This post is sponsored by Encore. All opinion are 100% my own. 

{Enter to win a free countertop refinishing system kit here!}

 

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. 

Concrete Countertops over Existing Laminate - Don’t rip out your laminate, update them over the weekend with this concrete kit. Do it yourself!

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. 

Concrete Countertops over Existing Laminate - Don’t rip out your laminate, update them over the weekend with this concrete kit. Do it yourself!

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)
  • Gloves
  • Dust Mask
  • 1 2 1/2 Quart mixing container
  • 3 1 qt mixing container
  • 4 paint stirrers
  • Painters Tape
  • Foam Mini Roller

Prep: 

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. 

Concrete Countertops over Existing Laminate - Don’t rip out your laminate, update them over the weekend with this concrete kit. Do it yourself!

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. 

 

Concrete Countertops over Existing Laminate - Don’t rip out your laminate, update them over the weekend with this concrete kit. Do it yourself!

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.”

 

Concrete Countertops over Existing Laminate - Don’t rip out your laminate, update them over the weekend with this concrete kit. Do it yourself!

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.

 

Concrete Countertops over Existing Laminate - Don’t rip out your laminate, update them over the weekend with this concrete kit. Do it yourself!
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. 

 

Concrete Countertops over Existing Laminate - Don’t rip out your laminate, update them over the weekend with this concrete kit. Do it yourself!

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.

Concrete Countertops over Existing Laminate - Don’t rip out your laminate, update them over the weekend with this concrete kit. Do it yourself!

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. 

Concrete Countertops over Existing Laminate - Don’t rip out your laminate, update them over the weekend with this concrete kit. Do it yourself!

I absolutely love my new countertops! They look so much better than I imagined. 

Concrete Countertops over Existing Laminate - Don’t rip out your laminate, update them over the weekend with this concrete kit. Do it yourself!
Concrete Countertops over Existing Laminate - Don’t rip out your laminate, update them over the weekend with this concrete kit. Do it yourself!

Concrete Countertops over Existing Laminate - Don’t rip out your laminate, update them over the weekend with this concrete kit. Do it yourself!

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!

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14 Comments

  1. I just came across your blog on Pinterest and found this – did you know the Encore counter top refresher system has been discontinued? Bummer! Yours look great!

  2. I just found this today and can’t wait to try it! I’ve already decided I was going to do my own concrete countertops. If this works….. oh can you imagine how much work and money I will save. I’m super excited! Thank you!

    P.S. Are your countertops still holding up well?

  3. Now that you have had your counters for 6 months or so, how are they holding up? Do they scratch? Can you put hot things right on the counter? Your work looks wonderful. You have inspired me.

    1. They are great! I don’t put hot things right on them, since they are not solid concrete, but they are holding up beautifully, no scratches or dings of any kind. I love them!

      1. Thanks for letting me know. I HATE my tile countertops and have not been able to find a solution that I liked that I can afford. But this one I can. And I LOVE concrete countertops. I see some challenges. the edge of my tile has a little raised lip bull nose. So my concrete might have a little bit of a raised edge.

        The only good thing about the tile is that I can put hot things on it without having to think about it. But, a sacrifice I’m willing to make to bring my counters out of the 20th century.

        Again, thanks for writing. I’ve bookmarked this page for when I can work on my counters.

        1. You’re welcome! We always get compliments on them. They are a ton of work, but definitely worth it because they are so incredibly inexpensive. Let me know when you want to get started, I have a contact with the company’s installer expert, he can answer all your questions.

  4. Gorgeous! Your countertops are amazing! Saving this for “hopefully” soon to be done project. 😊 Thank you for sharing all the details and your experience!

  5. This is amazing! I love love love how your counters turned out!! The color is great too!! What an amazing product. Totally pinning for future use!!
    Shonee