Last weekend I took a fabulous class, “Painting Countertops: YES! You Can!!”, that was taught by Laine at Miss Elaineous Studio in Glendale, OH.
Why pick this class? Because I have green laminate countertops in my kitchen. Yes, green. Mint green. With ugly speckles. Our plan is to do a big kitchen reno sometime in the next 1-2 years but I’d love to do something to those countertops in the meantime because they are no doubt the ugliest thing about my house. Laine is totally down to earth and realistic about what the average DIYer can successfully take on so I knew that her class would be just what I was looking for. Also, she has real life experience with painting countertops, having painted her own countertops and using them that way for TEN YEARS! Our class began with an overview of how to paint countertops with information on countertop prep, finish & topcoats, and styles in the “sandwich layer” (between prep and finish coat). Then it was on to the fun hands-on part of trying out four different painting techniques that Laine has found DIYers can achieve the best success with. We started out with four samples of various materials – laminate, tile, foam board, and poster board.
Step One was prep and adhesion, a very important step in the process for painting countertops. Laine recommends that you start with clean countertops, give them a light overall sanding, wipe off any dust, and then coat them with a primer. She suggests Sherwin-Williams’ Adhesion Primer, which is designed to promote adhesion on slick, glossy, hard to paint surfaces. The only painting technique that we tried in which priming wasn’t required was the one using Caromal Colours Textured Base Coat because it is a bonding coat that sticks to almost any surface.
Step Two was the fun part – trying out the different painting techniques. This is where taking the class was so valuable – while none of the techniques were all that difficult, it would have been very hard to learn them by following written instructions, no matter how detailed. At the class, Laine demonstrated each technique and then we were able to try it ourselves while she walked around and gave us helpful hints. I should have taken pictures of all of Laine’s sample boards because they looked amazing but instead I’m going to show you pictures of my finished boards so you can get an idea of what a first-timer can expect in terms of results. The finishes we created were a dark faux marble using regular latex paint and glazes,
a textured finish with blended colors using Caromal Colours Textured Based Coat and Toner (I did get a shot of Laine’s example for this one since she used totally different colors – it is the second, prettier one of course!),
a troweled venetian plaster using Modern Masters’ Venetian Plaster,
and a tone-on-tone stipple using regular latex paint:
Step three was applying a finish coat. Laine recommends applying 2-3 coats of oil-based polyurethane (she typically uses a satin finish) because she feels that the water-based poly is difficult to get brushstrokes and application marks out of. However, she warns that oil-based poly can yellow a bit so darker finishes do better with this type of poly. After you have applied your coats of polyurethane, wait a few days before using your countertops.
Finally, a few other important points that I learned from Laine that you should consider if you’re planning to paint your countertops:
- Have realistic expectations. A painted countertop is going to be a bit more vulnerable than a granite or unpainted laminate or Corian and if you have it for many years, you may have to do some touch ups from time to time. However, if you take care of it (try not to leave standing water on it, don’t cut directly on the counters, etc.), a painted countertop can be a great, inexpensive way to update your kitchen or bathroom.
- The appropriate preparation and finishing topcoats are key!
- Unless you are simply going to paint your countertops a solid color (which is an option!), find a studio where you can experiment with different painting techniques, colors, and tools to get the exact look that you want.