How To Do an Epoxy Countertop: A Step-By-Step Guide

Date: January 28, 2020
Author: Jon Smith
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Are you about to get started doing an epoxy countertop? Wondering what kind of epoxy do you use for countertops? Is it safe to use epoxy on countertops? There are a lot of tools and materials you’ll need to install your epoxy countertop, and we’ll list them all here.

So, how do you do an epoxy countertop?  There are a few major steps you’ll need to take to install an epoxy countertop:

  1. Do all your prep work.
  2. Paint or Primer your surface area.
  3. Apply the epoxy.
  4. Finishing the job by cleaning up.

Epoxy countertops are perfectly safe to use! There are types of epoxy that are specifically designed to be used on countertops, and you should use one of them. Read on for a detailed step-by-step guide on how to do an epoxy countertop!

Step 1: Prepare to Install an Epoxy Countertop

How do you really get started? What do you need to do to prepare to install your epoxy countertop? Epoxy is designed to be applied right over the existing countertop, and it can come out looking just like marble, but it’ll be a lot cheaper to install than marble. You just need to prepare the countertop before applying epoxy.

  1. Clean out the kitchen – Do not have grandma’s china out where dust and debris can damage it. You want to have a nice open workspace, so remove as much out of the kitchen as you can, and cover up what you cannot remove so dust does not get into microwave vents.
  1. Set up your tools – You’ll want to make sure all your tools and material are handy and ready to use. Here’s a list of some of the tools and material you’ll need to install your epoxy countertop:
  1. Micro Torch
  2. Heat Gun
  3. Tape Dispenser
  4. Vaseline
  5. Tuck Tape
  6. Wiper Squeegee
  7. 1/8″ Notch Trowel
  8. Paint Mixer
  9. Paint roller
  10. Epoxy primer
  11. Epoxy
  1. Before your countertop is ready for the epoxy, you need to possibly fill in any holes or divots. Use some filler and a trowel to fill in any holes or marks that are on the current surface. Sand down what you fill in, so it’s nice and smooth. After this, you’ll want to wipe it down.
  1. Thoroughly clean the existing countertop. Regular soap and water should do the trick as long as there is nothing major to clean. Anything left on the countertop will get sealed in by the epoxy, so make sure you’ve cleaned it, and the surface is smooth.
  1. Seal off your kitchen. Even if you’ve removed your favorite casserole dishes and everything else from the kitchen that you could, you’ll need to tape off the edges of the counter. You do not want the epoxy resin to get in corners and around edges. You need to tape all edges, from your faucet to your backsplash to the line right underneath your cabinets. Be generous when taping. You will not want epoxy getting anywhere it isn’t supposed to be, as it will be very difficult to remove after the fact.

Now you’re organized and ready to really get started!

Step 2: Paint Before You Install the Epoxy on Your Countertop

You will usually need to paint, or prime, your countertop. Depending on what type of surface you are putting the epoxy on, it will usually need to be primed. Even if you eyeball your countertop surface, and it looks “ok,” priming it will not hurt. It’s better to be safe than sorry and put on a base coat of primer.

  • Sand your countertop if it needs it.
    • If you had a lot of holes to fill in, you might be left with an uneven surface. If so, sand down the surface.
    • After you sand it, you’ll want to clean it again to make sure it’s ready to be sealed. Sand it more than once and clean it more than once if you need to. It’s very important to make sure you are working with a clean, level surface.
  • “Paint” your countertop. By painting it, you are essentially applying a thin layer of sealant, which will help when you’re ready to apply the actual epoxy. This is when you’re applying a primer, just as if you were painting a wall.
  • Applying a primer first, or even a thin layer of the epoxy you will use, is called “flooding,” and it helps to lessen the number of bubbles that will occur when you apply the rest of the epoxy. Bubbles will be the hardest thing you deal with when applying the epoxy, so anything you can do to prevent them is a good idea.
  • It might be a good idea to apply this seal using a foam brush instead of the paint roller you will use for the rest of the project. A foam brush is another way of possibly lessening the number of bubbles you’ll get with your project.

