Painting Kitchen Countertops

For a budget-conscious kitchen countertop, consider painting over your current surface for a fresh, cost-efficient option.
Dark wood kitchen

Dark wood kitchen

Green Home 2011 Kitchen with dark cabinetry, tiled backsplash, kitchen island that serves as an eating area with clear barstool seats, and a hardwood floor.

Sure, a complete revamp of a kitchen countertop is a new and fresh way of updating your surface. But when cost and other factors are an issue, painting kitchen countertops might also be a viable option, providing a middle ground between replacing the countertop and dealing with it for the time being.

12 Ways to Save Money on Your Kitchen Remodel

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Have a Grand Plan

If you’re doing more than just painting the cabinets or replacing the countertops during your kitchen remodel, don’t try to save money out of the gate by not hiring a professional to create a design plan. “Hiring a designer saves you time and money in the long run, so you don’t make expensive errors,” says south Florida-based designer Meredith Marlow

Photo By: © Rao

Be Prepared Before You Start

After choosing a professional to work with and coming up with a plan for your kitchen remodel, decide on absolutely everything you want in the kitchen, and have it on-site before a single inch of space sees the sledgehammer, says Robin Siegerman, Chief Design and Renovation Officer at Sieguzi Kitchen & Home Inc. in Toronto, Canada. “One of the factors that sends a budget spiraling out of control is a homeowner picking products during the renovation,” she says. If a product is backordered, the homeowner is often faced with a choice: pick a different item that is often pricier, or wait for their original choice, when their trades people may have other jobs scheduled and the homeowner may be charged extra for the work.

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Bright White Can Hide Outdated Cabinet Design

One of the biggest expenses in any kitchen renovation is new cabinets. If yours are in good shape, though, consider keeping them and just giving them a new look. Designer Justin Riordan recommends going bright white when painting cabinets in a kitchen remodel. “White paint does wonders for outdated cabinets and can save you money,” he says. He recommends washing, then priming and painting cabinets with high-quality white semi-gloss. Adding new hardware will enhance the bright white effect.

From: Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri

Doors Conceal Outdated Cabinets

If your cabinets are too outdated to be salvaged even by the snazziest coat of paint, consider if they could be spruced up with some new doors. If the structure is sound, you don’t have to toss out the whole cabinet: just get good measurements and find a style of door you like, and order it online, says John Gerard, author of Renovate Your Kitchen the Smart Way: How to Plan, Execute and Save Money During Your Kitchen Remodel. It’s a whole new look for a fraction of the price. 

Cut Corners, Literally

Your backsplash may technically be functional and keep food and oils off the walls behind the stove, but let’s be honest: in a kitchen renovation, the backsplash is a style leader. It can be a cost driver, as well. But Mary Elizabeth Hulsey founder of Mission Stone & Tile in Nashville, Tenn., says it doesn’t have to be. She says rather than turning the corners with your backsplash and carrying it all along the kitchen wall, just finish the tile where the walls meet. “That ensures you have the tile where it’s most visually and functionally important,” she says. Then you can budget for some really mind-blowing tile in the area behind the sink or stove, and go budget in the other areas around it.

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Light It Up

Bringing in more and better lighting is a smart move in any renovation, but that’s especially true in the kitchen. Hang well-designed pendants for style and light, and make sure overhead lighting is bright and concentrated in areas where the cook will be working. Don’t forget the details: adding under-cabinet lighting won’t bust your budget but will make a big impact, says Interior Designer Robin Wilson

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Keep Plumbing Where It Is

Another reason to work with a designer on your kitchen renovation: using the existing piping and utility layout will save you big bucks. Justin Riordan says it costs about $5,000 each time you move appliances like a dishwasher, sink or a gas stove. 

Photo By: © Pchemyan

They'll Never Know It’s Remnant Stone

Granite and solid-surface counters don’t have to break your bank: Go to granite supply yards and check out their remnants. Especially if you don’t have huge swaths of countertop to cover, you may find yourself a very good deal, says John Gerard, author of Renovate Your Kitchen the Smart Way: How to Plan, Execute and Save Money During Your Kitchen Remodel.

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You Paid for It … Use It!

Don’t let the end pieces and remnants of your own materials go to waste either. Jared R. Fabac, President of 5 Day Kitchens of Hampton Roads in Virginia Beach, Va., says the average project wastes between 5-15% of its material. If you’re conscientious, however, you can create high-end features like cutting boards from granite pieces or rollout inserts in cabinets from leftover lumber from cabinets, moldings and countertops.

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Scratch and Dent Can Be Your Friend

If you have an area Habitat for Humanity ReStore, make sure you check it out for anything you might be using in your remodel. Ask around locally about other similar reuse places where contractors and builders donate or sell their overstock at a discount. It’s a little bit timing and a lot luck, but if you are there at the right time, you never know what you might find: a woman recently scored a Viking double oven, which retails new for over $5,000, for only $190 at a Traverse City, Mich., ReStore.

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Add Architectural Interest

You can get a high-end look with impact details small and large: try adding bun feet to free-standing cabinetry to give it a furniture-feel, or add some beadboard paneling to spruce up an island. Or you can get really creative with a focal point that is less expensive than mosaic tile but packs a big punch, like stacked stone on the back of your kitchen island, like this one from Bill and Jayne Wolf of DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Photo By: DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen

Go Low on Your Floors

If you have wood floors currently, just refinish them; even if you’re knocking down a wall, you can simply place boards in where the wall was, then sand the existing and new pieces down and stain them together, says Jennifer Gilmer, a kitchen and bath designer in Chevy Chase, Md.

If replacing tile or vinyl floors, less-expensive options like sealed cork can be a good choice not only for price, but because they are easier on the feet and back than hard tiles and woods.

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If you are painting over a laminate countertop, then you will need to sand down the surface. Wipe away remaining dust, then dry the countertop before painting the countertop with a primer and paint roller. Apply one to two coats of paint and then seal the surface with polyurethane after the paint has dried. Allow the polyurethane to dry, then sand it with a moist sanding sponge until the countertop is smooth. Dry the countertop, then reapply and sand the polyurethane two more times.

Flat latex paint is available in a variety of colors, ranging from forest green to slate gray. This versatility means painted kitchen countertops will work in a number of different kitchen styles, including modern, rustic and eco-friendly designs. Different color combinations are also possible; consider painting a white countertop to go with a red kitchen.

Stone-textured paints are also available, allowing for a unique option when painting kitchen countertops. With new products, like Rust-Oleum Countertop Transformations, you can transform worn or damaged laminate countertops at a fraction of the cost of replacement. It's available in five different colors and has been tested to withstand the wear and tear of daily use.

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