the work ahead.

I chose to do the countertop with iCOAT since I have worked with it before, loved it, and it is a complete all inclusive system and so it simplified things for me. It is basically very thin layers of concrete that can go directly over that ugly formica, laminate, tile, wood and traditional concrete.  The topcoat is a 2 part Epoxy that self levels and has additives for scratch resistance and is scorch proof. I encourage you to check out iCOAT inventor Tim Phelp's youtube videos on how to do each step. For more information and for samples of other's work with it please go to www.icoatproducts.com

To start with, the sink and dishwasher in the island had to come out. The fridge and stove moved out of the way. Next the taping! This is extremely important! And the tough part as you have to be inordinately careful because you will be using resin epoxy over the whole thing and cannot have leaks. Leaks are very expensive as you don't want to replace floors, grind down walls and cupboards. Be very, very careful in taping. Also be very careful when using the cement blend as you don't want to wash it down sinks or toilets because it could harden in pipes and then you'll have an expense you never bargained for. Have a pail of water to clean brushes, hands, and anything else that has had the cement in. Then you can throw the water away in the garden. The plants will love it. Probably. Mine didn't die.

So, I was careful to tape where I needed to and draped plastic over everything in the room. I did not tape the back off with cloth tape because there was a space between the rocky wall and the countertop. I actually wanted to fill it with cement followed by resin so that it would be seamless. I may probably do the wall at another time to look like a piece of marble from the same rock as the rest. But I haven't figured out how to do vertical resin. That is for another time.

Now for the fun part. The first step was to sand down the counter, then apply the cement finish blend. I used 2 cups powder to 1 cup water for the initial basecoat. since I wanted lots of texture, it was roughed in with pallete knife, trowel and hard bristle brushes.

Once the base coat was dried, I applied with a pallette knife a thicker coarser coat of 4 cups powder to 1 cup water to the edges of the counter by the fridge and stove. I wanted that to look like hewn rock. I mixed more of the thinner blend of 2 cups powder to one cup water to blend here and there and smoothed it with the edges. The island, being smooth all over including the edges, took another coat of the thinner blend. 

Because I wanted a surface that looked exactly like a luminous marble, it had to start highly textured. It looked a mess, but this kind of work looks bad before it looks beautiful. So on the dry textured backgound, color was applied spontaneously. The plastic over everything in the room, enabled me to spray colors and washes to allow colors to run together. Buff white, off white, white, bit of black washes. All running together. When dry, another layer of color is applied. When that is dry, another layer is applied and so on. I kept adding layers, some more transparent and allowing colors to show through. At some point I wanted a surprise in the finished product of having luminescent patterns so added an opalescent powder to glazing medium. Mixing in some 99% alcohol created unique patterns as shown in the photos below.

All in all, I used a lot of different layers of color because I work til its perfect to my eye. It is finished when there is an aha moment as it suddenly comes together and looks like marble. Over it all went the two part resin in three coats. A gas blow torch must be used to remove all bubbles as they rise to the surface. I've learned to place the bottles in hot water before combining them, so that it fascillitates the blending and seems to be easier to remove bubbles and provide a smoother finish. 

People think it is actually marble when they see it in person. Really. It was a lot of work but so worth it to have a unique, one of a kind countertop.

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