Thursday, September 1, 2016

Redecorating Project - Target for Change: Formica Counters

One of the bigger tasks of my redecorating project was painting the formica counters in my dining room and kitchen.  The counters were installed in 1996, three years after I bought the condo, when the kitchen and dining area were remodeled.  I was never real crazy about my color choice, but it seemed to make sense at the time.  Over the years the counters were scratched a little, especially in the kitchen but, more importantly, since I was redecorating I wanted to lighten everything up.  So these counters had to go.  

After reading up on the different counter installations and their required maintenance, I decided I couldn't afford any of them. And I figured if I painted them I could always just touch up any scratches or dings. I knew it was possible to paint laminate, so I read a lot of tutorials, talked products and techniques with my expert buddy at my local Ace Hardware, and jumped right in.  

First step, mask everything because I tend to be sloppy when I work.
Then a light sanding  ... and a coat of primer.  I used Zinsser B-I-N primer.  Here's also a sneak peak of the new wall color ' Behr Premier "Cafe Cream"!

For the next coat I used paint in the same color as the walls, except that I used enamel paint, thinking it would have that extra measure of strength and adhesion.  Then the fun began!
The next layer consisted of about 4-5 different colors, most of which I had on hand, including white, caramel, aqua, copper, and cream. And, of course, a bunch of sea sponges.  As you can see, I used a separate tray and sponge for each color and yet another clean sponge and rinse bucket to gently blend all the colors.
Then it was just a question of sponge, sponge, sponge, dab, dab, dab.  I didn't try to minic marble - I just wanted a sponged finish that would be less likely to show any potential damage.  This stage went a lot quicker than I expected!

Done with the dining room counter.

On to the kitchen counters.

I'm not afraid to admit it when I mess up, so I will tell you my first step in the kitchen was a mistake.  For some (not thinking) reason, I decided to try a solid caramel enamel paint (Behr "Real Cork"). (I didn't take pictures.)  After I had finished painting all the counters and letting them dry, I knew that was a mistake.  This is a kitchen counter! Splashes, stains, scratches - all potential happenings in the kitchen and all likely to show up much more on a solid color counter. After I thought about it, I knew I couldn't leave it that way.  Back to the sponges!

Since I was doing this at a different time and on a darker base coat, even though I used the same combination of sponged colors the kitchen turned out a bit more toward aqua, which doesn't make me unhappy at all!

Once I was satisfied with all the counters, I applied THREE coats of Minwax Polycrylic Clear Satin finish.

Obviously, as I would with any counter, I don't put any hot pots or plates directly on the counters.  I actually have a few of my 12x12 floor tiles sitting right next to my range and they work great as hot pot holders.

 It has been a few months since the counters were finished and so far so good.  They wipe up well, the poly finish keeps them from staining, and they look just fine.

Once a pot slipped out of my hand and nicked a tiny hole in the counter.  A little dab of paint and a coat or two of poly and I can't even see where the nick was.

I'm very happy with the end result and, best of all, it fit my budget!

On to the next project ....


  1. Live all your projects!! You have talent and great patience!! Love how these counters turned out!

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