Frugal Kitchen Redo with Painted Epoxy over Formica

First, a few things…..

I feel the need to point out that there is a nearly empty paper towel roll in the picture below. I do provide paper towels for my guests and this was a Christmas photo. We stopped regularly using paper towels quite some time ago. However, my extended family has not☺️…and the simple green bottle by the sink has laundry stain remover in it, just in case you are curious like me😉.

You also may notice I do not have a GFCI wall outlet behind my sink. This is important because it can prevent accidental electrocution by interrupting the current. When my home was built, they didn’t worry about that too much. Even though we have done without one for 10 years, we do plan to install one in the future while we are changing out some other outlets in my home. I checked the prices and they are only around $7.99, so it’s a small price to pay for safety. We are chipping away at tasks a little at a time😉.

Oh, and why do I have two lemon squeezer thingys??..no clue. I even see bits of food stuck to the counter top in this picture so …yes.. my house is far from perfect. But you know what? It serves us well, so…because of that..I love it!

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This is probably the most near and dear post I have had, as of yet. My husband and I set out to do some updates to our kitchen last year. Some of these were necessary and some were cosmetic. We didn’t want to spend a lot of money, so we knew it would be a lot of work for us. I didn’t know when I did these updates that I would eventually start this blog, so I don’t have the best pics for you. I was encouraged by Kristen,  at The Frugal Girl, to show what I have. This kitchen remodel cost us around $1000. The biggest expense was a brand new sink, which was $250.

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We used our old faucet because it was less than a year old. The sink that I had was cast iron, which should have lasted forever, but strangely, mine had a large crack in it near the drain. The crack was there when I bought the house. This caused me to be unable to stop up the sink when needed….For nearly 10 years😳.

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We decided to paint our countertops, then coat the surface with epoxy. There are many videos and tutorials on this. If you set out to do this yourself, I recommended you watch and read many of them. I learned so many tips and tricks that saved us lots of time and money.

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Basically, I cleaned my countertops with Dawn dish liquid to remove all residue and oil. I cleaned them about three times, just to be sure. Then I sanded the surfaces well. Most tutorials require you to use a primer. For the first counter top, I did use a primer, but for the rest I did not. My formica is pretty worn and it  soaked up the paint like a sponge after sanding, so I skipped that step and do not regret it. The picture below is the painted counter top before we poured on the epoxy.

IMG_4749.PNGSecond, I chose 4 colors of basic acrylic craft paint that you can buy at Joann’s or Hobby Lobby using coupons, of course☺️. Nothing is special about this paint. It is the plain kind that you can get for 99 cents in the small bottles for any of your crafting needs. I did eventually buy a couple of larger bottles, which were $1.99, because I was running out too quickly. I spent less than $15 on paint for this whole project. They make special kits that include the paints with the epoxy. I can assure you that these are not necessary and will cost you more money. I cut sponges that I had on hand, into an irregular shape, to make a pattern on the surface. Looking back, I should have only bought white, black, and silver. The cream color I used, isn’t even noticeable. I basically just dotted a base color(the white) all over the surface with a damp sponge, then dotted black on top of that..which then looks spotty and quite terrible. I thought I ruined the whole thing, but then I dotted silver all over, camflauging some of the black. Then you go back over it with more white.

It leaves a interesting looking pattern where the black just peeks through in specks instead of blobs☺️. This gives a similar look to granite. I also applied some silver leaf in random spots that I had left from another project. I used some white micro-fine glitter on top of that. I simply poured it in my hand and blew it over the surface….good enough!

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Okay, the last part is the epoxy. You can see a glimpse of the Famowood brand bottles in the picture above. It’s the two bottles sitting on the stove. This brand is currently around $65 per kit at Lowes and I had to have two of them. There are also other brands that I hear work well, such as Envirotech lite. My best advice for the epoxy layer is as follows:

1. Have at least two people for this.

2. Wear gloves and cover all surfaces beneath the counter tops. Any drips become super sticky. They don’t just wash off, either… and if they completely dry, they will have to be cut off.

3. Grab plenty of those free stir sticks that they give out for free with paint, you will need them for spreading epoxy.

4. Have plenty of disposable plastic bowls or containers.

5. You really need a blow torch, hairdryer, or heat gun to pop surface bubbles.

6. Follow epoxy directions exactly and prepare to not use your counter tops for at least a week..and boy is that a tough one!

