When I was buying my first home, I told my realtor that I wanted a home that didn’t need electrical, plumbing, or a new roof. I also told her that I wanted the ugliest house she could find because it was the only thing I could afford at the time.
She succeeded. The home I bought was hideous with its off-white walls and its walnut trim. The laminate kitchen counters were hideous and they were straight out of the 80s. I’m sure the cabinets were nice back in their day but not now. You get the idea, I’m sure.
One of the first things that I wanted to remodel and change was the counters in the house. There was one problem with my plan though, I couldn’t afford new counters from Home Depot or my local hardware store. Without the money for replacing the countertops with the beautiful stone that I really wanted, I chose to paint them.
Material Options For Painting Kitchen Countertops
When I started doing my research, I really wanted to use one of the fancy countertop refinishing kits like Rustoleum countertop transformations. But these kits were expensive and they required a base coat and a top coat.
However, the faux stone kits were beyond my artistic ability and they are dreadfully expensive for those of us who just spent all of our money buying the house. Instead, I chose to use a basic Rustoleum Countertop Paint to paint my kitchen cabinets. I think a quart cost roughly $30 and it was well worth it.
How It Works
Using the basic Rustoleum countertop paint, you paint it on just like a regular paint. You roll one coat and then you roll the second coat. There are two options for a waiting period between coats.
You can either wait a very short amount of time, 4 hours, or you can wait a long amount of time, 24 hours, between coats. Whichever option you choose, you can have a brand new counter in 48 hours or less.
Supplies You Need
After I got the paint mixed, I had to get a few paint supplies unique to this project. The kitchen countertop paint works best with foam rollers and the disposable foam brushes. Take it from me, you shouldn’t plan on cleaning out your supplies and reusing them. If you paint laminate countertops make sure that all the supplies you use are disposable.
The rollers I found that worked best are the small 4” rollers since they let me get in a lot of the tight corners easily. Around the edges of the countertop, I used a quality painter’s tape to keep the paint where I wanted it.
The foam brushes make it almost impossible to cut in, check out this video that explains what cutting in is, so you have to use painter’s tape. A disposable 4” paint tray is a must as well as a drop cloth. Let’s go back to how this paint doesn’t clean off well…do you really want it dripping on your floors or making a mess?
The final thing that is necessary for this project is a couple pairs of disposable latex gloves. I got this paint on my hand and it takes days to get off!
Rustoleum Countertop Paint Color Options
One of the major problems with using the basic Rustoleum Countertop Paint is the lack of color options. There are really only about 12 color options to choose from.
The formulas are very specific so there really isn’t a way for the paint people to use a color chip from the wall. So don’t spend forever trying to find the perfect one in the color chips.
These colors are printed on the can label and depending on the color you choose, you pick either the light base or the dark base.
Since my kitchen and bathroom were both small and dark, I chose the light base. I asked my paint department to tint the paint to the color of “linen” that was listed on the can. It was a light beige color that looked like it would just blend into the background.
The Actual Painting Part
So I got home with my paint and my supplies and taped off the countertop edges. The painters plastic was laid out and all unnecessary obstacles were removed from the work area.
The bathroom countertops were washed one last time with soap and water to make sure they were clean. I didn’t sand or prime the surface though.
At this point, I became stupid. I did not realize how much this paint smells. It is an oil based paint product and it smells to high hell and back.
Do not use this product without opening the windows first! I almost killed my poor boyfriend before we even got a second date! After reading the instructions on the back of the can, I put the first coat on and then let it sit for 4 hours. There was some definite streaking in the finish after the initial coat. It was kind of terrifying seeing that.
To apply the second coat, I made sure to use fresh foam brushes and fresh rollers. It’s important to use fresh applicators or you will have fuzz stuck to your countertops. I am definitely telling you out of experience. I tried the first roll with the old roller and it isn’t a mistake I’ll ever make again. Do you know how long it takes to pick all that fuzz out of a countertop?
Remove the painters tape while the paint is still damp so that you don’t have to score the edges to get it off. I actually did this between the coats because I didn’t want to pick the stuck pieces off. I figured it was worth it to save my efforts.
Again, I wouldn’t even try to clean out the rollers or the foam brushes. Just throw them away. Trust me. That was the hardest part of this project for me was the amount of trash I seemed to accumulate. The crunchy granola part of me just itched to reuse or recycle some of it.
The Results…Sort Of?
So the countertops were done…and I didn’t like the color. That is again another issue with this product is that you can’t really get a sample. You can buy a 1 quart can mixed to the color of your choice but you can’t sample.
The can is only about $30 so it isn’t terribly expensive but it’s still hard to guess what the color will look like in your space. Don’t get me wrong, it was better than what was there and I did live with it for a year or so. I thought maybe I would get used to it over time.
I even tried painting my kitchen cabinets so that I would like the countertop color more. After trying multiple cabinet colors, I found that it didn’t work.
Trying Again To Paint Kitchen Countertops
After living with the “linen” countertops for a year, I decided it was time to change it again. I repeated the entire process of selecting a color, a cool gray this time, getting it mixed, buying the brushes, and taping the countertops.
I decided this time to fix another issue that I had with the first paint job I did. Initially, I hated how the edges of the laminate backsplash looked. To make the laminate countertop look even less like laminate, I used a paintable caulking called Alex Plus to curve out the edges where the counter met the backsplash.
This way, the painted counter would look a little more similar to a stone countertop…or at least not a 90s laminate. This is absolutely a step that I would recommend. You will be so much happier with the result because it won’t look like a painted laminate countertop!
The Final Step For Awesomeness
The gray was so much better to begin with but I had another idea. I guess technically my boyfriend had the idea. He said we should put glitter on it. At first I was shocked because I just couldn’t imagine it. But I decided to try it because if it didn’t work, I could always just repaint again.
So, I went to the paint department (again) and told them about this crazy idea. One salesperson snorted and walked away thinking I was joking. The other loved the idea but said that they didn’t have a sparkly countertop paint. Then she showed me a glitter paint she thought might work.
The glitter paint was also from Rustoleum and, no, it wasn’t labeled for use on countertops. I was in uncharted territory! I’ll be honest, I don’t think Rustoleum had any idea that somebody would put this on a countertop but they should know that it works pretty well.
This product came in silver, gold, or multicolored sparkles. Fortunately my paint department let me play with them on a stir stick to see the differences between the different colored sparkles made. The gold looks good on warm colors and the multicolored sparkles were too childish. So I chose the silver because it looked perfect on top of a gray paint.
I’ve been impressed with how well the glitter paint held up. After about a year, some of the sparkles had started to wear off but even with use multiple times a day and constant cleaning, they were still in decent shape.
If I changed anything it would be to put a clear layer on top of the counters to make them more wipeable and durable.
But remember, this was supposed to be a short term solution that got me through a few years until I could afford the stone counters that I really wanted.
The problem is, now I don’t hate my laminate countertops and I am in no hurry to replace them!
And that’s how to paint your countertops, on the cheap. They may not look like stone but, for a fraction of the price, they look almost as good as the countertop transformations painted countertops. And it turns old, terrible laminate countertops to pretty darn good looking if I do say so myself!