Epoxy resin countertops (lab countertops)

frozenelvesFebruary 19, 2012

Has anyone used these. I saw them on DIY channel and they sounded durable and inexpensive. I was going to use Absolute Black honed originally, but there seems to be conflicting reviews and I don't care to have a negative experience.

Right now I'm leaning towards Caesarstone Raven or a similar color, but would like to investigate these lab countertops. Is there anything you can tell me about using or buying these?

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We use them on schools in science classrooms. I really would not recommend them for your home unless you are after an institutional look....which most are not. The quartz will hold up better then these will.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 8:56AM
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mama goose incorporated used high school lab counters into her ingeniously recycled kitchen, to great effect. She has pictures before and after.

Here is a link that might be useful: second long post with pictures

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 9:35AM
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They are just a cheaper version of Corian with a different fill material.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 9:45AM
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I think that they scratch pretty easily, more like a cutting board. Corian is quite a bit more durable, and costly.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 10:45AM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

One of my favorite subjects!

AS Honorbiltkit mentioned (thanks HKB :), I have lab-top counters that were salvaged from an old high school, then passed along to a church, where we bought them when the church kitchen was remodeled. We paid a whopping $20.00 per 30x54 top (including the oak table), so I have $60.00 (plus cost of gasoline, and router bits for runnels) in my cooking area/clean-up area counters.

Here's a pic I took this morning, with my new dishwasher. The kitchen is clean because we had a big family dinner yesterday--it's not always this way. :] Also, if I'm expecting company, I'll polish the counters with a soft cloth and a little mineral oil.

Because the tops were so inexpensive, they've been worth the cost and time that I've invested in this DIY project. I sanded and buffed all the slabs, but didn't try to get out every scratch. I have a vintage style kitchen, so a little patina here and there is OK with me. I haven't noticed any new scratches, but I'm careful not to drag anything across the surface. My kids--a different story. What I've noticed most are 'metal marks' which are left when they open a food can, using a hand can-opener. If we had a cabinet-mounted opener, I think that would eliminate most of the problem. When I see a mark, I use a smooth sanding sponge to polish it out--I expect a Magic Eraser would also work.

I use a dish drainer over the runnels at the sink, and I've noticed that under the drainer, where the water stands between the runnels, there will be a hard-water shadow. Every few days I use a plastic scrubby to take off the deposits.

Before the lab-tops, we'd always had laminate, so out of habit I never cut directly on the counter, or set hot pans down without a trivet. I've put cooky sheets from the oven on the new tops, but nothing directly from a burner or a very hot oven. One of these days I'm going to bring in a leftover piece of resin, and experiment with hot pans.

If I had to pay a premium price for brand new epoxy resin tops, I'd consider all the info very carefully--I love my tops, but as I've said before, since I live in an old house I'm accepting of quirks and inconveniences.

HTH, and good luck!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 1:17PM
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Thanks, that does help. I've seen your kitchen before while browsing through here. I know I saved it for inspiration. I didn't remember they were lab tops. I'll have to give this some thought. They aren't as tough as I thought. Really, nothing is. I have 7 kids and there isn't a perfect countertop! I just have to figure out which one is gonna survive my family the most. I am going for an industrial, vintage combo kitchen. A mix of styles.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 2:11PM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

Have you considered soapstone-look laminate? I think you'd still get the industrial/vintage vibe with reasonable durability and ease of care. Our tops, installed in 1994, were still in decent shape when we started cutting them apart. Use laminate and replace it with something nicer when the kids leave home. On second thought, you'll probably have grandchildren from the older kids before the younger ones leave the nest--your house will never be your own!

BTW, sometimes I type faster than I think. I took the above pic of my new dishwasher, not with it. :[

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 2:48PM
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For an industrial/vintage look, nothing will be as bulletproof as stainless counters. They are non reactive to anything spilled on them. The small scratches form a patina just like on a sink. And it takes real effort to dent them---as in deliberately whacking them with an iron skillet on an edge. You can also get them formed with a marine edge and integral sink so any spills don't roll off on the floor and can be wiped straight into the sink.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 3:21PM
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Thanks. I can't do a laminate because we have a large stainless undermount sink. Otherwise, it would've been a good option. I've always had laminate and the only downside for us has been some deep scratches from the kids doing who knows what.

