Galley Makeover – Epoxy Countertop

Check out the video here…

After replacing our top loading fridge with an Isotherm Cruise 130 front loading fridge, the counter tops in our galley were a massive eyesore. Not only were they very old, stained and raising from where water was getting underneath, but they now had a big hole in the middle. Replacing counter tops had been on my list for a while but after the fridge installation, it was now a necessity. It was time for a Galley Makeover!

This is my experience and a bit of a guide on how I redid our old and tired looking counter tops with new Epoxy Countertops. If you want to check out the video, the link is above.

Since buying the boat I’d been secretly looking up ways to replace our counter top and had seen many beautifully and seemingly easily designed epoxy counter tops… I am also somewhat of an optimist so figured, how hard can it be?! Adam didn’t need much persuading either after I came to him with the only other alternative… a 70’s retro orange laminate I’d found in the shops in Grenada.

So off to YouTube I went to research… I didn’t want to get confused between 10 different techniques so just stuck with a couple of videos. These were the two videos I found the most helpful:

List of materials I used for the job:

  • Sander with 60 grit sandpaper
  • Acetone
  • Level
  • Resin & micro balloon or putty (used to make sure the counter top was level)
  • Plastic Sheeting
  • Painters Tape
  • Clear Tabletop Resin (I used ClearCote brand as it was the only one I could find)
  • White Pigment (ClearCote)
  • Grey Pigment (ClearCote)
  • Navy Rustoleum spray paint
  • Foam Roller
  • Rubber Putty Knife
  • Long stirring stick
  • Paint brush
  • 1 large container (for base colour epoxy)
  • A couple of small containers (for coloured epoxy)

Step 1: Remove old counter top.

I took off all the old laminate as it was peeling and raised in spots and also removed the tap & sink. I then sanded back to the base surface, and made sure that I sanded with a high grit sandpaper to rough it up so the new epoxy would stick to it.

Step 2: Leveling the counter top.

As epoxy is self leveling I had to make sure our whole counter top was flat and level before I could pour the epoxy on. Yes I know, level on a boat is impossible, right?! But for us, there was an obvious slant in our counter top so if you poured water onto it, it would run starboard and towards the bow.

I had two options. Get rid of everything heavy in the bow and move it to the aft to redistribute the weight and level the boat. Or to fill in the difference with micro balloon (as we had plenty of resin and micro balloon on hand).

To be honest, I didn’t think at the time of making the bow lighter and it was only in hindsight that I thought of this option so instead, I filled in the difference.

After it dried, I sanded it again and made sure the countertop was finally level.

Step 3: Prep.

I covered around the edges and the inside of the sink with painters tape and plastic sheeting. The epoxy is runny (like thickshake consistency) and drops do get on places you don’t want them too. When the epoxy is still wet you can wipe it off with acetone but it’s covering everything in advance is a bit easier to do!

The lids for the freezer and the bin were a bit of a conundrum. I wanted a continuous pattern across the whole counter top which meant that the lids had to be in place. But putting them in place meant that they pretty much had to be epoxied in so the pattern could flow.

My answer was to run painters tape around the edge of the lids and the holes. I the ran a bead of silicone around the hole before placing the lids back in. My theory was that if the epoxy ran through the cracks in between the lid and the hole it wouldn’t my get further than the silicone. The painters tape also gave a clear line where I had to cut the lids out and when I peeled off the tape the epoxy should come off too.

Next, I wiped down the whole surface with acetone so it was clean and free of residue and oil. Lastly, I laid out everything I needed all in one spot so I didn’t have to run around like a mad woman finding something.

Step 4: Epoxy Time!

I used a 1:1 mix of Clear Cote Table Top Epoxy and poured white pigment into it. I then poured it on to the countertop and spread it around with a roller brush and then a spatula, I found the spatula a little easier to work with but I think this is personal preference.

Once the base coat was spread evenly I took out a heat gun and quickly went over the surface to pop any air bubbles or fish eyes that had come to the surface. There were quite a few that I didn’t see until they popped!

Step 5: Accents.

I followed the techniques of the two videos listed above (in order of preference). Then I mixed up a small amount epoxy in a container and poured a bit of grey pigment in. Afterwards I started dabbing it around the counter top with a paintbrush and drawing in grey marble looking lines. If I made a mistake like putting waaay too much grey into a straight line (so it looked fake or unrealistic) I just dabbed and blended it into the surrounding white with the paintbrush. For me, less was more… Once I though the grey marble look was ok, I stopped.

Step 6: The feature colour.

I initially just wanted a small hint of blue… whooops, that didn’t happen! Good thing I love the design as it turned out.

I mixed up more white epoxy and poured a thick run of it onto the countertop. Immediately afterwards, I sprayed navy blue spray paint on to the end of the stirring stick. I then drew a line in the middle of the white epoxy I just poured. It turned out that I didn’t need as much as I sprayed as it dried a bit slower than I thought.

From here, it was a matter of pouring more white and light grey epoxy inside the centre of the preceding colour to make the blue look more subtle.

At one stage I thought it looked a little like a child’s tie-dye attempt. So I took out the heat gun to see if I could blow the epoxy into a more natural design. This technique was a life saver and really gave it a more natural flow!

Once I was happy with the design and it was starting to harden a little, I thought I’d see what a spray of alcohol would do. Both videos suggested this technique so I did some subtle sprays and the coloured epoxy created little bubbles in it. As the countertop was already hardening, they were quite subtle bubble which I liked.

I tried this technique again on the smaller section of countertop when the epoxy was runnier. It created bigger bubbles which I didn’t really like as much as the more subtle ones.

Step 7: Final clear coat.

Lastly, to lock in the colour and give more protection, I covered the whole countertop in another layer of plain clear epoxy. The videos I followed suggested adding a few more lines, sprays, dabs etc for depth at his stage. While I didn’t do this on the main counter top I did add a little more blue to the smaller section of countertop to cover up a few of the bubbles that the alcohol spray had made. It managed to cover up a few bubbles and gave it a bit more of a blue pop of colour.

Step 8: Cutting the lids out.

Because the painters tape outlined the lids, it was easy enough to figure out where to cut them out. I then pried them away from the silicone and peeled off the painters tape. This sounds easier said than done though as our multi tool broke halfway. I also didn’t raise the painters tape high enough in some spots and when I lost sight of it below the epoxy and had to cut in the general direction of where I thought the lid was. This worked most times but the lids do need some neatening up.

Things to note:

Many of instructions online said I had about 30 minutes to work with the epoxy on the countertop before it started to harden a little. I found that this timeframe was pretty accurate. The leftover epoxy in the containers hardened a lot quicker though (around 5 minutes) and I had to remix more amounts of these occasionally.

As Adam kept reminding me… if it didn’t turn out the way I liked, I could always redo it over the top again. Thankfully I’m really pleased with the results and although it was a very stressful 30 minutes, I’m glad I did it. I love having a unique counter top and although I thought I messed up at the time having so much blue, it’s now what I love about it most!

I hope that the video and these instructions helped for anyone else is tackling a DIY Epoxy Counter Top… especially on a moving boat!!