One of the biggest questions we get asked is “What is the difference between the two gauges of copper and which one is easier to work with?“ It isn’t a question of which is easier as they both have a slightly different technique for installation and distinct look. The 24 gauge is about the thickness of a credit card. It can cut with a pair of hand shears or tin snips and it can also router it with a carbide blade like laminate. It is then rolled on and adhered with contact cement. To finish it is then lacquered with three-four coats and it is ready to go. The 36 gauge can be cut with a utility knife and a straight edge. It is rolled on using contact cement as well. It then requires an epoxy coating as it is too thin to leave untreated. The epoxy gives it a glass like coating that is extremely hard and durable. Both of these are excellent options. Below you can see the difference between the two finishes.
Distressed Copper in 36 gauge with Epoxy:
Distressed Copper in 24 gauge with lacquer:
Verde Copper in 36 gauge with Epoxy:
Verde Copper in 24 gauge with Lacquer:
Azul Copper in 36 gauge with Epoxy:
Verde Copper in 24 gauge with Lacquer:
You can create a brand new look on your outdated counter top with our 36 gauge copper and epoxy.
You will need:
- Our 36 gauge copper
- Epoxy (our epoxy self levels to 1/8″)
- Bar Kit
- Copperlac Lacquer
- Good scissors or a utility knife
- MDF (Medium-Density Fiberboard) substrate – Works better than plywood since it does not soak up the contact cement and it does not shrink or expand. Sold at all Lowes and Home Depot stores.
- Contact Cement (Original Formula, the Environmentally safe brand does not work).
- Laminate Roller and small piece of vinyl for rolling out any wrinkles you may incur.
- Wooden dowel rods or cardboard strips to float the copper on the surface.
- Heat Gun (or plumber’s torch) to pop air bubbles in the epoxy (can be purchased for about $20 at the home store)
Don’t let a do it yourself project scare you! If you watch some of our video tutorials we can show you how easy it is to install. The steps are actually pretty simple and anyone willing to tackle a DIY project or a contractor can install the copper. We ship our 36 gauge copper sheets rolled onto tube and packaged extremely well.
Cut your copper sheet with a pair of scissors or a utility knife and a straight edge.
Scuff up the backside of your copper sheet and bar surface with some sandpaper. The best substrate for making a copper bartop is MDF. It is cheap and does not expand or contract like plywood can. The thickness of your substrate is not important. Some people use 3/4″ or double up on 3/4″ to a thicker surface. It really makes no difference as long as the surface is smooth.
Adhere the copper to your surface using standard contact cement (apply to both copper and wood for bonding). This creates an instant bond. For applications that require some flexibility in moving the copper around after adhering, you can use Titebond II Wood Glue. This requires a longer dry time and pressure to be applied to the entire surface (placing books on top) for 24 hours in order to achieve a good bond. We only recommend the wood glue when using lacquer and epoxy finish. Both glues can be purchased at any home improvement center. Your contact cement brand may say on the can, “DO NOT USE ON COPPER”; however, we have been using this for nearly 20 years without a problem, so just disregard that as it only applies to copper plumbing.
Place dowel rods along the bar surface to float the copper sheet above.
Once your copper sheet is in place, start removing the dowel rods one at a time, rolling the copper onto the surface with your laminate roller.
Spray a base coat of COPPERLAC lacquer to create a seal on the color copper. Our lacquer is specifically made for color copper surface. The lacquer allows the epoxy to adhere to it much better and produces an amazing finish that is truly something to behold. Wait 24 hours before moving on to step 6.
A flood coat self-levels to approximately 1/8” thick which is what most commercial and residential bars require. Pour your bar top epoxy onto the surface of your bar. The epoxy will self-level so it will do most of the work itself. If you have bar rail, it is best if you seal any cracks with clear silicone prior to pouring the epoxy so that it cannot flow through and also to prevent any air bubbles from forming in the epoxy (especially in the corners). You can pour the epoxy right up to the rail. Since the epoxy is thick in consistency, it will not run over the back edge very much so you don’t have to worry about making a dam to hold it in. Just take a paint brush and wipe along the sides of your bar top to smooth out the epoxy that does drip over. This will provide a sufficient coat for the sides and edges. You can also paint more epoxy on the sides and edges if necessary. You can use the heat gun to get rid of the brush strokes. A coverage chart is located on our Epoxy page which will help you to determine the amount necessary for your project. Although it might sound tricky to work with, you will find the epoxy is quite easy to use since it does most of the work itself.
Use a heat gun or a hair dryer to pop any air bubbles in the epoxy for a duration of 30 minutes. After that, the epoxy will harden past the point of getting any more air bubbles. Wait at least 3-4 complete days before using your bartop.