I Painted My Kitchen Countertops

Yep… I’m not even going to try to make a pun about this.  I painted my kitchen countertops this weekend.

painted kitchen countertops

If you haven’t been reading this blog long, you may not remember my kitchen story from when we first moved in.  Long story really short:  Ewww.  The kitchen ceiling was orange from years of smoke damage; the floor was yellowed linoleum.  The fridge was filthy and I found one of those lovely fingernails you’ve heard me whine so much about.  And the countertops were caked on with so much grease and dust we had to use oven cleaner to remove it.  I think I make a pretty good case for why someone would want to paint everything just for the sake of freshening up the place rather than waiting on the true demo and remodeling to begin.

I first heard that painting laminate countertops was possible after reading this post from Brooklyn Limestone.  Painted countertops?  How?  Or more importantly, how much?  I’d seen “countertop makeover” kits at Home Depot, but at over $200 a pop, I wasn’t ready to take the plunge.  Maybe we haven’t covered this before, but I’m cheap.  If you want me to spend $200, I’m making sure it works first.

But much to my surprise, this particular countertop paint product wasn’t $200; it was more like $20.  I figured if I’m replacing the countertops anyway, it wouldn’t be so bad if I experimented a little and tried out this paint as a temporary fixup…  a little lipstick on my kitchen pig, if you will.  If I hated it, the wait to replace it with something better would be short-lived.  No commitment necessary.

No, I didn’t go crazy with the color, but I did use this painting project as an opportunity to figure out how light I would like the countertop to be.  Did you have to guess which color I chose?  Yup.  Gray!  It’s a sickness, people.

In all fairness, this painting product from the Rustoleum crew has only sixteen color options.  Three of them are shades of gray.  I chose the middle gray tone, called “Gray Mist”.

During my limited time researching this product, I’d learned from user reviews that this stuff was pretty toxic and would take three full days for the paint to cure.  Not only that, but the paint would not require priming if I were painting over laminate (which I was) and would stick to just about anything it touches, so it was important to protect anything I did not want to bond with the paint.  Like my precious floors.  Three old bedsheets drop cloths later, I was ready to begin.

Knowing how toxic this little painting adventure would be, I prepared myself with the basic tools:  gloves, breathing mask, foam roller, etc.

It’s a good look, don’t you think? (UPDATE:  The mask you should be wearing is more like this.  Please take proper precautions and protect yourself from these harmful fumes.  Do as I say, not as I do.)

I found that the paint stick really came in handy on this project.  Even though we had a warm weekend (yay!), I had read that the paint consistency would be important if the temps were going to drop lower as the paint dried (per the can’s instructions, you should only use this product when temps are between 50 and 90 degrees for three days in a row).  I found that the color separated from the tint base quite easily (I’d only bought the paint two days before painting), so stirring it up was key.  The paint seemed pretty thin as I ran through it with the foam roller (picked for it’s “smooth finish” promises on the packaging), but as I applied it to the countertop, I found the coverage to be quite thick.  Here’s how it looked after my first coat:

As you can see in the pic, I wasn’t exactly trying to color in between the lines; I just slapped on paint where I saw fit.  I wasn’t trying to hard to make things perfect or protect anything except the floors or appliances.  I got too close to the stove only once, and found that if I wiped it up quickly enough, a damp paper towel took care of it fairly well.

Despite my lovely accessories, I could still smell the fumes a little too much.  Just warning ya, but this. stuff. REEKS.  I kept the windows open all night despite the dip in temperatures just so the fumes wouldn’t be hanging out in the house while I got ready for work the next day.  Not exactly the wake up call I would prefer, know what I mean?

Okay, so now here’s what you’ve been waiting for… the before, taken during the day…

One coat later…

The second and final coat.  This was taken at night just before I went to bed, so I’ll try later this week to give you a better “after” shot so you can see the color and finish a little better.

painted kitchen countertops

Just for the fun of it, I’ll give you a Before & After split screen as well.

I painted this little counter beside the fridge as well, but forgot to take an after pic.

And for the ultimate question:  how do I like my results?  The answer:  mehI wasn’t expecting miracles, and I wasn’t 100% in love with the results.  The finish was consistent and felt dry to the touch after just a couple of hours, so I’m sure in the three days that it takes to cure, the paint will stick quite well and wear nicely over the next year or so (before we replace them with an upgraded material).  I did notice that there were certain areas where the paint appeared to bubble a little, but I think that’s probably my fault for not waiting until the temps got a little higher before trying this out.  On the bright side, I don’t think I want to go gray with the countertops, and it cost me only $20 for a test drive.  Once I paint the cabinets a lighter color, I don’t think I want to go in the mid-tone range for countertops; either exremely light or extremely dark is what I’m thinking, just so there’s contrast.  And it’s really motivating me to get rid of those dated oak cabinets.  I’m thinking white with that gray wouldn’t look too bad.

What do you think of my little paint misadventure?  A brilliant and inexpensive solution to nasty “I would never eat on that” countertops, or would you have saved yourself the twenty bucks and lived with the old countertops as-is for another year?  Anyone out there who didn’t realize this was possible but are considering painting your countertops now?  Let me hear it.


Psst:  Months later, I reviewed the condition of the counters to see how they held up with normal use.  Want to see the results?  Click here.