Applying this primer can be one of the most important steps in your process to install an epoxy countertop. Take your time and get this right, it could be very helpful later on when you don’t have to spend time with a hairdryer trying to get rid of bubbles in your epoxy.

Step 3: Install the Epoxy

Epoxy can be difficult to work with. It’s messy, and it has a quick drying time. You need to be efficient when working with epoxy.

  • Mix your epoxy and hardener together. Epoxy is essentially formed when you mix the resin with the hardener. You might have to do this yourself, or you can buy a product that already has them mixed together. After they’re mixed, you’ve got about 20 to 30 minutes to work before this hardens it places you don’t want it to harden. This is very important. When working with epoxy, you must work quickly, or the whole project can go up in shambles.
  • If you get any air bubbles, you’ll want to get rid of them immediately. This is what the torch is for, which will cause the bubbles to heat up and rise to the surface.
  • After a couple of hours, it will be dry, and you might want to repeat the process if it needs a second coat. Some epoxies are designed to be applied in only one coat. Read the instructions on the specific brand you bought and see if you need to apply more than one coat. It might be annoying to apply a second coat, but you want to do it right.

Step 4: Finish the Job of Installing your Epoxy Countertops

You prepped, you sanded, and you poured epoxy. Now what? Are you done? Almost.

Before you put all your tools and materials away for good, there are a few more finishing touches to do.

  • Keep an eye on the counters after you think you’re all done. You might see some holes or divots start to appear, and you’ll want to fill them in with epoxy. If any drips start coming down the front, use a stir stick to scrape them off. If any dust starts to settle while it’s drying, you can use a pair of tweezers to carefully remove any particles. What you see now is what you’ll get later. While it’s drying, this is the time to eyeball it. Do you like what you see? Does anything require any touching up?
  • Start removing painter’s tape and cleaning up. Even if you have any touch-ups to do, now would be a good time to start removing painter’s tape and putting your kitchen back together.
  • Give things a day to dry, and then apply a protective topcoat. After everything is 100% dry, you’ll want to apply a seal. You’ll want to mix together a topcoat and roll it on.

Allow about a week before you deem your project completely finished. Let everything dry and settle before you start putting things on the counters. Then you should have a nice, shiny new countertop!

Is Epoxy Safe for Countertops

Yes! They make epoxies that are specifically designed to be used on countertops.

  • Your countertop will be completely heat resistant. You won’t even need to use counter protectors like trivets, you can take a hot pan right out of the oven and place it on your epoxy countertop. Just remember – it’s heat resistant, not heatproof. I wouldn’t leave a hot pot on the counter for long periods of time, but it’s certainly safe and suitable for your dish that just comes out of the oven.
  • It will be non-toxic and considered food safe. You can eat food off our counters if that’s your desire. You can roll out pizza or cookies right on the counter and do not have to worry about any toxins getting in your food.
  • They’re also scratch-resistant. You might not be able to take a knife and directly chop vegetables on your countertop. I wouldn’t use it as a cutting board, let’s not get carried away. But, the stray knife mark, or little kids banging on your counter, shouldn’t scratch, dent, or damage your epoxy countertop.
  • Moisture resistant – sort of like heat, it’s resistant to water but not waterproof. It’s ok to put a wet glass on your counter. It will not get destroyed by that. However, maybe stay away from letting puddles of water sit on your counter for long periods of time.
  • Durability – You do not have to worry about your countertop caving in and creating a disaster. As long as you are not looking to store hundreds of pounds on your counters, they will hold up to most normal kitchen and bathroom needs.

Epoxy countertops are definitely safe. You can install one in your home and know that you aren’t exposing anybody to toxins, it will be heat resistant and not a fire hazard, and it’ll also be quite durable.

What Kind of Epoxy Should You Use for Countertops?

