Can You REALLY Paint Kitchen Countertops? step by step tutorial for painted countertops
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Sick of your countertops but don’t want to pay thousands for a new countertop? Learn how you can paint kitchen countertops and get a beautiful stone look with professional results!
When I moved into my current house I always knew that I’d want… no need… to redo the kitchen. Everything from the cabinets to the backsplash and countertops was original and ALL wrong.
I almost immediately thought to myself, “Can you paint countertops?” I’m guessing that you’ve wondered the same thing since you’re reading this!
I had already painted kitchen and bathroom cabinets before, so I knew that I could do that!
In fact, I’ve written about how I paint kitchen cabinets to get a flawless finish here and it’s been one of my top posts for months!
But what about painting the kitchen counters – is it even possible? If it is possible, can you paint countertops to look like marble or granite?
I knew that I’d eventually want to do a full kitchen renovation once we could, so replacing the countertops wasn’t going to be an option.
I wouldn’t want to spend that kind of money to rip it out later – that would be such a waste of money!
So… I set out and did my research, tested a few techniques and products, and came up with this surprisingly easy way to paint kitchen cabinets without a kit or epoxy!
Can You Paint Any Type Of Countertop?
You may be wondering whether you can actually paint your countertops?
Based on the research I’ve done and my experience painting my countertop, I would say that you can paint kitchen countertops!
That said, if you have a high end countertop like granite or quartz, you may want to think really hard before you paint it. Some things you might want to consider are:
- How long will you be using your newly painted countertop?
- Are you planning to move any time soon?
- What kind of wear will your countertops experience?
If you might be moving in the near future and need to sell or rent out your home then you may not want to paint over a higher end kitchen counter because it could bring down the value of the home or make it less attractive to a buyer/renter.
Some people are truly obsessed with say granite or quartz, and not having that would be a major issue for them.
So if you have it and may need to sell or rent soon, or if you have to live with your countertops indefinitely, you probably don’t want to do anything to it.
Also, while some countertop materials are very heat resistant, my guess would be that painted countertops aren’t.
If you paint your countertops, I strongly suggest using a trivet under your hot pans! I personally never ever put hot pans on a counter no matter what the countertop specs say BUT I know some people do and are used to doing this. Painted countertops may not be for you if you’re that type of cook.
Also, if you plan on renovating your kitchen or replacing your countertops in the future anyway (like me) then honestly, what do you have to lose?
I say give it a shot, and if you don’t like it, it’s only temporary. If you do like it, then it will make the period while you wait on your replacement that much more enjoyable!
So those are just a few things to consider when deciding if painting countertop is a good idea for you specifically. As for whether you can paint your specific type of countertop… I don’t see why not!
How To Prep When You Paint Countertops
If you decide that you DO in fact what to paint your countertops, the next important thing for you to consider is how you will prep them.
I have heard of many techniques including using electric sanders. While that’s great and certainly effective, not everyone has that. Well… I’m happy to tell you that you can prep your countertop with just three simple things!
- “Sanding Delosser” (like the one show below)
- a scrubbing sponge like this one
- paper towel
I go into lots of detail on how to degloss in my post about how to paint kitchen cabinets so be sure to check out that post for more details! You’ll be using the same method here.
In short though, over time all the surfaces in our house get some amount of oil and dirt on them. This happens in even the cleanest of homes!
Before your paint can adhere to a surface well, you need to make sure that you strip away all that oil and dirt! Standard cleaners, even TSP won’t do this well enough! By using a deglosser like the one shown above, you strip away all the oil!
It’s even better than that… by using this deglosser you are also scuffing the surface! That’s right – this specific deglosser also acts like a liquid sander!
You’ll notice the sheen on any surface fade when you use it and that’s one of the many ways you will know that it’s working. It won’t feel rough, but it will be rough enough for paint to stick well!
I promise the process is very simple. To prepare countertops for paintin, you apply the delosser solution with the sponge, scrub a little, and wipe it off with paper towel. You repeat this until the paper towel stops looking so dirty! That’s really the gist of it but be sure to check out my other post to learn more!