 

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Pouring epoxy is a little intense. You only have about 15 minutes or so to get it on there before it becomes untouchable, without leaving a mark, that is.  It is self-leveling so when you are through spreading it, it does the magic itself. The clear layer really brings out the unique design of your paint and gives it a completely different look. It doesn’t smell too bad, but ventilation is important because it is a chemical. This stuff looks like a glass surface when it dries, so it’s pretty amazing.

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I truly love my countertops! This was last year and they have been holding up well. They have been through several family get togethers, kids craft projects, and my cooking mishaps and still look great.

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We put subway tile up in between working on some of the counter tops. As you can tell, we did all this in stages. One week, pour one counter..2 weeks later,pour another..1week later, paint some…and so on..

Installing tile is relatively easy, but takes time to do and it’s pretty messy. It’s also necessary to have a wet saw, which can be expensive. We have one from tiling our bathroom floors in the past.

If you will notice at the back of the sink, places under the formica had completely disintegrated. This meant our heavy, cast iron, sink hardly had any support. There were cracks in the formica that had to be repaired and braced. Water was getting through those cracks causing damage underneath. Luckily, the paint and epoxy soaks into those and they aren’t visible. After extensive repairs they are also now water tight.

 

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It took us longer than usual to paint our cabinets. I only painted two sections at a time so I could really focus on cleaning, repairing, and sanding them well. I also scrubbled my old hardware and reused it. It’s amazing how much good a little scrubbing can do☺️. My best advice for painting cabinets is remove them, of course, and spend plenty of time and care on the prep. This is not something you will want to do again any time soon, so do it the right way ….trust me!

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you have any questions, I will be glad to tell you what my experiences have been. Thanks to Kristen, better known as The Frugal Girl, for encouraging me to do a post on my frugal kitchen redo.

I hope you will come back tomorrow if you get a chance. I am trying out a new post idea called ‘Thursdays Thrifty Three’ and would love some feedback☺️.

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8 thoughts on “Frugal Kitchen Redo with Painted Epoxy over Formica

  1. Wow! Great job on the kitchen. It’s beautiful! That faux granite look is impressive. I can see where all the work you did would take a lot of time, but that it’s doable, and you have a wonderful space to enjoy now. We have a 1987 kitchen with oak cupboards and off white tile countertops. It will probably stay that way for awhile, as its not in bad shape. It’s not in style but, I’m quite okay with it for the time being.
    Thanks for sharing your kitchen today!

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  2. Thanks Mary! My cabinets had a lot of stains and dings in them. If I had wood cabinets that weren’t already painted, I would have left them as is. This was a good alternative to paying for real granite and since my formica was breaking down, I needed to do something. I thought about doing a tutorial on the process sometime in the future if there is enough interest. Thanks so much for taking a look!

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  3. Wow that outlet behind the sink is scary. I work in the electrical trade and I’m sure you’re already aware that is no longer allowed due to the hazard. Just something to think about, but when you get ready to sell, the inspector may make you relocate the outlet, not just install a GFCI. Good luck with the rest of the reno.

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    1. Thanks, Gigi! Yes, I am aware. Many older homes in my area we’re built with these outlets low and behind the sink..bad, I know. We have been diligent in educating our kids on electrical dangers, just to be safe. I don’t plan to sell for a long time, if ever, but if I do I may have to make more changes. When I bought this house, my inspector missed this. At that time, I was not aware to look for this problem. Thanks so much for your insight! Hopefully, others will read this that don’t know that they have the same issue as I do.

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    1. Thanks so much! I thought about the color a lot before I painted. Of course, there is a trend toward white cabinets right now but the real purpose for the white cabinets and lighter countop choice was to lighten up the room. If you will notice the wood above the cabinets cast a lot of darkness on the room. I really wanted to lighten up the space a bit because I can’t paint the wood above or the ceilings. They are 12 feet high, which for me, is too much to tackle without hiring help. I may hire someone to paint my ceilings in the future but for a little while, I am done. Thanks again for stopping by!

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  4. Love the kitchen counters, you may have just inspired me to actually do mine. You cant epoxy the “lip” of the countertops right?

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    1. Decribe what you mean as the lip? I epoxied the entire countertop and the back part that runs up the wall. I just put the epoxy on the back and let it run down the surface of the part part that butts up to the wall. Does that make sense?

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