There are some different options you can use when selecting the Epoxy for your countertop. Some of the things you’ll want to look for when choosing an epoxy are:

  • Is it self-leveling? Installing an epoxy countertop is not the world’s easiest task, but it’s made easier if you are using an epoxy that will self-level as you apply it.
  • 100% VOC Free – Volatile Organic Compounds. You’ll want to make sure your epoxy doesn’t have any of those. That will go a long way towards ensuring it complies with any environmental regulations and is safe for use in your home.
  • One Coat System – While you’ll want to apply a primer, and you’ll want to do some finishing touches after it dries, try to find an epoxy that only requires one coat.
  • Does it bubble up? Buy an epoxy that doesn’t bubble much. Some are worse than others. You might need the torch at all if you can find an epoxy that doesn’t bubble.
  • Size – You can buy epoxy in 1-gallon or 2-gallon containers. How much do you need for your project? What is the right size?
  • UV resistance – is your epoxy UV resistant? You should prioritize this. I know. You think, “Well, my kitchen isn’t sunbathing and exposing itself to UV rays, so I don’t need to care about this. It’s important. No matter where in your house your countertop is located, if your epoxy is not UV resistant, you run the high risk of your countertop yellowing over time. If you don’t want it to yellow, make sure it’s UV resistant. It does not take much sunlight to make your countertop yellow with time.
  • Application – is it easy to apply this epoxy? While you usually will apply a thin layer of epoxy first to use as a seal, what will happen when you apply the main layer, will it bubble? Again, we want to avoid bubbles. Read about the epoxy you select and see how you apply it and what you can do to avoid bubbling.

There are a variety of factors to consider when you’re deciding on which epoxy to buy for your countertop. The good news is, there’s a lot of great options out there, and you’ll be able to find the right fit for your project without much effort or research.

Epoxy Options for Your Countertop

  • Countertop Epoxy - FX Epoxy - UV Resistant Resin – This product on Amazon is a clear resin designed for your countertop. It dries quickly, which should help with installation. It’s made to create a thick finish requiring no maintenance! You can apply this directly over existing countertops made out of laminate, Formica, etc.

Either of these options would work. What you’re looking for when you select your epoxy is making sure you can safely use it to apply over your existing countertops, and that there are detailed enough instructions with it that it makes the installation as easy as possible.

Pros and Cons of Using Epoxy when doing your Countertop

Using epoxy on your countertop can give you the look and feel of a much more expensive countertop, like marble. Before deciding for sure you’re going to use epoxy, let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of using this material.

Pros

  • You can install epoxy over just about any type of existing countertop: Formica, laminate, ceramic, etc.
  • You can have the look of marble or quartz without the price of marble or quartz.
  • The countertops will have a nice high gloss finish. You’ll always have a clean, sleek look that is nice and shiny.
  • Seamless – you do not have to worry about any unsightly seams like might be found in a laminate countertop. Because of how it installed, there will never be any seams.

Cons

  • You can’t just buy a slab like you can with marble or quartz. It’s easier to install a slab than it is to install epoxy over an existing countertop.
  • It can be a bit tricky to install. It’s very messy and hard to work with.
  • It might easily stain. If you are accident-prone and spill a lot in your kitchen, this might not be the product for you. It stains easier than something like marble.
  • Quality could be poor. If you do the installation yourself and aren’t an expert, it might not come out looking as perfect as something like a slab of quartz.

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when deciding what kind of countertops you want in your kitchen. There are a lot of good reasons to select an epoxy countertop, and as long as you do your homework first so you can have peace of mind, you’ll be happy with choosing to install an epoxy countertop!

How Long Will it Take to Finish an Epoxy Countertop?

Installing an epoxy countertop is not a quick process. It’ll take a few days since things have to dry thoroughly in-between steps. Some of the more time-consuming aspects are as follows:

  • Preparing the kitchen– you’ll need to clean your kitchen before you’re ready to begin. Remove dishes, pots, pans, appliances.
  • Taping – You need to basically tape off the rest of the kitchen. Tape the seals around your sink, around the backsplash, etc. As with painting, sometimes the prep work takes longer than the actual projects.
  • Letting it dry – most likely, you will do multiple coats. It will need to dry for several hours in between coats.

You might be able to get this project done in a weekend if it’s all you focus on for that weekend. It can be time-consuming, but since you’re only doing it once, it’s worth it to take your time and do it right the first time. Since it’s messy and sticky, it’ll be very hard to redo anything if you try to cut corners to shave off some time.

