We have a dream. That dream is to sell our current acreage and build a new house on another piece of land we have purchased. We love our little acreage, but with three children, one boy and two girls, and only two bedrooms upstairs, things get a little tight with three kids in one bedroom. And eventually, it does seem best to put boys in one room and girls in another. So, we have a dream.
That dream is coming closer and closer to reality. One of the things we have done to help make it a reality is to purchase a place to live in – in the same yard while we build – a ‘95 mobile home that needed major renovations. There was water damage in a good portion of one end of it due to a frozen, then broken toilet that ran for quite some time. We have the majority of the renos done, with just the master bedroom left, other than trim and other final finishing touches.
However, there is one area that still isn’t to my satisfaction. The kitchen. While I really like the layout (L-shape) and the skylight (lots of light!), the counters and cupboards leave a bit to be desired. You see, the previous owners, well, they didn’t clean much. And they had several dogs in the house. Big dogs. So those kitchen counters, walls and cupboards – I could practically scrape the grease off in some places! And there are lots of dings and nicks and dog damage to the cupboards. And two missing drawers – who takes the drawers with them when they go!? The countertop in the bathroom was also rather dingy and scraped up, though, thankfully there was no grease in there!
I really wasn’t sure what we were going to do about the countertops. The cupboards are just going to have to do for now – as we don’t intend to live in the trailer for more than a year (we hope!) – there’s really no point in sinking several thousand into new cupboards. But the countertops. They were gross. Stained, sticky, greasy, blech! But we weren’t sure we wanted to put money into new countertops either, because then the cupboards would really look really dingy! Then I had an idea! I remembered seeing Countertop Refinishing Kits in the fliers! So I emailed Rust-Oleum and asked if they’d be interested in having me do a review for them. To my utter delight, they said yes! I picked Brown Fleck and pretty soon had a kit sitting at the trailer, waiting for my attention.
Now, I have to say, I like a kit that appears to be straight forward. It’s not so daunting to start a project when you can read through the booklet and see that there are only 4 different things to do!
1.) Prep and sand the counters.
2.) Apply two base coats.
3.) Apply the fleck coat.
4.) Apply the top protective coat.
Sounds pretty easy right? Certainly doesn’t sound as intimidating as I thought it might be! So I got right to work. And believe me, sanding those counters was a very appealing project! Grease be gone! Stains be gone! I used both the diamond inbedded sanding block as well as a sanding disc on our oscillating tool. Sometimes it’s really nice to have a tool to do the work for you – though just the same I burned quite a few calories sanding! The only thing I wasn’t sure about was when the “deglossing” process was actually complete. The countertop was a “pitted” style, so even though the surface was deglossed, it looked deceptively glossy because of the pitting still being glossy. TIP: If there has been any silicone used around the edges of the countertops, be sure to do a VERY good job removing it. Very good – as in dig out the sander or something that will pretty much grind the entire surface of the countertop off. Silicone is sneaky and while it may look and even feel like it’s all gone, you will be surprised how hard you have to work to get rid of the remnants so that the base coat will stick.
Once the prep work was done, it was time to tape and paint. The base coat was super easy to apply – partly because it was so easy to see where I had done and where I hadn’t! It was also a nice thickness of paint to work with. I sanded lightly between coats just to make sure I didn’t have any crusties showing up – there always seems to be a few! After applying the two base coats, my hubby figured it looked enough better that we pretty much could have just applied the top protective coat and been happy! You can see where some silicone gave me some extra frustration in the picture here.
The fleck coat comes next. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this! It turned out to be a very gloopy “paint” with what looked like partially dried white glue strands! This is where I would have appreciated a bit more advice on what it should look like when you have applied this coat! Perhaps Rust-Oleum will include some color pictures and a bit more detail at some point in the future. I wasn’t quite sure, since it was “Brown Fleck” if some of the brown base coat was supposed to show through or not. Also, working with a reticulated roller and dabber is interesting to say the least! It recommends “rolling gently” – ahem – that means, make sure you don’t roll quickly or you will be wearing the paint! The things you learn the hard way! Also, the dabber, while it works well for the purpose, takes a bit of getting used to in order to try to maintain a “random” pattern. In the end, we figured that the glop was perhaps like the glue, and would dry clear, so we coated everything well. It would seem we were correct, as the brown shows through and the fleck adds depth.
