How to Paint a Laminate Counter

Laminate Counter Sample

Knowing how to paint a laminate counter can save you a bundle of money if you want to give your kitchen an update but don't want to spend a lot of money.

Laminate counters tend to look cheap and dingy over time. Replacing them is often the desired way to fix this problem, but many people are limited by their budgets. Fortunately laminate counters can easily be painted, thus giving homeowners an inexpensive solution to the problem. If you want to give your counters an update but can't afford to replace them, consider giving them a fresh coat of paint. Paint is a terrific solution because it is inexpensive and easy to apply. If you paint the counters a particular color and decide later that you don't like it, it can easily be redone. Unlike replacing counters, painting gives homeowners the freedom to change their minds. Painting a laminate counter is a fairly simple job that can be done in a day or two. However, remember that you'll want the paint to dry completely so you likely won't want to use it for a couple of days once the project is finished.

Materials Needed

Painting a laminate counter is a simple job that requires a few basic supplies:

  • Light-grit sandpaper
  • Ammonia-based cleaner
  • Damp rags
  • Oil-based primer
  • Oil-based paint
  • Polyurethane or marine varnish
  • Paint rollers and brushes

Prepare the Counter to be Painted

Knowing how to paint a laminate counter means doing the appropriate amount of prep work.

  • Clear off the counter and give it a good cleaning. Use an ammonia-based cleaner or a solution of bleach and water to remove any grease.
  • Give the counter a light sanding. Use a light grit sandpaper to avoid making any gouges in the surface. Wipe off the dust with a damp cloth.
  • Tape off the area around the counter including the walls, sink, fixtures and hardware, and cabinets. This will ensure that the paint stays where it should and create a nice straight line.

Painting a Laminate Counter

Once the prep work is done it's time to start priming and painting.

  • An important part of painting is first applying a primer. Use an oil-based primer and cover the entire area to be painted. Use a roller and don't put too much on at one time. Paint slowly to avoid creating air bubbles.
  • Allow the primer to dry completely then give it a light sanding. This will remove any brush or roller marks and create a smooth surface. Wipe it with a damp rag to remove the dust.
  • Apply the chosen paint using small amounts at a time. Remember that several light coats are always better than one thick coat. Let it dry thoroughly between coats.
  • If desired you can give each coat a light sanding once it's dry. Just remember to do it lightly so that you don't cut into the paint and make any serious scratches.
  • Once the final coat is dry, apply a coat of polyurethane or marine varnish. These will create a nice, sealing finish and (marine varnish in particular) will help protect it from water.

Caring for a Painted Laminate Counter

It's important to take the proper care of a newly painted counter. Try not to use it for a few days just to be sure that it is completely dry. Once you do start using it remember to use common sense:

  • Never cut items directly on the counter - use a cutting board instead.
  • Try not to place wet items on the counter when possible. For instance, if you use a drying rack make sure that it drains in the sink and doesn't spill over onto the counter.
  • Do not place hot pots and pans directly on the counter as it can cause damage.

A painted laminate counter won't last forever, but if it's properly taken care of it can last for several years. The good news is that if it gets chipped, scratched, or damaged all it takes is another coat of paint and varnish to fix it up again.

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How to Paint a Laminate Counter