Friday, September 14, 2012

Sayonara, Laminate

Now that our most recent paint project is significantly less sticky (12 DAYS AFTER THE FACT), I finally feel okay about sharing it. I'm still accepting advice on how to be a better painter.


In our kitchen and both bathrooms, we have these cream laminate countertops. The kitchen counters look the worst — they're chipped and stained. We're probably going to be moving in the next year and a half, and we knew we would probably have to replace or repair them before we sell. I would hate to have lived with the yucky countertops for two years just to move and let the new owners enjoy the pretty replacements.

One day — while surfing Pinterest, of course — I found a link to an idea I'd never thought of before. Turns out there's a product, Rustoleum Countertop Coating, that you can paint directly over laminate countertops to make them look new again. I became totally obsessed with this idea. Nothing would stop me.

Matt and I agreed we'd start with the upstairs bathroom, since the kitchen would be a big undertaking and we wanted to make sure the results actually looked good before tackling such a large, potentially expensive-to-fix-if-I-screwed-up area.

Here's what the bathroom looked like before:

I did a heavy-duty clean of the countertop, then taped off all the edges. (Spoiler: the painter's tape didn't prevent me from getting paint all over the walls, sink and floor. I'm great at these things.)

The paint is tintable to 16 different colors, and we selected the "Wheat" option.

top row, fifth from the left

I did a full coat, and then 24 hours later, a second coat. I think only one coat would have been fine, but there were a few spots that were a little thin that I wanted to touch up. The paint can said to wait three days for the paint to dry completely before use. After three days, I took the tape off and we had a gorgeous new countertop!

We love how the color turned out! It's definitely not perfect, but it's still an improvement. Parts of the counter are shinier and smoother than other parts, depending on whether I was using a roller or a brush (for the smaller, hard-to-reach spots) and how many coats it got. I don't recommend doing a second coat if at all possible, because the first coat was not completely solid after 24 hours and the second coat messed up parts of the first coat.

Even with the character it has now, I still think it looks loads better.

Aaaaand now we hate the cabinets. They've always been kind of scratched and worn down, but with the cream-colored counters, I didn't really notice them. Compared to the new countertop, though, they look really bad. The orange wood has got to go.

I realize that means if we eventually paint the counters in the downstairs bath and kitchen, I'm also going to have to fix the orange cabinets in both those rooms. However, because of the amount of time it took for the paint to dry (especially on such a small surface), I think we're still debating if it's worth bothering with the rest of the house. This definitely turned out to be a bigger project than I thought it would.

What do you think — if it was your house, would you bother with the other rooms? And what do you think we should do with these cabinets: paint 'em white, stain them darker or leave them alone?


EDIT (11/7/12): I've seen that many people have stumbled across my blog when searching for this paint product, so I wanted to make sure ALL of my experience with it is documented. You can see my follow-up post here. Since that post, the counter has continued to stick to — and get pulled up by — anything we set on the counter. In addition, the first time I used 409 and paper towels to clean the countertop, some of the color started coming up onto my paper towel. I would not recommend this product.


  1. The color really looks nice on your counter top! That sucks that it took so long to not be as sticky. I've never sold a house before, but I do think a change in the cabinets would be something potential buyers would notice.

  2. I think a darker cabinet would look great against that countertop. A white cabinet might look too flushed with the white walls. Unless you plan on painting that as well.

    1. Nooooo the walls are staying the way they are. It took us long enough to decide on that cream color when we first moved in! But you're right, I didn't think about the white-on-white, especially since they wouldn't be matching whites.