Imgur | thepassionofthechris

Man Spends Five Years Collecting Bottle Caps For DIY Gradient Countertop

Brittany Rae 31 Jan 2020

Some kitchens have subway tile, and others marble countertops. Some have stainless steel appliances, and others have shiny vent hoods.

For a handy DIY-er named Chris, all of that was just too bland. He wanted something unique, and he had just the collection to make it happen.

This was a project five years in the making.

Imgur | thepassionofthechris

Over that time, he had friends and family collect and save as many bottle caps as they could.

Once he thought he had enough, it was time to lay them out and figure out what colors he was working with.

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He had some help, though.

Imgur | thepassionofthechris

Ah, kids. Give 'em a task, tell them it's a game, and they'll have fun for hours.

Once he and the kids finished sorting, it became clear just how many bottle caps they had.

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It was a lot.

Imgur | thepassionofthechris

They decided to sort it by ROYGBIV — red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.

Another category had to be created, though: black. And as you'll see, that became a whole other issue.

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Next came the bar top itself.

Imgur | thepassionofthechris

"Here is the bar top after assembly. Two large pieces of quality 5/8" plywood form the base. The rails are 1 1/2" poplar, and were notched with a table saw and hand routed. The whole assembly was glued and nailed," he said.

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Next came the paint.

Imgur | thepassionofthechris

Since you were going to be able to see the bottom through the bottle caps, Chris opted to paint the entire bar top in a matte black.

He wasn't worried about a perfect finish — the epoxy resin would take care of that later.

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The installation had to be absolutely perfect.

Imgur | thepassionofthechris

If the counter wasn't perfectly level, the epoxy would spill over and cure unevenly, leaving a slope in the countertop.

Once it was level, it was time for the most excruciating step: arranging the bottle caps.

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He had big dreams for the design.

Imgur | thepassionofthechris

Originally, Chris wanted to arrange the bottle caps to form some sort of picture, like a mosaic.

That was quickly abandoned when he realized how impractical — and difficult — that would be.

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He and his friends settled on a gradient effect instead.

Imgur | thepassionofthechris

Even that choice had its complications.

"[...] this took several attempts because of numerous factors: visually, it wasn't as cool as I wanted it to be. Also, we had a lot of black caps, but few bright blue (for example), so laying them down "evenly" was challenging."

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Resin can be a little temperamental.

Imgur | thepassionofthechris

Mixing resin often creates air bubbles in the liquid. Chris used a heat gun to pop them, which he said was the only solution he really saw online. It was the right choice!

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And any mistakes had annoying consequences.

Flickr | Timothy Valentine

"Unfortunately, once the caps are down, attempting to move them results in disaster due to the caps shifting/overlapping each other. So, the process would begin all over again if it wasn't right."

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They figured maybe gluing them down would help.

Wikimedia | https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bottle_caps.jpg

Nope.

"At one point we attempted adhering them to the bar top with spray adhesive, but that ended up looking terrible not to mention messy."

Eventually, they got the distribution sorted out.

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Remember the black caps?

Imgur | thepassionofthechris

To avoid having a majority of black caps in the design, they decided to find ones that had interesting sayings inside them and flip them upside down.

That helped break up the colors, cut down on the black, and add some cool phrases to the whole piece.

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Once resin cures, it's rock-hard.

Giphy | The Maury Show

That makes it ideal for this project, since the countertop is clearly going to see some heavy use.

However, the pouring process wasn't as easy as Chris hoped. It's DIY after all, so of course they ran into a few obstacles.

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Finally, it was resin time.

Imgur | thepassionofthechris

For those that don't know, epoxy resin is a two-part system that combines resin (part a) with a hardener (part b).

It's basically liquid plastic. Once it's mixed together, it creates a pourable material that you can work with for a limited time.

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He had to work slowly.

Imgur | thepassionofthechris

"It was better to just pour the resin slowly making thin layers, not thick enough to cover the caps. After it dried, the caps were dried/set in place. If poured too thick, the caps begin to float above the epoxy."

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He made another crucial choice, too.

Wikimedia | https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bottle_cap_texture.jpg

Since it was going to be hard to keep the resin contained, he decided to let it do its thing.

"The last layer we allowed it to flow over the sides to cover the rails, which made a helluva mess. :) Again, drop cloths are your friend."

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He does have one regret.

Imgur | thepassionofthechris

See there, in the right corner? That green bottle cap? Chris was not a fan of it being there at all.

"[...] it sticks out like a sore thumb," he said.

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The complete finished product!

Imgur | thepassionofthechris

Chris said this project was truly one of trial and error. They re-did the cap placement over and over, played with the colors, and experimented with how to pour the resin.

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By the way...

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You can also use a lighter, but you may run the risk of burning your resin — take it from someone who has literally lit their resin on fire. Oops.

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The gradient looks stunning.

Imgur | thepassionofthechris

"Here you can see how we laid them out allowing the caps to "flow" into each other, rather than having hard color stops," he said.

Not to sound dramatic, but...this is a masterpiece.

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He also decided to disperse more of the black caps.

Imgur | thepassionofthechris

"You may have noticed from a previous picture that this section was nearly completely filled with black caps. Visually, we felt it would be more interesting dispersing various caps to add pops of color."

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And he loves it.

Imgur | thepassionofthechris

"Obviously this is not an exact science," he said. "I am so proud of this project. It is a real conversation piece and we did it together true DIY."

All's well that ends well.

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