The Nugget: Refinishing The Countertops
Dudes! We are overhauling a 1972 Bell Travel Trailer! Follow the entire series from the beginning here!
Hooray!! The little Nugs that could is chugging along!
One of the elements that just couldn’t survive the overhaul (besides the blue carpet) was the lime green Formica countertops. In the right place they are AMAZING but the conclusion came about that there could only be a few design stars, and the countertops just didn’t make the cut.
Working within the confines of a trailer makes things different. One of the biggest factors that needs to be considered is adding weight. I knew that I wanted to save my added weight allowance and use it elsewhere (like the floors!!) so I needed something lightweight that had major transformation powers.
A concrete overlay countertop was just the ticket. Now, I know what you might be thinking. Yes it is concrete, but it is only about 1/8” thick. And yes it is durable. (We will get into that in another post!)
For the last year or so blogland has been abuzz with talk of Ardex Feather Finish and its magnificent countertop transforming powers. After doing a little internet sleuthing I found out that Ardex Feather Finish is made by a company called Henry. Do you know what else they make (among other things)? Henry Feather Finish that is sold at Home Depot.
I couldn’t find an exact yes or no answer to if they were the same, so I called Henry and asked. This was their response:
“ Technically, no, they are not the same. As far as using them, and their performance, they are the same. In a blind test, the manufacturer wouldn’t be able to tell you which is which. “
YESSSSS! Best news ever!! While Ardex Feather Finish and Henry Feather Finish aren’t exactly the same their performance is! (You can find it in the flooring isle at HD!)
When we bought it, The Nugs had 2 faucets. The one on the left went to the outside water hook up, and the one on the right was connected to the water tank inside the trailer.
They had to go. It was like a faucet fiesta. The blue switch box powers the small electrical pump that pumps water from the tank…that had to go too.
Taking them out left 2 holes that needed to be patched. After securing a piece of wood on the underside of the countertops, we filled the holes with wooden dowel and screwed them down.
We sanded the edges to make sure that they were flush with the countertops.
And drilled a hole for the single handle faucet that we were planning on installing. (This one) The faucet saga is a whole different blog post, so we will just leave it at …To Be Continued.
The biggest warning that Kara gives when installing concrete overlay countertops is that the surface needs to be SOLID. The situation with our countertops was that they were totally solid, but the top layer that was the actual Formica was loose in a few spots. We used our staple gun to secure it nice and tight.
The countertops also need to be roughed up a lot. I used 40 grit sandpaper and obviously went to town. Making sure to get all of the smooth finish off of them.
After all of the dust is cleaned off the real fun begins. The Feather Finish has the consistency of firm pudding. It was at this point that I tried to do a Bill Cosby impression and Court just gave me a blank stare…so there is that.
We spread the first layer with a trowel and then switched to a plastic putty knife. We liked the putty knife better.
Lay down a few thin layers, sanding down the high spots in between. Get as much of the dust cleaned up as you can between layers.
We found that the more layers we added, the more color variation we got. I am not sure why, but if you want something that isn’t mottled with different shades of gray, you will want to keep that in mind.
Here is the third layer going on:
When it was all said and done I gave it a good sanding with 400 grit sandpaper. It is so smooth, it feels like glass.
Sealing concrete is different than sealing concrete countertops. The most important thing to take into consideration is that because it is countertops, where food will be prepped, the sealer needs to be food safe. Forever ago when I was planning this for my kitchen, (don’t worry, I haven’t left you guys in the dark, I am still rocking the beige) I ordered Cheng Concrete Sealer and have just been hanging onto it since.
While sealing, I learned a few things. 1. Southern Utah heat + the need to keep the concrete wet the entire time is definitely a 2 person job. One that I didn’t do so well. I can tell where the concrete absorbed the sealer differently in a few spots. Next time I will make sure that Court can help me. Also, the sealer made the concrete significantly darker. Which is fine, but I sort of loved the lighter color better. So keep that in mind too.
All in all, new updated countertops for less than $50 is a huge win!!