Yes You CAN Paint Those Ugly Laminate Countertops

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I gave you a little sneak peak of my master bathroom makeover the other day, and I thought I'd go ahead and share with you the process I used to paint my ugly burgundy laminate countertop.

STEP ONE:

Before you touch your countertops get a really clear idea of what you want the end product to look like. I wanted a subtle travertine or tumbled marble look, so I bought a few samples at the store (and kept the receipts so I could return them when I was finished...oh, don't look at me like that) and then I held paint samples up to them setting aside any colors that I found in the stone. If you look closely you should see several colors in there.



I eventually narrowed my colors down to 3 and then bought a quart of each in latex. You could also use craft paint, but I was afraid it wouldn't hold up as well and I'm really picky about what colors I like so I went a different direction. Also, I would HIGHLY recommend that choose colors that have similar values (or lightness and darkness). I personally think if there's too much difference between the values it doesn't look real...but that's just me.




STEP TWO:

Do a couple test boards using the techniques below. Create as many as you feel you need to do until you like the outcome. This was the final test board I did...and actually I may like it a little better than my actual counter...but oh well.... :).



STEP THREE:
Clean your counters REALLY well. Make sure there's not dust, gunk, residue...or what have you...left behind.


STEP FOUR:
Lightly sand the counters. And then wipe them again so no dust is left behind.



STEP FIVE:
Use a really good oil based primer like BIN, and paint a coat of primer. Let it dry at least 4 hours, longer if you can.



STEP SIX:

Paint a base coat over the entire counter. I used the lightest color first, then applied the medium color, and then the darkest...but I'll get to that part. Let the base coat dry at least 24 hours. I let mine dry longer than that and I think it helped it set up a bit before I applied the next color.



STEP SEVEN:
This is the part I was terrified of because I'd never faux painted before...it really wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, though. And really, if you mess up you can always add more paint, or even repaint the base coat if you need to. Repeat to yourself "no stress....no stress..."
Lightly dip a slightly damp (but not wet) paper towel in your 2nd paint color.



Lightly dab it onto the counter, being sure that you're putting it on lightly enough to let the base coat still show. I think it's better to start applying the paint kind of sparingly and then add more later if you feel you need to.





Let it dry at least 24 hours. Oh, and if you're anything like me your hands will look like this after this step.


STEP EIGHT:
If I thought I was scared of the second color, I was shaking in my boots by the time I needed to apply the third color. After all that work I definitely didn't want to mess it up at this point. But again, you can always fix it....no stress.


Since I wanted the color of the counters to be really subtle I mixed some of the darker wall color with some clear glaze. I then used a damp paper towel to randomly apply darker sections to the counter. This is where I REALLY studied the patterns in my sample tiles.


I was worried it was still going to be too dark, so I went back over each section (immediately after I applied the paint) and misted it with water and then blotted and sometimes buffed with a damp paper towel.



STEP NINE:

Apply at least 2-3 coats of a non-yellowing polyacrylic topcoat, letting it dry a day between each coat. I used polyacrylic rather than polyurethane because A) I've heard polyurethane can yellow, and since I was using such light colors I didn't want that to happen, and B) I had several different paint stores tell me that since polyurethane is oil based you can't use it over latex paint. I don't know if that's true or not, but I didn't want to take a chance. I think if you use oil paint rather than latex you can use polyurethane just fine.




FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO WANT A GRANITE LOOK:

I've heard with granite you want to use more of a splatter or sponge method than a dabbing method, so it's more speckled and less blended.


Also, a while I saw this post where a woman had used that speckled stone-look spray paint to just spray her counter and then applied a top coat. She used a charcoal grey version of the paint, and it really does look pretty amazing.


HOW DOES IT HOLD UP?:


Since I painted the countertop fairly recently I can't give you a definitive answer on this, except to say that mine has held up great so far and everything I've read says they hold up reasonably well (as long as you don't poke at it with a knife or anything like that). Also, I'd be careful about having anything like hot pans or curling irons on the counter. But really, for maybe $30-$50 and a whole lot of satisfaction for not having to look at an ugly counter anymore, I think it's worth it.


