Numerous ways exist to update the countertops in your home, but epoxy resin offers perhaps the best combination of versatility and durability. Using epoxy resin to revitalize an old countertop or make a new one allows for many creative possibilities, including the opportunity to mimic expensive quartz and marble at a fraction of the cost of real stone.
Since epoxy has become increasingly popular, a number of different resins are on today’s market, which can make choosing the right one a challenge. In this article, learn about the best epoxy for the countertops in your home, including the technical and practical applications of this durable material.
- BEST OVERALL: Stone Coat Countertop (1 Gallon) Epoxy Kit
- RUNNER-UP: Pro Marine Supplies Clear Table Top Epoxy Resin
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Incredible Solutions Table Top & Bar Top Epoxy Resin
- BEST FOR SMALL COUNTERTOPS: DR CRAFTY Clear Epoxy Resin
- MOST VERSATILE: FGCI SUPERCLEAR EPOXY Resin
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Epoxy for Countertops
Although all resins are two-part products that must cure after they’re mixed, they’re not identical. Keep reading to discover the important points to consider before making a purchase, as well as the benefits and practical aspects of using epoxy for countertops.
Epoxy also can be used to refinish or protect existing surfaces. It works well with all kinds of composite and laminate countertops (including Formica) as well as with solid wood, concrete, or stone. You can even use epoxy to pour a complete new epoxy resin countertop if desired.
When considering ease of application, a couple of features come to mind. Many of the best epoxies for countertops have fairly low viscosity (relatively thin), which means they flow well and level themselves. They’re much easier for DIY use, especially when trying epoxy for the first time. Ease of application also is affected by the nature and texture of the original surface.
Most applications require two coats, which makes curing time another important consideration. Rapid-drying epoxy resins may take 4 to 6 hours before a second coat can be applied, though up to 24 hours is possible. DIYers likely will have to wait another 3 to 4 days before they can use the countertop. Even then, experts suggest only light use since a full cure can take from 7 to 30 days, depending on the product.
Historically, epoxy resins have not been particularly pleasant to use, producing strong odors and containing high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are now recognized as a health hazard. Fortunately, modern formulations produce low or zero VOCs and emit less odor.
Durability and UV Resistance
Once fully cured, epoxy resin provides a high-gloss shine that resists water, general wear, scratches, and cracking. While a pan straight from the oven can burn it, it typically resists heat well enough to allow cups containing hot beverages to sit on it. Resistance to the ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunlight varies, but, depending on location, that may not be a factor. If the countertop is for outside use, use a UV-protected resin or coat it with a topcoat of UV-resistant urethane varnish. Some epoxy resins are not designed for outdoor use, so use care when choosing a product.
Epoxy resins are nontoxic when cured—they’re technically an inert plastic—but not necessarily FDA approved as food safe. Many products do comply with the relevant certification (Code of Federal Regulations Title 21, part 175.300 and 175.105), so if the intended use is for a kitchen countertop, consider this as well.
Epoxy resins present almost limitless design opportunities. For example, most can be dyed, so the color can be changed to match new kitchen cabinets. But that’s just the start. Users can create marble, granite, or quartz effects or add metallic powders to add another dimension to the surface.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Epoxy countertops resist both stains and moisture quite well, so cleaning is typically easy. Mop up spills right away when practical. If a cloth and warm water don’t remove marks, use a little dish soap as well. Always use a white cloth so the fabric color won’t transfer to the surface.
For more stubborn stains, use glass cleaner or acetone. Mixing baking soda with water (4 parts soda diluted with 1 part water) is another solution. Avoid bleach as it can stain epoxy. And also avoid abrasive cleaners because they can mark the surface with tiny scratches that eventually cause it to go dull.
If the shine does eventually wear off in places, rejuvenate it with mineral oil or liquid countertop polish. Spray it on and buff it off with a lint-free cloth or paper towel. In extreme cases, use a special laminate or epoxy polishing paste.
Tips for Buying and Using Epoxy for Countertops
One topic that often crops up when buying epoxy concerns the amount required, which largely depends on the thickness of each coat of epoxy. Most people apply a skim (thin) coat and one or more additional coats to achieve a total thickness between ⅛ and ¼ inch. Since a gallon of epoxy equals 231 square inches, measure your countertop and do some quick math to find a reasonably accurate answer. Most of these products have similar coverage, and manufacturers frequently provide guidance about the required amount.
Epoxy resins always come in a two-part kit: a resin and a hardener (also called a curing agent). Unmixed, they can be stored for a year or more without degrading.
As soon as the two components combine, they start to cure, so application time is important. As time passes, the epoxy becomes thicker and more difficult to spread. Most epoxies allow for around 45 minutes of application time, so plan the job in advance and have everything required at hand.
- A 1-gallon kit contains ½ gallon of resin and ½ gallon of hardener, or a gallon in total.
