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What can you do when you buy a house that has really ugly formica kitchen countertops? You could remove the counter tops and put brand new ones in their place. That can become expensive, but…if you’ve ever wondered “can Formica be painted?” Yes it can!
Painting over formica is a pretty cheap way to change up the look of your kitchen. We did it for under $100 with a great product found on Amazon.
Here’s how to paint a counter top and completely change the look of the kitchen.
Why we needed a DIY Painted Counter
We made our counter top look like Granite. But first let me show you just WHY we felt so strongly about changing out the colour of the kitchen counter. It won’t take long for you to understand our reasoning.
Yup, seriously. Welcome to the ’70’s! This kitchen was in our small place in California. It was built in the early 1970’s – you think the counter top is crazy?
This was a popular color for formica countertops back then. Check out the wallpaper in those bottom cabinets! Double Crazy!
I wasn’t living in a place with a lime green counter top. No way, sorry. I woke up to this screaming at me for a few weeks. We looked into replacing the counter top. There was only one problem…
The counter is curved, here’s a closeup. That ruled out heading to the home improvement store and getting a stock counter, right?
We would have to order a custom counter top and that would be pretty expensive. A custom counter would also take weeks to get delivered. We had to find another way.
Painting Formica Countertops to Look Like Granite
And that’s when I read about this Giani Countertop Paint Kit – it includes both the primer and paint you need.
We had to go searching high and low for it, but later I found that you can buy the kit on Amazon.
Giani Countertop Paint Kits
The Giani countertop paint kit is perfect for updating your Formica counters in the kitchen or bathroom. Whether you’re painting bathroom countertop or painting Formica kitchen cabinets, this process will work.
This wasn’t a hard project, but it does take several days. You have to do a lot of prep work (which makes sense, right?)
Graham removed the stove top and the sink. He removed the caulk at the top of the backsplash. Then we scrubbed the counter down with TSP, a rag and SOS pads. Using TSP really helps to clean up any grease that may be on the counters.
Right before we started the painting, we again were sure to wipe the counters again, to be sure they were free of any dirt or dust.
We used Painter’s Tape to mask all the edges. There were some deep scratches or nicks in the counter, so we had to patch them with wood patch. We let it dry and then sanded it down nice and smooth.
Primer – Painting Formica Countertops
OK, ready for painting. The first coat was just black primer for the background.
Absolutely everything you need (aside from prep work) is included in the Giani Kit. Using the foam roller included (which works better than a paint roller), Graham rolled it on in 3 foot sections. Use even strokes and ensure there is always be a wet edge.
You only need to put one one coat of primer! Don’t put on multiple coats of paint, and you shouldn’t have to; the coverage is really excellent. The one coat covered that old lime green counter top really well.
Take a really good look at the entire counter when you have finished painting the primer. You need to make sure the old counter top doesn’t show underneath at all.
Let the paint dry for 8 hours. It is really important to let the primer dry completely. We took a lot of time with this kitchen project. We really wanted to be sure to give the paint lots of time to dry.
Sponge Painting Formica Countertops
Now here comes the fun part. I admit I was a bit nervous to get started on this part – the sponging! But really it was easy to do it and once you get in the groove, just keep on going until you are done.
Ready for Sponging
I used a paper plate to hold small amounts of paint and cut the included sponge into several smaller pieces.
Working in small sections, I sponged one color of paint at a time. There are 3 colors included in the kit and you can work with them at the same time or sponge them on one at a time.
I practiced a bit on the paper plate before starting on the actual counter. The only tricky part is to keep it even as you go along. As in if you’re going to dab that much over here, you also need to dab that much over there.
Know what I mean? That’s how you get it looking like granite. Don’t push with the sponge, just lightly dab the paint on. Once you are done and satisfied with the way it looks, let it dry for 4 hours. (We left it alone overnight.)
At this point, it was time to pull out the sander and sand the counter top. It has to be sanded smooth because the sponging leaves raised bumps all over the counter. Graham used 600 grit sandpaper. After he finished, I wiped down the surface and we got ready for the final step.
Ready for the Sealer Coat
Included in the kit is the topcoat. Using the roller included in the kit, we applied the sealer coat. We made sure to keep a wet edge. After letting it dry for 4 hours, we put one final topcoat on.
(A close up of our finished counter – ignore that bright spot, that is just a reflection)
There is no need to sand the counter again before the second coat. Then we removed the Painters Tape and walked away. We left the counter alone for a few days, but Giani says you can use the counters in 24 hours.
Still, we waited several days before putting the coffee maker and toaster back on the counter.
What do you think? One of the great things about using this product is that every counter top will look different. Yours will look different than mine, because two different people are doing the sponging.
Giani has several different kits with a variety of colors. We wanted ours to have the dark background but you can choose the kit with a light background if that is what you would like.
And here is the finished kitchen….
The Finished Kitchen
We were really happy with the way it turned out.
The best part? Under $100. Believe it!
We managed to completely change the look of the kitchen for under $100. And it really does look like granite.
We were so glad to get this countertop coating project done; it didn’t take long and it completely transformed the kitchen. And I even like the curved counter top now!
So if you have a house that needs a little updating when it comes to the counter top, think about trying this instead of going to the expense of installing new counter tops.
If you are going to paint formica countertops, I really recommend this Giani Kit. It is durable, looks great and is easy to clean with soap and regular cleaners.
We even had enough left from the kit that we could do the bathroom vanity. Bonus!
Painting Formica Countertops FAQ’s:
What is the difference between painting formica countertops and painting laminate countertops?
Nothing. The only difference is the terms that are being used. Formica is a brand name, whereas laminate is the name of the actual material.
What if I want to have a marble countertop instead of granite countertop?
If you want a marble look rather than granite, Giani has a Marble Countertop Kit – you use a very fine paintbrush to paint veins in various shades on the counter.
What kind of paint can I use to paint a laminate countertop?
Since laminate and Formica are essentially the same thing, using this Giani kit is the perfect way to go!
Painting Formica countertops is one of the cheapest and easiest ways
to completely update your kitchen and bathroom.
Interested in our other home renovation projects for homeowners?
How to Fix Up That Ugly Stairwell – You HAVE to see this “before” picture; that stairwell was scary and super ugly!
Building Closets in the Loft – we needed more closet space and so we turn the loft off of our master bedroom into a spacious closet area.
How to Paint Over Ugly 1970’s Wood Paneling – we had to. We just had to.
We brightened up the entire house with this very simple project!
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originally published 2018; latest update December 2022