AND SINCE EVERYONE LOVES A GOOD BEFORE AND AFTER PICTURE:





I hope this is helpful. Feel free to let me know if you have any additional questions.

63 Suburbanites Said:

jenjen said...

That is amazing! A couple of my friends have painted their laminate counters, but they didn't go for the stone look. I love yours. You did a fantastic job!!

XOX
Jen

Jen r. said...

It looks great! You did a wonderful faux job! Jen

Tonya said...

I love it! I really should do this on my kitchen counters, but I am a little nervous...plus I am not sure Hubby would be down with the idea.

ness lockyer said...

WOW! It looks great, and like you say for that price...no stress!
Ness xx

Erika said...

I love the finished product!! Thanks for the step-by-step and the thrifty ideas!!

Sarah said...

That looks great. You did a great job explaining everything!

the undomesticated wife said...

Awesome! We've been talking about painting our laminate.

southerninspiration said...

Fantastic!!!

Suzanne

Rechelle ~Walnuthaven Cottage~ said...

That looks fantastic. I'm tempted to paint my kitchen counters but I'm afraid they won't hold up to the wear and tear I put into the kitchen.

Lou Cinda said...

Oh My Gosh!! This looks GREAT!! I had looked at the new countertop paint by Rustoleum, but it is so new, there are no reviews!! You saved me with this post!! thank you so much!!

Lou Cinda ")

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

That looks great! I just saw another post recently where someone did their kitchen counter like this to look like granite & she poured that clear material they use on bars over it all. I love this look! Great job.

Lou Cinda said...

Do you mind me asking you what 3 colors you used on your countertops?

Thanks

Lou Cinda :)

Victoria said...

What an amazing difference! The counter top looks great.

Vivienne said...

That looks amazing! (And yes, my fingers look like that after ANY painting project...)

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

It looks like a whole different house! Gorgeous...that should be featured in a magazine, just my humble opinion! :) I'd love to know how much $$ you saved by doing that youself instead of having a company come and install granite....Fab-u-lous!! :)

Sarah @ Thrifty Decor Chick said...

Fantastic AnNicole! Amazing transformation!
I hope that's not true about the poly over latex...yikes! I used it over my coffee table and it worked OK. Breathe Sarah.

JoAnn said...

Polyurethane is just fine over latex paint. I cannot imagine why any knowledgeable paint salesperson would tell you otherwise. I have been doing painted furniture for years using latex paint and finishing with polyurethane.

Love your explanation here...I would love to do my ugly counters. I actually took a two-hour class years ago on painting laminate. The class made me afraid to try.

Bettsi said...

Hello! That's beautiful! I just arrived via Hooked on Houses. Love what you are doing!

Granite Countertops Atlanta said...

Nice work and an excellent step-by-step guide. I'll share this!

Sara F. said...

I love the nice subtle stone look you got! I painted my laminate kitchen countertops recently and I encourage everyone to go for it! You will be so glad you did!

Anonymous said...

Great Tutorial! I had painted a counter top 6 -7 years ago (an island in the kitchen) and with Melamine Paint..and it takes all kinds of abuse.

Frugal Jen said...

That looks great! We recently replaced our old laminate but I wish I would have tried this for fun on them. Thanks for sharing!

Mistie said...

This is awesome! You did a fantastic job - and you've detailed your work so well that you've made it really easy for the rest of us. I hope mine turn out half as nice as yours. Thanks again for sharing!

June said...

Your bathroom looks wonderful! Was it hard to remove that big builder mirror? I have those in my bathrooms and would like to remove the big one and replace it with a smaller one.

Ronnie said...

I hope you have better luck than we did. We bought our house not realizing the countertops were painted and sealed with poly. After a few days of doing dishes and not being totally diligent with wiping up any and all water drops the wet areas discolored and began to bubble up. I tried sanding the paint and poly off and using a stripping compound to no avail. I can get the finish down to the white primer, but it is a terrible mess. I ended up paying $7 for 3 rolls of contact paper in a granite design and just recover my counters for another $7 every 3 months. Ugh. I called the previous owners and they said they used primer, latex paint and 2 coats of poly.