Lastly, there is a 2-part epoxy Top Protective Coat. Being a two part epoxy, you mix the two parts together which together create the epoxy. This also means that you can’t reuse the leftovers – they’re no longer usable after about 4 hours. I found this coat to be fairly simple to put on. You use a normal brush and a normal roller. I did find that it was a bit tough to get it even – the included roller seemed to be a bit uneven. I have one spot on the kitchen counter where I can see that it was a bit thicker and so “shines” a bit more. Now, being an epoxy, this top protective coat is supposed to be tough! According to Rust-Oleum – it’s diamond tough! In the instruction booklet, it says to wait 7 days for a full cure. After 7 days, I tried marking it with my thumb nail on the edge of the counter where the fridge will be, and as you can see below, I was able to mark it. However, we have only been keeping the trailer at 16° when we’re not there, so I’m wondering if perhaps it wasn’t fully cured. I went back today and checked it (14 days later) and while I can still mark it, it does seem tougher. Interestingly enough, my husband used his heat gun on a test portion at the edge of the kitchen sink where it wouldn’t be seen – and after using the heat gun, it’s VERY tough! So I’m thinking that the lower temperature in our house means it’s simply taking it longer to actually fully cure!
As you can see by some of the finished photos, I have a little bit of frustration with painter’s tape. Yup, I left it on too long. Only between base 1 and base 2 coats, because we were planning to come back the next day to do the second. I now have to repaint both primer and paint beneath the kitchen window and in several places in the bathroom and kitchen, it tore the top layer of the “wall board drywall” off! Argh! Note to self – ALWAYS remove painter’s tape immediately after painting, as soon as it’s tacky!
Overall, what are my thoughts? The new version of this kit costs $189 at full price. Each kit does 50 sq ft, which was more than enough for our kitchen counter and bathroom counter. In looking online at Home Depot, you can get a 10′ hunk of countertop for $199. That would be approximately 18 sq ft, so you’d need 2.75x that much to come up with 50 sq ft. That bumps your pricing up to approximately $550! Now, maybe you found a countertop you fell in love with and really prefer over one of the Transformation colors. Just remember to ask your yourself first, can you do it yourself? I might have been able to, but more likely, I would have been calling my hubby over to do it all. If you need to pay someone to do it, I can pretty much tell you to double the price of the countertop! Secondly, is your counter straight and plain and normal? Ours wasn’t. It had an L shape in the one corner, a small piece off on it’s own and then the bathroom counter is a corner counter – so a regular counter top simply wouldn’t work there. And I couldn’t find a corner countertop online, so you’re back to square one! So, yes, for a DIY kit that really spiffs up your old, dingy countertop, I think the kit is worth it (though I’m frugal, wait for it to go on sale!) unless you have a really small countertop. If you have any turns in the counter or anything out of the realm of “normal” then this kit is going to make life so much simpler for you! And seriously – the kitchen looks SO much better just having that countertop looking spiffy! Now if I was really energetic, I’d look at getting the Cabinet Transformations kit! As it is, I think I’ll just get one of those “markers” and touch it up! The countertops though – they look 100x better than before! Well worth the effort to sand ‘em down! And while I can’t comment yet on longevity, I know this Mama is going to be much HAPPIER looking at them, and you know that counts for a lot!
Rust-Oleum is giving away ONE free Countertop Transformations Kit in the winner’s choice of color (Fleck in Black, Brown or Grey or Mica in White or Black). Keep up with Rust-Oleum via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube! Contest open to CANADA only. Giveaway ends March 11, 2016. Please use the entry form below.