- If you’re refinishing countertops on-site, mask off the cabinets below with plastic sheeting and masking tape.
- Many experts recommend running a heat gun or small butane torch over the surface of the countertop to release air bubbles from the epoxy. A powerful hair dryer might work.
- Have plenty of cleanup materials on hand before starting the project.
- If you get epoxy on your skin, remove it as soon as possible to prevent irritation.
Our Top Picks
With all these considerations in mind, it’s time to start shopping. All the following are top-performing products from well-known brands.
Stone Coat Countertops epoxy is a low-odor, eco-safe product that contains no VOCs. It’s self-leveling, UV stabilized, and won’t yellow. Once fully cured, it’s food safe, and it provides temperature resistance up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. The manufacturer offers a wide range of compatible dyes and powders to customize the effect.
Stone Coat Countertops epoxy is available in ½-gallon, 1-gallon, and 2-gallon kits to minimize waste. It can be used in temperatures as low as 65 degrees Fahrenheit (though this will extend curing time). A full 24 hours is recommended between coats. Ready for light use in 3 days and very hard in a week, this epoxy requires 30 days for full heat resistance. A semi-gloss finish can be sanded after 5 to 7 days.
Crystal Clear epoxy resin can be applied to virtually any surface, including laminates, solid wood, stone, and metal. It emits low VOCs, levels itself, produces minimal air bubbles, and offers good UV resistance. Additionally, it produces minimal odor during application and is food safe when fully cured. Add color with a resin dye. Versatile and relatively inexpensive, it might have taken the top spot except for its modest temperature resistance at 135 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sold in a 1-gallon kit, use Crystal Clear epoxy at around 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It requires 4 to 6 hours between coats (and not exceeding 10). Although it’s dry to the touch in around 12 hours, leave it at least 3 days before using it.
This Incredible Solutions epoxy is designed specifically for countertops. Apply it to a maximum depth of ¼ to ⅛ inch, or use a deep-pour version of the same product. An eco-friendly, zero-VOC product with low odor, it can be applied to laminated, wood, and concrete, though not over oil-based paint or stains. While it does offer UV resistance, it’s not designed for direct sunlight or outdoor use. The manufacturer says this epoxy is food safe.
Apply this product between 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit and add subsequent coats after 4 to 6 hours while it’s still tacky. At just 7 days, it cures comparatively quickly. The manufacturer doesn’t provide an exact temperature rating, but its heat resistance is not high.
The 64-ounce kit from Dr. Crafty offers an affordable solution for those new to using epoxy resins for countertops. The kit includes mixing cups, stirrers, and spreaders. It creates a low-odor, low-VOC, UV-protected, and food-safe surface once fully cured. To achieve various effects, mix it with dye or powder.
Ideal temperature for application is between 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. A second coat can be applied once the first has hardened, which takes 12 to 24 hours. It’s fully cured in 72 hours and heat resistant to 230 degrees Fahrenheit.
FGCI’s Superclear epoxy resin, termed a “tabletop” epoxy, is also good for deep pours. Apply it to virtually any surface and mix it with a wide variety of dyes, color additives, metallic resin powders, and inks. The U.S.-made formula is low VOC, provides a high-gloss finish that the manufacturer calls “super wet,” and offers good UV resistance. It’s food safe once cured.
Superclear can be applied from 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, though temperatures below 77 degrees Fahrenheit will extend the curing time. Unlike many resins with a maximum thickness of ⅛ inch per pour, Superclear can be applied in ¼-inch coats. Pour a second coat while the first is still tacky, which is usually anywhere up to 24 hours. Full cure takes 7 days.
Superclear countertop epoxy, which is sold as a commercial-grade product, is available only in 2-gallon packs.
FAQs About Epoxy for Countertops
This article has explored some of the top epoxies available, offered some useful tips on their use, and suggested several of the best epoxy products for countertops to buy. However, a few questions may still remain. The following questions about epoxies crop up frequently.
Q. Can you epoxy over laminate countertops?
You can, and it’s a popular solution for revitalizing tired or worn countertops. Curing time will be several days, so your countertop will probably be out of use for at least a week. You can paint laminate like Formica or use a wipe-on product called polyacrylic to refinish your laminate countertops
Q. Is it easy to make an epoxy countertop?
Yes, it is. However, while it’s not difficult, whether you decide to refinish existing countertops in place or make a whole new one makes a difference. The former is straightforward, and most kits are designed for the job. The latter offers the opportunity to create something unique and special, but it can take considerable time and effort.
Q. How long does epoxy last?
In its unmixed state, epoxy has a shelf life of around 2 to 3 years, but check the manufacturer’s information for specifics.
How long an epoxy countertop lasts depends on the wear and tear it receives, although they’re durable. Refinished laminate countertops may need attention after around 5 years. Solid countertops could last much longer, and if the surface eventually starts to dull, a light wipe with mineral oil usually revitalizes them.