DIY Faux Soapstone Countertop

April 29, 2014

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We’re diving head first into updating our current kitchen!! After we recently finished the floors, our cabinets are looking more orange than ever and we left a disposable table cloth on our island in place of a countertop. Eeeks. Although we are planning a full kitchen remodel next year (??), painting our cabinets is an easy and cheap way to happily wait out a full-on remodel and we came up with this simple DIY faux soapstone countertop for our island this weekend!

DIY Faux Soapstone Countertops

Ace Hardware is celebrating their 90th anniversary this year, and being part of their blogger panel, they challenged us to do a project with just $90. We’re happy to report, this project came in under the bill!

When we reconfigured our island, we put this piece of cheap leftover 3/4″ plywood on top and covered it with a tablecloth.

DIY Faux Soapstone Countertops

While this cheap plywood served as a great base, it was full of knots and was extremely rough. So the first step was to top it with a cabinet-grade plywood which is a lot smoother and higher quality. We decided to go with 3/4″ again, so the finished countertop would be a beefy (okay, pretty standard) 1 1/2″.

DIY Faux Soapstone Countertops

DIY Faux Soapstone Countertops

To adhere the two pieces together, we used construction adhesive first and then drove 26–1″ screws through the bottom.

DIY Faux Soapstone Countertops

No matter how well you measure and cut, chances are the two pieces won’t be exactly the same size–at least that was the case with us.

DIY Faux Soapstone Countertops

Chris used a manual planer we picked up for $13 at our local Ace to quickly even up the edges of the sheets of plywood so they were flush with one another.

DIY Faux Soapstone Countertops

With the edges flush, we didn’t have to spend too much time sanding but we still decided to do a once over and slightly round the edges, too.

DIY Faux Soapstone Countertops

DIY Faux Soapstone Countertops

A lot of imperfections showed up after the planing and sanding–mostly in the cheaper sheet of plywood–but it was nothing a little wood filler and one more round of sanding couldn’t fix.

DIY Faux Soapstone Countertops

DIY Faux Soapstone Countertops

At this point, we had a smooth 1 1/2″ countertop ready for the faux soapstone treatment using rustoleum chalkboard paint and paste wax. I layered on 4 coats of chalkboard paint with a small foam roller, waiting a few hours in between each coat.

DIY Faux Soapstone Countertops

After the paint set up for 24 hours, we lightly sanded the whole surface with a fine-grit sanding block to keep it nice and smooth. I actually drew some fine lines, a la soapstone, with gray chalk on the surface but as soon as we applied to paste wax to seal the countertop, those lines disappeared. Ha! We’re happy with the results just the same.

DIY Faux Soapstone Countertops

We followed the instructions on the paste wax, and applied the wax in even strokes with a t-shirt cloth with the grain and let it dry into a haze before buffing it out.

DIY Faux Soapstone Countertops

DIY Faux Soapstone Countertops

In the photo above, you can see it buffing to a shine on the left, while the right side is still coated in the wax. We opted to do a second coat of wax, which made it even smoother. We’re really happy with the results:

DIY Faux Soapstone Countertops

The chalkboard paint provides a good varied charcoal black like soapstone for a minute fraction of the price. But more than anything, it’s nice to have a durable work surface finally.

DIY Faux Soapstone Countertops DIY Faux Soapstone Countertops

We can’t wait to start painting cabinets and update those stools and a few other quick-fixes to make this space less of an eyesore–this faux soapstone countertop was the perfect springboard and for less than $90? Icing on the cake.


Ace90th copy

We’re excited to be collaborating with Ace Hardware as a part of their Ace Blogger Panel this year. Ace has provided us with compensation and a $90 Ace Hardware Gift Card to complete this project (and celebrate their anniversary!) but all ideas, opinions and sweat are our own. 

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What do you think?

  1. Maria says:

    That’s so Awesome ! It’s looks so Beautiful and it’s perfect for our budget. We’re remodeling our new fixer upper, I’m going to use your brilliant idea , Stay Blessed

  2. Danni Revay says:

    What an amazing idea! I have a vintage sew cabinet Id like to turn into a bar cart- now I know how to finish the top!

  3. sheri says:

    are you able to prepare food on the faux soapstone countertops?

  4. jennifer says:

    I am currently pretty set on doing my countertops with the chalkboard paint for the soapstone look…was wondering how the wax finish alone has held up as I have seen similar techniques published only finished with polyacrylic as opposed to wax. Yours look beautiful!

  5. Michele says:

    Wondering how you think this would hold up as a short term bathroom countertop. Thinking a year or two until we totally redo our bathroom. Would the wax protect it from water damage?

