Have ugly countertops you hate? Today I’m going to walk you through how to create DIY faux granite counters using nothing but paint!
UPDATE: Click here to see how we feel about our painted cabinets and countertops one year later.
In case you missed it, I shared the “big reveal” of (phase one of) our kitchen makeover yesterday. Basically, it involved a lot of paint and elbow grease. We love the result, but I have to say that the countertops are the part where I knew we were taking a risk. We originally planned to do a concrete overlay, and we still might, but we decided to try out this treatment first because it was significantly cheaper and easier.
What is it?
I put paint on my countertops.
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You’re probably rolling your eyes at me right now and calling me all sorts of names. But, honestly, I knew there was zero way I could make them uglier than they were when we started (please go look at the before photo in my reveal post) and if they looked ridiculous I knew I could always go with plan B, which was the concrete. So, I dove in!
How to paint faux granite counters
- 220 Grit sandpaper
- Painter’s tape
- Black paint
- Paintbrush (I won’t use anything but this one)
- Paint roller
- Sea Sponges in various textures
- Polycrylic sealer
Start by lightly sanding your countertops using the sandpaper. You can do this by hand, and you shouldn’t stress too much about it – the idea is just to rough up the surface a bit so that it’s ready to accept paint.
After you sand, thoroughly wipe down the counters so they’re free of all dust, dirt, and debris. Clean counters are vital to better paint adhesion, so don’t skimp here!
Once everything is nice and clean, I recommend using painter’s tape to tape off the walls and cabinets so that you don’t accidentally drip anywhere – because nothing will give away that you painted your counters like a wonky paint line!
Time to paint!
I started by priming the counters – it took two coats to cover up the faux wood grain, but I didn’t worry too much about covering it completely…the rest of the paint took care of that for me.
Next up, I mixed my paint: I grabbed some black paint and mixed it with my primer to create a few different shades of gray. This is very much an “artsy” project and there’s no right or wrong way. I ended up with three different shades, ranging from very dark to almost white. If you need to, pull up a photo of real granite countertops to help you envision the way the colors work together!
I started with the darkest color and used a sea sponge to dab it all over. There’s no real method here, just throw it on there. Once I felt like I had an okay coverage, I came back over with the next darkest shade, and finally the lightest shade.
Then, I went back in and touched up any areas where I felt like more color was needed. It was pretty easy to see where there was too much or not enough of a certain color, and it is a very inexact science. Just do what feels good.
The secret ingredient
Then, came my favorite part…
I can feel your eyes rolling again.
No, really. I put glitter on the counters. I read a ton of tutorials from other people who had tried this out, and the ones I liked the best were the ones who added in a little glitter to make it look more like actual stone.
To apply it, I just sprinkled it (sparingly!) all over the countertops while the paint was still wet. Boom, done!
Now, do I think I’m fooling anyone with these counters?
Of course not.
BUT! Aren’t they prettier than the ugly faux wood laminate?
I mean, really. They’re way better.
Sealing your counters
After the glitter, it was time to seal. I did a lot of research on the best strategy for this, and opinions are mixed. I talked with my dad, and he confirmed my gut instinct that polycrylic would be the way to go, so that’s what I did. There are other options that are probably more durable (like this stuff, which we almost used), but the process for applying them was way more intense than I was willing to endure for a project that may not even be long term – plus, applying something like that would make it much more difficult to go the concrete route later if we change our minds, and I wanted to leave our options open.
Please note that polycrylic isn’t food safe, so you shouldn’t cut food directly on your counters. Setting food on them briefly won’t hurt anything, but in order to really protect these (and, honestly, most counters!) you should just go ahead and use a cutting board when you’re dealing with food.
Now for the disclaimer: As I’m sure you can guess, these aren’t necessarily the most durable counters in the world. I put on about a zillion coats of poly and let them dry for several days before we used them and they did a fantastic job holding up to every day use…until Thanksgiving. We had family in who wasn’t very careful at all with our counters (I don’t handle them too delicately, but I do keep in mind that they’re painted when I’m working on them), and by the time the holiday was over, there was one area that was looking a bit worse for the wear.
After talking it over with Corey, I think there are two factors that played into this.
- First, there were some small pieces of dirt and other randomness that got onto the counters before the poly was dry – that left perfect little spots where the stuff could pop out and leave a chip.
- Also, I think it’s possible I shot myself in the foot by adding too many coats of poly. You know how when you put on a really think application of nail polish hoping it will last longer but it actually chips right away? I think it’s like that. Just a theory.
But, I wasn’t going to be deterred so I patched it up, added some more poly, and we’re living with it again. It took approximately 5 minutes to patch the areas that were messed up, so it really wasn’t a big deal.
Thanksgiving is kind of an anomaly when it comes to how much our kitchen gets used, so I’m going to give the counters another shot before I give up on them. If they chip again, we will try out the DIY concrete method. But, really, even if I have to patch them up once a year, I can’t complain! The whole thing cost us under $50 and makes me smile every day…so a little patch job every once in a while isn’t the end of the world. Just me?
Our to-do list in this room is still long, but we already have most of the materials to get started on the next project (beadboard backsplash!) so it’s really just a matter of finding the time and motivation to get it done.
Fingers crossed we get it done sooner rather than later!
Would you ever put paint on your counters?
Want more easy and affordable DIY ideas? Here are some posts you might love:
- Tips and tricks for painting cabinets
- How we gave our fireplace a complete makeover (including a DIY mantel)
- Here’s a fun look at how our kitchen transformed over the years.
- If you want to see what we’re up to now, check out all of the posts about our new house!
- Need some organizing help in your kitchen? Here are my quick tips for organizing a small kitchen.