Painting Kitchen Counters

Our former counter tops were hunter green. I like the color green, but this was the worst color green.

My first approach at fixing this was to have new counter tops installed. After weeks of researching and getting amazing help from Lowes, I decided on a granite. I was semi-ready to invest…then a class of granite went on sale and I jumped on it. From my measurement, I was quoted a few thousand dollars. I was a little sticker shocked, but just shrugged it off as the counters are a main focus of our whole house and they needed to be changed. After the contractor came to our house and measured, I discovered my measurements were way off and the quote increased almost another thousand. I backed out. I could not see spending that kind of money on something I wasn’t completely in love with.

The Pinterest search began. I started looking at laminates, but came across painting the counters. I dove into researching the actual kits to do this and the reviews were awful. So time consuming, didn’t hold up, etc. I then came across a chalk paint and poly method. Less that $100 compared to the almost $5,000 I almost sunk into granite? I’ll try it!

This took me two tries to get it right, but still cheaper than anything else and fairly easy. I’d be willing to do it again.

My first purchase of materials did not hold up, partial due to the way I applied them. For the life of me, I cannot remember exactly what I used – really, it doesn’t matter, just go with what I ended up using:

I found all of my supplies at Home Depot, but I can’t seem to find the matte poly there now. According to the web, Jo-Ann Fabrics carries it though!

The first go around, I didn’t do a very good job sanding. Later, I found this is key! The weekend following my first attempt, we hosted a baby shower and the counters got destroyed. I was kind of devastated because it did take me a while to complete the project and I was super happy with the results. Luckily, I had the following week off from work and had no big plans, so I decided to tackle the counters one more time.

First, I scrapped off the paint I had applied with a razor blade. Then I got the hand sander out! This was a life saver, but made a huge mess due to the bits of paint I wasn’t able to scrap up. Our main living area to include the kitchen is pretty open, so it seemed like the entire house was covered (so worth it though!). I sanded first with a pretty rough grit, down to removing the green finish. The finish was also fairly glossy, which I think was a contributing factor to the first try of paint not adhering well. I fixed that by completely removing the color! I used a finer grit to finish off the sanding.

I taped all my lines and began painting. I started with the roller and used a v-technique to create a random pattern. I got as close as I could with the roller and rolled an entire space (i.e. the whole island, half of the L then the last half of the L) then went in the with brush. The first coat with the brush looks AWFUL, but don’t let it scare you. It will improve with the following coats. I allowed 3-4 hours between each coat. I used 3 coats of paint. Be sure your screens and doors stay shut to avoid any dust landing and sticking to your paint.

I allowed the paint to dry for 24 hours before starting the poly. I only used the brush for this step, but using the same v-technique. I allowed 2-3 hours between each coat. I completed 2 coats on all surfaces and started a third on the island, but it had a cloudy appearance, so I stopped at just the island. Now, I realize I kind of like the cloudy look and wish I would have done a third coat on all surfaces. I plan to do some touch-ups, so I’ll remember this when I do those.

This week it’s been one year since I completed the counters. They have held up surprising well. We are cautious of sliding things across the counters, but we have guests all the time who aren’t aware and I don’t freak and tell them to be careful. Mostly because the scratches seem to be on the island, where I did the three coats of poly and they just seem to disappear and the poly wears. One friend put a huge, pretty deep scratch this winter with a crock pot. She felt awful, but you can’t even see it now and I have literally done nothing to try to make it go away.

The only thing to be careful with is moisture. When water sits on the counter or when something condensates and creates a “puddle,” a cloudy, white spot will appear. This fades as it dries, so don’t panic, but I do think this softens the paint while it is wet. Really be cautious when this happens to not slide or set anything on the spot. I have a few spots by my sink where I have let dishes dry and moved the dishes at just the right time and tore up a little paint.

I chose black paint, so to fill in a few scratches that went through the poly and paint (the bare surface is now white), I’ve used a sharpie to fill them in.

All in all, I’m SO happy I did not spend the ridiculous amount of money granite costs and went with the paint. The project, after doing it twice, was around $40. You cannot beat that! The only thing I still would like to change about the counters is the shape. Our island doesn’t have the back splash and the edges are square, but the L-shape has back splash and edges are rounded. I prefer no back splash and square. I do see us investing in laminate or Corian eventually, but this certainly is doing the job!


Disclaimer: I may make a commission if you make a purchase following any of the above links.

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