DIY Faux Granite Countertop ….without a kit for under $60!
I’m Gonna Go Faux It!
Before…. ugly, dated and this color irritated me every time I went in there. Even though this house was built in 2004, this maroon/grey/oak theme seems trés 1980’s.
Plus they had super awesome crappy laminate backsplash with silver trim. Double ick.
So let’s get started….first things first. Taping off around the sink with painter’s tape and removing the backsplash. Easy peasy.
Then I lightly sanded the laminate surface and applied a nice layer of grey primer ($8) with a a paintbrush.
I am cheap. Frugal. Price-aware. Whatever you wanna call it. Basically, I will use what I have on hand and pray that it works. If it doesn’t then I’m off to the store to get the right stuff. THAT being said. I had this black acrylic craft paint on hand and figured I’d just use it for the base coat of my granite. PROBLEM was…..
…it went on ALL gloopy because the paint had chunks in it from sitting too long. SO I initially blamed it on the foam brush and decided to try a different technique to apply it but that didn’t work either, so…
…all was smooth and well after sanding the gloopy result back down with the handy mouse sander.
I even went so far as to water the black craft glue down a bit and STRAINED IT WITH AN OLD STRAINER from the kitchen. As you might imagine, it didn’t work. It DID seem like a good idea at 2am in the morning when I tried it, but I could have saved a lot of trouble just waiting until the next day and buying new craft paint. Oh well.
I bought a new bottle of paint ($2) and voila, awesomeness ensued once applied with a fresh foam paintbrush. (75 cents)
Next I cut new wood backsplashes to mimic a nice thick granite ($FREE) from a piece of 3/4″ plywood I had laying around. Painted them with the same grey primer as the countertop, and then with the black acrylic craft paint. Decided to use super easy Liquid Nails ($5) to put it up.
Like it says on the package, apply the goo, stick it to the wall, then pull apart for a few minutes so the goo gets tacky and will stick better. Problem for me was that the board bowed a little bit and didn’t stick hard on both ends. Hubby came up with the solution. A clamp with a paper towel under it to protect the paint on one end, and on the other…..
TIP: Instead of paying for that $2.99 plastic/rubber tool they sell at the store to smooth the seam, just use your finger! Works great and FREEEEEE!$$$
Okay, time to get artsy. The hubby and I went to Lowe’s and checked out the real granite samples that they had to decide on what color scheme I wanted to try to replicate. After much thought, I decided to just wing it and pick what appealed to me at Michael’s Craft Store. The acrylic craft paints were on sale for like 75¢ each, and I picked up the following colors that were used in my project in order of application after the black basecoat:
Americana Decoart’s Bittersweet Chocolate. Craft Smart’s Metallic Bronze, Metallic Gold mixed with Plaid Folk Art’s Camel and Vanilla. (total $3.75)
I had bought a slew of colors, not quite sure what route I was going to take. Greys, more tans, pure white and silver were all purchased too, but never used. Just test out on some black construction paper (or whatever base coat color you want to start with). Below is an example of my test page, which ended up being way more black and sparkly than the finished product as you’ll see later on. (Sidenote: Please excuse the quality of some of the photos, as they were stills taken from a video I did on this project.)
Once you’ve decided on your colors, set up your staging area. I started out using half of the sink countertop, but that ended up being dumb since I needed to PAINT that side, so my son’s little card table worked perfectly as a craft table in the small powder room. Set out plates and squirt a good sized glop of paint for each color you want. I mixed my metallic gold and camel on the same plate for added dimension.
I’d recommend coated plates so the paint doesn’t wet through to the other side.
Your best friend in this project will be your sponge. You’ll need a natural, real, used-to-be-alive sponge for this project to look more realistic. The fake “real sponges” are lame and don’t have the pointy fronds at the end like the real deal. I got mine at Michael’s ($6). They are super easy to use and rinse nicely. I tore mine (cutting makes too even of edges in my opinion) into a large, medium and two small versions. The medium worked better for the backsplash, and the small ones I tried to tear them so they had a point to them to use for the crevice seam and around the sink. Rinse your sponges and squeeze them out well so they are damp, but not drippy wet before you start using them to paint.
Gently daub your sponge in your color (that’s bittersweet chocolate above) and sponge on the plate first to make sure you don’t glop it on. Then, gently press and lift, NO SWIPING, turning your sponge in the air each time before going back down to sponge again. That will give a non-uniform look and won’t end up with the super stampy look that really bad faux granite countertops do. Remember, LESS IS MORE. Go light, you can always add more color later.
Use your smaller sponge to daub in the corners, doing the same rotating technique each time to avoid the stampy look. I also employed the use of a tiny stiff kids paintbrush, you know, the kind that come with the cheap paint sets, to also add where I felt the small sponge was “too big”.
One of the things I noticed about REAL granite is that it has actual sparkle in it…like glitter! I didn’t want to use a real chunky gold or silver glitter, so I found this AWESOME super fine glitter at Michael’s in the scrapbooking/stamping aisle. It’s by Recollections and is the color Espresso. It is gorgeous! I sprinkled it very liberally after the first color while still wet so it would stick well. I also sprinkled it a bit toward the end so assure that it would still show up after adding all the other colors. Another tip is to do some toothbrush spatter/flecks. Mix a tiny bit of black acrylic paint with a tiny bit of water and dip a toothbrush in it and run your thumb over the toothbrush to flick perfect little stone/granite flecks all over your countertop. Test this out on a piece of paper first! You don’t want to mess up your masterpiece!
