Yes, You Can Paint Countertops—Here's What to Know Before You DIY

Here's what you need to know before reaching for a can of paint.

If you don't like your current countertops, you might assume your only option is to replace them with a high-end stone, like marble or granite. And while these options can increase your home value, they're also expensive and require a lot of maintenance. If a costly replacement isn't within your budget, painting your countertops is a simple way to spruce up a dated kitchen or bathroom.

While painted countertops are definitely a viable option when planning an upgrade, there are a few things you need to know before you get started. "The pro of painting your countertops is that you are solely responsible for the look of the finished product," says Andre Kazimierski of Improovy Painters. This can make for a fun DIY project that's totally customizable based on your style and color preferences. But an amateur job can be an eyesore and cost more money to fix in the long run.

So while you can paint your kitchen or bathroom countertops, you might not always want to. Here's everything you need to know before deciding to take on this DIY project.

close up of a woman painting with a roller on a wooden surface
Brie Passano

Benefits of Painting Countertops

For laminate or tile countertops, paint offers an inexpensive facelift for a functional but dated countertop. It's a fairly beginner-friendly DIY project, and you don't need any fancy power tools to do it. And since there are so many paint colors available, you have more options than if you were to pick out a brand-new countertop material.

This is also one of the most inexpensive ways to transform your kitchen or bathroom. While you will need to invest in quality primer, paint, and sealer, you can complete this project for a fraction of the price of new countertops. There are many countertop paint kits available that are surface-specific and already include all the supplies you need, and there are even kits that can help you make a laminate or granite countertop look like marble.

Reasons Not to Paint a Countertop

Before you head to the hardware store to pick out your paint, there are a few factors to consider. Not every countertop can be painted (some stone materials are hard to paint) so consult with the experts at your local paint store before getting started. Keep in mind that this is a time-consuming project that will force you to stop using the kitchen or bathroom until the paint and top coat are completely dry.

A professional will likely be able to do this project faster, but hiring it out will raise the cost of the project. If you're not confident in your DIY abilities, price out the cost of a professional versus the price of replacing the countertops with granite or laminate before you commit.

How to Paint Countertops

What You'll Need

  • Protective eyewear and mask
  • Drop cloth
  • Kitchen cleaner or degreaser
  • Sanding block or sander
  • Cloth or rag
  • Primer
  • Paint roller
  • Paint tray
  • Paint or countertop paint kit

Step 1: Decide If It's Worth the Risk

If you like your existing countertops enough to live with them, you might want to pause before grabbing a can of paint. Removing paint from a countertop is nearly impossible, so decide if it's really the countertop that's bothering you or if there's something else that's an easier fix. Replacing lights, repainting cabinets, and painting walls can make the same old countertop feel brand new. Although tile, laminate, and granite countertops can all be painted, first decide if you want to risk ruining your existing surface if the project doesn't turn out how you'd planned.

Step 2: Choose the Right Paint

When you're ready to paint your countertops, get a paint kit that's made for your surface or choose a paint that's suited for the material of your countertop. Water-based acrylic paints work well for laminate counters. Epoxy coatings adhere well to tile and granite countertops after the surface has been cleaned, abraded, and primed. When in doubt, check the packaging on the paint before you buy it, and don't forget to pick up protective gear, including eyewear and a mask, while you're at the paint store.

Step 3: Prepare the Surface

No matter the countertop surface, you'll want to prep it so the paint sticks better. Kazimierski recommends thoroughly cleaning the countertop (beyond just soap and water) before applying any kind of primer. It's important to degrease the countertops, especially those near the stove or sink. Remove built-up grime, dirt, and oil before painting. Use a kitchen cleaner or detergent to clean the countertop, but avoid ammonia-rich cleansers for laminate or granite.

To improve the results with a laminate counter, be sure to repair any damage, then sand the surface to prepare it for a smooth finish. To improve results with granite, etch the stone before applying paint. Clean off any dust or excess. Make sure the surface is dry before applying primer.

Step 4: Coat the Surface with Primer

Before painting, use a paint roller to evenly apply a coat of primer to your countertops. Read the manufacturers' labels to best apply primer. This white base bonding color ensures that any underlying colors stay hidden behind your new, fresh coat of paint. Let it dry overnight and ensure proper ventilation.

Step 5: Apply Paint

Use a roller to apply two generous layers of paint to the countertop. Be sure to apply thicker paints (like epoxy) evenly, so that there are no lumps or bubbles on the finished surface. Wait for the first coat to dry fully before adding a second, and make sure you read the instructions on the paint container to allow for proper drying time between coats. Let the second coat dry thoroughly and wait a few days before sealing with a top coat.

Step 6: Seal with a Top Coat or Resin

Once the paint is dry, you'll need to protect the surface with a top coat or glossy resin. You'll want to do two coats to ensure the longevity of the countertop, but the kind of top coat will depend on the original surface. The total cure time for most countertop paint jobs is around 14 days, so be careful about using your space before then.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do all countertop types need to be sanded before painting?

    Sanding is the best way to prepare a surface to accept paint. For that reason, porous countertop materials (like laminate, wood, ceramic, and concrete) are the best candidates for painting—and, yes, all of these surfaces should be sanded before applying paint. It is possible to paint stone, glass, and quartz countertops, but because their surfaces don’t sand easily, the paint won’t adhere very well to their slick surfaces. 

  • How do I paint laminate countertops to look like granite?

    After sanding and priming your laminate surface, apply one to two layers of base color and allow each coat to dry completely before moving on. Then, using a sea sponge, dab on (one or more) lighter colors while turning the sponge to create randomized patterns. After all of the layers have dried completely, finish with a top coat or resin (as above). 

  • Is there a paint that will make my countertops look like quartz?

    Yes. There are kits ($179, Home Depot), with paints designed to mimic the look of quartz available in many home improvement stores, or you can DIY your own quartz look with acrylic paints, metallic flakes, and fine craft glitter. After sanding and applying a primer and base layer, add your accent colors using a sponge, small brush, crumpled paper, a paper towel, or a combination of application tools. When dry, level your paints with fine-grit sandpaper, wipe clean, and finish with a top coat or resin. 

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