This post is sponsored by Encore. All opinion are 100% my own.
For those of you who don’t know, we bought our first home several months ago. It’s a lovely, 50’s era single level house. It’s sturdy and full of character, but we bought it knowing we would be doing some updates to it.
Apparently, remodeling costs money. A lot.
So, we are trying to do a few things here and there that won’t break the bank.
Although I wanted to do the bathroom first, my mind got stuck on concrete countertops for the kitchen. Surely, it’s a less expensive option than granite.
Well, it’s still pretty expensive. A bit more research lead me to the Encore Countertop Refinishing System. As I read up on it and watched how-to videos, I decided this was the answer for us. We wouldn’t need to do any demolition, and we could do the update ourselves.
I feel like I learned a few things along the way. I greatly encourage you to watch the provided videos, but use them as a guide, because I have found a few different things worked better. Be sure to refer to the instruction booklet that comes with your kit, but I wanted to offer an overview and tips from our experience.
Although I bought everything recommended the project list, here is what you really need:
- 4” Putty Knife (for smaller areas
- 6” Putty Knife
- Lint-Free rags
- Sandpaper (80, 120, 220 grit)
- Dust Mask
- 1 2 1/2 Quart mixing container
- 3 1 qt mixing container
- 4 paint stirrers
- Painters Tape
- Foam Mini Roller
I HIGHLY recommend removing your sink. The finished look will be so much nicer. It will make your week a bit of a pain, just stock up on easy meals and prepare to use your bathroom sink for a few days. Having a professional, finished look is worth the hassle. Painters tape just won’t make it look nice due to the thickness of the product, so take the time to remove your sink.
This kit is recommended for 50 sq feet and under. Our countertop space was 47 sq feet. If you are less than that, this kit will be perfect for you. If you measure your space and find you are very near 50 feet like we were, you will need to add a bit of extra water to Day 2 to have enough product to cover your surface. If you have more than 50 sq feet, you will need to buy 2 kits.
You also want to tape off the edges of your counter to protect walls, windows and appliances. Don’t tape it flush, give yourself a bit of room because the product will have a thickness. It is absolutely necessary to pull off the tape and reapply new tape after each coat of Superbond and cement mix.
Day 1: Prime and Texture
Day 1 is a grainy, gray-colored primer coat. It has the texture of wet sand in pancake batter. You want to spend some time on this step. Not only do you want to be thorough in getting your entire surface covered (those edges are tricky), you want to be comfortable using your tools. If you are new to using a putty knife, you can still complete this project. Day 1 is the perfect time to try to get accustomed to the motion of spreading the product very thinly, and since this step will be covered up, it’s the best time to “practice.”
Keep it as clean as possible, it will cut down on sanding time later. Wear gloves, and spread it very thinly. The edges are super tricky and can eat up the product, so make sure you are spreading it as thin as possible, even on the edges, to ensure you have enough.
Let it dry until it is dry to the touch, and turns a chalky-white color. It was a humid week here, so our drying times were prolonged. Lightly sand the rough parts and peaks down. The whole thing will be rough, you just want to knock down peaks and big marks so you don’t use a ton of concrete filling them in. Then, add the second coat (as thin as the first) and let it dry overnight. Finish Day 1 with another good sanding. Be thorough but don’t overdo it. It’s easy to sand all the way down to your laminate!
Use a vacuum and a lint-free rag to clean up the dust.
Day 2: Color
Day 2 is when it gets exciting. Today you will add 3 coats of colored concrete to your countertops. If your measurements were near the 50 sq foot max, I recommend adding water to the mixture. I spoke to the Encore specialist and got an okay to water it down, but I also recommend it because ours turned out perfect. For the first batch, we watered it down about 1/2 C, for the second coat we used 1/4 C water, and the last coat we mixed it as directed.
Again, you will be working in VERY thin layers. Make it as thin as you possibly can while getting full coverage. The concrete dries out quickly and can become too thick to work. Don’t worry! As you go, you can scrape the thicker parts back to the container, and add small amounts of water, about a tsp at a time. Also, be aware that your putty knife marks will be in the finished color. It’s part of what makes concrete countertops so fun, but be sure that you are not letting any drips dry. You can sand it down, but you will always have the round drip mark in the concrete, so keep that in mind. Follow the directions in the booklet for each coat.
It took us a few extra days to work this step, simply because it took a while for the coats to dry in the humid weather, and because my kids need me during the day. Although this kit is technically a 3-day process, give yourself some leeway in case things don’t go perfectly, or you have to spend more time than you think. Be sure to lightly sand in between coats, try to make it as smooth as possible. The second coat is really the one you should try to make perfect. Sand it very well, and make sure you love all the marks. The back corner was pretty messy, so I used this step to fill in the corners and make everything look nice.
Use a vacuum and a lint-free rag to clean up the dust.
The last color coat is VERY thin. I found it easier to use a foam brush and “paint” the product on the round backsplashes and on the round front. If you have round edges, it can get a bit frustrating. The foam brush helps apply the product a bit easier on the edges.
Day 3: Sealer and Finish
Oh, happy day! You made it to the final day! This day is super easy and doesn’t take much time. By now, you are probably realizing how much you took your kitchen sink for granted all those years…
If you haven’t been using gloves this whole time, now is the time to put them on. The sealer is as sticky as pine sap, and you will need acetone to get it off your hands. I found it was easier to apply the sealer (and finish) by pouring it in a line instead of trying to spread out a puddle.
You want to make sure you have enough product so your counter appears slightly milky. If your foam roller is sliding around, you have too much, and you need to spread it out further. You will get a feel for it after a little while. Start with less than you think, you can add more if you need to. If you get a thin, thorough coat, you won’t need to worry too much about bubbles. You still want to back-roll the roller, but the thin coat will dry nicely. There is plenty of product, we used about half of it. Let it dry for several hours, and then follow up with the finish, applying in the same manner.
Lastly, let it cure.
I know you are dying to have your sink back, but you need to WAIT a few more days to reinstall it. Even though your counter may feel dry to the touch, it still needs to completely cure. Wait at least 3 days, more if the weather has been humid. After that, you will need to wait a few more days before you can use your counters normally, about a week total. The wait is worth it, I promise.
Look at those clean lines. I promise, it would not be that clean-looking if you used tape.
I absolutely love my new countertops! They look so much better than I imagined.
I admit, this system takes a good amount of elbow grease. You should expect to put effort into this project. However, if you are like me and would rather work for something beautiful and affordable, then this system is the one for you. It’s pretty fail-proof, if you follow the instructions and guidelines. In the end, you will have beautiful countertops without forking over a fortune to get them.
Check out all the Encore colors here. We chose “River Rock”, and I think it works perfectly with the wood in our kitchen, and the slate backsplash looks gorgeous against the concrete.
I hope you love this, because this week I will be giving away a kit for FREE to one lucky winner! Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it.
Plus, get some inspiration at Encored Facebook page. So many amazing transformations!
Stay tuned for the giveaway, coming up later this week!