Painting Laminate Countertop

Retro Kitchen
Painting your countertops can give an old kitchen a new look.

Painting laminate countertop won't make it last as long as replacing it, but if done correctly, it is a good fix until you are ready to install a new kitchen countertop.

Before you Begin Painting Laminate Countertop

You've cleared the countertops, "poo-pooed" everyone who thought you were crazy and can't wait to begin. Before you can begin the painting process, you have to complete the preparation process.

Step One

Clean your countertops thoroughly. Buy some rubber gloves, a scouring pad and a decent quality degreaser. First, fill a bucket (or your kitchen sink) with hot water. Next, spray the degreaser on the surface of the counter and begin scrubbing with your scouring pad. Rinse your pad often in hot water. Finally, wipe down the countertops with a clean rag or towel.

Step Two

Abrade the surface. This can be done in one of two ways. You can purchase Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) at your local home improvement store and apply it according to the directions on the box. Allow your countertop to dry thoroughly. The second way is to use medium-grit sandpaper (80- or 100-grit) and abrade the surface. If you have a handheld orbital sander, this makes for a quick job. Be sure to thoroughly wipe down the surface with a damp towel or cheesecloth after you are finished to be sure that the surface is free of dust particles.

Step Three

Apply a quality primer paint. Emphasis on quality here. Countertops take a lot of abuse. Applying quality primer paint will give you a strong base for which to apply your topcoat paint. Look for Kilz Original or Kilz Odorless primers or Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 brands. Allow the primer to dry for at least 24 hours before you being painting.

Begin Painting

After you have completed the preparation steps, you are ready to begin the next stage: painting laminate countertop.

Step One

Lightly abrade the primer. Using 220-grit sandpaper, lightly scuff the surface of the primer. This will ensure that the bond between your topcoat and primer will be strong. Wipe the surface with a damp rag or cheesecloth to clean up dust particles.

Step Two

Begin painting. Once your countertop is free of dust particles, it is time to apply the paint. Apply your paint with a roller, moving in one direction so that the finished look will be smooth and even.

Step Three

Apply additional coats. Darker colors need more coats than lighter colors, so depending on the color of paint you have chosen, apply additional coats of paint until the color is even on the entire countertop. Be sure to let the paint dry thoroughly before applying additional coats or it will end up peeling.

Finishing Up

Painted countertops need protection from heavy use and everyday wear and tear. After your paint has dried thoroughly (at least 24 hours, more depending on the level of humidity in your home), it is time to begin applying the protective topcoat.

Step One

Choosing a protective topcoat. Again, quality matters. Spending a couple of extra bucks on your protective topcoat will save you the heartache of having to redo your countertops because they became quickly worn. Look for Minwax brand Polycrylic or water-based polyurethane. Steer clear of oil-based polyurethane, they tend to yellow over time.

Step Two

Apply your first coat. Using a staining sponge, apply your first layer of polyurethane the same way you did your paint coats, in one direction, using even strokes. Allow this coat to dry. Even though some polyurethane's claim they have "super-fast" drying times, give it at least 24 hours.

Step Three

Lightly abrade. Using a 220-grit or higher sandpaper, lightly run it over your first coat of polyurethane. This will ensure proper adhesion of additional coats.

Step Four

Repeat step three. Reapply multiple coats of polyurethane, allowing each coat to thoroughly dry and lightly abrading between coats. Apply at least two to three coats of polyurethane to make sure the surface will stand up to heavy and hard use.

Final Tips for Painting Laminate Countertop

Here are a few final tips to guide you on this easy to do, kitchen renovation project.

  • Open the windows - Everything during this process contains dangerous vapors. Be extra safe and purchase a few inexpensive respirator masks.
  • Keep the dust out - During the drying process of your primer, paint and polyurethane, do your best to keep the dust out of the area. Putting a window fan in and setting it to suck the air out of the room works great.
  • Sand topcoats by hand - Electric sanders are too harsh for these coats and can cause visible grooves in the surface.
Painting Laminate Countertop