If you look closely at the back of a lot of my blog photos you can see my marble counter tops...except that you can't...because they are fake...as in I painted them myself fake. Let me explain. When bf and I bought our house from his grandfather, we were thrilled that it had a lot of family history. His grandfather was the original owner of the house, which was built in 1954. While I love that the house had a history, I didn't like that the decor was stuck in history. Think orange and avacado kitchen, bright yellow bathroom, and five layers of wallpaper.
Within days of moving in, I knew I had to do something with the red, orange, and green kitchen with knotty pine cabinets. I knew I wanted a white kitchen with white marble counter tops. I also knew I had a budget of about $500 for the ENTIRE kitchen. Clearly this was going to require some serious DIY. I looked into contact paper but that didn't seem practical in the kitchen. I also looked into buying laminate that looked like marble, but even the cost of that plus taking out our current counter top would have blown the budget. So, I pinteresteded, and googled, and searched...and decided to paint my own!
I read every article I could find and finally, I just did it. One night, at 11 pm after moving boxes all day, I just...did it. I guess I figured it couldn't be any worse than bright red? Anyway, I was really unsure if it would even turn out, but it did and I LOVE the results. I constantly fool people that come to visit. I can't believe how simple it was. I completed this project over a year ago, and the counters have held up well (and I'm not easy on them)! They are also super easy to clean. So if you've been wanting a change and can't afford the real deal, I'm telling you that you can have the look in a single weekend.
What you'll need for this project:
Step one: Paint the counter tops white. This step is easy, don't over think it. Just get a nice coat of white on there and let it dry. Depending on what color you are painting over you may need to do more than one coat. You don't want the color showing through, but you also don't need to worry about it being "perfect" as you'll be adding more paint to it. Let the paint dry overnight.
Step Two: Using the gray paint, draw "veins" onto the counter. You don't want a ton of paint on the brush, but it should make a nice fluid line, you'll be feathering it out after. Try looking at a picture of real marble and mimicking how the veins show. You can add more or less veins depending on how much white you want compared to darker colors. Some people like a lot of gray, some very little. I personally wanted mostly white counters with some gray. I was also worried about adding too much and making it look fake so I kept it simple and only did a few major veins, but you do you. Once you have the major veins, you can add a few off shots to them.
Take a sponge or crumpled up plastic bag and dab along the veins you have just drawn to soften them. You can add some white paint to the sponge and dab to lighten them, or some black paint to dark them if you wish. You want a soft gray glow around the vein, but you still want the main line to show. The beauty in this is that if you dab too much off, you can just add more gray! If there's a concentration of gray somewhere that you don't like, just add more white! Once you've softened all the veins, let them sit until they are almost dry (but not completely).
Now this is my optional step but it made a difference for me. I took a dry wallpaper brush and in sweeping motions worked my way up each vein. You need to use a little elbow grease here, but the result was that the gray color really developed in layers. A soft gray over the vein made it appear that the vein was below the surface. I did this over each vein. Finally (drying the brush constantly to get off any paint it picked up) I did a sweep over the whole counter top to spread a little more of the grey glow around. Again, optional, but I feel it made a difference. Let the paint sit overnight.
Step 3: This was the hardest step, the epoxy resin. You may want to enlist help for this step as there are a few things happening at once. First, follow the instructions exactly to mix the type that you purchase. Most likely you will have a two step process. You will need to mix the two liquids that it comes with together and stir as fast as you can for 3 minutes or so. Each resin has it's own time so it's helpful to have someone keep time for you while you stir. I will be honest, as you stir the resin gets HOT so don't use thin plastic cups as I did, use a good bowl (get one at the dollar store that you can throw out after).
Once the epoxy is mixed, pour it in the center of the countertop and moving quickly with your flat edge, spread it out. It's sort of like making a crepe. The resin will spread pretty easily. You can use painters tape to stop it from running off the sides of the counter or on to the sink, beware though, you need to pull the tape off before the epoxy sets or it will forever be part of your counter (learned that the hard way). If you want the resin to go over the sides of the counter spread a drop cloth or trash bags prior to pouring. When you get to the edge let it run off and smooth it with your straight edge. Be very careful though, if you leave too much product it will form drips and there will be permanent little beads on the side of the counter.
Step 4: Let it cure for three days. This is seriously the hardest step because if you're like me, you just want things to be done. As the epoxy cures check it for bubbles. I used a hair dryer after it first started to set to get rid of any initial bubbles. I also found that using your breath to blow hot air burst them as well. You DON'T want to touch the epoxy, you risk smudging it or having dirt from your finger added to it. Remember, whatever is on the epoxy will permanently dry in it. I did use a tweezer to pull a little speck out and in the long run, I wish I hadn't. Once the epoxy is poured, just leave it be, except for the hot air.
While I wouldn't say this is a true beginner project, there's nothing really complex about it. I had no prior art experience, it was a lot of trial and error to paint the marble pattern. The epoxy was a little challenging, but I've learned with DIY you can always find a way to fix something. For a little fun addition you can sprinkle glitter to give it the natural glimmer that stone has. I didn't do this in the kitchen, but I'm planning on doing my bathroom vanity and will probably use it there.
So there you have it, I'm not going to say that they look exactly like marble, but I've certainly fooled many people, and honestly I forget sometimes too, and isn't that the point, that you love it? I hope this helps you if you're looking to make a change but it's not in the budget yet. In total this project cost me about $70 for the amount of resin that I needed. It may be less or more for you depending on the size of your kitchen. I plan on making a video tutorial soon to show you step by step what I did, but in the mean time feel free to ask questions. I'd love to help you achieve the same look!