Oh and don’t be surprised if you get some seriously gross gunk on the paper towel – It’s normal for dirt and grime to settle and a deglosser will strip away so much more than your regular cleaner will!
After you see how well the deglosser cleans you may be wondering if you can use the deglosser on other things… don’t!
Only use the deglosser on surfaces you plan to paint or stain because it will damage the protective coat or sealer. It’s not meant to be a regular cleaner. It’s a paint preperation product.
What Kind of Paint To Use on Countertops?
The next question you likely have is: “What’s the best Countertop Paint?”. I know that’s where I started my search! I found SO many options! I’ll give you a quick run down of the main options I found and why I did or didn’t go that route.
Countertop Paint Kit
If you walk the aisles of your typical home improvcement store like Home Depot for fun like I do, you have probably already seem the man countertop paint kits available! Some common ones include this one from Rustoleum:
While I liked that you can tint it to any color, I didn’t love the idea of a solid color countertop. It just seemed like it wouldn’t wear well and could look cheap. When I DIY, I don’t want it to look like a DIY.
That brings me to the more extensive countertop paint kit you’ve probably seen by Giana like this one.
This one looked more promising because it comes with everything you need in one box including what you need to give your countertop a more natural multi-tonal textured finish.
That said, it was pretty expensive given how much counter it would cover.
I felt like I’d be paying for some things that I already have, that I might run out of a specific color in the kit when trying to achieve the look I wanted, and couldn’t find a kit with the exact look that I wanted.
All in all, it seemed like I could probably recreate the kit on my own and get a better value.
Epoxy Counter Top
I’ll start off by saying that not all “Epoxy” is equal. Depending on the product, it will have a different percentage of actual epoxy in it! This post does a great job of explaining the difference.
In short though, if you don’t need to mix two ingredients together, then you can be almost 100% sure that it’s a very very low percentage of expoxy meaning you will get less of the benefits of Epoxy.
If you’ve seen those beautiful counters or floors where they pour out buckets of epoxy in different colors and it comes out looking so shiny that it almost looks wet… that’s what I’d really call epoxy coating.
It’s a technique that takes practice, skill, and focus – not an easy project to do with little kids walking around the house!
If you still really LOVE the look and durability of epoxy and the ease of a kit, you might want to consider this kit. It’s the one I almost got.
I decided to not go this route because I had never done it before and it’s expensive, requires a lot of work, and needs practice.
I wanted to refinish my countertops on a budget, Plus unlike paint, if you don’t like the results, it’s a ton of work to do over too! So … it wasn’t for me and may not be for you either.
I LOVE the look of cement countertops. There are some really great videos on Youtube that show just how to coat your coutertops in cement like this one:
As you can see from this video, it looks AMAZING but it’s a lot of work and a lot of mess! So again… I passed.
Custom Chalk Paint and Poly Method
That brings us back to plain old paint, but what type of paint? Over the years I have tried so many types of paint including the super expensive ones that cost way over $100 for a gallon.
I’ve also tried the specialty paints for things like “furniture” and “cabinets” hoping that they would be best.
In the end, I found that to get the best results, chalk paint was the one to go with! This is because with chalk paint you can:
- Achieve a really smooth buttery finish
- Get surprisingly good adhesion
- Get a chip-free finish that will stand up to your toddler hitting it with toys
- Great coverage
Not just any Chalk Paint will do though! I have two favorite chalk paint companies.
Both are amazing because in addition to the reasons why chalk paint are amazing above, these two brands of chalk paint have a built in top coat making them extra durage and… THEY DON’T NEED A WAX COAT!
This is huge!
Most types of chalk paint are essentially “unsealed” and they need to be coated and buffed with wax every few weeks or months depending on how the surface is used.
But not with these brands!
For this particular project, I decided to use paint from Dixie Belle Paint!