    • Chris says:

      That’s a bit riskier, but butcher block is used around kitchen sinks and works well as long as you keep it protected and wipe up any wetness pretty quick. You’d definitely want to wax it often if you do decide to try it.

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  7. Hali says:

    How durable is this countertop?

  8. Pengertian says:

    Can u make tutorial in video ?

  9. ali says:

    I want to learn a lot from you.

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  14. Jane says:

    Looks great. Just curious what the final dimensions of your island are?

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    Considering this for our vacation home, it looks like a perfect solution for what we are thinking! How is it wearing?

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  35. Aubrey says:

    I stumbled upon this searching for a chalkboard countertop tutorial via Pinterest:)
    We have older laminate countertops but some of the edge pieces have chipped off. So they need to be redone. I have always wanted soapstone and since my husband doesn’t want to put the $ and time into a home we only plan to be in for another year, I’d like to try it!
    I’m not sure how we would do it though, if we put plywood on top it would raise the countertop surface and not sure how that works with the sink lol..
    I’d rather try to scuff up the laminate with my sander, use wood filler on the chipped edges and try this?
    I am curious as to how you clean it and how it has held up. Thanks!!

  36. Patty says:

    I love the way this turned out. I’m thinking of doing my countertops. Can I put this over my laminate counters? Or do I have to replace them? There in good shape, just out dated. I’m hoping I can fill in the little lines where there come together. I’m doing a red black & white country kitchen with all my roosters & metal signs. I’ve also considered using plain sheet metal on the counter tops, was told this was great for baking & placing hot pans. Also inexpensive & easy to just cover what I have. If I used that how would this look on cabinets? I loved the distressed look but want it sturdy. Thanks for the great idea!!

  37. Jessica says:

    Not sure if you will see this since it’s an older post but I was wondering how you think this would work if done over laminate versus the plywood? I was planning on sanding, then a coat of bonding primer meant to go over glossy surfaces, then 2-3 coats of the chalkboard paint, then the paste. I’ve only seen this done over plywood so I am slightly nervous!

    • Julia says:

      I bet that would work like a charm, Jessica!

      • Kris says:

        Did this on our island with laminate top about 3 months ago. We scuffed the surface of the laminate pretty well and have only had a few super tiny chips (livable for now). I would recommend getting serious about roughing up the laminate or consider replacing with a couple of layers of plywood like these guys did because the chalkboard paint really seems to need a porous surface. The way the chips look, i am not certain the primer would help. I have also recently found out that one can purchase new laminate to go over existing laminate and they even sell a soapstone print. Glues on with contact cement but not meant for laminate countertops with rounded edges.

  38. […] In the image above, chalkboard paint and paste wax were used to make soapstone-like counters. You can see more on that transformation here. […]

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  40. Lea says:

    If someone really wanted the vein look, I wonder if using some sort of spray fixative over the chalk but before the wax would help? Not the most food safe, but depending on the use of the surface could look pretty cool.

  41. […] now after moving the pantry over and reconfiguring the island, DIYing a new countertop, installing new floors, removing the microwave and painting the cabinets we have […]

  42. JS4 says:

    It’s a great temporary solution and it should be fine as long as you aren’t preparing food or eating directly on the surface since Johnson’s paste wax isn’t food grade. Just FYI it does contain Deodorized Naptha (a solvent like mineral spirits linked to central nervous system problems). Maybe even use a placemat for kids? Here’s the rating from the Environmental Working Group if interested:

  43. Linzy says:

    I actually saw this counter top idea in a gorgeous spread in Country Living. Their dining room was the cover of the February 2014 issue:

    She made plans for her little place in 2012, and has her own blog. I’m curious if you had seen that one, or another blogger or DIYer, or perhaps you came up with it organically? It seems like a great move for an inexpensive solution. The difference here being that the counter tops in Carmella’s case were not meant to be temporary, it was a necessary budget move, and apparently hers have held up well.

    For the short and sweet of it, Julia did a great feature as well (if you don’t want to paw through a slideshow):

    • Julia says:

      Oh my goodness! I just fell into a link fest! I HAD seen Carmella’s kitchen somewhere recently (pinterest?) but was met with a dead link. Booo. Thank you so much for all of these links. I somehow ended up on a post about the Something’s Gotta Give house and apparently they used the same technique for the countertops in that movie to imitate soapstone (except with MDF). How cool!

  44. Kerri @ Building a Charmed Life says:

    great idea! love the finish the wax leaves.

