Copper Countertops Under 20$ What????

Madison McGahan
by Madison McGahan
5 Materials
A little about me: I am a DIYer who goes out of my way to use items I already have when I make projects over. For instance, this project cost ME about $16 total to do. However to buy all of the products for this (listed below) it might cost between 50-60$. (Still a bargain)
Three of the 4 squares in this picture are real copper countertops, gorgeous, shiny, and expensive. However one of these squares is MY copper countertop. Which is also gorgeous, shiny, but cost less than $20 and as it turns out, is made of concrete.
My house was built in 1991. And apparently peach Formica countertops were a thing at that time?? I don't quite remember it being a thing, but it must have been because the builder in our development put them in everyone's house.
Just peachy.... Right?

I have ALWAYS wanted copper counters or a copper sink. But once I did the research I realized just how impractical it was, not to mention how expensive. Apparently, copper isn't all that durable. So I decided to fake it.
I found an art supply house online that carried powdered copper pigment. I mixed up a small batch of Henry's feather finish concrete and added the pigment to see if I could get a color that seamed realistic, and what do you know.... It worked!
I started by removing the silver trim and peach backsplash. I did not want to have my backsplash and counter the same. Then I got sanding.
After sanding the counter with 100 grit paper. I applied my first batch, and mixed it kind of thick. After spreading it around with a small trowel, I added a bit more water with the copper pigment in it to finish smoothing it out. Once I had 3 coats of the concrete with copper (no sanding between) applied, I sanded it by hand with 150 grit paper. I wanted to leave just a little texture so that when I used my secret weapon, it would truly look like copper.
My secret weapon......Heirloom Traditions Oxidized Patina soft wax! I took a soft rag (cut up t-shirt) and went over a few of the textured areas to get that oxidized look. I alternated between the wax and the pigment to get layers of shiny copper and the beautiful blue wax.
Now because I had used the blue wax, I would not be able to use any shiny coat over the top. I did however, spray a concrete sealer on and let it soak in. I did that twice letting it dry in between. Then to finish it off and give it some shine, I applied American Decor cream wax. Doing 2 coats and buffing afterwards.

But to complete the rustic look, I had wanted to use reclaimed wood as a backsplash. But given the small space, it seemed kind of overwhelming. Then it hit me.....
I gathered a bunch of the free wooden paint stir sticks you get from Home Depot and stained and cut them to fit, the area above the counter and alternating colors.
Once I had them up, I really fell in love with the look.

Copper isn't for everyone, but we sure love this bathroom at our house. There is still more to do (paint, flooring, light fixture) but this is a great start,
These pictures do not do this counter justice, but I can tell you, people do not believe me when I tell them it is not copper but actually concrete. And they REALLY have a hard time believing that it cost less than $20 for the whole look.
It's so much shinier in person. And it has a definite metallic look that my iPhone just can't seem to capture.
I got the look I always wanted, and I am so grateful for whatever gene it is that my parents passed down to me that makes me so confident, and feel like I can do anything. Because I tell you, it sure saves me money. Where there is a will, there is a way!
Oh and BTW, my counter is the bottom right.... The rest are all showroom copper counters ;)

Below is a how to video
Resources for this project:
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  • Jen Andrews Jen Andrews on Jul 29, 2019

    Can I use any kind of concrete? I'm looking for the cheapest option possible. And I will only need a small amount. Thanks!

  • I AM IN LOVE!!!! Do you think this could work if your countertop has the molded sink in it?(straight outta the 90s over here) Could it handle water? Thanks so much!!

  • Jennifer Jennifer on Feb 11, 2022

    Did you film the backsplash or do you have another link? Would love to see

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  • Dierdre Bird Dierdre Bird on Dec 16, 2019

    Wow! I'm thinking of our very out-dated bathroom sinks, and this may be the ticket! Madison, one concern, however--you were careful to use gloves when applying the concrete, but I noticed you didn't when applying the copper product and the blue. Our skin is one of the most absorptive organs, and the chemicals in these products are very toxic. Maybe next time you have a similar project, just keep those gloves on! :)

  • Susan Gibbs Susan Gibbs on Aug 09, 2023

    Hello Madison, I have been thinking about refinishing my manufactured marble counter top in bathroom. I have done similar projects over the years with varying results. I have tinted kiln primer in the past and got a great finish for plywood cabinets. After reading your process, it occurred to me tha I might create a similar affect by using the copper pigment in a good primer like kiln. Apply it over well sanded marble several times and sealing it with the wax patina. My manufactured marble is also peach colored. Do you have any ideas concerning my ideas. I really like your results. Thank you, Susan Gibbs