Dixie Belle Paint was perfect for this job because I really wanted my counters to have some shimmer without looking like I had put sparkles on it!
Dixie Bell Paint even has metallic tinted chalk paint which is so hard to find! The colors were exactly what I was looking for too!
Here are the exact paint products from Dixie Bell Paint that I used on my coutertops:
- Cotton Chalk Mineral Paint (Pure White)
- Hi Ho Silver Glaze
- Moonshine Metallics in Silver Bullet
- Clear Gloss Coat
I wanted a white, gray, and silver toned countertop so naturally I wenet with the “silver” colors, but you can pick from a wide range of options and get just about any color you want!
How To Make Countertops Look Like Marble, Granite? The Paper Towel Technique
Alright – Here’s the point in this blog post where I finally get to it! HOW do you make painted countertops look like marble, granite, or just some sort of natural stone?
There are many different techniques and they all look amazing but let me be honest – I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to do it well!
I was also worried that I’d get half way through and then slip up some how and then my countertops would look different from one side of the kitchen to the other!
One common technqiue for making countertops look like marble is to use a paint brush to draw the veins, then spray with water to cause it to run, and then spread it out to look like veins even more.
This looks beautiful when the uber skilled DIY-ers did it but I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to pull it off. I love DIY but it’s not like I do this sort of thing daily.
I needed a technique that would be super easy to do and almost foolproof!
Here’s what I came up with – use paper towel!
Add some paint to a plate, and then pick up a few pieces of paper towel that you scrunch up into a ball. Then dip that paper towel into the paint and tap it onto the countertop!
After a few minutes of doing that, the paper towel gets more saturated and naturally unwinds a bit.
This unwinded part let’s you “slap” the paint onto the counter in a way that created unique marks each time but also varying amounts of paint/darkness.
I prefer this over the plastic bag method because that method end up almost “too perfect” looking and didn’t have enough variation.
Take a look at this video to see what I mean:
If you look closely you’ll see that there was already some silver on the countertop – that’s because I forgot to take a video the first time around. Sorry!
When you use this technique, you’ll want to layer a few colors to make it look more natural. I painted the countertops in Cotton (a pure white) and then used my Paper Towel Painting Technique using the Hi Ho Silver Glaze.
After I finished applying that on all my countertops, I went and did another round with the Moonshine Metallics Paint in Silver Bullet. The second time around I did much fewer taps but that’s totally up to you!
The beauty of using this technique is that if for any reason you don’t like how it came out or you want to try a different set of colors, it’s so easy to redo!
If your house is like mine, the hardest part will be taking everything off the counter so you can paint them!
How To Seal After You Paint Kitchen Countertops
You might be asking – now that I’ve painted them and they look perfect, how do you seal once you paint kitchen countertops???! Painted countertop durability is important! The last thing you want is for your beautiful work to get ruined!
Luckily, that part is especially easy! It just takes a little patience.
You’ll want to apply many clear protective coats. The paint itself has a built in protective coat but for a countertop that needs to withstand daily scrubbing, you’ll want to add lots of clear coats!
Think of it this way – when a professional stains a piece of furniture, they then add 7-10 coats of poly on top of it and then sand it and polish it so that the furniture will hod up to years of use.
That furniture doesn’t get scrubbed daily though – but your counter will! So be sure to take the time to add on a few coats of clear gloss on top. The scrubbing will eventually wear through the coats so the more you have the better!
I used Dixi Belle Paint’s Clear Gloss but they have a flat top coat and a satin one too if you prefer that type of finish.
How to Paint Kitchen Countertops – The Step By Step Guide
Alright! Now that we’ve talked about all the ins and outs of painting kitchen countertops, you know why I recommend that you use Dixi Belle Paint for the job, and you know the technique I used to apply the paint… here’s a super clear step by step guide on how to paint countertops so you know exactly what to do!
- Pick your colors! You’re going to want a base color and then 2-3 more colors that will make up the various “specs” and “veining” in the countertop! You want them to compliment each other and be fairly natural looking (though I’ve seen granite with some crazy colors in them too!).
