One Big, Shiny Step Closer

We’re finally closer to finishing the bar top we started over a year ago.

Luke had been collecting bottle caps for years with no real plan of what to do with them. We had millions (it seemed) and when we built the new bar at our new house, we decided to put those caps to good use and make a bar top. I sorted them and arranged them, found out we needed more and had to actually buy some on ebay, and then I finally set them into the top with black tile grout and there they’ve sat since November 2005.

They looked cool enough the way they were, but our ultimate plan was to pour epoxy over them to make a smooth, shiny protective coating over the caps. My problem was that pouring epoxy is a pass/no pass kind of thing. You can’t start over if you screw up. I wanted it to be finished, but I was afraid to screw it up and have to tear out the entire bar and start over. I bought the epoxy in 2005 from an online aircraft products supplier and we had everything we needed to finish the top but we just never got around to it. Until this past Sunday.

We started by taking the shop vac and sucking out the two years of peanut shells and Dorito crumbs. Nice. Next I scrubbed down the caps and touched up the inside edge of the bar with black paint. Then we mixed up a gallon and a half of Kleer Kote epoxy and poured away. And I held my breath. This is where the air bubbles start to show up and the dust can stick to the surface, and loose debris can float to the top, and clumsy Lisa can accidentally drop her camera in. But all was surprisingly well. There were just a few air bubbles but the heat guns solved that problem. There’s a little dust but we can buff that out. Thanks to the wrist strap, I didn’t drop my camera and it looked amazing. We were so excited that we decided we need to add more stuff to the top. Thee were some places where the spaces between the bottle caps were larger so we stuck in a few “Free Drink” chips for the American Legion, a guitar pick, some extra sights form the pool table. I slid a little print of one of my paintings over a blank cap. It was fun! Then we had to wait for it to cure and pray that the cat didn’t decide to jump up there to watch the fish last night.

Yesterday morning I checked on it and, luckily for her, there was no cat epoxied to the bar. It looks fantastic and it’s hard and smooth and I love it! Next I have to stain the arm rail and then you can all come over and have a celebratory drink on it! Now when you put down your wine glass or beer bottle, it won’t topple over because of the uneven surface and Dorito crumbs won’t get lodged between the caps any more. Yay!

42 thoughts on “One Big, Shiny Step Closer

  1. LOVE the bar! I totally get the “one shot” projects. I seriously used to feel that way whenever I got a new piece of fabric I really loved…that first cut…

  2. Love the bar top….

    Where did you purchase the epoxy? And where did you get the front rail for the bar top?

    Thanks for replying


  3. The epoxy I bought from an Aircraft parts and materials distributor in Florida. I can’t remember the name, I Googled “Kleer Kote Epoxy” and looked around for the best bulk pricing.

    The arm rail is from I think they call it either “arm rail” or “bar rail”, and we bought the cherry version.

  4. Your bar looks awesome!! I have been in the process of doing this project myself and we are almost at the design stage of the top. I have a couple of questions if you could help me out? What are the dimensions of your bar? how thick did you make your pour? and how much epoxy did you end up using?

    Thanks for all your help in advance. I have been trying to find someone with a similiar project for quite some time and finally found you 🙂

    Carlton (rochester N.H.)

  5. Hi Carlton, thanks for the nice comments! It’s hard to give a true measurement because of the shape of the bar. It’s about 22-inches wide throughout. The longest section is almost 6-feet long, and the shorter section is almost 2-feet long. We did one thick pour coat which gave us about 1/4-inch of epoxy on top of the caps. We used a gallon and a half of the Kleer Kote and it juuuuust made it. We probably should have ordered 2 gallons. I hope that helps, good luck with your bar!

  6. LOVE THE BAR TOP!! I have been saving caps for awhile now and am planning on doing the same. It looks like you embeded the caps into somekind of foam? What kind of foam is it, were did you get it, and does it react with the kleet kote?

  7. Hi Chad- Thanks for the comment. As I mentioned in the post, the caps are set into black tile grout. Just the standard bathroom tile-type stuff you can find at any home improvement store. It held the caps well and it worked fine with the Kleer Kote. Good luck to you!

  8. Love the bar it looks great. I am getting ready to do the same thing to my bar, and can only hope it comes out as well as yours did. My question is about the grout. Did you glue the caps down and then grout the top as if it were tile or did you lay the grout first and then place the caps in as it was curing? Thank you in advance.