2014 Update

After a couple of years, I finally replaced my kitchen counters with inexpensive butcher block, and I LOVE them! You can catch all of the details of the install here:

** I was not compensated in any way for using this product.  I just like trying out new things and saving my readers the uncertainty of trying out an unknown product.  Word of mouth is the sincerest form of advertisement, and you will get nothing but 100% honesty from products that I try.**

Never Miss a Post


  1. Kate says

    The counter looks great! And I agree with other comments…paint cabinets white, add silver hardware, tile backsplash, remove wallpaper and done! Def have good bones to work with even tho it appears ugly. Ours was old oak cabinets that were so filthy wig carpeted flooring and a drop in avacodo colored stove and a new floor, light gray painted cabinets and new paint and I love it!

  2. Teresa McCrory says

    I love this! I am considering this product to cover an old formica countertop that was installed in the late 50’s so it was nice to read about your experience. Two questions: how long did you wait before applying the second coat? and, did you use a brush to cut in before using the foam roller?

    • Sarah says

      Unfortunately, at this point I can’t remember how long I waited. But the back of the can of paint should tell you waiting time between coats. And yes, I used a brush for some places, but as you can see from the pictures, I wasn’t super careful. I knew I’d eventually get rid of them, and wasn’t too concerned that I got the paint on the wallpaper or the cabinets. I’d recommend using painter’s tape to protect your walls and surrounding areas.

  3. Pat Monroe says

    I owned a condo which has very old yellow formica. I contacted a painted and he sprayed the countertop with white apoxy paint and the countertops were beautiful and lasted 10 years plus before I replaced them. They had very few marks in them despite the fact that this condo was a rental. It costs me only $100 for this service and well worth it.

  4. Beth says

    Hi Sarah,
    Thanks for sharing. I am also looking at trying to redo my countertops and will be experimenting. Not sure how they will turn out but am going to try something differently. I wanted a marble look so I had bout 3 different colors in this product and will sponge it on and go from there. Even though it doesn’t call for a primer I wanted a black base so I could have some black in it as well. It will definitely be an experiment! Thanks for the heads up with the smell!!

  5. Luke Frericks says

    I used the same paint that you used but the next color darker. I got some packaged paint chips of different colors and sprinkled them all over the wet paint. I think it looks great for $30.00

  6. Ann says

    Loved your post, we have a rental and the counters were faded and very old so I decided to try your idea. The guy at the store did tell me that this paint was hard to work with and hard to clean so he advised that I also buy some low oder mineral spirits, thank God I listened. I Initially used sponge brushes, BIG mistake, my brush started comming apart after about the 5th or 6th stroke which left pieces of sponge stuck on the counter which I had to unceremoniously pick out. A little wiser I purchased the roller that’s in your pic, this worked much better only now I had to put it in a trey so the roller could fit. Well I’m cheep like you so I used an old take out plastic container, BIG mistake, the paint ate through the plastic and now I have paint that you can’t clean with soap and water running down the drain (this is where I set the paint while I worked). So if any one trys this learn from my mistakes. Also before you use the roller wash it, I did’nt so some of the loose yarn came off initially and stuck to the wall. End result….the counter looks much better and I’m much wiser. I didn’t think to take a before pic, but I’ll try to attach an after

  7. Karla says

    Found your website and wanted to ask a question – we just did our countertops this weekend. We see stripes from the foam roller on the countertops though – any thoughts on how to get rid of that?

    • says

      By stripes, do you mean streaks, visible ridge-like lines from using too much paint, or just uneven sheen? When applying paint, it’s always a good idea to apply in a “W” pattern, which helps to avoid all three of the issues I listed.

  8. says

    Hey there!

    I came across your post on Pinterest because I am on the hunt to improve my parent’s house because they need an upgrade! Does this work on formica?


    • says

      No idea, but good question. I used it on laminate counters and experimented by trying it on linoleum floors; it’s an epoxy paint. You would have to check the back of the box or call the manufacturer to see what other surfaces it’s been tested with (or try it out and see what happens… that tends to be the way I go!). I always picked this project as a temporary thing until I installed new counters, which I’m much happier with.

  9. Stacy says

    Hi there. I looks great. I bought this kit over the weekend, but I returned it after realizing I’d have to remove the sink. Is that necessary? I have a top mounted sink.

    • says

      If you bought a kit, that might be a different product than what I blogged about. Rustoleum sells more than one countertop painting product; one is cheap (the simple box of paint I used), and one is much more expensive and has a longer process with several steps involved to give you a long-lasting finish. But to answer your question, I didn’t have to remove my sink.

  10. Guy Gardener says

    I think that, based on the pictures, it looks really good. Better than it did before. Although it no doubt looks different in person, which could explain your “Meh” response to it.

  11. Anna-Marie says

    Hi – great countertop idea. I have painted just about everything in my cottage kitchen except the counter and I really want to try the Rustoleum product you used but I can’t find it anywhere. I live in Ontario canada – any idea how I migt track some down?

  12. Patricia says

    I was thinking of painting my counter tops with red chalk paint…Uh Ooh, I knocked over the can of paint today…on my front porch!! That’s okay, I’ll recover, because at almost aged 62(and with a disability) I still get paint all over me and sometimes even my power tools. My bench saw was green, now it has a little blue, yellow and orange Soooo, my hope for you is that when you reach 62 you still enjoy the work it takes to paint and crank up those power tools. :)

Leave a Reply

Comment Policy: I love comments, especially if they make me laugh. Feel free to let your words of wisdom and humor fly (there's no swear jar on this blog), but if you're overly spammy, rude, or just plain boring, you're just going to have to accept that your comment may not see the light of day.