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Resurfacing Countertops with a Concrete or Epoxy OverlayLearn how to use cement-based and epoxy overlay systems to rejuvenate existing countertops and avoid the cost of replacement.
New countertops are often at the top of the wish list when homeowners embark on kitchen remodeling projects, usually because the existing countertops look worn and dated or the color no longer works with the new design scheme. Instead of ripping out and replacing your old countertops, what if you could avoid the hassle and expense by simply covering them with a fresh new surface?
Thanks to new cement-based and epoxy overlays developed specifically for resurfacing countertops, more homeowners are opting for this time-saving and budget-friendly approach. Similar to overlays for floors, these products can be applied to almost any type of countertop to create a durable new decorative surface that can be customized in both color and finish. They also are a great alternative to new concrete countertops, allowing you to achieve the same look while offering the advantages of being lightweight, flexible, and cost-effective.
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HOW DO I CHOOSE A COUNTERTOP RESURFACING SYSTEM?
There are several options to choose from when resurfacing countertops. The system you decide to use often depends on the final look you want to achieve and the desired performance.
Cement-based resurfacing systems developed specifically for application to countertops, such as the EZ Top concrete countertop resurfacing system, offer the advantages of being nonporous, extremely hard and durable, and customizable in color and finish. These systems are typically super-fine blends of portland cement, graded aggregates, and polymers that are trowel applied in multiple coats over a properly prepared substrate.
Ultra Z Poxy - Epoxy Countertop System
Another option is to use an epoxy coating system designed for countertop surfaces, such as Ultra Z Poxy from Concrete Countertop Solutions. These two-part resinous coatings are usually brushed or rolled onto the prepared substrate and can be enhanced with solid-color pigments or metallic powders to create an endless array of decorative effects. Like epoxy coatings for floors, they are extremely durable and resist staining, scratches, heat, and impact.
At its simplest, a countertop resurfacing system may be nothing more than a feather finish, like Ardex. This is a popular choice for do-it-yourselfers because the materials are readily available, require only water for mixing, and can be applied with nothing more than a trowel and putty knife. However, the decorative options are limited and these finishes are not designed to be waterproof, stain-proof, and heat-resistant – all important qualities for a countertop surface.
DIY countertop refinishing kits
These kits offer easy roll-on application so that you can redo your own countertops in just a few days. They come in a variety of colors and can be used over existing laminate, MDF, plywood, particle board, concrete, tile, Formica, Corian, cultured marble, butcher block and granite.
Some popular kits you might want to consider are:
CAN ALL TYPES OF COUNTERTOPS BE RESURFACED?
Both cement-based and epoxy countertop resurfacing systems can be used over any existing countertop surface as long as it’s sound without significant cracking or delamination. Corian, granite, marble, quartz, laminate, tile, and existing concrete countertops are all candidates for resurfacing.
Note that some paints and coatings sold in home-improvement centers for refinishing worn countertops are only designed for application to nonporous laminate surfaces and are not intended for use on concrete or stone. Be sure to choose a system that will work with your countertop type.
These before and after pictures show a laminate countertop that was resurfaced using the EZ Top resurfacing system.
WHAT SURFACE PREPARATION IS REQUIRED?
Regardless of the material you’re resurfacing, it should be properly prepared to promote good overlay adhesion. In most cases, this will mean sanding, grinding, sandblasting, or acid etching to produce a clean, slightly roughened surface and to remove existing sealers and coatings. If your countertops have thin seam lines or scratches, these products will typically cover and hide them.
WHAT DECORATIVE OPTIONS ARE POSSIBLE?
Design options are virtually unlimited with countertop resurfacing. If you are using a cement-based overlay system, it can be integrally colored before placement or topically colored after the overlay has dried by using concrete dyes and stains. If you like the appearance of natural gray concrete, you can simply coat the overlay with a clear sealer.
Some epoxy-based systems allow you to replicate the look of granite or marble by using a second batch of epoxy in a complementary or contrasting color. Typically, metallic powders are used for veining and highlights but solid pigments can be used as well. These accent colors can be poured, drizzled, or splattered onto the wet topcoat then manipulated with a squeegee, brush or putty knife to create the desired look. It’s also possible to mix materials such as crushed glass, decorative color chips, and mica flakes into the topcoat to create a terrazzo-like finish.
SHOULD I DO THE WORK MYSELF OR HIRE A PROFESSIONAL?
Many countertop resurfacing systems are supplied in kit form intended for application by DIYers as well as professionals. Although you can save some money by resurfacing your own countertops, hiring a professional who has the tools and expertise to deliver optimal results is often worth the extra expense. Most of these systems harden quickly, so there is little room for error.
Regardless of the system you use and who installs it, be sure to protect all adjacent surfaces with plastic sheeting before the work begins, including appliances, walls, backsplashes, floors, and cabinet fronts. These products bond tenaciously to most surfaces and will be difficult if not impossible to remove later.
HOW MUCH DOES COUNTERTOP RESURFACING COST?
Countertop resurfacing systems can often be installed for a fraction of the cost of new countertops, especially when compared to high-end materials such as granite and engineered quartz. Prices for countertop resurfacing materials range anywhere from $3 to $8 per square foot, depending on the system you use, the application thickness, and any pigments or other decorative enhancements you decide to use. Unless you have good DIY skills and install the resurfacing system yourself, you will also have to factor labor costs into the final price.
HOW DO YOU CARE FOR A RESURFACED COUNTERTOP?
Although most countertop resurfacing systems are highly durable and nonporous, they are not indestructible and should always be protected by a coat of sealer or clear urethane topcoat to protect them from scratches and abrasion. Never use the surface as a cutting board, and don’t place hot pots or pans directly on it.
To clean a resurfaced countertop, follow the recommendations provided by the product manufacturer. Typically, all you’ll need to use is a mild solution of dish soap and warm water applied with a soft cloth or sponge. Avoid the use of abrasive cleansers or cleaning solutions that contain harsh acids, chemicals, or bleach because they can discolor or dull the surface.
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