Counter top painting kit

Faux Painted Counter Tops

Summary (TLDR;)

In this post, I walked through the transformation of our kitchen using a countertop painting kit.  Specifically: Giani Countertop Paint Kit, White Diamond. Overall, I’d give this product a 9/10.  The results are really stunning and the price is right.  It’s a lot of work, don’t fool yourself.  Set aside a complete week, minimum!  My only criticism is that the top later of paint does tend to wear out anyplace you have a sharp edge.  If your counters are rounded over, should be no problem at all.

The Beginning

When we moved in to our 1940 colonial (abandoned short sale filled with dead critters, mold, and a mountain of projects) the kitchen was particularly sad.  But it had bones!  The real crux of the problem was (and still is) that a true renovation of this kitchen would require taking it down to the studs and starting fresh.  There are 2 layers of wood flooring, dated cabinets, formica countertops, and a historical gamut of appliances.  So the trick to making this space enjoyable has been finding projects that make a big impact, but don’t lead down the path to total demolition.

I’ve known about painting cabinetry for some time now, and it’s on my list of future mods to this space.  While poking around on Amazon, I came across a product with excellent reviews for painting counter tops.  I watched some of their YouTube instructional videos and was completely blown away.  For $80, I decided to take the plunge and find out if this stuff was all it’s cracked up to be.

 

Kitchen Original

Our kitchen before moving in – so depressing!

Let’s Paint Some Countertops!

The first step, as with all projects like this, is preparation.  Clean everything, vacuum everything, and remove any peeling paint, caulk, etc.  I then decided to recaulk all of the joints including the area where the short backsplash meets the main countertop.  I used a paintable white caulk, Polyseam Seal or similar, and applied it liberally to create some fairly large transition radiuses.

Caulking preparations

First, caulk all of the seems and wall junctions with paintable caulk.

Caulked joint

Close up view of the caulked joints.

The next step (just following the instructions and videos included with the kit) is to lay down the base coat.  This is a matte black primer of sorts, and it is really shocking just how dark it is.  Especially since this is a kit for white marble!  The entire surface looked like a brand new chalk board.  I didn’t spend much time worrying about hitting the walls since those were going to be refinished anyway.

Faux Paint Base Coat

First, the base coat is applied (black).

Now the real fun begins.  The kit comes with a few different colors (gold and two whites) that you need to pat on to the surface with the included sponges.  I just put the paint on a paper plate, and my wife an I started working in sections.  She would put down one color in one area, and then I would paint on top of it with the next color, and so on.

At first, it seems like you’ll never get a white marble finish.  As you slowly layer more and more paint and colors, the illusion begins to take shape.  It’s also a bit tricky to “blend” the sections together.  Just get a good light and occasionally stand back to get a broader view.  Adjust and repeat!

Sponge paint layers

Start layering colors with a sponge.

Once you’re satisfied with the general color and texture, it’s time to get artistic.  Adding the marble veins took some courage.  I took an artist’s brush and, using the black paint again, just drew my best impression of a marble vein.  Then you come back on top of it with the white sponges to blend and smear it into the base layer.  The density and craziness of the details are totally up to you, so enjoy it!

Painting detailed imperfections.

Add veins, imperfections, and other details.

Working around the sink was tough.  Since we were planning to replace the sink anyway, I just painted right onto it without much concern for the mess.  In order to get behind the faucet and some of the backsplash areas under the window, I used a sponge that was grabbed at the end of a pair of forceps.

Paint around the sink section by section.

Slowly working section by section, around the sink.

The stove was a similar story, but this was not slated for replacement yet.  So I carefully masked it off with painters tape.  The bottom photo shows the completed “artwork” just before applying the clear top coat.  We ended up putting 3 or 4 layers of topcoat for protection and gloss.

Adding more layers.

Add more layering and cover where needed. Backsplash is particularly tricky.

Here is a closeup shot of the final surface.  One great trick was wrapping the vein details over the edge of the counter.  This really gives the impression that the veins run through the material and make it look like a solid block of marble.

Closeup of marble veins.

A closeup of the detail work. Wrapping veins over the edge adds realism.

A Few Other Bells And Whistles

As I mentioned before, we decided that the cheap-o stainless sink had to go, so I ripped it out along with most of the plumbing.  The new sink I spec’d out had a slightly larger footprint, so I modified the hole slightly with a sawzall.  I tried a jigsaw, handsaw, and router first, and the sawzall was so simple and effective.  Just throw down some masking tape on your cutline to minimize chipping.

Remove the old sink.

Pull out the old sink and adjust the opening.

The new sink, much to my surprise, was one of the cheapest at Lowe’s.  I think this model was about $200 and is only slightly deeper than the original.  Having a single basin however, makes it feel enormous and we’ve been loving it.

Install new sink and faucet.

Install new sink and faucet.

Finally, since we’d gone this far, I decided to throw up a tile backsplash.  Again, this is one of the cheaper ceramic subway tiles available at Lowe’s, but I loved the clean and simple look of it.  I came up with a layout including some border tiles and removed all of the outlets and under cabinet lighting.

Backsplash preparation.

Plan and prep for the backsplash installation.

To secure the tile, I used thin-set directly to the original painted sheetrock.  The bottom back splash was my horizontal guide, and I picked up and variation where the top of the tile meets the bottom of the cabinetry.  The outlets were prett easy to work around:  just remove those tiles.  Later, come back with tiles cut to length and put them in as needed.

Install First Wall Of Tiles

Install tiles on the first wall with thin set.

I wrapped the backsplash all the way around the counter top area and stopped halfway down the end wall.  I used a simple rounded tile to create a finished edge.  Now just grout and caulk all the edges.

Finish tile install.

Finish installing tiles all the way around the counter area.

The “Finished Product”

So here are some final photos focused on the countertops.  We also ended up getting a new gas range at Christmas which you’ll see in all of these photos.  I still want to paint the cabinets, but in general, I couldn’t be happier with how this came out!  Most people have no idea that the marble is fake until you point it out.  Even then, they have a hard time believing it.

Photo of kitchen today

Kitchen as it stands today, with new stove.

 

Backsplash photo today

Another shot of the backsplash today. Hanging wires are for under cabinet lighting.

 

Whole kitchen photograph.

Fisheye shot of the entire cooking area today.

So that’s it – paint the counters, update a few fixtures and appliances, and install a backsplash.  I think this entire project came in around $500 (excluding the stove) and transformed our drab old kitchen into a beautiful workspace.

1 Year Later – How did it stand up to time?

We cook.  A lot.  We chop, peel, squeeze, zest, fry, and blend every single day.  So I wanted to save this post until we had actually been using the kitchen for some time to see how it stood up.  It’s been almost an entire year now, and the results are in.

On first glance, the kitchen still looks great.  But when you start looking carefully, you’ll start to find the blemishes.  Three things have happened that I want to point out:

  1. Sharp edges don’t last.  As people lean on them, the paint wears away and reveals the black bottom coat.
  2. Toddler love to peel paint.  As soon as a scratch appeared, my 4 year old’s fingers magically gravitated to it.  I’ll catch her often just scratching and peeling like the counter top has an itch.
  3. Certain foods can stain.  In particular, I’ve found that citrus tends to turn the paint pink.  So make those margaritas on a cutting board!
Corner wear and damage on sharp edges.

Sharp edges tend to break away when people lean on them, revealing the black base coat.

 

Damage from toddlers photo.

Little fingers have a tendency to peel the paint away whenever it scratches.

 

Sink area worn from leaning.

Sink looks pretty scratched on the bottom, and the front edge of the counter gets worn where you stand to do the dishes.