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Friday, July 15, 2011

The Great Kitchen Facelift–Weekend #3

I’ve been hesitant to write this post.  Truth be told, Weekend #3 was actually two weeks ago.  I’ve been trying to adjust to the change that came with this weekend and make sure I didn’t judge too much.  I didn’t want to tell you all that I absolutely hated it until I let it sink in. I’m glad I waited because my initial judgment was wrong and we are really happy with the change. Not 100%, but happy enough that we don’t regret doing it.

Weekend #3 was countertop transformation weekend. It was a big weekend, like a really big weekend.   Our kitchen was overwhelmed with not only a faux wood counter, but a complete faux wood backsplash.  I’m sure at one point in time it was in style. I’m sure you don’t remember, so here’s a refresher:


It’s the one project we dreaded the most about the kitchen and has been holding us back for the 2 years we’ve lived here.  Counters are expensive.  Sure you can do laminate for a reasonable price, but I didn’t feel like it would be enough of an upgrade from what we had.  We talked about buying pre fabricated granite and installing it ourselves.  We’re crazy for DIY, but not that crazy.  That seemed a little over our heads. 

We have been seeing the “Countertop Transformation Kit” by Rustoleum all over lately.  It was on the Today show, Rachael Ray and the Mr. even saw it in Handy Man Magazine.  It’s $250 for the kit and promises to transform any countertop into a gleaming granite like counter.  It only covers 20 linear feet so since we have 23 linear feet of counter space in our kitchen, spending $500 on two kits that would save us thousands in having to completely replace it with something better than laminate.  We did a lot of research and read reviews and decided just to go for it!  Our original thought was to use charcoal (which I think would have been a better decision) but decided to go with onyx at the last minute.   We wanted dark with flecks.  Rustoleum has a 100% money back guarantee, so what did we have to lose? We’re gutsy, we’ll try anything if we can get our money back!

This was going to be quite a big project, so we definitely needed 2 solid days and short stuff stayed with grandma and grandpa (THANK YOU!!!!!!).  Before we even shipped him off though, the Mr. had quite a bit of prep work. Here’s the scoop on the stove.  At one point in the house’s history it had a stove that had a double oven – two side by side ovens.  That oven was later replaced by the glass top single stove which was not as wide.  In order to make up for the differences in the stoves we were left with two side pieces of laminate that were slapped on kind of haphazardly. They were lovely and looked like this:


They weren’t really stable and as you can see they definitely weren’t level with the rest of the counter.  It took some extra bracing and quite a bit of spackle to get that to at least look level. Lots of love got us to this:


Level and mostly smooth-ish.  Amen to that! We repaired any other blemishes to the counters the same way and we were ready to go!  After we taped around everything and hung drop cloths everywhere, the first step was to watch the 15 minute instruction video – again.  It’s not a project you want to mess up. It took us just about all morning to get all everything prepped including the taping, removing the appliances and covering the sink. Don’t forget to cover the sink!  All kitchen use is henceforth on hold for at least 48 hours. Behold:


Here’s where we started:


Step one was to sand the living daylights out of the counter.  It’s a process called deglossing and …well … it takes the gloss and shine out of the counter.  You have a diamond grit sandpaper block and you sand .. and sand … and sand.  See?? No more shiny counters!!


Then you have to vacuum and wipe up all of the dust.  It took around an hour to get every surface completely sanded and clean.  Counters are ready to go so we did one more check in the instruction book and got all of our supplies ready to go.

Step two is definitely a two man job.  You get this thick tar like paint (the color varies depending on the kit you buy).  It has to be applied first to the backsplash with a paintbrush, then to the counters. Once applied, you have to take your roller and roll everything back to front to give it a nice even finish.  Now you want it to be thick, but not to thick to avoid glops. I think that was part of our problem.  We have a few thin areas where you can still see the old counter through it and a few that weren’t evenly spread that look a little gloppy.  Here I am with my paint brush in hand! I did the brush work and the Mr. followed behind with the roller (open shelving spoiler!).



So that got us from outdated butcher block laminate to black paint:

IMG_5621     IMG_5638

Now the other problem is that you have about a 20 minute window to add on the “texturizing chips”.


These lovely chips are in a dispenser and you get bags and bags of them.  First you spray the counter with an agent that helps them stick even more and then you crank the wheel and they go flying out, all over the place.  What a mess!  Make sure you completely cover all the floors and the sink or you’ll be sweeping up chips forever!  We are still finding them in drawers and cabinets.  We aren’t sure how exactly they go there, but they did.  Now there are areas that you can’t really hit very well with the dispenser, so you have to take them by the handful and throw them forcefully at the paint.  You want them to stick, so you need to really throw them. 

We did these section by section.  I kept on painting and as the Mr. finished his section of rolling he went back and added the chips.  You want the chips to completely cover the paint.  You want more chips that you could ever imagine using. 

We definitely needed two kits of the base paint, but didn’t even use all of the chips from one box. So this was the end of day 1.


Chips applied, 24 hours to rest and get set.  We were incredibly hopeful at this point, but it looks a little jet black, not so full of the beautiful granite like flecks we had hoped for.  All the chips are black, very black.  It was really quite the transformation already.  We started working on the project 10 am and by the time we got to this point it was almost 5 pm.  Prep work was by far the most extensive part of the project thus far.  The painting and chipping really only took us maybe an hour and a half. 

More to the project coming later!  Think this is something you’d try out in your kitchen?

Until the next time …
The girl behind the lama

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Melissa Lynn D said...

I'm waiting anxiously for pictures of the finished project. Our counters are basically covered with paneling (I always use cutting boards, no food goes directly on the counter), and this sounds like it could happen a lot sooner than waiting to be able to afford countertop!

Lama Works said...

It made things happen a lot sooner for us! The idea of saving up $4-$5,000 or more to get new counters was just more than we wanted to spend. We aren't going to stay in this house forever. I would say that if you aren't afraid of the work, it was a really easy project. I can't imagine paneling on counters! Your biggest task might be filling in all the grooves. Once that's done though, it's pretty easy.


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