How Much Will it Cost to do an Epoxy Countertop?

It’s relatively inexpensive to install an epoxy countertop, especially when compared with some of the other options for your countertop like an expensive slab of marble.

Generally, you should figure on spending between $3 and $8 for each square foot of surface. Of course, this cost will vary depending on if you hire a professional or do it yourself. Also, do you have any of the tools you need to install this, or will you need to buy everything from the epoxy itself down to the piece of sandpaper you need to smooth the surface?

Online Videos to help you do an Epoxy Countertop

YouTube has a lot of great videos that show the installation of epoxy countertops. Take a look at these before you get started:

  • Epoxy Kitchen Countertop, HOW TO – If you’re doing a kitchen, this is a great video to start with, as it provides step by step instructions on how to epoxy your kitchen countertop.

One thing YouTube is great for besides cute puppy videos are videos on how to do a wide variety of do it yourself projects. Epoxy countertops are no different, and there are a plethora of videos on YouTube that will make your job easier if you watch them before getting started.

Alternatives to Epoxy for Countertops

Are you sure you want to install an epoxy countertop? What led you to make this decision? To make sure this is what you want to go with, let’s go through some different options.

TypeProsCons
GraniteVery durable and looks great. It has a natural look to it. It can withstand some knife marks, splashes, and heat.It can be a bit pricey. It needs to be sealed periodically in order to keep stains out, meaning it requires a little bit of upkeep. It can also be heavy, so you’ll need to make sure the cabinets it’s resting on are sturdy.
QuartzIt’s easy to maintain. You don’t need to do any sealing or special cleaning during its lifetime. You’ll have a variety of color options to choose from.It can scratch or burn a little easier than some other options. It’s not great with hot pans or knife scratches.
LaminateOne of the most affordable options, and it comes in a lot of different colors.It can melt if you put anything too hot directly on it. It also has seams that some people think are unsightly. It can also scratch fairly easily.
WoodAppealing to the eyes in a kitchen. They’re like a butcher block, and you can cut right on them.Not that durable. If you make a lot of knife marks, you might be replacing the surface fairly regularly. They also need to be oiled fairly regularly.

If you don’t want to replace your entire countertop, you have a couple of options as well if you have a laminate countertop.

  • You can try to repair it. If you just have small knicks or chips, you can repair those with a color-matched repair pen that you can buy at most home improvement stores. If you’re looking to remove stains, you can do so, usually with just a solution made from baking soda and water. If needed, you could also try some nail polish remover, just don’t let it sit on the laminate, or it could take off the finish.
  • Laminate can also be painted. With a pretty simple process of cleaning, priming, and painting, you can also get your laminate countertops looking as good as new in some cases!

All countertops have a variety of pros and cons. Just take a look at some other options, so you can feel confident in your decision to install an epoxy countertop.

How to do an Epoxy Countertop

Installing an epoxy countertop is a job you can take on yourself. It’ll give you the look and feel of a more expensive countertop, and epoxy is perfectly safe to use as your countertop! You’ll need to prepare to do the job, patch up any holes or cracks before you apply the epoxy, apply the epoxy, and then clean up after it’s all done.

There are several different epoxies that would work, which you can buy on Amazon or at many of your local hardware stores. Epoxy countertops are safe, durable, and will last you for years. Your cost will vary depending on if you’re doing the whole project yourself, having a professional do it, or somewhere in between.

Take your time and do it right, and you’ll end up with a beautiful countertop you can be proud of for years to come!

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About Jon - Website Owner

Jon Smith

Hi, my name is Jonathan Smith. I have been in the granite business for many years and have worked my way up from an installer helper to an installer and then a countertop business owner. 

I started my countertop company with very little and grew extremely fast because of my knowledge and helpfulness. I started this countertop resource for 1 main reason. That reason is that there are no countertop websites with all the correct information and none of them are from an industry expert like myself. 

I am still in the trade every single day installing countertops, educating people on the type of material they are using for their homes, and making people's dream kitchens a reality.

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