Friday, September 26, 2014

$100 Painted Countertops

Yup, you read that right. Painted countertops. It sounds atrocious and cheap (well, it IS inexpensive!), but it's the best dang option there is if you can't afford granite (or any other stone for that matter).

I did a lot of research on options for refinishing my countertops, because let's be honest, in the middle of our home renovations there was no way we were affording stone countertops, so refinishing them was my only option. Rustoleum has some kits, as do other companies I can't remember, but I didn't like any of them. I didn't want something just as ugly to cover up my already ugly pink laminate counters. I wanted something that looked like stone-- glossy, smooth, unique, and multi-colored.

Let's take a look at that awful before shot of my kitchen!

Pink counters. Ew.

Enter Pinterest, thank you.

I don't know how it happened, but I came across a post about painting laminate and I was instantly curious. Here's what my kitchen and counters look like now! (Read here about how I painted my cabinets)

See how glossy and smooth they are?

I ended up blending two techniques to achieve a look and feel that mimicks stone, and lemme tell ya-- people are genuinely fooled by my counters when they see them! (either that, or they're really good liars and I thank them for that!)

Here are the two blog sites I used to create my look. Gotta give credit where credit is due! Go read these posts!!

Painting technique from here by The Shanks, est 2009, One Life to Love

Resin sealant technique from here by So Lovely Creations

This project only cost me $100, which covered the cost of the resin sealant I poured over the paint. I already had the paint and other materials on hand, but it didn't require much paint, so at most you might spend $30 on other materials.

Here's your material list:

  • 4-6 different paint colors (A sample size of any paint is enough. I only bought one new paint color. I have a lot of neutrals laying around already, so I just used those: black, brown, and 3 lighter beiges, one of which was the color on my cabinets)
  • Plastic grocery sacks
  • Latex or vinyl gloves from the Dollar Store
  • 4-6 Paper plates or bowls (one for each color of paint)
  • Portable surface to work from (I used a cheap little side table)
  • Envirotex Lite-- measure your counters, order enough for your square footage, plus a little extra just to be safe! You can buy this at most craft stores, but I found it MUCH cheaper from this website
  • Large tupperware from the Dollar Store, used for mixing the Envirotex Lite in bulk
  • Vinyl tape (DO NOT USE REGULAR PAINTING TAPE!) The vinyl tape will pull up properly after the resin starts to cure, leaving a crisp line! Here is an example to use. 
  • Brown paper rolls or plastic sheeting (garbage bags also work!) to cover up anything and everything you don't want resin curing on. The stuff is seriously permanent! 
  • Blow torch (have a friend or neighbor you can borrow this from?)
  • 2 foam brushes
  • A friend-- the resin sealant gets tricky to do by yourself!! 
  • Box cutter/ razor/ exacto knife (for help when removing the tape)
This photo isn't a complete display of the materials, but you get the idea. The area is prepped and ready for paint! Make sure to cover your floors too!  

Okay, so this project is scary for a few reasons: You can't use your kitchen for several days while you do it (Chipotle, anyone??), the resin sealant is permanent (that is, until you rip out your counters for real stone), you have to use FIRE (it's not a big flame, chill out, you won't burn your kitchen down), and what if your paint job looks crappy, then what?!

The last reason is why it's SO important to first practice the look you want on a sample board! Many sample boards, really. And even then, it's kinda hard to get stuck with a paint job you hate. After perfecting my look on a sample board, I finally got brave enough to paint my counters and I totally hated it! So I scraped off the paint (which was easy) and started over! Voila, problem solved. Try, try again :)

Other secrets: Work in sections of the counters, layering the paint with separate baggies before each layer has time to dry-- that's what gives the best "stone" look so it was blended well enough. If you put each paint color on the entire counter one at a time and go in rounds, it'll dry before you get around to the next paint color. Basically, it'll look too choppy and fake and yuck. You'll want to work with wet paint layers! The order in which you layer your colors is totally up to you. That's where the sample board comes in-- play around with it. Again, check out this blog for her full tutorial on this technique. 

This picture was taken before the counters were sealed. If you look closely, you can see that the surface isn't totally smooth. The paint globs up because of the technique used. Don't worry, this will all become perfectly smooth after the resin is poured! 