    (Adrian, MI)

  9. Hey Drew-
    Thanks for the comment. I laid the wet grout down on the plywood of the bar and stuck the caps in while it was wet. The grout squished up around them and the caps set pretty tightly when it dried. None of them released or floated up when we poured the epoxy. I grouted maybe a 12-inch section at a time. Good luck with your bar top!

  10. I have been working on my bar top as well for over 2 years now, and every time I finish it, It doesn’t look the way I had envisioned it looking. My main question for you, since your bar top looks great, is about the spacing of the caps. Since all caps are different sizes and some are twist offs, and some are pry offs, I find it hard to but them up against one another because the pry off caps end up being a little bigger than the twist off caps due to the fact that you have to pry them off. The spacing then becomes messed up and rows are wider than others, or longer than others. When you placed your caps in the grout, did you have them touching? or how did you figure out this part?

    I have been using a 3/4 piece of plywood in the shape of an L. What size did you decide to go with? Width of the top? Thank you

  11. I am trying to hire someone that knows how to apply resin/epoxy for bar tops. I tried a google search but could not find anyone. Can you help me with some contact information?

  12. Great job, I thought about a year ago when I started mine that I had an original idea, HA. I am doing this on a very large poker table and know that it will be used heavily and the devil is in the details. My question is about the quality of the resin you used over time. Has the US Composite product yellowed over time or is it still very clear? The price is right on that product compared to some of the others, but if I need to spend more to keep it from yellowing I will. Thanks for the help.

  13. Hi Justin-
    Thanks for the comment. We’ve had the bar finished for…wow, four years now, and although it is in the basement bar where it’s fairly dim, there is a window that allows the sun to shine on the bar top every day and it hasn’t yellowed or clouded one bit. I highly recommend Kleer Kote. Good luck with your table!

  14. WOW!!! Like the other comments, I thought I had the only idea of doing this. I myself have been collecting bottle caps for a couple years. I have 10 large coffee containers of caps. I want to do the same in my bar I want to puild this summer in my garage. You guys have inspired me on taking on the task. I myself am nervous on getting bad results. You guys have done a great job. Looks great and bottles up.
    Kurt , Michigan

  15. OMG, I love the look and it so personalized for you. I have been wanting to something as unique with my kitchen counter, may this is the way to go. Thanks so much for sharing, it is fantastic!!!

  16. Julie, if you plan on using the table where it will get a lot of sun you might think of using a final coat of marine grade poly to help the exposure problem.

    I did a similar project using a 6′ wooden wire spool to make a table. I stuffed newspaper in the cracks between the boards then some glue and lots of sand. Then put down some coins, a flattened Coors can and a few cartoons and covered the whole thing with the Klear Koat. I had to put tape around the edges to control the dripping.

  17. Hi Lisa – Hey, that’s one COOL bar. I would love one exactly the same, so when you have a bit of spare time can you duck down here to Australia and help me out?

  18. Looks awesome I did the same thing on my bar top but I still have some sticky spots can’t get them to dry

  19. Beautiful bar top! I’m actually going to be doing a table the exact way. Love the idea of black grout because I had been wrestling with a few different ideas. I was leaning towards hot gluing the caps to the tabletop but I think the grout will look much more finished. My question for you is do you have caps flipped both ways? My boyfriend has hundreds of Magic Hat beer caps that have funny sayings on the inside that he wants visible, but also wants the tops of other brands showing like you did. Do you think they will set into the grout the same or do you think the caps will float up out of the grout if they are flipped the other way? He has worked so hard at drinking the magic hat and saving all of the different one that I don’t want to ruin them 🙂 Your bar is amazing and a collector’s dream! Thank you for the wonderful idea of the bathroom grout and any help you could be with my questions! Cheers!!

  20. Hey! Omg, love this to the millionth degree! Question about the “heat guns”, are those actually specified for drying the epoxy or are they blow dryers? Lol Thanks for your reply! And your inspiration!!

  21. I have noticed some use resin, some use epoxy. What is the difference? I do know heat of some source will remove the bubbles. Can’t wait to start on mine.

  22. How much epoxy did you guys end up using? What are the measurements of your bar? I’m wanting to do a work desk and I’m just trying to figure out how much I may need to buy. Thanks! And it looks great!!

  23. Did ye use the heat gun when you saw the air bubbles or do ya need to use the heat gun to make the bubbles come up?

    I plan on doing my bathroom floor like this and I’m worried about the bubbles.


  24. Did you put the caps down first and then put the grout over them or did you put grout down and embed caps in grout?
    I’m in the process of laying out caps for my outdoor bar.

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