Creating the Look and Feel of Marble Without the Cost


Feature 02
Terry Wohlgemuth on the job. Terry Wohlgemuth

For many people, installing marble or granite countertops is an unaffordable dream. Enter Terry Wohlgemuth and Cornell Friesen, co-owners of local company Creative Marble Design, who have come up with a less expensive alternative. 

“We’ve created a marble and granite look for a lot less of the cost,” Wohlgemuth explains.

Using an epoxy compound, he forms a coating over flat surfaces, primarily countertops. Wohlgemuth has spent months experimenting and learning how to manipulate the medium to create designs that look like marble or granite. The project is a perfect fit for his combination of creative flair and painting, woodworking, and furniture-making skills.

Most of Wohlgemuth’s projects coat over a medium-density fiberboard product, although he can put this coating on a wide range of surfaces, including wood and glass. This way he can create new countertops or put a new coating on an old table, for example. The result is a surface that looks like high-end marble but comes at approximately half the price, if not less.

“People are so surprised when they see this stuff,” Wohlgemuth says. “They want to know how I make it, and they can’t believe it’s painted. It looks so much like real marble.” 

It’s a complex process in which he uses a two-part epoxy compound for the coating, aerosol paint to create veins of colour, and a blowtorch to marbleize the colours and remove air bubbles. He’s been peppered with so many questions about the process that the company website now features videos of Wohlgemuth at work. 

“The million-dollar question everyone asks is, can you cut on this?” Wohlgemuth notes. The epoxy, even after curing for 30 days, isn’t quite as hard as granite. But, he says, proper care and common sense go a long way. “Normally people don’t cut things directly on any countertop; they use cutting boards. And you’re not going to slide a ceramic jar across your counter. Just put a felt pad under it, and it’s safe… But if you see some scratches a few years down the road, I can come and wet-sand it down, polish it, take any scratches out, and it’s good as new.” 

The surfaces also hold up very well under impact.

“If you drop something on these counters, they won’t crack or shatter the way marble will. It’s very well protected.”

As someone who believes strongly in delivering quality products, Wohlgemuth has tested his work extensively, including installing epoxy countertops in his own home. His wife has given him some helpful feedback, too.

“My wife loves how easy it is to clean. She says some surfaces you’ll end up with streaks if you don’t dry it, but she doesn’t have that problem with this stuff. She also just put a pan right out of the oven directly onto the counter, came back later once the pot was cold, and no problem, no damage at all.”

He notes that the counter is heat-protected up to 500 degrees.

Wohlgemuth says the appeal of this new venture is in the challenge of learning a new skill, but also in the creative freedom.

“For me, it’s not about the money. It never has been. It’s the high of creating something,” he says. “That’s one of the great things about this partnership; Cornell [Friesen] takes care of the business side, and I can focus on producing quality work.” 

He also takes deep satisfaction from helping people realize their home renovation dreams. “For people to come in and see my work and say, ‘Wow, you did this to my house?’ is so rewarding. That’s worth a million dollars to me.”

Friesen and Wohlgemuth launched Creative Marble Design in June of this year, and are just getting the business off the ground. They have big plans, though.

“We’ve got a table at the Winnipeg Renovation show from January 12–14,” Wohlgemuth says. The event at the RBC Convention Centre regularly attracts thousands of visitors.

In late winter, they’ll be opening a showroom in Niverville, including samples of marble designs along with some of their furniture. The space will be run by Friesen’s other business, Von Riese Homes. 

Regardless of how big the company grows, Wohlgemuth says he’ll be staying local. “I’m from Niverville, born and raised, and I’d like to stay here. Sometimes small community is just nicer than a bigger city.”

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