New counter tops can be one of the most costly parts of remodeling a kitchen, bath or rec room. For much less than the cost of contractor-installed stone or manufactured counter tops, you can create a one-of-a-kind counter top by encasing a collection of objects in pourable acrylic resin. Use your collection of sports memorabilia, souvenirs or any group of small trinkets or knick-knacks with a common theme. You will get the best results if you use objects that are less than 1 inch thick, although it is possible to encase larger objects. However, larger objects require a much larger amount of the pourable acrylic resin than smaller ones.
Clean the existing counter top with a household degreasing cleanser, such as trisodium phosphate. Mix TSP with water, following the label directions as to proportions. Wipe the cleaner onto the counter top with a sponge. Rinse the TSP off the cleaned counter top by wiping with a clean sponge dampened with clean water. Change the rinse water frequently and wring out the sponge thoroughly to ensure that you remove all of the TSP residue from the counter top. Dry the cleaned and rinsed counter top with a clean, soft cloth.
Paint the existing counter top the color of your choice, to serve as a background for the small trinkets and knick-knacks that will be encased in the poured acrylic medium. Apply the paint with a roller or paintbrush. Let the paint dry for at least 12 hours, or according to the manufacturer's recommendations.
Rough-up the surface of the counter top with fine-grit sandpaper or steel wool using gentle pressure. This will help the acrylic stick to the surface and ensure the acrylic will not peel away from the surface beneath it.
Apply aluminum flashing tape to the exposed edges of the counter top. The tape will serve as a barrier and will keep the acrylic from running off the edge while it is still in a liquid state. Ensure that the tape is about 1/4 to 1/2 inch higher than the finished poured acrylic counter top will be. Remove sanding dust with a tack cloth.
Position trinkets, knick-knacks or other decorative items on the counter top, arranging them to your personal preference in a way that is pleasing to you and fits in with your home's interior.
Mix the liquid acrylic by pouring an equal amount of the two components into identical, disposable measuring cups. Pour the two liquids into a larger, disposable container. Mix them gently but thoroughly with a wooden spoon or paint stirrer, carefully following the manufacturer's directions. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the container to ensure the components are thoroughly mixed. Dump the mixture into a clean, disposable container. Mix again, but do not scrape the sides.
Pour the mixture onto the counter top, holding the container of acrylic about 2 feet above the counter top's surface. Pour slowly, in a thin stream, to minimize the formation of air bubbles and to avoid moving the decorative items that will be encased in the acrylic when it hardens. Use enough of the mixture to put down a first coat that is approximately 1/8 inch thick.
Spread out the liquid acrylic with a squeegee so the acrylic is approximately 1/8 inch thick. Repeat Steps 6, 7 and 8 until the entire counter top is covered with a 1/8-inch-thick layer of acrylic. Let the first coat harden following the acrylic resin manufacturer's specified length of time, usually 24 to 36 hours.
Pop any air bubbles on the surface as the acrylic sets up, using the end of a drywall screw or another small, sharp object. Soften the edges of the remaining holes gently with the edge of the sharp object. As long as the air bubbles are opened and their edges softened, subsequent coats of acrylic will render them invisible.
Repeat Steps 6, 7, 8 and 9 for as many subsequent coats as it takes to completely encase the decorative trinkets and cover them with a layer of acrylic approximately 1/8 inch deep.
Remove the aluminum flashing tape from the edges of the counter top when the acrylic is sufficiently hardened.
Wipe off the surface of the acrylic with a soft cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol, to remove any dust or debris after the acrylic is completely set up and cured, following the manufacturer's recommended time for drying and curing.
Apply a protective topcoat of marine-grade polyurethane varnish. The poured acrylic resin remains pliable and does not dry to a hard, impermeable surface. Polyurethane creates a hard-as-glass surface that will protect the acrylic from nicks and scratches. Apply the polyurethane with a natural-bristle brush, using long strokes. Allow the polyurethane to dry for the length of time recommended by the manufacturer.