Anonymous said...

I am going to try this u did a great job. Showed my husband he thought it was cool too. Will let you know the outcome.

Anonymous said...

Hi! :-). Great job. I live in a 30-yr. old, completely remodeled apt.(used to be parties here in high school, but that's another story..:-0). Anyway, my point was that there used to be hideous 70's DARK ORANGE laminate countertops in the kitchen. During a complete remodel, they "painted" the kitchen counters with what I think is garage-floor paint, or hard, epoxy-based paint. Sounds weird, but for not being actually NEW counters(the awful orange lurks beneath ;-)), it looks surprisingly decent/acceptable for an apt. I think they sell the stuff at HD. You might try it. Mine's very dark grey, almost black, with specks of lighter grey and white. I don't put really hot stuff off of it (trivet), and just clean with Trader Joes green liquid cleaer, but it seems to be pretty tough.

Anonymous said...

..sorry, I meant "I don't put really hot stuff on it (use a trivet)"....

Cass @ That Old House said...

I am going to give this a shot. We have very ugly dark green laminate countertops in the 1832 house we bought last year -- the kitchen was "redone" in 2004 with stuff that is right out of Condo 101 from 1984. Can't afford to re-make the kitchen yet, so I figure we don't have much to lose by trying small fixes.

Is yours still holding up well? You did an excellent faux paint job!

Cass

a Precocious girl Friday said...

Your counter tops look great! I am trying to decide whether I should do this or not. Granite estimates are coming in around $3500 for my entire kitchen, I just can't seam to swallow that bill!! My counter tops are seriously gangrene colored and I just can't stand it anymore. The rest of the kitchen is beautiful and I just got new stainless appliances, which seriously bring out the ugly laminates!! I was going to spray them with a paint by Rustoleum that creates a hammered subtle almost Wilsonart HD look, but after trying it outside on a piece of wood, I decided it makes too big a mess with spray going everywhere, and it says to use it outdoors only- not sure how I would seal off everything in the kitchen. So I think I'll try your sponging several colors method, I'm nervous, but you gave me inspiration! Wish me luck, I'm headed to Lowe's to pick out paint.

Anonymous said...

Hello,
I also found this really cool stuff called Giani Granite Countertop Paint. It is a numbered paint system that makes your countertops look like realy granite. I saw it on the local morning shows. My friend apparently saw the same show I did and bought it...it looks awesome and it came with everything you needed including the sponges, rollers etc...The look is natural and everyone comments on it when they see it.

Anonymous said...

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Dawn

email: Dawn@lashsleevemascara.com

Viresh said...

Marble Countertops are among the most beautiful and durable countertops on the market.

Ashley said...

Wow, that is fantastic! Who knew you could paint that. What a nice inexpenive way to update!!

Came over from Remodelaholic. Thanks for sharing!

Amanda@Imperfectly Beautiful said...

AMAZING!!! I have fugly laminate in my ktchen and would LOVE to paint it. Thanks so much for the inspiration and encouragement to try it myself!

~Amanda

Viola said...

Granite Countertop create a very durable. Granite is an excellent choice for countertops. Granite is available in polished and matte finishes. While granite may be more expensive than some other materials, its longevity adds immeasurable value.

kdenker said...

So it's quite a bit later now, how are your countertops holding up? I'm dying to do mine, but REALLY nervous it will all chip or flake off and then I'll be stuck with worse than I started! How are yours now??

Yeswanth said...

Hi. Greetings. This post is really good and blog is really interesting. It gives good details.

kitchen laminate

Ashley said...

I bought a bombay black kit from Giani granite paint for countertops. I applied the mineral paint with a plastic bag instead of the sponge that it come with and it gave my counters more of a marble look. The kit only costs $60.00 dollars and my counters are holding up great!

Leslie said...

BLESS YOU for having such detailed instructions! Your blog is my new best friend. I have similar countertops that I need to re-do for the time being and you just gave me the courage to do it myself! Fantastic job!