  45. Jenna says:

    I’m so interested to see how this wears! It’s really pretty and is a great inexpensive upgrade if it wears well! Do you think it will work better than the painted counters in your old house? I followed your lead on that one and did it in our house to cover pink laminate counters. It’s wearing okay… still an upgrade from the pink but it does have a few small chips. I’ve touched up once but it’s kind of a hassle since it has a long dry time and strong smell I probably won’t touch up again. Hopefully we can replace with something more permanent soon, unless this ends up performing amazingly!
    Thanks for always having great tips and fresh ideas!

    • Julia says:

      We had the same experience there with the painted countertops. We had them for about a year and it was completely worth the $20 it took to paint them, even if they did chip before we put in our black walnut countertops. We consider this an interim upgrade as well, but we’ll keep you posted on how this wears!

  46. qs777 says:

    I think it looks great! I wish I had thought of it and am looking forward to seeing how it wears.

    Also, thank you for responding to and calling out “Shaina.” I will assume she is having a bad day; however, I truly believe some people are this way because others don’t challenge them. Good for you! Can’t wait to see what you pick for the cabinets. :)

  47. Shaina says:

    Painting plywood does not a countertop make. I hope you are not keeping this around for very long. Hideous.

    • Julia says:

      While this is a temporary solution for us until we renovate our kitchen, you may be surprised to hear that people actually stain and seal high-quality plywood (like we used here) for countertops. Maybe it isn’t your taste–but hideous? Pretty harsh, don’t you think?

      • Elizabeth McGreevy says:

        Some people have no imagination.

      • Elizabeth McGreevy says:

        By the way, thanks for this great dyi post. I did my countertops with the chalkboard paint and wax, but I want to go darker. Do you know if I need to remove the wax first (it’s been almost a year)? If yes, do you know how to remove it? maybe alcohol…mineral spirits…heat??

    • APRIL says:

      I don’t see hideous anywhere in any of the pictures….
      Maybe money is no object to YOU- CONGRATULATIONS !!!
      But to some of us (I’m a farmer) this is a GREAT temporary (or maybe permanent) solution !

      BTW- I made an island countertop for $62 a few years ago, it still looks AMAZING and everyone thinks it’s natural stone…. $ does not a beautiful house make.

  48. Meagan Briggs says:

    This is cool! Very creative. I’m curious what color you’re wanting to paint your cabinets…

  49. Jennifer R. says:

    I have never used paste wax before so I don’t fully understand how it works once dry. I am imagining a melted ring where a warm plate sits, or a young child eating crumbs off the counter and coming in contact with dangerous chemicals.

    Is it food safe? Would it be damaged if you placed a warm plate of food on it? Any tips? Thanks!

    • Julia says:

      Great questions! The paste wax is carnauba wax based which is food safe. As for the warm plate, we’ll have to keep you updated on how it wears. The wax is used as a sealant and is then buffed off, so the counters now don’t feel waxy–just satiny. I’ll definitely do an update post in a couple months for ya!

      • Jennifer R. says:

        Thanks! I guess in my mind a wax rubbed over top is thick rather than the smooth thin coat you are describing. It looks really great and gives me an idea for our garage workspace.

        I just googled it and the melting point is a very low 140 degrees – so better not sit a cup of coffee on it! Other than that, looks good!

      • Shawn W says:

        I called the manufacture , They do not recommend this product for counter tops…the sds states that there are carcinogens in this product.

  50. Jennifer @ Brave New Home says:

    Looks great! Love the finish.

  51. Joan says:

    This looks really great. I’m not sure if you mentioned it, but is there a reason you chose chalkboard paint instead of a flat black latex?

    • Julia says:

      Chalkboard paint dries into a slate-like surface unlike latex paint. Also, I originally drew some veins on the counter with chalk before adding the paste wax, but that didn’t work out. We opted for the chalkboard paint mostly for the texture and color.

      • Joan says:

        Thanks, Julia. Its so interesting to see a use for chalkboard paint that isn’t for a chalkboard.

        I enjoy your blog very much.

  52. Linda @ it all started witlh paint says:

    Love it! Such a clever and original idea! Pinning for sure …


  53. Linda @ Mason Jar Crafts Love says:

    What an amazing idea!!! I had no idea you could create kitchen island top with chalkboard paint and wax. Too cool!

    :) Linda

  54. Laura C says:

    What a great idea. It looks really good.

  55. Lisa | says:

    Whoa, first time I’ve seen something like this! Pretty neat. What does the finished product feel like to the touch? Dry? Waxy?

    In any case, very creative work, good job!

  56. caroline [the diy nurse] says:

    I can’t believe you did that for $90. What a great option for something temporary or even something like a vacation home where you dont have a ton to spend. I’m in love with the finished product!

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