I've thought about stainless because of the industrial element in my design and the durability but I feel I need the look of a dark counter because our cabinets are cream colored. I'll revisit that thought.

We will always use hot pads and cutting boards for most cutting, out of habit. I really thought quartz was the answer until I read a few posts on here about chemical staining. I can't be certain that we won't put a bottle of bleach, polish remover, etc on the counter. Even my husband will do it I know. I didn't realize those products could hurt the counter. Also, I read that you should put hot pads under roaster ovens and the like. We use our big roaster, slow cooker and big griddle all the time. I wonder if those will damage. It would have to be a big hot pad and it sounds like a pain to use it every time. However, the Raven color from Caesarstone is the right color for the backsplash we want to use. This is what we are using, except it looks more grey in person and isn't polished.

Actually, Corian is another option because they have matte colors that I would like. I'm not worried too much about the scratching because it will give a lived in look (patina) as was mentioned earlier with the stainless steel. I should give this some thought again. Can we use our griddle and slow cooker and roaster directly on Corian?

Here's a rendering of our kitchen build. It will give a basic idea of our look. Our floor tile is a deep rust color that has an aged metallic look. Very industrial looking. Our faucet is one of those 2' feet tall pull down sprayer. The cabinets are an offwhite. This is the orginal mock up, so there are some changes on the current plan. The fridge is at the end of the cabinet run now. There are no angles in the 2 corners. Overall, it will still look the same.

I will not be using subway tile, rather this tile. Ours will be more grey and unpolished. There are streaks of the rust color throughout that coordinate with the floor tile.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 5:08PM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

Your kitchen will be beautiful! Do you have room for an island and prep sink? (LOL)

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 6:26PM
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I will be putting something freestanding and on locking casters later on. I don't want a prep sink, never had one, so I won't miss it! My apron sink is 36" and divided unlike the picture shows. I believe in less is more (except when it comes to kid LOL), so I like very uncomplicated, uncluttered designs. I did agree on a pot filler for dh as he does lots of cooking.

Forgot to add that I actually have a 48" DCS range. The fridge will have panels around it. Those are obscure glass doors on either side of the range. I'm still not 100% on the glass though. I've also bought most of the kitchen items: tile, lighting, dw, sink, faucet, range, fridge.

I'll be posting more and more pics in the near future, including my house plans. I've been working on them for 3 years. I'm so excited to finally be revealing my stuff on here. I've been reading here the whole time, but not posting. I designed the whole house myself. It's a "new old house".

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 6:40PM
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Butting in here again.

I have never had seven children, but I suspect everyone's life might be more comfortable with a countertop material that you know from the get-go you can "spot renew" as needed on an ongoing basis.

Lab counters that can have scratches either sanded out or left to accumulate for a weathered look would seem about right.

Tenants can be at least as boisterous as children. For a rental unit I own, I installed a faux stone laminate in a dark bronzish mottled pattern. I figure that as small gouges appear, I can disguise the revealed bits of particle board with indelible black ink.

I have also gone the Ikea butcherblock with india ink and tung oil route, but its durability/renewability has not yet been tested.

Please keep us posted. You have an interesting challenge, and it will be equally interesting to find out what you choose.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 6:57PM
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While stainless counters are reflective (which I love, since I'm paranoid about dark surfaces sucking the light out of a room), I think they have enough contrast to work well with white/cream cabinets. Some examples:

(I'm not sure on the last one, though; perhaps that's gray quartz countertops with stainless tiles and sink? Sloppy Googling...)

