Quartz countertops are hugely popular in modern kitchens and bathrooms due to their durability, easy maintenance, and stylish appearance. However, they can also be quite expensive to purchase and install. If you love the look of quartz but don’t have the budget for the real thing, faking it with some clever DIY techniques can save you thousands of dollars. Here’s an in-depth guide on how to fake quartz countertops convincingly.
Selecting Materials to Replicate Quartz
The key to faking quartz countertops is choosing the right materials to recreate the distinct veined or speckled look. Here are some budget-friendly options to consider:
Concrete makes an ideal base for faux quartz countertops. It provides the solid, durable foundation needed to support daily use. Mixing small aggregates like sand or pebbles into the concrete creates texture and visual interest when stained or painted later. For best results, use a fiber-reinforced concrete mix.
Ceramic, porcelain, or natural stone tile can replicate the look of quartz when grouted properly. Pick tiles with veining or speckles in shades like white, gray, beige or black. Cut and arrange them in a quartz-like pattern. The grout lines will create the appearance of natural stone.
High-pressure laminates come in quartz-mimic patterns like marble, granite, and other aggregates. Affordable and easy to install, laminates make a practical option for DIYers. Use moisture-resistant ones rated for countertops. Match up the edges carefully during installation.
For existing countertops like wood or laminate, painting can transform the surface to look like quartz. Use a specialist countertop paint in a solid neutral tone then add veining and mottling with colored paints. Seal with a clear epoxy for protection and sheen.
Clear epoxy resin can be tinted and poured directly onto surfaces to create faux quartz countertops. Add metallic powders or colored aggregates to achieve distinctive veining and patterns. The poured resin cures to a durable, glossy finish.
How to Make Concrete Countertops Look Like Quartz
Concrete makes an ideal base material for faux quartz countertops. Here’s a step-by-step guide to achieve the look:
Step 1: Build Molds
Build watertight molds for casting the concrete countertops using melamine, plastic laminate or wood. Seal mold edges with caulk or silicone. Coat the mold interior with release agent so concrete won’t stick.
Step 2: Mix Concrete
Choose a fiber-reinforced concrete mix for best strength and workability. Mix per manufacturer directions. For quartz-like speckles, add small pea gravel aggregates to the mix.
Step 3: Pour Concrete
Fill molds evenly and slightly overfull with concrete. Tap sides to release air pockets. Insert reinforcement steel if needed for support.
Step 4: Cure Concrete
Cover freshly poured concrete with plastic and allow 1-2 weeks of curing time. Keep damp with occasional misting. Don’t disturb or damage curing concrete.
Step 5: Demold Concrete
Once fully cured, separate concrete countertop gently from mold. Sand and patch any imperfections. Seal with concrete sealer.
Step 6: Add Color and Texture
Stain concrete using mineral-based concrete dyes in shades like gray or tan. Spray in mottled patterns. Use artist brush to add veining with darker acrylic paints. Seal with clear epoxy resin for glossy finish.
Turning Tile into Faux Quartz
With the right tiles and grout, it’s easy to mimic the look of quartz. Follow these steps:
Choose Appropriate Tiles
Select unpolished tiles in quartz-like colors and patterns. Pay attention to size and thickness for seamless installation. Porcelain, ceramic and natural stone tiles all work.
Set Tiles in Thin Grout Lines
Arrange tiles on countertop with minimal 1/16-inch grout lines between them. Dry fit tiles first to achieve the planned design. Maintain straight grout line spacing for authentic look.
Apply Epoxy Grout
For impervious, seamless finish, use epoxy instead of cement grout. Epoxy fills the joints better and is stain-proof. Follow package directions.
Remove Excess Grout
Before grout dries, use a rubber grout float to remove excess from tile surface. Wipe diagonally across tiles so grout stays in joints. Rinse tiles well with sponge.
Seal and Polish
Once grout has cured fully, use a penetrating sealer on the tiles. For extra shine, buff tiles gently with a granite polishing pad. Soft sheen helps reinforce the natural stone aesthetic.
If needed, install coordinating edge trim that matches the tile thickness. Natural stone edges create the most realistic look for faux quartz counters.
Painting Techniques to Make Countertops Look Like Quartz
With the right paints and techniques, existing countertops can transform into faux quartz. Here’s how to achieve the distinctive look:
Thoroughly sand and clean countertop surface if needed to remove gloss or texture. This helps paint adhere evenly. Wipe away all dust.
Apply 2-3 coats of primer formulated for countertops and let dry fully. This prevents paint damage from moisture or grease.