When the paint dried, I mixed and poured the Envirotex Lite in sections, following the product directions and tips from this blog. This is where you need a friend! She mixed the resin (it comes in two parts and must be used immediately after mixing) while I poured, smoothed, and torched the bubbles. You'll also need her to help keep it from dripping off the sides of the counters. Use your foam brushes to smooth the surface and to dab the drips off the edges. Keep dabbing under those edges until they no longer drip. Patience, my friend. 

After the resin has set for 24 hours, I pulled up the tape using the box cutter when necessary. The Envirotex Lite will cure in about 72 hours, so you'll need to pull up the tape after it has set a bit but BEFORE it completely cures. 

See how smooth and glossy it is?! I love how reflective it is. What do you think?

I think I'll never need granite!

I've had these counters for over a year now, and they are still good as the day they cured! I use them just like I would any other counter. They clean up easily with Clorox wipes, and they are super durable.

I will give you this disclaimer though: the resin is still (somehow) slightly (ever so so slightly) malleable at high temperatures even after it cures. This means that in the heat of summer, things like vases and cups are likely to stick to my counters (not enough for me to care-- just enough to know its not real stone!). This year we got our AC fixed, so I didn't notice this to be a problem like I did last year.

If you've been holding back, take the risk and just DO IT!! And then tell me about it! :) If anything, it'll at least be better than the colored or boring laminate you have while you save for something "real!"

Happy painting! xox


  1. Wow!! Awesome job! You go girl

  2. LOVE IT! I'm going to give it a try and will let you know how it turns out. :)

    1. Thank you! Have you tried it? How did it turn out?? Would love to hear your experience!

  3. This is very cool!!! I have seen this technique on a couple of other sites, and I LOVE the look of it... still too cared just yet, tho... LOL! I do have one question, I have a small cracked piece of the laminate surface on one of the front edges of our counter, do think the stippled paint and thick Envirotex would camoflage the cracks? or at least not make them more noticeable?

    1. Hi Julie! It's definitely a bit scary to try-- but SO worth it! We're coming up on 2 years with our refinished counters and they are still as good as the day we finished them!!

      I absolutely think the paint and Envirotex would camoflage the cracks. The Envirotex will even help seal them to protect the counters from water damage inside the cracks.

      I say go for it!!! And good luck! Let me know how it goes :)

  4. Quick do they feel to the touch? Are they somewhere between laminate and stone, or are they on the harder side? Sorry I know this is a weird

  5. I love the counter tops! But I have a question: How did you work around your sink? Did you have to remove it while you worked on the counters and then reinstalled them once counters were complete?

  6. I am attempting a kitchen makeover for my mother-in-law (along with some minimal help from my hubby and his brother and wife). We are going to redo cabinets, counters and add backsplash--all DIY. Do you have an order of operations you would recommend? I am thinking cabinets (which I have minimal experience doing a small vanity), then counters (giving your method a try--no experience), then backsplash (hoping for the best on this one). I feel like the counters would be easier to cover than the backsplash so I put backsplash last. Would you do the same? Any tips would be appreciated!

  7. I must did an amazing job. I have been researching for a few months about painting my laminate countertops. My only hesitation was the fact that the kits that you can buy for countertops finished products always came out with a texture (probably from the roller). In my opinion that texture and cloudiness is what makes the counters look real or fake. The fact that your finished product is smooth, clear and glossy is what confuses so many people about yours being painted. I literally had to look several times to look for flaws and I couldn't find any. I am definitely going to try this since my wife is too afraid. Thanks for sharing.

    I do have a few questions though.

    What are your tips for the backsplash? Did you just dab them on or pour then dash?

    I also have a pretty big backsplash that's completely vertical between the range and
    over the range microwave.

    Do you have any tips in tackling that?

  8. I just want give you my sincerest gratitude for your blog post and the detailed instructions for this process. My husband and I are first time home buyers and because of your help, we now have a “NEW” kitchen. You will never know how much joy you have brought to lives and home! THANK YOU, sending many blessings to you, your family and home!

  9. I am about to start this project and reading the enviroTex description said good on flat surfaces. Does anyone know how the first post did the backsplash? Will it adhere as it is vertical?

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