How to Paint a Laminate Countertop to Look Like Natural Stone

Freshen up a worn or dated-looking countertop with paint. The secret is to take your time and use the right materials to produce durable results that are beautiful and much less expensive than a total replacement.

This project doesn't take a lot of money or special skills, but you will need at least two days to allow for drying time.

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

Tools and Materials

  • trisodium phosphate (TSP)
  • oil-based, high-adhesive primer
  • oil-based paints in desired colors, at least 3
  • non-yellowing, oil-based polyurethane
  • steel wool
  • tack cloth
  • paper towels
  • painters’ tape
  • kitchen sponge
  • sea sponges
  • rubber gloves
  • sander and sandpaper
  • small smooth paint rollers and small paintbrush

Before: The countertop was in decent shape, but we wanted a more contemporary look. A new countertop was not in the budget, so a DIY paint job was the perfect solution.

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

Before: The countertop was in decent shape, but we wanted a more contemporary look. A new countertop was not in the budget, so a DIY paint job was the perfect solution.

Step 1: Clean and Prep

Use painters’ tape to mask off any areas that should not be painted. Carefully tape around sinks or remove them temporarily if you’re able. Use trisodium phosphate (TSP) according to the manufacturer’s instructions to clean the surface of the laminate entirely. Wear gloves to protect your hands.

Step 2: Sand, Then Clean

Sand all of the laminate with coarse sandpaper to rough up the surface. This will prepare the surface for optimum adhesion. Wipe the surface with a lightly damp cloth and then go over it again with a tack cloth to ensure that the surface is free of dust and debris.

Step 3: Prime

Cover the countertop in a high-adhesive, oil-based primer using a smooth roller. Allow it to dry completely before proceeding. Drying time will vary based on the manufacturer’s instructions, but plan on 24 hours to ensure that the primer is dry and cured.

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

Step 4: Apply Base Coat

Apply the base coat of oil-based enamel with a smooth roller. Use a brush to cut in around the edges. Allow the paint to dry fully before proceeding.
Pro Tip: Make sure there is enough base coat paint to sponge over the other colors at the end.

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

Step 5: Add Accent Colors

With gloved hands, start with the medium color and a piece of natural sea sponge. Use a portion of the sponge with plenty of holes and texture. Dip it lightly in paint and then blot off excess on paper towels. Begin stamping the base coated surface with the sponge randomly, turning the sponge slightly with each stamp to avoid creating a pattern. Vary the size of the stamps by using only a portion of the sponge. Add more paint as necessary and fill most of the surface with stamps. Allow to dry before proceeding. Repeat the process with the lightest color, but add fewer stamps, spacing them out evenly.
Pro Tip: Do not be alarmed if the pattern looks overwhelming at this point. The final coat will blend the stamps together. Finally, use the sea sponge and the base coat color to knock down some of the lightest color and blend the two accent colors together. Add as much as necessary to balance the three colors.

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

Step 6: Seal the Surface

Very lightly rub the dried surface with fine-grain steel wool. Wipe away and dust with a tack cloth. Use a non-yellowing, oil-based polyurethane to coat the painted surface with a smooth roller. Cut in around the edges with a brush. Allow the countertop to dry completely before removing the painter's tape.

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