Lauren said...

Looks great! What they told you about mixing oil and laytex is true, its like mixing oil and water. Sure it CAN be done, but it's going to cause problems. That's why you hear people who do this end up using a blowtorch to get the bubbles out. A lot of people also have a problem with it peeling off easily-duh, they don't stick together! Even if you don't see these things immediately, they will happen over time. If you're going to use laytex paint, use a laytex base primer. If you use oil base, make sure the top coat is too. My husband is paint manager and people do this all.the.time. After he tells them what most likely will happen and tells them that they both need to have the same base, he informs them that there will be no refund if they're going to mix two differently based paints. DONT DO IT!

Piper said...

Hey...I know this is an old post for you but I'm wondering how this counter held up over the last 2 years? It looks great!

stugolfer1 said...

A matter of fact, I did paint my ugly laminate countertops with your advice and they came out great. Thanks for the help.



Stuart

Jonboy said...

Thanks for your step by step instructions for painting a laminate counter. I would be interested in knowing how they have held up. I will begin this process soon. Thanks for the info
Janice

Joseph said...

Perennially popular and practical, low pressure laminates represent an attractive, versatile and low maintenance option for vertical kitchen surfaces. Less durable than high pressure benchtop-specific laminates, low pressure laminates can nonetheless withstand the rigours of most domestic kitchen usage.


Kitchen Benchtops

shar said...

You have made my day!! We just moved and I really really dislike the colour of the countertops in our bathroom, but we need a "budget friendly" solution if we want to make any changes. I can't wait to try this! Thanks :)

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LilyofPhilly said...

Love this! I like the technique so much better than the sponge-painted look. I like that you used latex paint as well. Please tell me this held up.

LilyofPhilly said...

Love this! I like the technique so much better than the sponge-painted look. I like that you used latex paint as well. Please tell me this held up.

LilyofPhilly said...

Love this! I like the technique so much better than the sponge-painted look. I like that you used latex paint as well. Please tell me this held up.

SarahFaye said...

I would also love to know about how the counters have held up over this time...

AHOP said...

First time reader! I'm so happy I could cry! I have been looking for the longest time trying to find a solution to redecorate my 51-year-old bathroom without replacing the sink and cabinet. This is the first post on your blog that I have read. Do you have anything about painting the floor tile? Thanks so much!

Unknown said...

Amazing work and great explanations. I so appreciated. Will repaint my kitchen cabinets in white (right now it's that light cream color) and the counter tops... gosh pinkish. I hate it! Your faux paint work is a fantastic idea with beautiful results. I know for sure what's my next project. Thank you!

RedClay said...

I have used this technique on a concrete floor in my living room, except instead of paper towels I used plastic bags on a paint roller. You just have to be careful to use verrrry small amounts of paint after the base coat, just spread it around good with the plastic. I also used a clear garage floor sealer that has held up great.

Wellington Taylor said...

This is certainly one of the most valuable posts. Great tips from beginning till end. Lots of suggestions for me and for people. Superb work

Quartz Worktops

DawnMc said...

Hi, I came across this post by accident and I'm about to give it a try. How have they held up?

DawnMc said...

Hi, I came across this post by accident and I'm about to give it a try. How have they held up?

Robyn said...

Hi! How is the countertop holding up? i"m thinking of doing the same.

Robyn said...

How is the counter top holding up? I"m thinking of doing the same.

Peter Farmer said...

WOW ... You did a beautiful job! We were searching for something on faux finishes for walls in the kitchen and stumbled across your blog.

You are very talented -- and far braver than us.

We refinished our laminate countertops in the kitchen a while back with a natural stone stone coating that you roll on like paint. It was called the SpreadStone Countertop Finishing Kit from a company called Daich Coatings.

For anyone wanting info on that, visit www.daichcoatings.com.

We are going to try your faux process on a section of wall. You made it look so easy!

Thank you!

Duy Tran said...

Did you use a brush for your base paint?

KTil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KTil said...

Are they still holding up? I see that you originally posted this in 2009 & I'd love to know if they still look as great or if you've had any problems...?