Friday, February 12, 2010

How to Paint a Laminate Countertop

or:  "The Long-Awaited Blog Post!"

Thanks to my dear friend Nancy, I have developed something of an - ahem - addiction to painting things.  Mostly walls.  Sometimes furniture.

And now. . . . . . .

Laminate countertops!!!

This is the best "before" shot I have. . . . . I may dig up an older one, since this is after Yurii redid the cabinets (he's amazing, btw!) and the sink is already out.  But you get the gist of the nasty 70s green, yes?
Yeah, I know, you're all thinking: "Come on, now - that's not so bad!"  Actually, it was.   
So read on for  a step-by-step explanation of how to go from ugly to fabulous!

Edited Friday morning:  Here's the only shot of the bathroom I had before the reconstruction.  And actually, this is AFTER some improvements!  The walls used to be a dark green.  I put the cream mats on the counter to tone it down - didn't help that much!  You can also barely see the old handles on the cabinets.  Note to self: remember to take better "before" pictures!!!

First step: Remove sink.  I found out that contrary to my hopes and expectations, not all sinks come out easily. Especially sinks that have been in place for over 25 years.  I did get to practice my superior caulk-removing skills, and even managed to scrape 35 year-old caulk from the rim.

Fun stuff, that.

Second step:  Sand the counter.  This will rough up the laminate so the primer sticks better.
Third step:  Prime the counter.  I used Glidden Gripper Grey primer - it was a bit cheaper than the others I found.  If I'm not mistaken, I got it at Home Depot for about $6.

The bathroom countertop after priming - already an improvement!

Fourth Step:  Paint!  I let the primer dry for 24 hours, then brought out the nifty can of Valspar Stone spray paint.  I had read about - and briefly thought about - doing a faux painting technique, but Yurii & I really liked the look of the stone, and thought it would be easier.  Cost of spray paint: about $4.50 with coupon.

Here's the first shot:  doesn't it look like E.T.'s house??

We had to tape everything off to avoid overspray. I couldn't bear the thought of Yurii's awesome cabinets getting messed up!  Oh, and a word to the wise - remember to ventilate, or you'll be feeling pretty. happy.

I ended up needing a second can, mostly to get the coverage I was looking for.  I was thrilled!  It even covered the metal trim at the backsplash. . . .here's a good up-close shot so you can see the texture.

We ended up letting the paint dry for almost 4 days by default, but I'm glad we did.  You want a good, hard cure before the next step.

Step Five:  Clear protective coat.  This was the scariest and yet neatest part of the whole project!  I had read and researched all over the internet, and finally decided to take the plunge and use Envirotex.
Advertised as "the equivalent of 50 coats of varnish", I bought this at Michael's with a coupon for 50% off - total for the two boxes I needed was $25.  Basically, you mix a resin and a hardener, pour it on your surface, spread it around, and sponge it up and off the sides to get an even coat.  Yurii poured, I sponged and spread.  A team effort!

Can you get a sense of the shine?  It was pretty amazing.

The trickiest part was at the end; you have to run a propane torch over the surface to pop the little bubbles that form.  We used a heat gun, and did end up getting a few bubbles in the front.  Due to time constraints we're leaving them go for now, but if we were being our normal perfectionist selves we would sand them off and run another thin layer.

NOTE:  When the people at Envirotex tell you to remove any taping before the final cure, they mean it.  I waited too long, and ended up prying little itty bitty bits of blue painters tape out from under the edge of the hardened resin, and then having to touch up the wall paint.

Lesson learned.  

Ready for the final result?
Ta dah!!!  Can you believe it's the same bathroom????  We are so happy with it.. . . . . 

See the beautiful shine!  Oh, and Yurii installed the cheapo faucet I bought (at Aldi's, go figure!) so now it looks really nifty.

Hannah liked it, too!

All told, including the faucet ($30), we spent around $70. 

So, if you have any ugly laminate lying around. . . . .

I'm available!

Note:  I got much of my information from this website.  You may have to scroll down a bit, but there's great stuff there, especially if you want to try to do your - gulp - kitchen counters!


Athena said...

Very nicely done. Round of applause! :-)

Nancy said...

I am so proud of you!! You have exceeded my abilities, Heather-san. What a transformation!

Melissa Sue said...

Ah-mazing! Love it!!

lenozhka said...

What a great post! I too have laminate countertops (white), and was thinking of doing some faux finishes... but your idea is awesome!

I'm bookmarking this post, thanks for sharing your project!


Meredith said...

This looks great! You guys did an awesome job! I love DIY projects...looks like you guys do too! If I have to re-do any countertops, I'll keep you guys on the top of my call list!