- Remove everything from your countertops. Your counertops will need to be empty for 1-2 days so make sure to find a good place to relocate things to.
- Apply painters tape along the edges of your counter (like where your counter meets the backsplash). This one from Amazon does the trick perfectly!
- Cover your floors or bottom cabinets if you feel you need to. I didn’t and was just careful to wipe up any drops – there weren’t meany. You can use drop cloths for this but if you don’t have any, garbage bags work wonders too! Just let them dry when you’re done and you can still use them as trash bags!
- Degloss your countertops! This is an important step in preparing your countertops to paint as I explained above. I put on gloves, then pour the deglosser into a bowl and then apply the deglosser with a sponge like this one. I then scrub the counters with the deglossing solution and wipe the solution up with a paper towel right away. Repeat this step until the paper towel stops looking gross! (With this brand of deglosser you do NOT need to neutralize it, rinse it off, or sand! Yay for fewer step!)
- Apply 1-2 coats of your base color. I used the color Cotton which is a pure bright white. You want it to cover the original counter color but it doesn’t need to be 100% perfect since we’re going to add more on top! And yes, you are reading this right – you do NOT need a primer if you followed the previous step! If you use a stippling technique to apply it you’ll get the best adhesion and the smoothest finish but it’s not critical. Check out this post for more on how to do that.
- Apply your first color accent – Pour some of your Hi Ho Silver Glaze (or whatever you first non-base color is) onto a plate. Grab some paper towel and bunch it up in your hand (while wearing gloves of course!) Tap the paper towel onto the plate and then onto the counter as shown in the video above all over your counters.
- Repeat the same process with Moonshine Metallics in Silver Bullet or whatever your second color is.
- Apply more colors in this way if desired. You can even add more of your base color using this Paper Towel Technique if you feel that not enough of the base is showing through.
- Let both colors dry at least 50%. The more you let it dry the more the exact look will stay. If it’s still a bit wet, this next step will fade it out a bit.
- Apply you top coat. I used a Clear Gloss Coat. You want to do at least 3 coats of this but more is better!
- Let it dry completely according to the product instructions. This could take 24+ hours.
- IF you find that there are uneven spots on the counter or you feel texture caused by the application of the paint to make the stone effect, you can lightly sand the countertop. Since you have multiple top coats, you won’t harm the design you made but get an extra smooth polished finish!
Complete List of Everything You Will Need for painted countertops
- Plastic Gloves
- “Sanding Delosser” (like the one show below)
- a scrubbing sponge like this one
- paper towel!
- Brush or Sponge Roller
- Paint for your base color – I used Cotton Chalk Mineral Paint (Pure White)
- 2-3 accent colors for the stone look (I used Hi Ho Silver Glaz and Moonshine Metallics in Silver Bullet)
- A top coat (I used Clear Gloss Coat)
- Painter’s Tape
- Drop Cloths or plastic garbage bags (optional)
- Sandpaper (optional)
Well there you go! You probably came here wondering if you can paint kitchen countertops. The answer is definitely YES!
The question will be which method you choose, how much effort and money you want to spend, and which products you use!
Hopefully, this post answered many of your questions including why I think you should paint kitchen countertops.
Painting countertops (instead of replacing them) is the best and the most budget-friendly way to freshen and update your kitchen easily and quickly on a budget!
Can you believe that my kitchen went from this:
to this with just a few coats of paint?
Do you feel inspired to paint kitchen countertops now?
Post any of your questions below and I’ll be sure to answer them as quickly as I can! Also, don’t forget to check out my post on how to paint kitchen cabinets!
Do you let the base coat dry completely before you start doing the paper towel thing?
I did! Otherwise I figured that it would mix with the colors and the paper towel and my colors would end up lighter and lighter. I figured that by letting the base coat dry I could get a more consistent color all over. I’d love to see how your counters turn out!
How has it held up so far?
It held up for months great! Just make sure that you use a good coat of poly over it!