In spite of my fear of dark counters, I did seriously consider Pearl or Oiled Soapstone laminate by Wilsonart for my countertops. I also love mama_goose's kitchen! However, I like the idea of stainless since you mentioned wanting an industrial edge.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 10:48PM
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How about the Brickmanhouse solution: wooden counters dyed black with India ink. I think that will take a lot of wear and tear, and have a similar look as what you have been thinking of. And it is cheap. And can be repaired with a belt sander.

There is also actual soapstone, if you decide ahead of time that you will accept the patina that 7 young'uns will give it. But they won't be able to stain it or burn it.

Here is a link that might be useful: india-ink-dyed countertops

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 12:01AM
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I definitely don't want wood, but thanks for the suggestion. I'm a little bummed tonight because I went to buy a sample of the tile backplash I liked, but the shade of the current batch has more beige brown in it and I liked the charcoal greys that were more prominent. I was too delayed in buying it!

Anyway, I did some looking and decided that Corian is not an option in a darker color. Didn't like it. Can't use laminate because of the undermount sink. Lab counters don't sound like a great fit. I think they might be too dark also.

Here's my options I think:

1)Honed Granite: if I want to risk the staining issues. No scratching or heat worries right? Perfect color choice.
2)Quartz: risk of chemical stains, risk of heat damage from griddles, slow cookers. No scratches, perfect color choice.
3)Stainless: No staining, heat damage, and scratches only add to the look. Not a perfect color choice.
4)Soapstone: Great color, not staining, no heat damage. Chips easily?

It would appear that stainless is a great option for the durability but I really want a tile backsplash. I liked the look of marble mosaic because the pattern was small and from a distance, it would look uniform. I want to look somewhat industrial but not 100%. My floor tile looks like a rusty metal. In the daylight, depending on the angle, it is very reflective, like an old mirror. Without daylight, it has the copper/bronze color more. It is the most awesome tile!!

But, I want some warmth. I will have tongue and groove ceiling painted to match the cabs.

So would stainless counters be too much metallic? Would they work with a darker tile backsplash. I also like a 1x2 multicolor slate backsplash or something like these:


Here's my faucet and sink too:

How do these compare to each other in price. I have no idea. We supposedly are able to get less expensive AB granite here because it is quarried locally.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 12:51AM
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You can actually do laminate with an undermount sink. Here is the company that does it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Undermount sink laminate counter

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 7:52AM
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Is that sink undermounted? It looks like it is sitting on the counter, or do you already have it mounted a different way? Sorry, maybe I have not had enough coffee!


    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 8:14AM
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I didn't realize you had purchased your sink already. While you have an undermount sink, it doesn't actually need to be undermounted if the cabinet is built to lift it higher. Our Kohler Dickinson sink is an undermount, but we actually mounted it 1/8" higher, and used silicone around it. Our counters are laminate, but my husband built them and used plywood, instead of MDF as the substrate material. If you can find a countertop maker that does laminate, you could pay extra for them to build it out of plywood. Then you just need to make sure that the seams are sealed with the silicone by the sink. From Sink and laminate edges From Sink and laminate edges

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 10:36AM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

senator13, I had missed that detail in your kitchen--great idea!

frozenelves8, I'm sorry to keep linking to ebay, but someone else on GW once left a link to this seller. They have honed black marble mosaic sheets, if you want a grayer backsplash, and stainless steel subways for another industrial look.

jessicaml, thank you. :)

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 1:17PM
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There's no reason you can't have a tile backsplash with stainless counters. You can do a flat deck counter the same as with any stone slab.

Or, look at Impala Black granite. It's a dark grey, but with a bit of flecks to it. It's pretty bulletproof, but a lot more forgiving for seeing every spot and mess compared to the true black granite.


Distance view

Leathered (which isn't the same as honed, and is less maintenance)

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 1:46PM
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There's also honed jet mist, which looks like soapstone but is much harder.

Nordic Black Antiqued

Cambrian Black Antiqued

Green Pearl Leathered

And there are even more choices available. Just visit your local stone yard. And, as always, for your finalists, get samples to test how it wears yourself before committing.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 2:14PM
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