Affordable Upgrade: Painting Countertops

Lead Image
  • 2-8 hours
  • Beginner
  • 50-100
What You'll Need
Rubber gloves
Face mask
Protective eyewear
Paint brush
Paint roller
Sanding block

Painting countertops has become a popular and less expensive alternative to replacing them. With so many gorgeous paints on the market, your color choices and quality are vast. The only hard thing about this project is waiting for the coats to dry between steps.

Step 1 – Prep

Painted countertops will wear well if you take the time to prepare them properly. The first thing you need to do is wash the countertops with a warm water and ammonia mix. Follow the directions on the ammonia. This removes the dirt and grime. The cleaner the countertop, the better the paint will adhere. You should repeat until you see no more signs of dirt.

A word of warning when working with ammonia, as it can cause injury. Always wear rubber gloves to avoid contact with the skin. Ammonia, when inhaled, can be irritating to your lungs. Consider wearing a mask and open a window to provide fresh air. Use caution so as not to splash in the eye, which can cause burns and permanent eye damage.

Step 2 – Prime

Once the countertop has been cleaned and has dried thoroughly, prime it with a bonding primer. This helps the paint to stick properly on a non-porous surface. There are several good bonding primers on the market, and the primer can be tinted to match your final color.

Once you have primed the countertop you need to let the primer set for at least 24 hours before painting.

Step 3 – Paint

Once the primer is dry you can begin to paint. If you prepare food on your countertops, use water-based paint. Use a good quality brush to cut in along the edges and wall. Paint the bulk of the surface with a short nap roller or a foam roller. Use thin coats and a light stroke to avoid roller lines and lap marks. Apply the second coat perpendicular to the first one.

You can wrap your brush and roller in plastic to store them between coats. Let the paint dry for a minimum of 24 hours.

Step 4 – Seal

After the paint dries, apply three coats of water-based sealer, either a high gloss or satin. Allow each coat to dry completely for a minimum of 24 hours before you apply the next coat. If the surface feels a little bit rough after the first coat of sealer, you may lightly sand it with a fine or extra fine grit sanding block. Wipe away all sanding dust with a damp cloth and allow it to completely dry before the final coat. It can take more than 24 hours, depending on how humid and how warm your space is.

Now that your last coat of sealer is dry, you can redecorate and put your "new" countertop back to use. Painting countertops is an easy way to get a great new look at a relatively low cost.