Paint Neutral Base Color
Use a countertop paint in a solid base tone like tan, gray or white that resembles natural quartz. Do minimum 2-3 coats until fully opaque.
Add Speckled Accents
Once base color has dried, use small brushes or sponges to randomly apply speckled accent colors. Replicate the look of quartz aggregates with black, brown, red or yellow paint.
With a paint color that contrasts the base, paint on vein-like lines with a small brush. Use photos of real quartz for reference. Recreate both main veins and fine feather-like markings.
Seal and Protect
Allow paint to cure fully, then apply 3-5 coats of clear water-based epoxy sealer. This protects the painted surface from moisture, scratches and stains.
Using Epoxy Resin to Get the Quartz Look
Clear epoxy resin can be transformed into custom faux quartz countertops with these techniques:
Prepare the Base Surface
Build a substrate for the resin from plywood, concrete, tiles or an existing countertop. The surface must be completely smooth and level. Seal and prime well. Install perimeter edges.
Add Color Pigments
Stir in concrete dye, alcohol inks or special epoxy pigments into clear resin to tint it slightly off-white or beige like natural quartz. Metallic mica powders add sparkle.
Coat colored objects like gems, glass, metals or stones with clear resin. Once dry, crush them to make custom aggregates that resemble quartz flecks.
Pour the Epoxy Resin
Catalyze resin per manufacturer instructions. Spread aggregates and colored tints on base. Carefully pour catalyzed epoxy and spread evenly with notched trowel or special epoxy spreader. Use a torch to remove air pockets.
Before resin cures, drag tools like chopsticks through it to create organic, swooping quartz-like veining effects. Work quickly before resin becomes too viscous.
Allow Proper Cure Time
Leave resin undisturbed for 24 hours for full cure. Lightly sand any imperfections and reapply extra coats if needed for smooth, glossy quartz-like finish.
Tips for Maintaining Faux Quartz Countertops
Mimic quartz convincingly with these care and maintenance best practices:
- Seal concrete, tile or painted countertops regularly with clear epoxy or water-based polyurethane for protection and sheen.
- Avoid abrasive cleaners or pads that could damage surfaces. Use mild soap and water instead.
- Immediately wipe up spills, especially oils, wines, or acidic foods that may stain.
- Use cutting boards instead of cutting directly on countertop surface to prevent marks.
- Don’t place hot pots or pans directly on countertops. Use trivets and hot pads.
- Check for sealant wear every 1-2 years and reapply coats as needed to refresh protection.
- Small scratches or etch marks on concrete/epoxy can be gently sanded and buffed out.
- Re-grouting may be needed every few years on tiled surfaces to keep grout lines intact.
FAQs About Faux Quartz Countertops
What’s the most cost-effective material for faux quartz counters?
Concrete offers the most affordable option for DIYers. With added dyes, stains, paints and sealants, it can closely mimic the look of natural quartz.
Can I make wood countertops look like quartz?
Yes, wood surfaces can be adapted to look like quartz. Apply primer, base coat paint in a neutral quartz-like color, followed by speckled and veined accents. Finish with a protective sealant.
How durable are faux quartz countertops?
It depends on the materials used, but properly constructed and sealed faux quartz counters can last many years with proper care. Tile and quality concrete mixes offer greatest durability.
Do faux quartz countertops add value to a home?
Well-crafted custom counters that mimic higher-end natural stone materials can potentially increase resale value. But most appraisers will recognize DIY or faux surfaces.
What’s the best glue to use when installing tiles for faux quartz counters?
Use high-quality thinset mortar approved for natural stone tile installation. This provides a strong, waterproof bond on countertops. White thinset works for quartz-colored tiles.
Is it possible to stain concrete countertops after installation?
Yes, properly cured and sealed concrete can be stained after installation. Use special concrete stains to create realistic quartz mottling and veining effects. Sealing is critical.
With some clever DIY techniques, faux quartz countertops offer a budget-friendly alternative to the high cost of natural stone. Taking the time to recreate the veining, speckling and aesthetics of real quartz can transform ordinary surfaces in your kitchen or bath into a stylish designer look. Just be sure to use materials suited for countertops, like moisture-resistant tiles or concrete mixed with polymers. Plan installation details like edges and seams carefully for a seamless look. Topping faux slabs with clear epoxy resin helps reinforce the realistic appearance. With regular sealing and care, your custom faux quartz countertops can withstand years of daily use while adding value and beauty to your home.