Hi Chevy! Chevy was a guest pug in our house while I was working on this project while my friend was on a trip. Our two black pugs LOVED having him around, and he LOVED being attached to my side!
Okay….so this picture brings up a lot. This was my FIRST attempt at recreating what I thought I wanted for a finished product…with the veining and the extra metallic and everything. I even followed the official “Giani” instructions that I saw online and did only a small section at a time. I say FIRST attempt, because this was the first of three before I felt like it looked the way I wanted. This first attempt was done at, oh…..I’d say 2am, maybe 3am? And to tell you the truth, I was pretty happy with it…….until I woke up and was like, OH. MY. GOSH. This looks HORRIBLE!
I even asked Chevy, and he totally agreed…it just looked tacky. BUT DON’T WORRY IF THIS HAPPENS TO YOU! The fix is an easy one! Just paint over it all with the black craft paint! Easy breezy. Try #2 was too white, so below ended up being try #3, which I was pleased with.
I recommend NOT doing a little section at a time, but rather sponge on each color on the entire surface, let it dry a bit, then move on the the next color. I know a lot of tutorials suggest doing it in little spots so the colors stay wet and all blend to make multiple dimension, yadda, yadda, yadda, but it didn’t look to good to me. Ended up looking too muddy in my opinion. I did do the main counter (both sides) together, then each backsplash separately, but I think that worked out just great.
Here is the semi-finished product BEFORE I did the veining and topcoat. Veining is done with a VERY light touch using a small sponge dipped in black. As a matter of fact, after dipping it, I daubed it on the paper plate until any paint was barely on the sponge, THEN used it for the veining. The last thing you want to do is have too heavy a hand with that, then you end up screwing the whole thing up. I’ve seen people use other ways of doing veining in tutorials: feathers, thin paintbrushes, etc., but I liked the look I got with the tiny sponge for my version.
You can see here how I did the veining over the edge of the counter and followed it up the backsplash to give it a more realistic “one cut piece” look of real stone granite. Once you have all the veins you want in place, it’s time to prepare for a topcoat of clear protection. I used some fine (220 grit) sandpaper to lightly sand down the tiny ridges caused by the sponging before I added the topcoat. Run your fingers over the top to make sure there aren’t any obvious ridges. Small ripples like orange peel type bumps will come out later, but the bigger ones you’d better get now.
I REALLY researched this. I wanted to make sure that the topcoat I used not only would hold up my 7 year old son and all of his friends leaving wet stuff on the counter, but I also wanted it to be shiny as glass and smooth as real granite. This required a LOT of attention to detail. You want to get an automotive clear topcoat from an automotive store. I used a clear high gloss topcoat by Dupli-color ($24) in a can. (WARNING: This stuff STINKS!!!! STRONG FUMES! I had the fan plus an additional fan going in that little room and made sure my son’t bedroom door was closed upstairs before using this.) Next, pick up a small foam roller from the hardware store. This gives a smooth, even application. ($4). I recommend watching the Giani video on how to apply topcoat here before getting started: http://www.gianigranite.com/learnhow3countertoppaint.html
Messing up this step will make all your work for naught! The only thing I did differently than the Giani tutorial was sanding. Between each coat, I very gently used extra super duper fine sandpaper from the automotive store that was 1500 and 2000 grit. ($6). Be sure to wipe well after each sanding with a damp towel and let dry. I ended up applying 10 super thin coats to the countertop. Pay special attention if you get any thick pooling around the sink. Once each coat is dry, run your fingers on it to find any bumping that needs additional sanding. After you have your coats done, you’ll want to wet the 1500 grit sandpaper and lightly go over the whole countertop and backsplash, then do the same with the 2000 grit. The surface will look dull and cloudy! DON’T WORRY! It’s supposed to at this point! The final step then is to use a nice rubbing compound to bring out that new car gloss. Rub it on gently in circular motion, wipe off and buff with a lambswool cloth until shiny. It’ll be nice and ‘purty!
See, the final result ended up being way lighter than the original test page, which is fine with me!
Once you’re survived the topcoat fumes and all is looking the way you like, it’s time to remove the blue tape from the sink and wall. (Yes, there IS blue tape under all that!) VERY IMPORTANT!: You must cut the edge with a razor before lifting or it will peel/tear your countertop finish off! Cut all the way around the sink and also lightly on the wall tape to dislodge it from the countertop.
Okay, in the pic above, you can see right next to the sink a tad of the maroon original laminate that is peeking through. That happened because this is the area behind the faucets and my hand wouldn’t fit right when cutting around the tape. NO WORRIES though….a little extra line of silicone seals it all up and nobody looks behind there anyway, right?
As you can see, the sink came clean! It was super easy with my trusty Comet and scouring brush. You can really see the veining from this angle and even catch a bit of the shine from the right side backspash there, showing the lower counter in it’s reflection.
DONE! WOW! What a difference! I am so loving this look. Now that Ihave my technique down, I’m so excited to do another version in different colors on my kitchen counters! FYI: You can see the start of my paper flooring treatment (my next project) which I was working on when I took this photo. Don’t worry, I’ll post that tutorial when I’m done! 🙂
Total cost of this faux granite treatment: $59.50.
Mind you, I’ll be able to reuse many of the supplies/items bought, so the real cost was even lower than this! Hooray!
To see video of my process with all the mistakes included, check out my videos on YouTube. http://youtube.com/mossisawesome